Warrington Town 1 Lancaster City 1

(Warrington Town won 4-3 on penalties)

EVEN at this relatively early stage of the season, Warrington Town have become far more acquainted with penalty shoot-outs than they would have liked.

Unlike their FA Cup loss to South Shields, however, this time the spot-kicks fell in their favour – but should it have got that far?

For most of this FA Trophy tie, Town were in control and good value for the lead given to them by a superb Jordan Buckley finish.

Thanks to an injury-time leveller, though, Lancaster took the game to penalties but Niall Cowperthwaite – the man who scored the goal that forced the shoot-out – saw his crucial penalty saved by Charlie Albinson as Yellows won 4-3.

Warrington Guardian:

Picture by Greig Bertram

“I thought we deserved that,” Yellows boss Paul Carden said.

“They had a rally with 10 to go, which you’d expect with them only being a goal down, but we deserved it.

“We were the better side in the first half – we played the conditions well.

“I thought it was a bit scrappy in the second half. The ref was very card-happy and always blowing his whistle and in conditions like this, it doesn’t help when things aren’t free-flowing.

“Neither side could really get hold of the game and it probably took the good out of what we did in the first half.

“The goal was disappointing and I’m told it was well offside, but we’ve responded, stood strong and come through to win the shoot-out when Charlie makes a great save.”

Warrington Guardian:

Picture by Greig Bertram

With a strong wind swirling around Cantilever Park and Lancaster favouring a slightly more direct style, this was always going to be a dogfight.

As well as staying in that scrap, Town had to make more of an impact in attack than the 2-1 league defeat to the Dolly Blues seven days ago.

A slight change of shape to a more traditional 4-4-2, with Buckley and Jack Mackreth up front, allowed them to do just that.

They challenged the visitors’ back three with their pressing and when playing through the channels, Town looked a threat.

When Buckley lashed home first time after a slide-rule pass from Jack Dunn had got him in, it gave Yellows a lead they just about deserved.

“We’ve worked on a shape that’s been tried and trusted for a couple of seasons now, but I’ve felt we’re becoming a bit detached from it,” Carden said.

“It’s not so much about it being disjointed but the distances between each other haven’t been quite right.

“Today, though, I thought the shape looked good.

“The back four were nice and compact, allowing the midfield to go and press without fear of being overloaded.

“The wide players did their part with and without the ball.

“Jordan can be whatever he wants. He’s 6 foot 3 and can run like the wind.

“He just needs a bit more game understanding but he’s taken his goal well.

“He hit one exactly the same but with his left foot in training on Thursday.

“He was a constant threat in the first half, but we’ve got to keep building him up to being that 90-minute player.”

One of the adjustments Carden made was to bring Mitch Duggan into midfield alongside Charlie Munro.

Filling the void left by Scott Brown, who suffered a broken leg during Tuesday’s abandoned match with Buxton, is no easy task but the utility man distinguished himself.

Town have missed someone to do the dirty work in front of their back four, but that was a role Duggan thrived upon.

Along with Luke Duffy, who was a threat with the ball and battled hard without it, he was the game’s stand-out.

“You know what you’re going to get from Mitch,” Carden said.

“He gives you everything. He was very good – he broke the game up and read situations and won the ball back I don’t know how many times.

“Duffy was everywhere. His touch creates the goal, but all our good moments in the first half stemmed from a little bit of quality and composure from him in the middle of the pitch.”

Matt Regan, too, was a pillar of strength in the middle of defence while Joel Amado – brought back in at left back – was solid.

So a win and performance to build confidence as Town prepare to travel to FC United of Manchester on Tuesday.