WITTON Albion could be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu following another narrow defeat, this time at Lancaster.

They have played five matches in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight since the turn of the year, all of them settled by a single goal.

This one was particularly painful.

Debutant Paul Dawson, signed by his home-town club earlier in the week, swept in a loose ball from close-range in the last minute after a corner dropped at his feet.

The Dolly Blues were jubilant.

They started this contest inside the Premier Division’s relegation zone but only four points adrift of the guests who occupied 14th position in the standings.

And Albion still do, but with greater discomfort than previously.

“We were good enough to have picked up a point,” said assistant manager Gary Martindale.

“A 0-0 draw would have sent us home with a different mind-set, and you could see from the joy in their reaction – and the relief of it too – how much that result meant to them.

“Lancaster are a much better side than the table says they are without any question.”

And yet Albion had their moments.

Cesaire had only goalkeeper Jack Sims in front of him after a teammate flicked on Anthony Gardner’s long throw but could not make a clean contact with the ball.

Witton spurned another glorious opportunity when Tom Owens and James Foley combined, the latter steering a perfectly-weighted pass into Matty Devine’s path.

However his first touch was heavy and his second was a shot he sliced horribly off-target.

Dawson couldn’t believe it when Albion goalkeeper Greg Hall produced an extraordinary reaction save, one-handed low to his right, to keep out his header from a corner.

Witton continued to conjure openings on a rapidly-deteriorating pitch in sodden conditions and Sims jabbed a boot in the way of Foley’s shot after the interval.

Hall was kept busy too, helping the ball around an upright after Brad Carsley shot while turning.

He blocked a header from the striker on the line too before a defender cleared the danger.

Lancaster’s luck was in at the other end after Foley slid a pass into Owens and his low cross was stabbed instinctively against an upright by a recovering Glenn Steel.

When Hall was finally beaten, misjudging the flight of Rob Wilson’s free-kick, Carsley’s header flashed wide.

Albion’s number one then contorted his body to tip over substitute Tom Kilifin’s curling shot before Dawson’s decisive intervention.

Lancaster | Sims (GK), Henry, Dugdale, Wills, Steel, Williams (Fensome 75), Dawson, Norris, Blinkhorn, Carsley (Kilifin 87), Wilson (Winder 85) Subs not used Bailey, Russell Goal Dawson 90 Booked Henry

Witton | Hall (GK), Gardner, Devine, Wardle, Cesaire (Abadaki 90), Booth, McKenna, Owens, Hopley, Jones, Foley Subs not used Smart, Cobley Booked Jones (foul)

Referee Mark Reeves

Attendance 267