Play-off fight so exciting

Lancaster's Simon Wills is out injured
Lancaster's Simon Wills is out injured
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THE NPL First Division North play-off race will go right down to the wire – that is the prediction of Lancaster City manager Darren Peacock.

The Dolly Blues find themselves one place outside the top five but level on points with fifth-placed Bamber Bridge.

The clubs occupying the top six positions are beginning to break away from the rest of the pack, with perhaps Ramsbottom United the only other team capable of forcing themselves into the play-off reckoning.

At the top, Curzon Ashton appear destined to win the title – they lead second-placed Warrington Town by two points with two games in hand.

Just six points separate the next four teams, with Ramsbottom eight points behind City but with three games in hand.

Peacock said: “It’s probably too early to say that the top six or seven sides are pulling away. But it’s getting exciting. I think it will go down to the final week before all the play-off places are decided.

“There’s only Curzon at the top, who look like they are going to win it. But everybody else seems to beating each other. So I think it’s going to go down to the wire – right to the edge.”

City suffered just one defeat – a 1-0 loss to Curzon – throughout the month of December and they picked up four points from a possible six over the festive period.

On Saturday they battled to a 2-1 victory over a stubborn Harrogate Railway Athletic at Giant Axe.

“We always knew it was going to be tough against Harrogate,” Peacock said.

“We played them at their place and they like to play good football – they’ve got good movement.

“The pitch was a bit dicky with all the rain that we have had but we still managed to play some good football.

“We’ve been on a pleasing run recently – we’ve only lost to Curzon in the last six games and even then, on chances created in that match, we were a bit disappointed to come away with the loss.

“I’ve been pleased over Christmas – we got the four points out of six, although it was frustrating to have the New Year’s Day game called off. But that had its advantages because a few of the lads were carrying niggles.”

Tomorrow, City travel to relegation-threatened Radcliffe Borough knowing three points could move them up to fourth spot.

“They are in the bottom three at the moment but we will respect them,” Peacock said. “We are getting near to our strongest squad with players coming back.

“Simon Wills is going to be out for two weeks and Neil Marshall, who has had a groin operation, is a couple of weeks away.”