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City of Liverpool beat Stockton Town on penalties to reach the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy.
A game of few chances finished 0-0 after regulation time.
The match then went straight to penalties without a period of extra time and saw Purps custodian Theo Roberts the hero, producing two brilliant saves to see his team through.
Michael Ellison’s Purps were without injured star striker Freddie Potter following the knock he sustained early on against Farsley Celtic last weekend.
The Purps were also missing Louis Isherwood, Shaun Kelly and Elliot Johnston, with Jack Hazlehurst and Jack Hinnigan only fit enough for a place on the bench.
A familiar story of recent weeks, the Purps were dealt an injury blow early on with left back Zac Aley forced to leave play after suffering a muscle injury and was replaced by Louis Corrigan.
The Purps were much the better side in the opening exchanges, dominating possession and looking to utilise the pace of Xenon Bahula, Jay Salkeld, Ryan Gibson and Kai Shorrock in wide areas.
It was Stockton however who had the first real chance of the match, as Kevin Hayes raced clear down the left of the area but was denied by an excellent low stop from Theo Roberts.
At the other end, Stockton looked to keep fledgling winger Xenon Bahula quiet which resulted in some fairly agricultural challenges.
Town’s Tom Coulthard escaped with only a booking after a lunge from behind left Xenon writhing on the deck, a challenge which incensed several City of Liverpool players.
Jay Salkeld also had to undergo a long period of treatment from physio Tom Spearritt after colliding with Stockton keeper Callum Roberts claiming a high ball.
The winger was fit to continue and almost teed up an opener for the hosts after robbing Daniel McWilliams of possession and racing down the right wing.
Salkeld cut back infield past the left back and played a perfect ball to Ben Rydel who side-footed straight at Callum Roberts from the edge of the area.
Moments later Ryan Gibson was also in need of a long period of treatment after appearing to catch an elbow to the face challenging for an aerial ball, resulting in 10 minutes of injury time at the end of the half.
With seconds left of the first period Gibson, now wearing a Terry Butcher-esque bandage to the head, raced clear down the left and put a glorious ball in which evaded Salkeld by inches as he waited for a tap in.
HALF TIME: City of Liverpool 0-0 Stockon Town
The second period was again a keenly contested affair of few chances.
Michael Ellison introduced Jack Hazlehurst for Kai Shorrock midway through the half as he looked to create attacking openings.
The Purple Messi looked lively and was the centre of everything going forward, linking up typically well with skipper Nathan Burke.
Hazlehurst played a delightful dink over the Stockton backline to get Jay Edgar in behind, but just as the midfielder looked to pull the trigger Callum Roberts rushed out to smother the ball at his feet.
The Purps looked to test Roberts from range, firstly through Ryan Gibson who lashed narrowly over and then Hazlehurst who nipped inside and fired an effort akin to his wondergoal at Warrington a few years ago, except Roberts was well placed to pluck it out of the air.
Jay Edgar also narrowly missed from range, as Michael Ellison’s side looked to conjure a winner.
Deep into injury time the Purps had a golden opportunity to win the tie as Xenon Bahula beat the offside trap but lobbed over Callum Roberts crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
It was a difficult chance with the keeper racing out and defenders chasing back, but a real let-off for Stockton Town.
The match went to penalties with Nathan Burke stepping up first to bury his kick into the top corner, getting the Purps off to an excellent start.
Theo Roberts saved Stockton’s first kick brilliantly, guessing right to palm Tom Coulthard’s effort away at full stretch.
Jack Hazlehurst, Jay Edgar and Adam Hughes then tucked their spot kicks away with aplomb to leave Louis Corrigan with match point.
The left back, usually so deadly from the spot, was denied twice by brilliant saves from the excellent Callum Roberts.
Corrigan’s kick was re-taken after Roberts was adjudged to have been off his line for the first save, but the keeper repeated the trick producing another fine stop.
This allowed Peter Bulmer the chance to restore parity, but Theo Roberts produced a brilliant save, getting a huge hand to the Stockton substitute’s kick and winning the shoot-out 4-3 for the Purps.
FULL TIME: City of Liverpool 0-0 Stockton Town
(City of Liverpool win 4-3 on penalties).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Theo Roberts was the hero producing to magnificent stops in the shoot-out to send his team through. The custodian also made an excellent low save in the first half and edges out midfielder Jay Edgar who was magnificent once again.
City of Liverpool: Theo Roberts, Zac Aley (Louis Corrigan 15’), Kai Shorrock (Jack Hazlehurst 59’), Ryan Schofield, Adam Hughes, Ben Rydel, Nathan Burke (c), Jay Edgar, Ryan Gibson, Jay Salkeld (Stephen Rigby 86’), Xenon Bahula.
Subs not used: Ethan Devine, Jack Hazlehurst, Ryan Brookfield.
FULL PENALTY SHOOT OUT VIDEO:
(Scroll to approx 10 mins in)
FULL MATCHDAY PHOTO GALLERY: