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City of Liverpool came from a goal down to defeat Bootle in a committed team performance at the VanEupen Arena.
Michael Ellison’s team were the better side for much of the match but went in a goal down at half time.
However, the Purps came out for the second half with the bit between their teeth to overcome the NPL West newcomers and take a deserved three points.
The Purps manager was once again forced to shuffle his pack with several key players still missing.
Ryan Schofield, Jay Edgar, Kai Shorrock and Andy Kanga were unable to play again yesterday, meanwhile midfielder Ben Rydel was ineligible whilst his loan extension from Salford City was being finalised.
City of Liverpool therefore called upon Freddie Potter to start his second game in two days, whilst skipper Nathan Burke started his fourth consecutive match after his pre-season campaign was disrupted by a serious leg injury.
Ello also handed a start to young winger Xenon Bahula who has impressed off the bench in the past three matches and had a hand in two goals during Saturday’s victory at Newcastle Town.
The opening minutes of the match saw the Purps controlling possession and the aforementioned Bahula having plenty of joy down the left flank.
The youngster beat Bootle full back Kieran Halligan with ease, and skinned Bucks skipper Liam Loughlin to start an attack.
This was an act which saw the Loughlin get a talking to from referee Stuart Morland for scything down the winger.
The first effort of the match saw a snapshot from Jack Hazlehurst fly over the bar after the ball dropped invitingly to him from a half-cleared corner.
At the other end Purps keeper wasn’t troubled by a long range effort from the lively Ben Hodkinson, which also sailed over the bar.
Bootle grew into the game but were largely restricted to long range efforts.
Good work from former City of Liverpool forward Tom Peterson saw the ball nodded into the path of Peers but his effort on the half-volley was always rising and whistled over the bar.
The Purps continued to see plenty of joy down the left and more excellent link up between Hazlehurst and Bahula saw the latter race in behind down the left.
His dangerous ball in resulted in a collision between Kelly and Halligan and play was called back for a free kick.
Bootle then opened the scoring against the run of play, as a cross shot from Joe White broke into the path of Ben Hodkinson, who appeared to be in an offside position, but tucked the ball nearly beyond Roberts into the net.
The goal saw Bootle’s confidence grow and a couple of opportunities to extend their lead.
Firstly, an uncharacteristic error from defensive stalwart Shaun Kelly saw the Purps man robbed of possession, but his blushes were spared by Joe White who fired wastefully wide across the face of goal.
Moments later, White fired an effort which was deflected onto the Purps post with the keeper beaten.
Fine margins which decide football matches were, for once at least, going in our favour!
The Purps rallied and a delightful ball from Bahula released Hazlehurst down the left. The Purple Messi tied Millington in knots and surged past a couple of challenges before firing a swerving effort over Ryan Jones’ crossbar.
On the stroke of half time another majestic run from Bahula saw the young winger striding into the box.
He left Halligan in his wake and was cleaned out from behind, but play was called back for an offside, presumably as the ball was played to Bahula, saving Halligan from conceding a certain penalty and possible further punishment.
HALF TIME: City of Liverpool 0-1 Bootle
The second half saw the hosts coming out with greater purpose and defending manfully at the back as a foundation from which to build attacks.
The Purps pressed high up ensured that the Bootle backline had no time to settle on the ball.
A clever flick from the mercurial Hazlehurst released Freddie Potter into space and the Purps forward fired an instinctive left footed effort which flashed across the face of goal.
The crowd were baying for a Purps equaliser and pushing their side on to get it!
Moments later Potter had another half chance, as a deep cross from Bahula was met the head of the forward, but he was always stretching to make the connection and the effort went over Jones’ crossbar.
Potter continued to lead the Purps’ press and should have had a penalty as he nicked the ball past Jay McCarten and was brought to the ground by a lazy challenge from the former Purps defender.
The referee didn’t give it, and McCarten’s remonstrations at Potter masked the fortune he’d been afforded by the officials, but the Purps wouldn’t have to wait long for a spot kick.
Another surging run down the left saw Bahula race past Halligan for the umpteenth time.
Having been saved by an offside flag in the first half, the Bootle defender didn’t learn from his mistake and scythed the winger down, leaving referee Morland with no choice but to point to the spot.
Purps captain Nathan Burke stepped up to send Ryan Jones the wrong way, bringing the hosts deservedly level.
The hosts were a different side in the second period, first to every ball and with every man going into each challenge, attack or sprint with added purpose. It told.
Having been a livewire all afternoon, you just knew that man of the moment Freddie Potter was going to be an influence on proceedings.
The experienced forward was alive to Bootle making a mess of clearing their lines, robbing Ben Hodkinson of possession before firing a low right footed effort which took an age to cannon back off the post.
Potter was alive to the loose ball, hammering a left footed effort into the ground which looped over the prone Ryan Jones and into the far corner of the net to the delight of a vocal home support behind the goal.
Bahula continued to be a constant source of creativity for the Purps. He again raced past a frustrated Halligan with brilliant footwork only for his cross to be cut out as Jack Hazlehurst attempted to slide it home.
Another Purps attack saw McCarten booked for a poor challenge on Elliot Johnston who’d left him in his wake.
The referee played advantage at the time allowing Louis Isherwood the chance to get a cross in but called play back to take further punishment once play was dead. The former Purps skipper was replaced a few minutes later.
As the match progressed the Purps were now content to counter-attack but had to be alive to the danger of Michael Carberry down the left for the visitors.
The wing back was a constant option for the Bucks in the closing stages as they looked to get back into the game.
Only excellent defending from Kelly and Hinnigan saw some dangerous deliveries come to nothing.
City of Liverpool were also reliant on the composure of goalkeeper Theo Roberts who, on a couple of occasions, alleviated pressure on his side by coming through a crowd to punch as Bootle loaded the box for set pieces.
The Purps had a chance to seal the match late on the counter, as Bahula released Hazlehurst on the halfway line after a lovely turn.
The Purple Messi could not get his feet sorted however and lost his footing as he attempted to get beyond Halligan, who was the last man.
With Purple Hearts in mouths, there was one last chance for the Bucks to take something from the game.
A dangerous ball into the box broke fortuitously to the feet of a Bootle forward who for all the world looked about to rescue an unlikely draw for the visitors.
Purps keeper Theo Roberts raced out of his goal, making himself big and smothering the ball. Centre back Jack Hinnigan was then alive to the loose ball to put in a magnificent block and eventually the Purps got it clear.
For the second successive match the ever-dependable Roberts made a magnificent stop which influenced the scoreline and ultimate result.
A phenomenal weekend’s contribution from the former Wigan Athletic and Chester custodian.
FULL TIME: City of Liverpool 2-1 Bootle
CITY OF LIVERPOOL: Theo Roberts, Adam Hughes, Louis Isherwood, Shaun Kelly, Jack Hinnigan, Ethan Devine, Nathan Burke (c), Elliot Johnston (Zac Aley 78′), Freddie Potter (James Kirby 85′), Jack Hazlehurst, Xenon Bahula.
Subs not used: Salkeld, Brookfield, Rigby.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Xenon Bahula had well and truly earned his chance ahead of this fixture and the youngster did not disappoint. A constant thorn in Bootle’s side who was just far too quick and skilful for Kieran Halligan. The Purps winger tied his full back in knots and won the penalty from which Nathan Burke equalised.
We spoke to Ello after the match who was delighted with the result and character shown by his side to come from behind.
FULL MATCHDAY PHOTO GALLERY: