PURPS CLAIM DERBY DOUBLE

City of Liverpool produced another committed and resilient performance to deservedly claim all three points against Bootle at the DCBL stadium on Wednesday night.

It was the second time this season that Paul McNally’s side have come out on top against the Bucks, and the latest result was important three points with so much to play for as the NPL West division season nears it’s end.

The manager handed a recall to skipper Danny Mitchley, who has shone every time he’s played against Bootle since joining the Purps, meaning Josh Quarless took a place on the bench.

Macca was also boosted by the return of key midfielder Max Allen for the first time since he injured his ankle against Mossley on the Easter weekend.

Mitchley was straight into the action within the first minute of the match, picking up the ball just inside Bootle’s half before attempting to lob goalkeeper Tony Thompson from distance.

Thompson was alive to it and back-peddled to make a comfortable claim, but it was an early indication of City of Liverpool’s intention to be quick-thinking and catch the Bootle defence out.

The visitors then had a spell in which they looked to feed forwards Jake Burton and Ben Hopkinson at every opportunity, but good defending from Kenny Strickland and Jack Hont in particular ensured they were frustrated in their efforts.

Bootle had a golden opportunity to open the scoring after 22 minutes when Conor Harwood’s driving run from the left saw an attempted cross strike the hand of Purps defender Adam Rooney.

It seemed a harsh penalty call from the referee given that Rooney was both in close proximity to Harwood and his arms were by his side, but nevertheless the visitors would have the chance to make the first impression on the scoreboard.

Former Tranmere Rovers forward Jake Burton stepped up to firmly strike his spot-kick into the corner of the net, but Calvin Hare dived full stretch to his left to claw the ball around the post for a corner.

It was yet more penalty heroics from the Purple Spider, who is once again demonstrating his credentials as the best custodian in the league.

The Purps rallied after the penalty save, knowing they’d been afforded a real let-off by their goalkeeper and they looked to assert themselves in forward areas.

Bootle struggled with the pace and aggression of Xenon Bahula, Ismail Sonko and Elliot Morris on the ball, and both visiting central defenders were pulled up for fouls in dangerous areas as the Purps looked a yard quicker in attacking areas.

Kenny Strickland fired a few yards over the bar with a long range free kick, whilst Adam Rooney went close with a header from a Max Allen corner which was well held by Thompson.

On the stroke of half time the hosts had a golden chance to open the scoring as a deep ball into the box found the Bootle defence fast asleep and Rooney in acres of space.

The bigman got slightly underneath his header which agonisingly skewed over the bar – a real let off for the visitors.

HALF TIME: City of Liverpool 0-0 Bootle

The Purps started the second half as they had finished the first, with Elliot Morris racing clear down the right within a minute of the restart and flashing a right footed effort across the face of goal.

Two minutes later, Michael Simpson was picked out by Morris on another foray forward, with the right-back firing a fierce effort on the overlap which flew just wide of Thompson’s near post.

Another City of Liverpool burst forward saw the Purps with 3 on 3 momentarily, with the ball eventually breaking for Max Allen to fire an opportunistic first-time effort over the bar from distance.

Ismail Sonko then saw an instinctive effort from the right of the box denied by an excellent stop from Thompson to push the ball away for a corner.

The resulting set piece caused all manner of confusion in the Bootle box, culminating in Mitchley firing over from inside area.

City of Liverpool had a real fire in their bellies and an intent which saw them first to every ball and looking to take full advantage of their dominance in the second period.

Mitchley picked the ball up fully 30 yards out before unleashing a speculative left-footed effort which flew past Thomson and cannoned back off the bar.

It would’ve been another spectacular derby goal for Mitchley, who lit up Vesty Road with an acrobatic overhead kick against Bootle on New Years Day last year.

The Purps had huge shouts for a penalty a minute later when Xenon Bahula was hauled down by Anthony Miley, however the referee instead pointed for a corner to the consternation of the home support.

