LANCASTER CITY slumped to their first home league defeat of the season against their FA Cup conquerors Salford City on Saturday.
Before the game all the Dolly Blue talk was of revenge for what has been described as their worst performance in decades when they were hammered 4-0 at Giant Axe three Saturdays ago.
While this performance was better, the result still left a bitter taste.
It was a scruffy and unfortunately timed winner for the visitors as Adrian Bellamy took advantage of some scrappy defending and dubious officiating to score the only goal of the game just before the break.
For the majority of the first 45 City had coped well with a robust but talented Salford outfit.
Chances were at a premium and City had the better of them, two to be precise and they both fell to striker Tom Kilifin.
His first came from outside the box as he surged down the left, beating the full-back with a powerful burst before blazing a shot well over the bar.
His second was triggered by an outrageous bit of skill from Rodrigo Branco as the Fleetwood Town loanee flicked the ball with his heels and rolled it over his head to try and beat Andy Heald in the corner, the ball broke for Kilifin in the box but he couldn’t quite get it in under control and scuffed a tame shot into the arms of ‘keeper Danny Taberner.
The visitors' goal was as bizarre as it was clumsy.
A free-kick given away by Dave Swarbrick on the Salford right was not properly claimed by Danny McDonald in the City net under heavy pressure and he came down on top of Gregson and the ball squirmed free.
It fell at the feet of Bellamy who swept into an empty net with the goal eventually given by referee Elliot Martin despite some City protestation.
After consecutive victories against poor opposition this was City's first test since the sacking of Tony Hesketh and they defended better and should have put a poor visiting defence to the sword.
Ben Hudson, in for the injured Dan Parkinson at right back, was tremendous, winning every header that came his way, always strong in the tackle and getting forward when able.
Once again Swarbrick was City’s most potent threat with his trickery and pace not to mention his dangerous crossing but it looked set to be an unlucky afternoon in front of goal for the Dolly Blues.
Taberner, with help from a defender, cleared a Neil Marshall header off the line with a brilliant last-gasp header before Gregson struck the bar.
It was the fallout from another set-piece that saw City’s best chance as the heroic Taberner reacted sharply to deflect a powerful Kilifin shot over the bar.
A disappointing defeat certainly, but the signs of improvement are there and with the possible arrival of Darren Green from Bamber Bridge and a new manager hopefully imminent things are looking a bit rosier at Giant Axe.
Lancaster City: McDonald 5, Hudson 8, Clark 6, Gregson 6, Marshall 6, Stringfellow 5 (McKenna 83), Rothwell 7, Branco 6, Kilifin 6, Wainwright 5 (Dodwell 45). Subs not used: Hubbold, Bradley, Wheeler
Salford City: Taberner, Welsh, Lane, White, Heald, Bellamy, McDonald, Thompson (Fitton 83), Kinsella (Rother 75), Holden, Yarwood (Briody 75). Subs not used: Wood, Branagan
Referee: Elliot Martin
Star man: Ben Hudson - A composed display, looked comfortable and did his job well throughout