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City of Liverpool played out an entertaining 1-1 draw against Glossop North End in front of 302 fans at the VanEupen Arena.
Michael Ellison’s side came into the game fresh from Saturday’s 2-0 win over Emley AFC in the FA Cup.
The Purps manager made a number of changes, with Zac Aley, Ben Rydel and Andy Kanga making way for Adam Hughes, Ethan Devine and Jack Hazlehurst. There was also a place on the bench for new signing Jay Salkeld, who joined on Monday from Burscough.
In a cagey opening to the match the hosts worked the first opening of sorts. Stephen Rigby saw a shot blocked in the GNE box, only for the ball to break for Ethan Devine to hammer goalward, but it was watched over the bar by goalkeeper Harry Allen.
The Purps looked dangerous through recent signing Elliot Johnston, and the former Salford City midfielder was having a growing influence on his new team going forward in recent weeks.
Johnston surged down the left and played a delightful ball in for James Kirby, whose audacious flick drifted narrowly wide across the face of goal.
At the other end, Glossop looked dangerous on the counter-attack, particularly through the pace and creativity of forward Sope Awe. The visiting number 10 broke clean through on goal but was denied by a heroic last-ditch challenge from Ryan Schofield who whipped the ball off his toe as he attempted to pull the trigger.
The forward looked to be in an offside position when the ball was played, but it wasn’t given by the officials, so Schoey’s intervention was crucial.
The act of heroism was Schofield’s last contribution in the match, as the centreback was forced off moments later after picking up a knock, being replaced by Ben Rydel.
The injury saw a defensive reshuffle, with Louis Isherwood partnering Jack Hinnigan in the middle of the backline, and Rydel slotting in at right back.
The game was becoming increasingly end-to-end as the half progressed. First, a long ball from Adam Hughes picked Stephen Rigby out on the left side of the area. The midfielder attempted an inventive lob which had Harry Allen back peddling, but the Glossop custodian was mightily relieved to see the ball nestle narrowly on the roof of his net.
At the other end, Glossop missed a golden chance to open the scoring, as a deep ball in from the left saw dangerman Sope Awe steal in between Isherwood and Hinnigan, only to glance his header wide with the goal at his mercy.
The visiting keeper was called into action again moments later, producing a fine instinctive stop to keep out a 30-yard snapshot from James Kirby.
From the resulting corner the hosts had a golden opportunity of their own on the stroke of half time but failed to make the visitors pay. A whipped delivery from the left found Louis Isherwood unmarked, but the defender’s header flashed agonisingly across the face of goal and away to safety.
HALF TIME: City of Liverpool 0-0 Glossop North End
City of Liverpool started the second half slowly, which saw GNE far more in the ascendency. The visitors were increasingly dictating play through the influential Sope Awe and looking dangerous going forward.
After 52 minutes, the visitors made the first impression on the score line, as a delightful ball in from the right was delicately flicked on for Rory Fallon to power a header home from close range.
The goal immediately woke up City of Liverpool and saw Michael Ellison’s side with added purpose going forward, roared on by a vocal crowd behind the goal.
Jack Hazlehurst was the first to threaten Harry Allen’s goal in the second period, but his fierce volley was deflected wide by a heroic block from GNE skipper Lee Wilshaw.
Once again, Elliot Johnston was an influential presence for the Purps, finding pockets of space and driving forward at will. He was ably supported by the overlapping Ben Rydel from right back and the two linked up well to force a number of key defensive interventions from North End.
The Purps were not to be denied and bagged the equaliser their play had deserved on 63 minutes.
A great driving run from Elliot Johnston again saw him link well with Ben Rydel who cut inside and found Rigby. When Rigger’s shot was blocked the ball broke for skipper Nathan Burke to volley home ferociously, leaving Harry Allen with absolutely no chance. Game on!
With the Purps advancing forward at every opportunity seeking a winner, the visitiors looked to counter and could have hit back immediately as a deep ball in evaded Theo Roberts and called for key intervention from Louis Isherwood to prevent another tap in from Fallon.
Jack Hinnigan was also called into action, putting his body on the line to block a venomous long range effort away for a corner.
Michael Ellison introduced experienced forward Freddie Potter and Saturday’s supersub Xenon Bahula, as his side looked to find a winning goal.
Indeed, Potter almost brought a telling contribution immediately. He pealed off a defender intelligently and found space in behind down the right, before cutting the ball back expertly for the later arrival of Ethan Devine, The central midfielder cut across the ball somehow and fired a yard wide as the expectant Purps behind the goal waited for the net to bulge.
The Purps onslaught continued however, and out of nothing Jack Hazlehurst fired a long range volley that looked for all the world like it was destined for the top corner, but drifted millimetres past the woodwork.
It was another moment which had Allen mightily relived as he watched the Purple Messi’s brilliant effort whistle past him.
After a frenetic period of injury time saw the Purps camped in the GNE half and the visitors heroically defend a number of set pieces, the referee called time on a brilliant second half which was thoroughly entertaining for the 302 supporters present.
FULL TIME: City of Liverpool 1-1 Glossop North End
Man of the Match: Elliot Johnston drove the Purps forward, particularly in the second period, and for the second match on the run was the creative spark we needed in attacking areas. He was every in the best player on the park.
CITY OF LIVERPOOL: Theo Roberts, Adam Hughes, Louis Isherwood, Ryan Schofield (Ben Rydel 23′), Jack Hinnigan, Ethan Devine, Nathan Burke, Elliot Johnston, James Kirby (Freddie Potter, 72′), Jack Hazlehurst, Stephen Rigby (Xenon Bahula 72′).
Subs not used: Zac Aley, Jay Salkeld.