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City of Liverpool came from a goal down to defeat Bootle in a committed team performance at the VanEupen Arena.
Michael Ellison’s team were the better side for much of the match but went in a goal down at half time.
However, the Purps came out for the second half with the bit between their teeth to overcome the NPL West newcomers and take a deserved three points.
The Purps manager was once again forced to shuffle his pack with several key players still missing.
Ryan Schofield, Jay Edgar, Kai Shorrock and Andy Kanga were unable to play again yesterday, meanwhile midfielder Ben Rydel was ineligible whilst his loan extension from Salford City was being finalised.
City of Liverpool therefore called upon Freddie Potter to start his second game in two days, whilst skipper Nathan Burke started his fourth consecutive match after his pre-season campaign was disrupted by a serious leg injury.
Ello also handed a start to young winger Xenon Bahula who has impressed off the bench in the past three matches and had a hand in two goals during Saturday’s victory at Newcastle Town.
The opening minutes of the match saw the Purps controlling possession and the aforementioned Bahula having plenty of joy down the left flank.
The youngster beat Bootle full back Kieran Halligan with ease, and skinned Bucks skipper Liam Loughlin to start an attack.
This was an act which saw the Loughlin get a talking to from referee Stuart Morland for scything down the winger.
The first effort of the match saw a snapshot from Jack Hazlehurst fly over the bar after the ball dropped invitingly to him from a half-cleared corner.
At the other end Purps keeper wasn’t troubled by a long range effort from the lively Ben Hodkinson, which also sailed over the bar.
Bootle grew into the game but were largely restricted to long range efforts.
Good work from former City of Liverpool forward Tom Peterson saw the ball nodded into the path of Peers but his effort on the half-volley was always rising and whistled over the bar.
The Purps continued to see plenty of joy down the left and more excellent link up between Hazlehurst and Bahula saw the latter race in behind down the left.
His dangerous ball in resulted in a collision between Kelly and Halligan and play was called back for a free kick.
Bootle then opened the scoring against the run of play, as a cross shot from Joe White broke into the path of Ben Hodkinson, who appeared to be in an offside position, but tucked the ball nearly beyond Roberts into the net.
The goal saw Bootle’s confidence grow and a couple of opportunities to extend their lead.
Firstly, an uncharacteristic error from defensive stalwart Shaun Kelly saw the Purps man robbed of possession, but his blushes were spared by Joe White who fired wastefully wide across the face of goal.
Moments later, White fired an effort which was deflected onto the Purps post with the keeper beaten.
Fine margins which decide football matches were, for once at least, going in our favour!
The Purps rallied and a delightful ball from Bahula released Hazlehurst down the left. The Purple Messi tied Millington in knots and surged past a couple of challenges before firing a swerving effort over Ryan Jones’ crossbar.
On the stroke of half time another majestic run from Bahula saw the young winger striding into the box.
He left Halligan in his wake and was cleaned out from behind, but play was called back for an offside, presumably as the ball was played to Bahula, saving Halligan from conceding a certain penalty and possible further punishment.
HALF TIME: City of Liverpool 0-1 Bootle
The second half saw the hosts coming out with greater purpose and defending manfully at the back as a foundation from which to build attacks.
The Purps pressed high up ensured that the Bootle backline had no time to settle on the ball.
A clever flick from the mercurial Hazlehurst released Freddie Potter into space and the Purps forward fired an instinctive left footed effort which flashed across the face of goal.
The crowd were baying for a Purps equaliser and pushing their side on to get it!
Moments later Potter had another half chance, as a deep cross from Bahula was met the head of the forward, but he was always stretching to make the connection and the effort went over Jones’ crossbar.
Potter continued to lead the Purps’ press and should have had a penalty as he nicked the ball past Jay McCarten and was brought to the ground by a lazy challenge from the former Purps defender.
The referee didn’t give it, and McCarten’s remonstrations at Potter masked the fortune he’d been afforded by the officials, but the Purps wouldn’t have to wait long for a spot kick.
