The Dolly Blues went into this fixture without a win since returning to action on July 7th, and fielded a strong team in search of some much needed goals and confidence against West Lancashire League neighbours Garstang.
Lancaster took little time in testing Clifton in the Garstang goal as five minutes in McKenna used his pace well on the right flank and crossed the ball to Connerton. The returning City star, looking likely to stay at Giant Axe, turned his man but Clifton palmed the resultant shot over the bar. The Dolly Blues took the lead from the awarded corner as Kilifin bagged his first preseason goal. Gregson's headed effort fell to the feet of Kilifin with his back to the keeper and managed to calmly turn and finish. City had chances to double their lead as both Wills and Connerton headed high of the target, with McKenna and right-back Parkinson both impressing down the right. Kilifin nearly doubled his and City's lead, but Clifton was equal to his follow-up effort from Entwistle's long shot, diving well at the striker's feet. Garstang looked well organised as manager and ex-Dolly Iain Swann watched on from the dugout and should have drawn level before half-time. City had Beesley to thank for his reaction save to Panapento's point-blank range following a goalmouth scramble.
After the interval Lancaster brought on some fresh faces in Bowen and Buller but struggled to find any rhythm until the hour mark. Connerton harried the Garstang defence and won the ball inside the area and 'keeper Clifton had to be at his best to tip the curling effort just wide of the far post. Josh Buller, who impressed in his forty-five minute viewing, was next to produce a fine save from Clifton after finding space on the edge of the box but couldn't beat the on-form stopper. Kilifin was next up to test the keeper as he broke the offside trap and struck a fantastic early half-volley that beat the 'keeper but crashed off the post and out of play. Lancaster finally got their deserved second when Clifton could only parry Rothwell's shot from range into the path of Buller who made no mistake from two yards. Minutes later and City were 3-0 up when Rothwell picked out Kilifin on the edge of the box who turned and fired a venomous strike off the underside of the bar and into the net. Joe Culshaw had the best chance to make it four before full-time when Bowen tee'd him up twelve yards from goal but the defender skied the ball over the bar.
With a win, a great performance and chances flowing, Hoyle and Stringfellow will no doubt be feeling confident as the squad starts to take shape. The strike duo of Kilifin and Connerton looks deadly, and with Carney returning and the local trialists impressing the future is starting to bode very well indeed at Giant Axe.
CityXI: Beesley 7, Parkinson 8, Archer 7, Gregson 7, Marshall 7, McKenna 7, Wills 8, Carney 7, Connerton 8, Kilifin 9, Entwistle 7
Subs all used: Bowen 8, Buller 8, Clark 7, Holden (GK) 7, Rothwell 8