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City of Liverpool reached the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round for the first time in our history after a brilliant performance against National League North side Farsley Celtic at the VanEupen Arena.
After beating NPL West division high-fliers Clitheroe 1-0 in the previous round, Michael Ellison’s side were rewarded with a home tie against Farsley, who are two leagues higher in the Non-League pyramid.
It would be a tough tie for the Purps, who also had to contend with an injury crisis leading to several players being unable to play.
Louis Isherwood missed the game due to a head injury sustained against Colne midweek, with in-form winger Ryan Gibson and experienced defender Shaun Kelly also missing from the match day squad.
Jack Hazlehurst, Jack Hinnigan, Stephen Rigby and Ethan Devine were only fit enough for a place on the bench alongside forward Jay Salkeld and goalkeeping coach Ryan Brookfield.
Celtic meanwhile boasted a side containing former Championship midfielder Adam Barton and ex League One winger Will Hayhurst, who both started their careers in the Preston North End first team.
The Purps were dealt a huge blow within two minutes of kick off as top scorer Freddie Potter landed awkwardly after a foul by Celtic’s Adam Buxton left him in a heap.
After receiving treatment and trying to run the knock off, the forward was unable to continue and was replaced by Jay Salkeld.
Potter’s injury took the wind out of purple sails somewhat, with the visitors seeing a lot of early possession without looking likely to penetrate a backline which was well marshalled by Ryan Schofield and Adam Hughes.
The first half-chance of the match saw Schofield make a brilliant sliding challenge to prevent Longbottom from having a sight on goal, followed by Theo Roberts confidently saving a speculative cross-shot with ease.
City of Liverpool looked dangerous on the counter attack through Xenon Bahula who was giving Richards a torrid time.
The winger roasted the right-back once again before whipping in a fierce cross which narrowly evaded the late arrival of Jay Edgar from midfield.
Edgar was a real focal point for Michael Ellison’s side, picking up space between midfield and attack and knitting play together nicely on the counter attack.
At the other end Theo Roberts produced a fine save with his body to deny Luke Parkin a goal from close range.
The Purps stopper stayed big to make the stop, after the lively Parkin found himself in space following good hold up play from Will Longbottom to release him in behind.
The Purps were once again lively on the counter attack and almost found the opener when fit-again Kai Shorrock produced a trademark raid down the right, with his fine cross met by a flick-header from Ben Rydel which drifted just past the post.
City of Liverpool were then gifted the chance to take the lead from the spot as great play from Jay Edgar released Salkeld in behind and the forward was brought to ground inside the box.
The referee should also be commended for appearing to play advantage for an earlier foul on Edgar, which allowed Salkeld a chance to attack the Farsley box.
Skipper Nathan Burke stepped up to fire the Purps into the lead with aplomb, sending Farsley’s on-loan Fleetwood Town goalkeeper Donaghy the wrong way from the spot.
Just before the interval Farsley had a chance to test Theo Roberts with a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the area, but Will Hayhurst stepped up to slide the dead-ball wide across the face of goal.
HALF TIME: City of Liverpool 1-0 Farsley Celtic.
The visitors started the second period well as they attempted to restore parity in the tie.
A long ball into the box was headed down by a Farsley attacker into the path of Longbottom who drew a smart stop from Roberts from close range.
The visitors then missed a gilt-edged chance to level matters as a ball in from the right found Hawley a couple of yards out, but the forward somehow fired high and wide with the goal at his mercy.
It was a huge let-off for Michael Ellison’s side, which would prove telling.
Buoyed by the miss moments earlier, City of Liverpool hit Farsley on the counter attack in devastating fashion.
Jay Salkeld beat the offside trap and surged towards goal from the half way line, cutting in off the left the forward approached the box and hammered an unstoppable right footed effort which flew into the top corner, giving Donaghy no chance.
It was Salkeld’s first goal for City of Liverpool, and what a way to open his account.
Farsley heads dropped as the National League North side assessed the mountain they now had to climb in order to get back into the tie.
Tyler Walton was booked for a poor, frustrated and late challenge on the excellent Adam Hughes, which left the Purps centre-back in a heap on the deck and sparked an angry reaction from team-mate Ryan Schofield.
The Purps continued to cause their higher-tier opponents a difficult afternoon at the back, and the visitors were indebted to Donaghy who produced an excellent save to prevent Salkeld from adding to his tally.
