Matty’s in and Sam’s out as Lancaster City boss Mark Fell looks to future

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell has opted for changes in the goalkeeper department as he prepares for kick-off to the Northern Premier League season this weekend.

Sam Ashton has left Giant Axe, his last appearance for the Dolly Blues being in their Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy final win over Prestwich Heys.

Fell has brought in Matty Alexander on a youth loan from Bolton Wanderers, the 19-year-old having shared the gloves with Ashton in some of the pre-season friendlies.

He is also hoping to sign a second keeper who is available after playing for a club in the Scottish Championship last season.

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell (photo: Tony North)

All being well, that will be sorted ahead of City’s season opener against Whitby Town at Giant Axe on Saturday.

Fell said: “It was a difficult decision with Sam, he’s a great keeper and a brilliant person. I had Sam as my keeper at Ramsbottom and he’s been with me here.

“As a manager I always have to be looking at whether we can improve a position, wherever that is on the pitch.

“If there is someone a bit younger and fresher, maybe with a bit of pro experience, I have to look at that.

“I’d still have had complete confidence in Sam but trying to strengthen the team is an ongoing process.

“That’s football and Sam will go on to do very well. I’m told he might be joining a team in our division more local to him and if he does, I wish him all the very best – apart from if he played against us!

“We’ve got Matty Alexander on a youth loan from Bolton and then we had a look at a keeper when he played 45 minutes of our game at Colne last Saturday. That keeper has just come out of the Scottish Championship and we are trying to sort out a deal. We’ve got some good options whatever happens.”

Fell thinks City are in good shape for the start of the season, the Whitby game followed quickly by a trip to Witton Albion on Tuesday.

“We are ready, it’s been a tough pre-season for different reasons – Covid, players isolating and injuries,” said Fell.

“We’re in as good a place as we could be, we’ve not lost in pre-season. I’m really comfortable where we are but we’ll know for real at 5pm on Saturday. It’s a tough start. Whitby are a strong team with two good strikers in Bradley Fewster and Jacob Hazel.

“Neutrals will put us and them on a similar level.”