Wakefield FC continued to be a thorn in Lancaster City's side after they nicked victory at Giant Axe for the second time this season on Saturday.
It was a sorry tale of missed chances from the Dolly Blues and while the visitors were a determined bunch they should not have troubled this City side, making the brilliant 87th-minute strike from Clarke all the more difficult to swallow for new management pair Neil Wainwright and Michael Stringfellow, who tasted defeat for the first time.
The visitors registered the first chance in the vague vicinity of either goal on 25 minutes when left-back Josh Grant blazed a shot over from the edge of the box.
City had a pair of decent opportunities to break the deadlock the first falling to debutant Luke Bradley.
Bradley is highly thought of after some good performances for the under 18s and played well; he was particularly useful in the air and will provide good competition for the first-team strikers.
His chance was a sharp one as he advanced on goal under heavy pressure from a defender and while experience may lead him to take a touch and advance he attempted a difficult lob which went high and wide.
Rodrigo Branco attempted an audacious curled effort from a tight angle just after the half hour mark which was also wide of the mark.
For the most part the Dolly Blues could not find a way to break down the Yorkshire men and while credit must go to their tenacity and harassing style, City could not find their rhythm and over-complicated in attack far too often.
That said they created more than enough chances in the second 45 to run out comfortable winners.
Billy McKenna felt he should have scored after latching on to a Branco header and seeing a side-footed effort well-saved by Wakefield ‘keeper Neil Bennett.
Rob Wilson had an excellent game and really shone in the second half as he drove forward time and again with some silky runs; he hit a delicious free-kick from just outside the box which struck the angle of the post and bar.
Bradley had another chance with a well hit pot-shot from 25 yards which was comfortably saved by Bennett before Branco slammed in an audacious effort in from a good ten yards further out which had the visiting stopper floundering but went wide of his right-hand post.
Again credit must go to the visiting side who hung on and surged forward whenever they could, Clarke in particular deserved his goal for persistence alone.
It was a brilliant strike curled in from outside the box on the right. Danny McDonald in the City net perhaps could have done better as he got a hand to it as it flew into the top corner.
It wasn’t pretty in its creation as a set-piece wasn’t cleared by an otherwise diligent Dolly Blue defence but sucker-punches rarely are.
City must learn from this as they travel to another struggling side Prescot Cables on Tuesday night.
Lancaster City: McDonald 6, Hudson 6, Elderton 6, Marshall 6, Gregson 7, Wilson 7, Swarbrick 6, Clark 6 (Winder 78), Branco 6, Bradley 6 (Rothwell 75) McKenna 7. Subs not used: Wheeler, Wainwright, Dodwell.
Wakefield FC: Bennett, Alali, Grant, Henson, Grant R, Pickering, Marsden, Thornton, Hardaker, Njei (Jarrett 80), Clarke. Sub not used: Haley-Neilson
Referee: Gary Hilton
Star man: Rob Wilson - Sharp in possession and ran the show from the middle, came close with a brilliant free-kick
|Ramsbottom United||3||0||Prescot Cables||Att. 283|
|Salford City||1||1||Warrington Town||Att. 165|
|Skelmersdale United||4||0||Harrogate Railway Athletic||Att. 185|
|Trafford||2||1||Ossett Town||Att. 179|
|Radcliffe Borough||0||3||Cammell Laird||Att. 142|
|Ossett Albion||1||1||Burscough||Att. 180|
|Farsley AFC||3||0||Clitheroe||Att. 187|
|Garforth Town||0||6||Mossley||Att. 120|
|Goole AFC||2||3||New Mills||Att. 128|
|Lancaster City||0||1||Wakefield||Att. 246|
|Curzon Ashton||4||2||Bamber Bridge||Att. 140|