Another surging run down the left saw Bahula race past Halligan for the umpteenth time.
Having been saved by an offside flag in the first half, the Bootle defender didn’t learn from his mistake and scythed the winger down, leaving referee Morland with no choice but to point to the spot.
Purps captain Nathan Burke stepped up to send Ryan Jones the wrong way, bringing the hosts deservedly level.
The hosts were a different side in the second period, first to every ball and with every man going into each challenge, attack or sprint with added purpose. It told.
Having been a livewire all afternoon, you just knew that man of the moment Freddie Potter was going to be an influence on proceedings.
The experienced forward was alive to Bootle making a mess of clearing their lines, robbing Ben Hodkinson of possession before firing a low right footed effort which took an age to cannon back off the post.
Potter was alive to the loose ball, hammering a left footed effort into the ground which looped over the prone Ryan Jones and into the far corner of the net to the delight of a vocal home support behind the goal.
Bahula continued to be a constant source of creativity for the Purps. He again raced past a frustrated Halligan with brilliant footwork only for his cross to be cut out as Jack Hazlehurst attempted to slide it home.
Another Purps attack saw McCarten booked for a poor challenge on Elliot Johnston who’d left him in his wake.
The referee played advantage at the time allowing Louis Isherwood the chance to get a cross in but called play back to take further punishment once play was dead. The former Purps skipper was replaced a few minutes later.
As the match progressed the Purps were now content to counter-attack but had to be alive to the danger of Michael Carberry down the left for the visitors.
The wing back was a constant option for the Bucks in the closing stages as they looked to get back into the game.
Only excellent defending from Kelly and Hinnigan saw some dangerous deliveries come to nothing.
City of Liverpool were also reliant on the composure of goalkeeper Theo Roberts who, on a couple of occasions, alleviated pressure on his side by coming through a crowd to punch as Bootle loaded the box for set pieces.
The Purps had a chance to seal the match late on the counter, as Bahula released Hazlehurst on the halfway line after a lovely turn.
The Purple Messi could not get his feet sorted however and lost his footing as he attempted to get beyond Halligan, who was the last man.
With Purple Hearts in mouths, there was one last chance for the Bucks to take something from the game.
A dangerous ball into the box broke fortuitously to the feet of a Bootle forward who for all the world looked about to rescue an unlikely draw for the visitors.
Purps keeper Theo Roberts raced out of his goal, making himself big and smothering the ball. Centre back Jack Hinnigan was then alive to the loose ball to put in a magnificent block and eventually the Purps got it clear.
For the second successive match the ever-dependable Roberts made a magnificent stop which influenced the scoreline and ultimate result.
A phenomenal weekend’s contribution from the former Wigan Athletic and Chester custodian.
FULL TIME: City of Liverpool 2-1 Bootle
CITY OF LIVERPOOL: Theo Roberts, Adam Hughes, Louis Isherwood, Shaun Kelly, Jack Hinnigan, Ethan Devine, Nathan Burke (c), Elliot Johnston (Zac Aley 78′), Freddie Potter (James Kirby 85′), Jack Hazlehurst, Xenon Bahula.
Subs not used: Salkeld, Brookfield, Rigby.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Xenon Bahula had well and truly earned his chance ahead of this fixture and the youngster did not disappoint. A constant thorn in Bootle’s side who was just far too quick and skilful for Kieran Halligan. The Purps winger tied his full back in knots and won the penalty from which Nathan Burke equalised.
We spoke to Ello after the match who was delighted with the result and character shown by his side to come from behind.
FULL MATCHDAY PHOTO GALLERY:
City of Liverpool bagged their first win of the NPL West campaign with a committed team performance at Newcastle Town.
Michael Ellison was again forced to shuffle the pack having lost defensive stalwart Ryan Schofield early on against Glossop North End on Tuesday, whilst Jay Edgar is still missing with a foot problem.
