Late in the game, Sam Bailey launched a long throw into a cluster of bodies on the edge of Witton’s penalty area with merely a couple of minutes left to play.
Another clean sheet was drawing closer but that wasn’t what the Dollies needed – it would have to be a win to prolong the unlikely dream of play-off football.
But the match had a different outcome in store, as late substitute Harry Bower found himself on the end of Albion’s subsequent counter-attack, and curled the ball inside the far post.
The score, which will be recorded to history by the off-handedness of the 1-0 margin, tells only of the victors – and credit must be given to Witton who fought with the determination of a team stubbornly eluding the clutches of relegation – but not of the finer details within the game.
It was a quiet first half, comprising few events of note other than Will Jones seemingly scoring for the visitors 10 minutes before the break, which was swiftly disallowed for a clear offside as Jones had burst beyond the defensive line before Albion’s free-kick had been taken.
After the break, Mark Fell rang the changes, bringing on Rob Wilson for Simon Wills, while Nathan Reid was replaced by Joe Rodwell-Grant who had an almost immediate impact.
City countered quickly after clearing a Witton corner, and found Rodwell-Grant, positioned on the halfway line. He surged down the wing and into the box, but the narrow angle asked too much of his finish which fizzed wide of the far post.
Lancaster’s need for a victory pushed them further forwards and Andy Teague’s aerial prowess was now a concern for the Witton defence just as much as it was for their attack.
A pinpoint City free-kick from the halfway line found him at the back post but his dipping header dropped agonisingly beyond the wrong side of the crossbar.
Both sides had a couple of corners from which they could threaten, but it was a Bailey long throw from which Albion broke and scored.
Goalscorer Bower’s elation was contrasted by the silent anti-climax around Giant Axe.