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City of Liverpool completed a sterling late fightback at Atherton Collieries to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in our latest pre-season outing.
Michael Ellison’s Purps travelled to Skuna Park with another week of training behind them following last Saturday’s defeat at Vauxhall Motors, and the cancellation of a planned midweek friendly against Warrington Town.
The manager gave opportunities to several new faces on trial, as his side continued their preparation for the fast-approaching 2021-22 campaign, with a step up in opposition to the NPL Premier Division’s Colls.
Skuna Park will have fond memories for the Purps, as Simon Burton’s 9 man side won an entertaining Reusch Champions Cup on penalties after a 3-3 draw in 2017. Fast forward to last season of course and Ello’s Purps completed a resounding 0-3 win against their higher-tier opponents in the FA Trophy.
In the opening exchanges the hosts looked lively and particularly effective on the counter-attack with Marcus Cusani, Elliott Rokka and Ben Conway linking up well. The Purps were indebted to brave defending by new signing Shaun Kelly on a number of occasions, whilst former Colls custodian Theo Roberts also made a good stop down low.
The hosts also went close courtesy of former FC United of Manchester midfielder Jack Lenehan, but his effort rebounded off the upright to safety, much to the relief of the visitors.
At the other end, forward Mitch Bryant went close with a header after good work down the right from Trialist, but the number nine’s effort was rather tame, and Colls keeper Danny Taberner held with ease.
On the stroke of half time Colls took the lead as Marcus Cusani released the lively Ben Conway down the right and he made no mistake, lifting a composed finish above the advancing Roberts and into the net. It was a disappointing lapse from the Purps to concede so late in the half, but in truth the hosts were good value for their lead.
HALF TIME: Atherton Collieries 1-0 City of Liverpool
Michael Ellison made several changes at the break as he looked to freshen the side up and give opportunities to a number of new players.
The hosts also made changes but started the second period as they had ended the first, confident in possession and looking to extend their advantage. They did just that as Ben Conway again beat the offside trap and confidently rounded Roberts before tucking home a composed finish to make it two-nil.
Colls looked almost certain to end their Purps hoodoo. Almost.
After the goal, the Purps looked to find a way back into the game and were considerably buoyed by the introduction of the pacey young Trialist down the right side, who had the beating of the Colls back line for speed despite his tender years.
Trialist was unlucky not to reduce the arrears when he robbed the hosts of possession and cut inside the area, beating a couple of challenges, but was crowded out as he attempted to shoot.
Not down-heartened by the missed opportunity, late-on Trialist was again released in behind off the right, this time courtesy of a fine ball from Zac Aley. He cut inside and went down under a challenge from Luca Defreitas Hansen resulting in the referee awarding what looked like a generous penalty.
Jack Hazlehurst stepped up to tuck the penalty away under the dive of Danny Taberner and the Purps had reduced the arrears. Game on!
The visitors continued in their quest to restore parity and were handed another opportunity from the spot in injury time.
A neat one-two between Tony Rialist and Terry Rialist, practiced for years in the Rialist back-garden, saw the former surging into the box. Luca Defreitas Hansen completed a difficult end to the match by gifting the Purps a second penalty with a somewhat lazy challenge.
If there had been any debate about the first award, this was clear-cut and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot.
Having won the spot-kick, the confident T Rialist took the penalty himself, scoring low beyond Taberner who again guessed correctly but couldn’t keep it out.
Parity, but hold on…
It was already deep into injury time but the Purple tail was wagging furiously and out of nowhere the visitors stole an unlikely victory in the most eye-catching of manners.
The hosts strode into the Purps half only to be stopped by a brilliant sliding challenge from Aley. Kieran Nolan then played the loose ball to man of the moment T Rialist who carried it a couple of steps into the home half before firing an audacious lob over Taberner from fully 45 yards.
An incredible goal to end an incredible ending to the match!
Full Time: Atherton Collieries 2-3 City of Liverpool.