Town ready to battle with former title rivals

Town renew rivalries with Lancaster City tomorrow hoping to take a step closer to a shot at a Football League club in the first round of the FA Cup.

The Shaymen are two wins away from that, having fallen at the last hurdle to Conference Premier sides in each of the last two seasons.

And they face a tough test at the Giant Axe against a side that pushed Neil Aspin’s side all the way for the One North title a couple of seasons ago.

The teams actually met for the first time in a league game in August 2008 when Jim Vince’s side were beaten 2-0 over the Pennines in a match that also saw a career ending knee injury for Ross Clegg.

There was little more joy in the return game at the Shay which finished goalless.

It was a different story in September 2009 when Aspin took his side to Lancaster and returned with the points from a 1-0 win courtesy of a Mark Peers strike.

Peers was a peripheral figure by the time the sides met at the Shay with the title up for grabs.

It was left to current leading goalscorer Lee Gregory (2), James Dean and Steve Payne to bag the goals in a 4-0 win in front of 3,152 fans and the rest is history.

Town clinched a second successive title 12 months later while Lancaster are still in One North.

This season has been mixed - victory over Evo Stik Premier Division FC United of Manchester in the last round of the FA Cup at Gigg Lane has been followed by a 5-1 defeat at Garforth in the Trophy last weekend and a 2-1 league defeat to Durham City at the Giant Axe in midweek.

That left the Dolly Blues a point outside the play off places, although they have at least one game in hand on all the teams abuve them in the table.

Their recent form may have been patchy, but there is no doubt they will raise their game tomorrow and Town will have to be up for it from the start to book their place in the final qualifying round.