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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: