Lancaster City boss Mark Fell was pleased to see his side show another side to their game on Tuesday night

Mark Fell took as much pleasure from the clean sheet his side recorded on Tuesday night as the seven-goal salvo they produced on Saturday.

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 7:24 am
Updated Thursday, 26th August 2021, 7:28 am
Lancaster City boss Mark Fell (photo: Tony North)

The Dolly Blues followed up their remarkable 7-2 victory at Grantham Town at the weekend by beating Stalybridge Celtic 2-0 at Giant Axe in midweek.

Some of the attacking play on Saturday – which included four goals in 16 second-half minutes – had Fell purring on the sidelines.

But he was as equally impressed by the all-round professional display which put paid to Celtic and meant City – who also beat Witton Albion the previous Tuesday – moved into fourth spot

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in the early NPL Premier Division table having won three out of their opening four games.

“The most pleasing thing for me was the nature of all three wins,” said Fell.

“We restricted Witton and Grantham to two or three setplays each and they scored a couple of goals each.

“But other than that they have created nothing against us and against Stalybridge I don’t think they have had one shot on goal.

“We were free flowing and exuberant on Saturday, but on Tueday night – we were just professional.

“We controlled large periods of the game and probably could have scored three or four goals.

“That would not have flattered us and for me it was a really reassuring performance.

“What a good response it has been from the first day of the season when we lost at home to Whitby Town.

“People were thinking it was the end of the world but we have since won three on the bounce and that’s how quickly football changes. The clean sheet certainly gave me pleasure last night.

“Stalybridge came to be aggressive and tried to outmuscle us, but that is not the game plan to play against us with some of the players that we have got.

“They targeted our young goalkeeper Matthew Alexander but he did not bat an eyelid. He did a really good job so the cleans sheet was as much for him as anyone else.”

One pleasing aspect for Fell is that different members of his squad have contributed to the cause at different points.

Edward Elewa-Ikpakwu came into the starting XI on Tuesday night and was named man of the match.

He was a replacement for Simon Wills, who had impressed at the weekend before suffering a hamstring strain.

City have also been able to cope without having key men such as David Norris, Niall

Cowperthwaite and Rhys Turner in the starting line-up at various times.

The squad will certainly be needed this weekend when they face two games in three days.

On Saturday, they host Mickleover before travelling to Atherton Collieries on bank holiday Monday.

Fell said: “I have spoken about the need to have a bigger squad at this point of the season because the games come thick and fast.

“We obviously lost Cowps to suspension so Simon Wills went in there on Saturday and did fantastic but then he picked up a hamstring injury which is going to keep him out for five or six weeks.

“Eddie Elewa-Ikpakwu came in on Tuesday night and was absolutely brilliant.

“So he now has the shirt so that is a nice problem to have.

“It’s a nice culture for the club to have that players know that they will have to perform well every game else they are going to lose the shirt.

“But also it gives us a little bit of leeway in terms of the amount of games players play and helps us cope with player fatigue.

“Gives us chance to rotate if we need to and give players a rest. On Tuesday, Rhys Turner needed a rest because he had played three games in a week.

“He just needed that little break to refresh because we know he’s had injuries in the past.

“We hope that those injuries are now in the past but we are just trying to manage players where possible.”

Both Mickleover and Atherton Collieries are three points below City in the table having won two and lost two of their opening four games.

“We want to try to get into the mentality of ticking games off,” he said. “We won on Tuesday night and now it’s off to the next game.

“I think Mickleover will be our first major test.

“Their manager John McGrath has assembled a really good squad and they were top of the table before the season got null and voided last year.

“They have had a little bit of an inconsistent start but they have still turned Ashton over. They will be good and we need to be at our best.

“Then on Monday, we go to Colls and again they have upset a few. They beat Basford and I tipped Basford to be in the top three.”