City of Liverpool fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at Ramsbottom United in controversial circumstances on Saturday afternoon.
Despite numerous first half chances and dominating for much of the game, Michael Ellison’s side were hit by a sucker punch through Jamie Rother’s second half winner.
The Purps started the match well and could have opened the scoring early on when Louis Corrigan floated a trademark cross in from the left for Josh Quarless to power a header into the grateful arms of Tom Stewart in the Rammy goal.
James Murphy then fired a long range effort wide after good work from Jack Hazlehurst as City of Liverpool looked to ensure their early pressure was reflected on the scoreline.
Ramsbottom came back into the game with Purps right back Jack Walls producing a goal-saving block after the ball broke fortuitously to Rammy’s Edward Cooper at the back post.
The Purps were then indebted to keeper Danny Taberner who clawed out a ferocious low effort from John Murphy after good work from Cooper saw Rammy racing away on the counter attack.
The loose ball then fell invitingly to Hugo Rodriguez but the forward somehow contrived to fire wastefully over the bar with the open goal at his mercy.
The Purps were then happy to utilise the counter attack themselves, with Josh Quarless flicking a delightful Corrigan ball on for Murphy to race clear down the right, only to be denied by a vital last-ditch challenge.
Murphy then tested Stewart again with a long range left footed effort which was well held by the Rammy custodian with visiting players looking for spillages.
The Purps pressure continued and the latest chance was created when Jay Edgar’s deep cross was well recovered by Murphy on the right of the area, who crossed for Quarless to head over.
Rammy were riding their luck somewhat, leaving the visitors ruing how they had not opened the scoring, as Jack Hazlehurst saw a ferocious close-range effort blocked, with the loose ball then seeing Quarless having an effort blocked.
Then came the moment of controversy.
A lightning counter attack saw Louis Corrigan clear a corner with resulted in Jack Hazlehurst releasing Quarless in behind, with Rammy woefully stretched at the back.
Quarless raced away from his own half with a defender in advance of him attempting to play the offside trap, but the Purps #9 broke clear and slotted home, only to find that he had been flagged for offside.
This enraged the away dugout, players and travelling contingent with Quarless not only being behind the last defender by some distance, but also running from his own half when the ball was played.
HALF TIME: Ramsbottom 0-0 City of Liverpool
Within 5 minutes of the restart the hosts opened the scoring when Jamie Rother fired a low effort through a crowd from the edge of the area.
It was a real sucker punch for the visitors, after the dominance and controversy of the first period but Ellison’s side rallied immediately in search of an equaliser.
James Murphy was expertly teed up by Hazlehurst in the Rammy box and fired a curling effort which cannoned back off the post and across the goal.
The loose ball was recovered well and Hazlehurst hit the byline before crossing for Quarless to stab home from close range.
However, once again the offside flag was up to the dismay of a vocal away support behind the goal.
Ello introduced new signing MJ Monaghan off the bench along with George Hassall, with Quarless and Murphy making way.
The home side looked nervy attempting to hold onto their lead, but brought a magnificent fingertip stop out of Danny Taberner, who push a firm header from Rodriguez over the bar as the ground expected the net to bulge.
At the other end, Stewart equalled the feat of Taberner by brilliantly clawing out a majestic free kick from Jack Hazlehurst.
Sadly, it was a familiar tale of fine margins with the Purps left to rue missed first half chances and a truly abysmal offside call from a linesman which saw the three points going the home side’s way.
FULL TIME: Ramsbottom United 1-0 City of Liverpool
Man of the Match: Jack Hazlehurst. The Purple Messi was a constant thorn in the side of the hosts and was unlucky not to have a goal and two assists to his name.
City of Liverpool: Danny Taberner, Louis Corrigan (c), Jack Walls, Scott Lycett, Jack Hinnigan, Glenn Rule (Ryan Gibson), James Edgar, Elliot Johnston, Josh Quarless (George Hassall 63’), Jack Hazlehurst, James Murphy (MJ Monaghan 62’)
Subs not used: Lewis McKinney, Xenon Bahula.
We caught up with Ello at full time to get his thoughts on a frustrating afternoon for the Purps. Apologies for the lighting, unfortunately we were caught out by the hosts only leaving one floodlight on!