Report: Unbeaten Dolly Blues March On
A complete performance from Phil Brown's side saw them take all the points against top of the league Shaw Lane at Giant Axe.
The Dolly Blues maintained their unbeaten record in the Evo-Stik Premier thanks to two superb goals from Craig Carney and Hannu Tam. In a true all-round performance that included their third consecutive clean sheet, Phil Brown's side showed their attacking potential and were unlucky not to have won by more in an entertaining game at Giant Axe.
The openings of the first half showed glimpses of what was to come. With both sides set up to attack, the game was far more open than previous matches in this league so far and near-chances were plentiful, particularly for Lancaster. The first real chance, however, fell to the visitors with Spencer Harris' drive from the edge of the box. Josh Powell in the City goal was sharp and equal to the low shot, tipping the ball round the post to keep the game scoreless.
At the other end Lancaster had plenty of possession and looked dangerous attacking down both flanks. Set pieces and long throw-ins were also a constant threat and much improved from previous outings. It was from Sam Bailey's corner that City went closest to breaking the deadlock. The in-swinging corner was flicked on by Glenn Steel and Ryan Winder's header from a tight angle was cleared off the line.
Charlie Bailey went close to opening his account mid-way through the half. Advancing towards the edge of the box the midfielder fired a shot that took a slight deflection to curl the ball agonisingly wide of the far post.
For how well the Dolly Blues played in the first half they stepped it up to another gear entirely after the restart and took just 4 minutes to open the scoring. On the counter-attack Charlie Bailey's ball over the top found Winder in behind the back-line on the left side of the penalty area. The winger looked up and played a low ball to the on-rushing Craig Carney to hit a neat first time shot from just inside the box into the bottom left corner of the net.
With the scoring deservedly opened, City continued to press for more goals. Winder was unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet after a super free-kick effort from 25 yards on the hour mark drew a fantastic save from on-loan Carlisle United keeper Morgan Bacon.
Melle Meulensteen then entered the fray and made a near instant impact, an impact he was on the receiving end of. Challenging Lane's midfielder Kieran Ludgsden for a header the PNE man took a nasty looking elbow to the head. Melle was almost straight to his feet to his credit, but Ludgsden was instantly and rightly shown a straight red card.
The game took a feisty edge after that tackle with the visitors visibly frustrated. Powell produced a smart low save to deny Chib Chilaka from close range late in the half in the best that the Ducks could muster in the final parts of the match.
Substitute Hannu Tam then wrapped up the points after another great attacking play from Phil Brown's side with just minutes remaining. Carney turned the ball away from the midfield on the counter and ran at the visitors' defence before spotting Tam making an inside run and playing a delicate through ball through to the pacy striker.
Leaving the defence in his wake Tam took two touches through on goal at full speed before finishing off from 8 yards to seal the three points. The Dollies' hotshot nearly got his second in added time after a mazy run from the left flank but his effort was central and well saved by Bacon.
A thoroughly impressive performance from the Dolly Blues against one of the early promotion contenders as City showed their true potential to do what's needed at both ends of the pitch.
MOTM: Craig Carney. First rate goal and assist.