City of Liverpool claimed the bragging rights from the first derby of the season, defeating Bootle 2-0 at the Berry Street Garage Stadium on Boxing Day.
Paul McNally welcomed back right back Michael Simpson following the completion of the one match ban incurred by his sending off against Runcorn Linnets.
Midfield lynchpin Simon Wills was rewarded for an excellent display off the bench against Clitheroe with a return to the starting XI, as did the fit-again Adam Rooney.
The Purps followed up an excellent win over Clitheroe three days earlier by continuing very much on the front foot and denying the Bucks any foothold in the game during a somewhat punishing opening to the match.
This was personified by the relentless Simon Wills who relished the intensity of a derby midfield battle against his old side as he flew into challenges and looked a dominant force against his opposite numbers.
A bright start to the match saw the Purps ahead with 16 minutes on the clock, as Michael Simpson strode into midfield before releasing Elliott Morris into acres of space down the right.
Morris played a devilish ball across the face of goal which expertly picked out skipper Danny Mitchley, whose intelligent movement saw him skip away from former Purp Anthony Miley and flick home a first-time finish beyond Tony Thompson in goal.
The Purps made it two shortly before half time when Danny Mitchley went from scorer to provider to pick out Callum Schorah with a brilliant deep cross.
Schorah benefitted from Jay Cooper switching off at right back to find space on the left of the area, delivering a brilliantly delicate finish from a narrow angle across Thompson and into the net.
HALF TIME: BOOTLE 0-2 CITY OF LIVERPOOL
The Purps continued on the front foot in the early stages of the second period and were unfortunate not to get a penalty when Xenon Bahula skipped beyond Anthony Miley and was upended in the box.
Referee Kavan Hurn was unmoved.
Bootle stepped it up somewhat having utilised all three of their available substitutions at the interval, and went close when a move down the left saw former City of Liverpool striker Connor Harwood fire straight at Calvin Hare.
Another move down the left saw the dangerous Michael Burkey skip inside only to be denied by a fine save by Hare down to his right.
The loose ball then broke to Ben Hodkinson with the goal at his mercy, whose fierce left footed effort was deflected over by a heroic block from Mike Grogan.
City of Liverpool almost put the icing on the cake in the closing stages when a lovely chest from substitute Connor Rankin saw the forward find Callum Schorah.
Schorah’s majestic driving run from just inside Bootle’s half saw him leave four players in his wake before being denied by a fine save by Tony Thompson.
The Purps deservedly took all three points courtesy of their first half double salvo, making it three wins from three against Runcorn Linnets, Clitheroe and Bootle respectively.
The result and performance underlined a growing confidence amongst the squad which has grown throughout the recent FA Trophy run and reaped rewards with these victories over strong NPL West Division opponents.
Boxing Day’s fixtures saw the Purps ascend to 10th in the table and they were applauded off the park by a delighted “away” faithful.
FULL TIME: BOOTLE 0-2 CITY OF LIVERPOOL
City of Liverpool: Calvin Hare, Michael Simpson, Jack Hont, Adam Rooney, Mike Grogan, Simon Wills, Callum Schorah, Max Allen (Kenny Strickland 81′), Danny Mitchley (Connor Rankin 86′), Elliott Morris (Jawad Jebrin 89′), Xenon Bahula.
Subs not used: Baba Conteh, Callum Lees.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
It was another afternoon where you could easily make a case for any of Paul McNally’s starting XI to take the man of the match award.
The excellent Danny Mitchley, Elliott Morris and Xenon Bahula where particularly outstanding, as was Mike Grogan whose heroic block preserved the clean sheet and ensured there were no nervy moments late on.
The MOTM award however goes to the brilliant Simon Wills who was at his destructive best, relishing a lively derby day midfield battle.
Paul McNally was effusive in his praise of his side, describing them as “immense from the very first whistle”.
Macca also dedicated the win to first team coach Adam James’ daughter Penelope who is in hospital at the moment – we of course send the best wishes of everyone at the club to Adam and his family.
A busy festive schedule concludes with a home fixture against Vauxhall Motors on New Years Day.
As usual, tickets can be purchased in advance on Fanbase, and there will be a cash/card turnstile for walk-ups.
Let’s start 2024 in the best possible way by getting right behind Paul McNally’s Purps in another important match – bring your family and friends!