It wouldn’t matter though, as a brilliant delivery from Max Allen was met by a delayed run from Adam Rooney who rose like a salmon to power home the opener!

Bootle rallied after the opener and came alive particularly after the introduction of substitute Michael Burkey, meaning the Purps had to be on their mettle defensively to ensure the Bucks didn’t have a route back to parity.

Firstly, Calvin Hare denied a long range effort which came through a crowd after the referee failed to stop play as Si Wills lay on the deck with a head injury.

Shortly afterwards a driving run from Harwood caused confusion and a Bootle man looked to turn the ball home from close range, only to be denied by heroic defending on the line from Michael Simpson.

Deep into injury time Miley went into the book for scything down Quarless who momentarily looked to break clear on the edge of the area.

The resulting free kick was a textbook definition of “Josh Quarless Territory” and the Purps’ top scorer stepped up to rifle home his free kick from over 25 yards out, sparking celebrations amongst his team mates and delighted home supporters.

Josh’s strike extinguished any lingering fears of a late Bootle equaliser and the final whistle brought jubilant scenes in front of the home faithful – who had kicked every ball, celebrated every successful tackle and spurred Paul McNally’s side on to another important three points.

FULL TIME: City of Liverpool 2-0 Bootle

City of Liverpool: Calvin Hare, Michael Simpson, Jack Hont, Kenny Strickland, Adam Rooney, Si Wills, Elliot Morris, Ismail Sonko, Danny Mitchley (Josh Quarless), Max Allen (Michael Grogan), Xenon Bahula (Jawad Jebrin).

Subs not used: Kyle Schorah, Luke Byron.

POST MATCH REACTION:

Paul McNally hailed Calvin Hare as the “best goalkeeper in the league” after his first half penalty save and praised the commitment from his side to secure an important three points.

The gaffer also described the contributions of man of the match Adam Rooney as “outstanding” as the centreback matched a commanding performance at the back with the all-important opening goal.

NEXT UP:

The tough games come thick and fast for City of Liverpool as we make the trip to Nantwich Town on Saturday afternoon in the NPL West for a 3pm kick off.

There is also the small matter of a Liverpool Senior Cup Final to be played at Marine on Tuesday night.

Kick off is 7:45pm and tickets are selling FAST so supporters are encouraged to purchase theirs asap to avoid disappointment.

Tickets are available via the following link and there will be NO CASH TURNSTILE on the night, so you really do need to move fast if you want to be part of it.

The supporters have been a huge part of all of our memorable moments this season, so lets give Macca and the lads a big away following on Tuesday night!

https://app.fanbaseclub.com/Fan/Dashboard?clubId=178

RELENTLESS PURPS PUNISH KIDSGROVE

City of Liverpool returned to winning ways with a 5-0 demolition of Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday afternoon.

However, a fine result for Paul McNally’s side was marred by tragedy chanting from visiting Kidsgrove supporters, two days before the 35th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

The visiting supporters sang “always the victim” – a tragedy chant which is widely associated with Hillsborough and is a criminal offence.

As well has being witnessed by home supporters and staff, the tragedy chanting was noted by a number of neutral supporters and was acknowledged in a statement issued by Kidsgrove Athletic on social media shortly after full time.

On the field, Macca handed a start to Xenon Bahula who has returned to fitness after a long period out, whilst Michael Grogan returned to the bench for the first time since suffering an injury against Widnes.

It was a slow start to the match from both sides, although the visitors moved the ball nicely in the opening stages – particularly through holding midfielder Ernest Ofosu and winger Nathan Morley.

Despite some periods of possession, the visitors never laid a threat to Calvin Hare’s goal, although Ofosu fired a couple of yards over the bar with a speculative effort from distance early on.

City of Liverpool almost went ahead out of nothing when a mistake at the back saw Kidsgrove gift the ball to Josh Quarless, allowing the Purps’ top marksman to stride through on goal.

Quarless lifted a lobbed effort over the advancing Kieran Harrison but the ball agonisingly rebounded off the crossbar and back into the custodian’s grateful arms.

It wouldn’t be long before the Purps took the lead however, and it came in somewhat fortuitous fashion!

Ismail Sonko was the “architect” as he skipped beyond a couple of challenges down the right before curling in a deep cross which flew over the head of Harrison and directly into the net.

Out of nothing the Purps were ahead!

HALF TIME: City of Liverpool 1-0 Kidsgrove Athletic

City of Liverpool came out with a real intent at the start of the second period and Xenon Bahula in particular was a real thorn in the side of the Kidsgrove defence.

Much as had been the case in the first half, Xenon skipped past defenders at will and earned his side a penalty after 51 minutes when he was felled by Harvey Washington.

Kenny Strickland stepped up and made no mistake, hammering home from the spot to put his side two to the good.

The Purps continued on the front foot and looked threatening with each foray forward.

Elliot Morris continued to occupy his marker in wide areas and terrify the visiting defence with his pace and trickery on the ball.

The excellent Ismail Sonko was the pick of a midfield which was a real platform of defensive solidity and direct driving runs when in possession.

Sonko went close again on 69 minutes after picking the ball up beautifully but his effort drifted wide of the post.

Paul McNally gave Bahula a well-earned rest after such a starring performance and introduced Jawad Jebrin, whilst skipper Danny Mitchley replaced Josh Quarless.

There was no let-up for Kidsgrove as JJ picked up where Xenon left off by hounding defenders in the press, as Mitchley picked up pockets of space around the edge of the box and battled in the air with a tired backline.

It wouldn’t be long before Mitchley got in on the action, scoring a screamer for what would be the pick of the afternoon’s goals.

The forward was picked out by a neat pass from Jebrin before hitting a ferocious effort on the half-volley which flew past Harrison and into the net.

What a strike from the skipper!

Going into injury time there was no let-up from the Purps who sensed an opportunity to add to their goal tally.

Substitute Kyle Schorah strode away after Kidsgrove made a mess of dealing with a long ball down field, and the forward selflessly squared for Jebrin to tap home into the unguarded net.

There was still time for more, as the Purps made it a late triple-salvo courtesy of another emphatic Strickland penalty.

The referee had no choice but the point to the spot after Danny Mitchley was scythed down with the goal at his mercy after a neat cut back by Elliot Morris.

Strickland stepped up to compound Kidsgrove’s misery, making it five goals in two weeks for a vital cog in the Purple Machine.

FULL TIME: City of Liverpool 5-0 Kidsgrove

City of Liverpool: Calvin Hare, Michael Simpson, Jack Hont, Kenny Strickland, Adam Rooney, Simon Wills, Elliot Morris, Ismail Sonko, Josh Quarless (Danny Mitchley 78′), Luke Byron (Kyle Schorah 76′), Xenon Bahula (Jawad Jebrin 69′).

Subs not used: Baba Conteh, Michael Grogan.

MAN OF THE MATCH:

Fit-again fan favourite Xenon Bahula gets the nod for an energetic display full of pace and trickery, which gave the visiting defence no respite all afternoon.

MANAGER’S INTERVIEW:

Paul McNally was pleased to see his side return to winning ways, praising a “perfect response” to last weekend’s defeat at Chasetown.

NEXT UP:

The Purps face Bootle in our rescheduled fixture from Easter Monday’s washout.

The match will be played at the DCBL Stadium, Widnes on Wednesday 17th April for a 7:45pm kick off.

As previously communicated, tickets bought for the original fixture remain valid.

Supporters are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance to avoid queues at the turnstiles and we’re hoping for a big home crowd to support Macca and the lads in an important fixture.

https://app.fanbaseclub.com/Fan/Dashboard?clubId=178