The substitute found space in the box after a trademark run from Bahula beat the full back, and saw the ball cut back for Salkeld to fire goalwards from close range.
In the final minute the Purps were awarded a free kick in an inviting position after on loan Salford City midfielder Ben Rydel was brought down by a clumsy challenge on the edge of the area.
Rydel picked himself up and fired a majestic free kick over the wall and into the net off the crossbar, to put the icing on the cake of a brilliant afternoon for Michael Ellison’s team.
The final whistle was blown and, much like the last round, Nathan Burke lead the team off the pitch to a standing ovation from a vocal home support behind the goal.
FULL TIME: City of Liverpool 3-0 Farsley Celtic
MAN OF THE MATCH: On an afternoon when each City of Liverpool player to a man was outstanding, the star was Jay Edgar. The midfielder was every inch the best on the park, dominant in all areas and had a hand in the move which won the first half penalty.
CITY OF LIVERPOOL: Theo Roberts, Zac Aley, Kai Shorrock, Ryan Schofield, Adam Hughes, Ben Rydel, Nathan Burke, Jay Edgar, Freddie Potter (Jay Salkeld 8’), Elliot Johnston (Stephen Rigby 90’) Xenon Bahula.
Subs not used: Jack Hinnigan, Ethan Devine, Jack Hazlehurst, Ryan Brookfield.
We caught up with Ello at full time and the Purps manager was effusive in his praise of his players, who deservedly progress into the next round at the expense of a side two tier’s higher in the football pyramid.
FULL MATCHDAY PHOTO GALLERY:
City of Liverpool produced a magnificent performance to take all three points away at Rylands despite playing much of the match with ten men.
Michael Ellison’s side bounced back from Tuesday’s home defeat to Clitheroe in the best possible way, but each man had to put a real shift in to ensure victory after Louis Corrigan was sent off for two bookable offences after 32 minutes.
Ello shuffled his pack again with fit-again Ryan Schofield restored to the starting XI, whilst Ben Rydel came in at right back for Louis Isherwood with Ethan Devine returning to central midfield.
The Purps were also boosted by the return of top scorer Freddie Potter who missed the Clitheroe match in midweek and has become something of a fan favourite since joining the club.
City of Liverpool started the match as much the better side, dominating possession and seeing plenty of joy through the delivery of Louis Corrigan looking to loft the ball into channels for Potter.
The Purps looked to have plenty of fire in their bellies from the off, with the visitors pressing relentlessly and denying Rylands time on the ball.
This told early on as Ryan Gibson robbed Rylands of possession and looked to release Potter in behind, but the winger’s through ball had slightly too much on it and former City of Liverpool keeper Graeme McCall was out quickly to claim the ball.
At the other end, Rylands only initial foray into the Purps half saw Callum Dolan fire a cross shot across the face of goal.
The Purps pressure continued, and the visitors could have taken the lead after a delightful reverse pass from Freddie Potter released Gibson in behind.
McCall was the Rylands hero again though, racing out to make a big save with his body as a vocal away following expected the bet to bulge.
Gibson had another chance to open the scoring moments later, with his rapid pace getting him in behind once again after a magnificent ball from Corrigan from deep.
Gibbo was only denied by a brilliant last-ditch challenge as he attempted to get his shot away, but the winger was looking a dangerous outlet on only his second appearance for his new club.
The pressure finally told however and the Purps got the goal their excellent play had richly deserved, with Gibson involved once again.
The winger raced down the right and played a perfect ball across the face of goal for Freddie Potter to side-foot home his fifth goal in four games from close range.
City of Liverpool’s tails were well and truly up, and Potter almost returned the favour for Gibson after the opener.
The forward held the ball up expertly and released Gibson once again, but another lightning attack ended with McCall making the save.
Jack Hazlehurst also tested McCall, affectionately known as Podge, with a long-range free kick which the keeper calmly patted down and gathered at the second attempt under pressure from Potter.
The game turned in a matter of minutes soon after, however.
Stephen Milne took advantage of the ball breaking loose from an excellent Ryan Schofield challenge, to fire a long-range equaliser past Theo Roberts.
Against the run of play was a huge understatement, but parity was restored nonetheless.
Things went from bad to worse three minutes later as Louis Corrigan brought down Callum Dolan in the channel and, already on a booking, the Rylands players surrounded the referee asking for a red card.
