Dolly Blues defy odds at Gigg Lane and progress in FA Cup.
Report by Ryan McMenamin
A solitary second half goal by Lee Dodgson was all it took for Lancaster to knock FC United of Manchester out of the FA Cup with Budweiser at Bury’s Gigg Lane and complete one of their most famous victories in recent years. The away support made up about a hundred of the 1,147 strong crowd, and made themselves heard all day long, even whilst having to endure holding on for forty nerve-jangling minutes.
Tony Hesketh gave Lee Dodgson a surprisingly rare start behind Danny Hattersley, who was leading the line; with Zach Clark returning to his usual spot on the right after a successful game as forward in the 4-2 League Cup win over Skelmersdale.
The visiting defence were immense and hardly looked troubled, with Ryan Elderton putting in a faultless MOTM display, and United only forced Martin Fearon into one save, but also hit the bar, both in the second period. Hesketh’s men thoroughly deserved the victory in what was at times an aggressive game with tough challenges everywhere, however the glorious surface meant they could play to feet and utilize their natural passing game.
Lee Dodgson had half a chance in the opening couple of minutes, but his shot was blocked and rolled wide. Alex Kenyon couldn’t get power on a back post header and FC’s Argentinean winger Carlos Roca blazed three chances high or wide.
Kenyon sent a deep cross into the penalty area for Zach Clark to pull down and cut back to Danny Hattersley, whose shot seemed to be deflected for a corner, yet the referee thought otherwise. Lee Dodgson was desperately unlucky not to break the deadlock in the 25th minute, as his lob over James Spencer bounced off the ground and then the bar.
Danny Hattersley couldn’t make enough space for a shot when he was through on goal, and Alex Kenyon was barged in the back by home skipper Kyle Jacobs in the same situation, but referee gave FCUM the benefit of the doubt, much to the anger and disgust of all associated with Lancaster. Should he have given a free kick, Jacobs would surely have been off.
The man in charge made some very questionable decisions, the Kenyon one surprising most, and penalised City harshly for fouls and handballs. A decision involving the latter, against Rob Henry, resulted in Ben Deegan’s flick-on from Roca’s free kick being blocked.
The Dolly Blues would have been the happier of the two teams going into the break goalless, being the underdogs away from home with the referee seemingly not on their side. Zach Clark had the first chance of the second half, audaciously volleying over from Hattersley’s cross.
On fifty minutes, the moment that all Lancaster fans had been waiting for and anticipating arrived. Ryan Elderton’s floated free kick to the back post was nodded down by the rock-solid Jack Duggan, his header taking a fortunate bounce between two defenders allowing Dodgson to guide past Spencer with the outside of his boot from ten yards.
Shortly following the hour mark, Dodgson caught Jacobs in possession on the left side of the penalty area, but he dragged wide of the near post when he should have done better.
Martin Fearon was forced into his only save of the match two minutes later, getting down well to Mike Norton’s low effort from a tight angle. Ben Deegan then missed a gilt-edged opportunity to equalize, somehow contriving to head straight at Fearon from six yards out after everyone had stopped expecting the linesman’s offside flag to be raised.
Hattersley and Clark made way on 66 minutes to a great ovation, to be replaced by Dave Swarbrick and debutant Joe Bunney, who has been scoring goals for fun in the reserve side as of late. Swarbrick optimistically attempted a couple of very long-range shots, one of which wasn’t too far off.
Tom Wood arrived on the left later at the expense of Dodgson for his League debut after looking very impressive against Skem, and he had one run where his final decision wasn’t quite right, as did Bunney.
Deegan flashed a powerful header over the bar from a Roca cross, and almost got a boot to substitute Matthew Wolfenden’s drilled attempt across goal. Lee Neville failed to turn in from close range during a scramble caused by a corner.
The Roca/ Deegan combination again almost provided FC with what they were looking for, and they were agonisingly close to sending the tie to a Giant Axe replay. Roca whipped in a corner onto Deegan’s head, and the ball crashed against the crossbar. In hindsight, if that had gone in, it would have been Lancaster who were the unfortunate ones considering how well they performed on such a big occasion.
City held on through the five plus the three minutes of stoppage time and advance to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the world’s biggest club competition- two wins from the 1st Round and eight wins from Wembley.
FC United: James Spencer, Kyle Jacobs, Lee Neville, Jake Cottrell (booked), Adam Jones, Dean Stott, Carlos Roca, Richard Battersby (Michael Carr, 57), Mike Norton, Ben Deegan, Daniel Grimshaw (Matthew Wolfenden, 57).
Lancaster City: Martin Fearon 9, Rob Henry (booked) 8, Ryan Elderton 10, Jack Duggan 10, Neil Marshall 9, Alex Kenyon 8, Zach Clark 7 (Joe Bunney, 66), Simon Wills 8, Danny Hattersley 7 (Dave Swarbrick, 66), Lee Dodgson (Tom Wood, 72) 8, Max Rothwell 8.