The Purps manager gave a first start to forward Freddie Potter who has impressed during substitute cameos against Emley and GNE respectively in the past seven days.
Potter could have opened the scoring during a dominant opening to the match from the visitors. A great ball in from Adam Hughes was met by the head of the forward, and his looping header had the keeper backpedalling but dropped agonisingly past the post.
The Purps continued their early spell of possession and again tested home goalkeeper Mooney as skipper Nathan Burke dropped his shoulder and sent his opposition midfielder to the shop before firing a rasping left footed effort which was well held by the Town #1.
An inch perfect long ball from Adam Hughes then dissected the home centre backs, allowing Freddie Potter to burst onto it and fire an instinctive lobbed effort with the keeper in no mans land. As Mooney watched the ball float over his head, the travelling Purps expected the net to bulge but the ball dropped onto the roof of the net.
As Michael Ellison’s side and a vocal travelling support could be forgiven for wondering why they weren’t already ahead, the visitors finally broke the deadlock.
Nathan Burke dinked a delightful ball in behind the fullback for Jack Hazlehurst to race to the dead ball line before lifting a perfect cross to the back post where Freddie Potter was in acres of space, gratefully firing a composed finish home.
A delighted Potter wheeled away and was mobbed by his team-mates. It’d been coming.
As the half progressed the home side came back into it more, but not without the help of some dreadful calls from the officials.
First Nathan Burke robbed a home midfielder of possession and ran off on the counter, only for the referee to be conned by theatrics and call play back for a booking and yellow card for the Purps skipper.
There were two or three attempted dives which went unpunished too, leaving the City of Liverpool dugout incensed.
As the match became an attritional midfield battle, the Purps were content to hit the home side on the counter attack with the half closing out, and could have added to their lead.
In one passage of play Elliot Johnston burst clear and was denied by a fine block from Mooney, but with the ball still in play it eventually found Potter on the edge who fired narrowly wide with a long range left footed effort.
HALF TIME: Newcastle Town 1-3 City of Liverpool
After the interval it was a far more even contest, with the home side bombarding the Purps backline with long balls, leaving the match to become an aerial contest.
Early in the half Theo Roberts was called into action for the first time, and the keeper was more than up to the challenge, smartly holding a low cross-shot with Town players following in.
It was more of the same from the officials however, as the referee once again rewarded theatrics with a free kick for a phantom foul in midfield. It was punished by the home side in devastating fashion however, as Joseph Berks fired into the top corner from fully 30 yards.
It was a truly outstanding strike which left Roberts with no chance.
Newcastle Town deserved their equaliser for their play at the beginning of the second half, and now they had restored parity their tails were well and truly up. Michael Ellison introduced Zac Aley for Adam Hughes as he attempted to quell a Town tide of attacks.
The hosts could and should have taken the lead moments later, as the dangerous Baxter broke clean through on goal but shanked into the side netting with the goal at his mercy. It was a real let off for Michael Ellison’s side.
Ello introduced Xenon Bahula for Elliot Johnston, with the manager looking for Xenon’s injection of pace on the counter.
The Town tide continued for the moment, however.
The Purps were indebted to truly outstanding goalkeeping from Roberts as it looked for all the world that Town were about to take the lead. A wonderful ball in from the right was met by a powerful header inside the six yard box but Roberts somehow dived full stretch to top it over the crossbar from point blank range.
A truly magnificent stop from the former Wigan Athletic custodian.
The value of Roberts’ save was put into greater context moments later, as the Purps took the lead following a devastating counter-attack.
Substitute Xenon Bahula drove into the Town half and waited for the opportune moment to release Jack Hazlehurst into the box down the left. The Purple Messi floated a deep cross for Freddie Potter to rise like a salmon and power a header across the goalkeeper and into the net.
The Purps weren’t finished there however, as the Purps Matchday admin was still writing up Potter’s goal on Twitter, when they grabbed a third!
A match-winning two-minute salvo secured the points, as Bahula again raced forward on the counter and played a perfect ball across the face of goal for Stephen Rigby to fire home from close range.
Credit to Bahula who, for the third game running, influenced the outcome of the match off the bench. The youngster had been a real find and had a hand in both goals which saw his side come away with three points.
The late Purps double saw Town launching the ball forward at every opportunity, with the visiting defenders needing to be on their mettle in the air.
City of Liverpool rode their luck a touch late on, with Town hitting the bar from close range before the ball broke fortuitously into the grateful arms of Roberts.
At the other end Freddie Potter’s eyes lit up 30 yards up, but as he saw the match ball up for grabs he fired what could only be described as a Ben Stokes-esque six high over the crossbar.
With only injury time left, Theo Roberts calmed purple nerves by claiming the ball repeatedly as the home side continued the aerial bombardment. Finally the referee gave the fouls he should have been giving all match, with elbows and late barge from the Town forward leaving the Purps keeper in a heap.
At times the home side were in the ascendency in the second period, but the defensive solidity, fine goalkeeping and match changing subs from the manager saw the visitors deservedly take all three points on the road, in a game of two halves!
FULL TIME: Newcastle Town 1-3 City of Liverpool
MAN OF THE MATCH: It can only be one person really, can’t it. A brilliant performance from Freddie Potter on his first Purps start. Two goals and a fine overall display sees the Purps victorious on the road. Honourable mentions to Jack Hazlehurst, Theo Roberts for his wonder-save and Xenon Bahula’s cameo off the bench.
CITY OF LIVERPOOL: Theo Roberts, Adam Hughes (Zac Aley 60′), Louis Isherwood, Shaun Kelly (Ben Rydel 75′), Jack Hinnigan, Ethan Devine, Nathan Burke (c), Elliot Johnston (Xenon Bahula 72′), Freddie Potter, Jack Hazlehurst, Stephen Rigby.
Subs not used: Jay Salkeld, James Kirby.
We spoke to a delighted Michael Ellison at full time, who was pleased with his team’s overall display. The manager praised Freddie Potter’s contribution on his first start and was pleased with the two goals on the counter attack which sealed the win.
FULL MATCHDAY PHOTO GALLERY:
City of Liverpool played out an entertaining 1-1 draw against Glossop North End in front of 302 fans at the VanEupen Arena.
Michael Ellison’s side came into the game fresh from Saturday’s 2-0 win over Emley AFC in the FA Cup.
The Purps manager made a number of changes, with Zac Aley, Ben Rydel and Andy Kanga making way for Adam Hughes, Ethan Devine and Jack Hazlehurst. There was also a place on the bench for new signing Jay Salkeld, who joined on Monday from Burscough.
In a cagey opening to the match the hosts worked the first opening of sorts. Stephen Rigby saw a shot blocked in the GNE box, only for the ball to break for Ethan Devine to hammer goalward, but it was watched over the bar by goalkeeper Harry Allen.
The Purps looked dangerous through recent signing Elliot Johnston, and the former Salford City midfielder was having a growing influence on his new team going forward in recent weeks.
Johnston surged down the left and played a delightful ball in for James Kirby, whose audacious flick drifted narrowly wide across the face of goal.
At the other end, Glossop looked dangerous on the counter-attack, particularly through the pace and creativity of forward Sope Awe. The visiting number 10 broke clean through on goal but was denied by a heroic last-ditch challenge from Ryan Schofield who whipped the ball off his toe as he attempted to pull the trigger.
The forward looked to be in an offside position when the ball was played, but it wasn’t given by the officials, so Schoey’s intervention was crucial.
The act of heroism was Schofield’s last contribution in the match, as the centreback was forced off moments later after picking up a knock, being replaced by Ben Rydel.
The injury saw a defensive reshuffle, with Louis Isherwood partnering Jack Hinnigan in the middle of the backline, and Rydel slotting in at right back.
The game was becoming increasingly end-to-end as the half progressed. First, a long ball from Adam Hughes picked Stephen Rigby out on the left side of the area. The midfielder attempted an inventive lob which had Harry Allen back peddling, but the Glossop custodian was mightily relieved to see the ball nestle narrowly on the roof of his net.
At the other end, Glossop missed a golden chance to open the scoring, as a deep ball in from the left saw dangerman Sope Awe steal in between Isherwood and Hinnigan, only to glance his header wide with the goal at his mercy.
The visiting keeper was called into action again moments later, producing a fine instinctive stop to keep out a 30-yard snapshot from James Kirby.
From the resulting corner the hosts had a golden opportunity of their own on the stroke of half time but failed to make the visitors pay. A whipped delivery from the left found Louis Isherwood unmarked, but the defender’s header flashed agonisingly across the face of goal and away to safety.
HALF TIME: City of Liverpool 0-0 Glossop North End
City of Liverpool started the second half slowly, which saw GNE far more in the ascendency. The visitors were increasingly dictating play through the influential Sope Awe and looking dangerous going forward.
After 52 minutes, the visitors made the first impression on the score line, as a delightful ball in from the right was delicately flicked on for Rory Fallon to power a header home from close range.
The goal immediately woke up City of Liverpool and saw Michael Ellison’s side with added purpose going forward, roared on by a vocal crowd behind the goal.
Jack Hazlehurst was the first to threaten Harry Allen’s goal in the second period, but his fierce volley was deflected wide by a heroic block from GNE skipper Lee Wilshaw.
Once again, Elliot Johnston was an influential presence for the Purps, finding pockets of space and driving forward at will. He was ably supported by the overlapping Ben Rydel from right back and the two linked up well to force a number of key defensive interventions from North End.
The Purps were not to be denied and bagged the equaliser their play had deserved on 63 minutes.
A great driving run from Elliot Johnston again saw him link well with Ben Rydel who cut inside and found Rigby. When Rigger’s shot was blocked the ball broke for skipper Nathan Burke to volley home ferociously, leaving Harry Allen with absolutely no chance. Game on!
With the Purps advancing forward at every opportunity seeking a winner, the visitiors looked to counter and could have hit back immediately as a deep ball in evaded Theo Roberts and called for key intervention from Louis Isherwood to prevent another tap in from Fallon.
Jack Hinnigan was also called into action, putting his body on the line to block a venomous long range effort away for a corner.
Michael Ellison introduced experienced forward Freddie Potter and Saturday’s supersub Xenon Bahula, as his side looked to find a winning goal.
Indeed, Potter almost brought a telling contribution immediately. He pealed off a defender intelligently and found space in behind down the right, before cutting the ball back expertly for the later arrival of Ethan Devine, The central midfielder cut across the ball somehow and fired a yard wide as the expectant Purps behind the goal waited for the net to bulge.
The Purps onslaught continued however, and out of nothing Jack Hazlehurst fired a long range volley that looked for all the world like it was destined for the top corner, but drifted millimetres past the woodwork.
It was another moment which had Allen mightily relived as he watched the Purple Messi’s brilliant effort whistle past him.
After a frenetic period of injury time saw the Purps camped in the GNE half and the visitors heroically defend a number of set pieces, the referee called time on a brilliant second half which was thoroughly entertaining for the 302 supporters present.
FULL TIME: City of Liverpool 1-1 Glossop North End
Man of the Match: Elliot Johnston drove the Purps forward, particularly in the second period, and for the second match on the run was the creative spark we needed in attacking areas. He was every in the best player on the park.
CITY OF LIVERPOOL: Theo Roberts, Adam Hughes, Louis Isherwood, Ryan Schofield (Ben Rydel 23′), Jack Hinnigan, Ethan Devine, Nathan Burke, Elliot Johnston, James Kirby (Freddie Potter, 72′), Jack Hazlehurst, Stephen Rigby (Xenon Bahula 72′).
Subs not used: Zac Aley, Jay Salkeld.