The man in black, after a brief hesitation, duly obliged and the Purps would have to play the remaining 60+ minutes with ten men.
Rylands looked to immediately make the man advantage count as the Purps dug deep and looked to reset.
The hosts should have taken the lead as a great corner from the left was whipped in by Adam Buxton but headed wide by Molyneux at the front post with the goal well and truly at his mercy.
Moments later, the Purps called on Theo Roberts to make a superb stop as Luke Wall burst clean through on goal.
The City of Liverpool custodian stood big to save with his body and gather the loose ball, a missed opportunity the hosts would come to rue.
Just before the interval the pendulum swung again, as the talismanic Potter robbed Rylands defender Rick Smith of the ball in his own box.
The centreback brought Potter to ground and the referee had no choice but to point to the penalty spot.
Plenty of questions were asked about why no card was wielded given the referee’s previous enforcement of Corrigan’s offences, but nevertheless the ever-reliable Nathan Burke stepped up to send McCall the wrong way from the spot, and the Purps would have the lead at the break.
HALF TIME: RYLANDS 1-2 CITY OF LIVERPOOL
The Purps started the second period relentlessly, and good have extended their lead within moments of the restart.
Gibson raced clear down the right for the umpteenth time and played a sumptuous ball in for Potter, but the bounce of the ball narrowly evaded the Purps forward with Rylands struggling to get back.
The Purps should have had a second penalty of the match as a corner was half cleared to Hazlehurst who carried the ball into the box before being cleaned out as he attempted to shoot.
It was a stonewaller of the most obvious kind, leaving everyone in the ground to wonder how it hadn’t been given.
It didn’t matter however, because the Purps would eventually get the third goal that their performance merited.
Freddie Potter outmuscled a Rylands defender just in his own half, turned and released an inviting ball into the right-hand channel for Gibson to chase.
Gibbo raced clear and had a sight of goal but squared the ball for Hazlehurst to tap in at the far post the to the elation of the travelling support.
Michael Ellison then introduced Xenon Bahula for Freddie Potter who was suffering with cramp after another typically all-action performance.
Rylands had a huge chance to reduce the deficit after a deep corner from the left somehow found its way through to the back post, but Dolan and Milne got in each other’s way when either could have scored, and both missed the ball entirely.
The Purps looked dangerous on the counter-attack still particularly with the speedy figures of Bahula and Gibson significantly quicker than Rylands defenders who were marking man-for-man as they attempted to chase the game.
It was an unlikely figure who almost got through on goal late on though.
Substitute Louis Isherwood ran at the home backline from distance, beating a couple of challenges, before skipping past the last defender who scythed him down just outside the area.
Again, no cards were wielded by the referee, who dumbfounded players and spectators alike with the inconsistency of his implementation of the rules.
In the final minute of normal time Rylands set up a tense finish as Lewis Earl headed home a corner from close range.
It was the Purps however who controlled play deep into injury time and arguably could have extended their lead further.
First, the fledgling Bahula surged clear from the halfway line and attempted to skip past McCall, but the keeper capped his own performance with another excellent stop low down.
As the clock was ticking down Bahula again skipped clear before being cleaned out by Warren Gerrard who simply could not match him for pace. The referee finally went to his pocked, to award the Rylands defender a red card.
The final whistle was blown, and a pulsating match ended with Michael Ellison’s side securing a magnificent three points which was punctuated by an outstanding performance from each of his players.
The togetherness shown by all, and unwavering support from the vocal away following saw the Purps home and the elation of the full-time whistle saw defender Ryan Schofield jump into the crowd to embrace the supporters.
FULL TIME: RYLANDS 2-3 CITY OF LIVERPOOL
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Gibson capped an outstanding display with two assists and was a constant attacking threat throughout. The winger also impressed with his diligent defensive support and was brilliant cover for Rydel and Isherwood respectively all game.
CITY OF LIVERPOOL: Theo Roberts, Louis Corrigan, Ben Rydel, Ryan Schofield, Jack Hinnigan, Ethan Devine (Louis Isherwood 62’), Nathan Burke, Jay Edgar, Freddie Potter (Xenon Bahula 76’), jack Hazlehurst (Zac Aley 81’) Ryan Gibson.
Subs not used: Stephen Rigby, Elliot Johnston.
We caught up with a delighted Michael Ellison at full time, who was full of praise for his side’s performance to take the three points against adversity.
FULL MATCHDAY PHOTO GALLERY: