The Silkmen are back at The Leasing.com Stadium for the first time in 2024 as we welcome Lancaster City.
Alex Bruce’s side will be looking to carry on from New Year’s Day victory over Warrington Rylands.
We take a look at our visitors in Opposition Focus.
Two Lancaster-based clubs, Skerton F.C. (1897–1900) and Lancaster Athletic F.C. (1905–11), had competed in the Lancashire Combination but both clubs folded without completing their final season’s fixtures, with Lancaster Athletic playing their final season in the West Lancashire Football League. The present club was then founded in the spring of 1911 as Lancaster Town F.C. and were admitted to Division Two of the Lancashire Combination for the start of the 1911–12 season having proved to the league and the Lancashire FA that they had no connection with the previous two clubs.
The club continued in the Combination with varying degrees of success including an FA Cup second round appearance, losing to Gateshead, in 1947-48 and a Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy final victory in 1951–52, but by 1970 it was decided that a change was needed so for the 1970–71 season the club left the Combination to join the Northern Premier League. City again reached the second round of the FA Cup in 1972–73, losing 2–1 at Notts County and won the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy for a sixth time in 1974–75, but after finishing seventeenth in 1981–82 the club resigned from the league and dropped into the North West Counties League when financial difficulties forced them to fold and reform. A first ever relegation followed three years later and despite only finishing thirteenth in 1986–87, City were accepted into the newly formed Division One of the Northern Premier League thanks to in no small part to ground standard and support.
In 1994–95, after several years of consolidation, and now managed by former Preston North End and Bury player Alan Tinsley, Lancaster won the Northern Premier League Presidents Cup, a first trophy in twenty years, and the following season were promoted to the Premier division as champions of Division One, also winning the Division One League Challenge Cup to complete a League and cup double. Two consecutive Northern Premier League Challenge Cup wins followed in 1999–2000 and 2000–01 under Tony Hesketh and after finishing eighth in 2003–04 the club were placed in the newly established Conference North. This was a hugely successful period for Lancaster with the club enjoying healthy league positions and several cup successes as well as reaching the FA Cup first round proper on four occasions. More financial problems led to the club folding at the end of the 2006–07 season though, suffering a 10-point deduction for going into administration and finishing bottom of the league with one point. During the summer, the club reformed and were accepted back into Division One of the Northern Premier League.
2008–09 was the final season for ex-player Barrie Stimpson, who was replaced as manager by the returning Hesketh. Lancaster lost the 2009–10 play-off final 1–0 at home to Colwyn Bay and despite another Presidents Cup Final triumph in 2011, Hesketh could not guide the club to promotion, eventually leaving in September 2012 to be replaced by ex Sunderland player Neil Wainwright. Wainwright left in February 2013 and was, in turn, replaced by former Newcastle United defender Darren Peacock, who brought in former West Ham United winger Trevor Sinclair as his assistant. Both Peacock and Sinclair left the club in September 2015, and City appointed ex player Phil Brown as manager. He led the team to a top six finish and a narrow penalties defeat in the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy final to Chorley. Brown then took City to the 2016–17 Northern Premier League Division One league title. After a bright start to the 2017–18 season the team then struggled, finishing eighteenth, and Brown left City early in the 2018–19 season. Former Nelson and Ramsbottom United manager Mark Fell was brought in as his replacement in October 2018. With assistant manager Graham Lancashire, he guided Lancaster to safety. The COVID-19 pandemic meant both the 2019–20 and the 2020-21 league seasons were abandoned with City challenging at the higher end of the league table in both campaigns.
The Dolly Blues currently sit third in the Northern Premier League form table after three wins from their last five games. City came back from 2-1 down to win 3-2 at home to Atherton Collieries on New Year’s Day. Two 90th minute strikes helped them take all three points.
This proved to be the perfect bounce back from Boxing Day where Lancaster were on the other end of a late comeback as two goals in the last 10 minutes saw 10 man Bamber Bridge defeat The Dolly Blues.
A stalemate at home to Worksop Town followed up two victories against Stafford Rangers and Whitby Town saw the interim management team of Simon Grand and Andrew Teague come through a successful spell after the departure of Mark Fell.
ONE TO WATCH
The former Workington man is one to watch for The Dolly Blues. Carroll is a work-horse in the midfield and has the ability to find a pass.
Carroll has had spells with Barrow and Clitheroe just name a few and has scored four times this season.
Three of those goals have come in the last month including a goal in the late comeback win against Atherton Collieries.
It was an evening to forget for The Silkmen the last time the sides met. Our first Tuesday night away game saw us come away from Giant Axe empty handed after a 3-0 defeat at the end of August.
Both sides are now under different management from the August encounter.