Magnificent Matty puts REMY to the sword
A battling display by City of Liverpool saw them overcome a stubborn 10 man Litherland REMYCA side 3-2 in a tasty local derby. A Matty Williams brace was the highlight of the night as Tom Peterson also got on the scoresheet in a topsy turvy game at Litherland Sports Park.
Simon Burton sprung a couple of surprises with the starting XI. Ste Longrigg made an early return in goal for the injured Bartosz Kowalczyk. An early return indeed, as Longy only came off crutches for a broken ankle over the weekend. Allen Weston also came in at centre half alongside Danny Dalton. In the other major surprise, Daley Woods was dropped to the bench in favour of Kev McEllin - a sign that the COL's had reverted to a much heralded 4-4-2. Woods was joined on the bench by Michael Roberts, Leon Williams, Ant Daniels and Declan Gregson.
The game started off quite tight, but the deadlock was broken within 8 minutes. Matty Williams took possession on the left hand side and turned Litherlands John Cheetham inside out, before smashing a right footed shot past Lee Carroll in the REMY net. A fantastic start for the COL's whose change in formation was paying early dividends. However the away sides lead didn't last long. The REMYCA midfield were starting to get a foothold in the game and, on 15 minutes, Michael Boyle and Colin Quirk played a nice one-two on the edge of the area. From 20 yards out, Quirk curled a lovely shot into Longy’s left hand corner that the keeper had no chance of saving. Litherland were back level and the game was back in the balance.
From there, both sides looked threatening. Matty Williams continued to toy with the home defence but couldn't find either Andy Fowler or Tom Peterson up front, and, from a corner, Litherland skipper Colin McDonald lost his marker and headed wide from 5 yards out. This turned out to be a warning the Purps didn't heed, as Litherland took the lead on the 30th minute. Another corner was swung in and the City of Liverpool defence failed to clear their lines. Boyle had a shot blocked by Joe Camozzi on the 6 yard line, but the ball popped up to McDonald who put it into a practically open goal with a well executed overhead kick - not bad for a big lad!
This woke the COL's up and they regained control of the game. Dykes and McEllin complimented each other well, with Dykes particularly impressive playing the ball around smoothly on a very bobbly pitch. On 39 minutes, City of Liverpool's resurgence was complete.
From a corner, the ball evaded everyone and found its way to Michael Smith on the City of Liverpool right. He attacked his full back, got to the byline and floated a marvellous ball into the box - which fell right onto the head of the unmarked Tom Peterson. From 5 yards out, Peterson headed into the ground and ball bounced up into the roof of the Litherland net. Carroll had no chance, and, at this rate, neither did the REMY. And on 42 minutes, their chances nosedived. On the Litherland right, Colin Quirk ran at Matty Williams who blocked off his opponent. With that, Quirk lashed out at Williams and aimed a kick at his thigh. The City of Liverpool bench erupted - Tom Spearritt and Simon Burton were particularly incensed - and Quirk was called over by the referee. At first it looked like he was getting a good talking to, but then the ref pulled out his red card and Quirk was given his marching orders.
For the last 3 minutes of the half, REMY looked to level the game out. McEllin gave a foul away in midfield to which the whole Litherland midfield and attack surrounded the referee in a bid to sway his decision on McEllin’s punishment. During this melee, Colin McDonald confronted Danny Dalton and proceeded to thrown himself on the floor theatrically. Luckily the ref saw through his simulation, though no punishment was dealt to either man. As he blew for half time, Simon Burton would surely have been the happier of the 2 managers with his prospects of a win heightened due to a stupid red card for Quirk.
When the game kicked off for the second half, City of Liverpool looked to instantly take the onus. Michael Smith bombed down the right hand side and excellently brought down a looped ball on the byline. He squared it to Andy Fowler, who had nipped in front of the centre half, but his touch was too heavy and took him wide. He shot and Carroll saved with his foot at the near post. An early warning from the home side.
City of Liverpool were making the extra man count. From a Dykes free kick, Danny Dalton nodded down to Tom Peterson who shot straight at the keeper from about 15 yards but the ref blew for offside. Peterson was getting joy against Stephen King and, not long after his link up with Dalton, he dragged King 5 yards deeper than he should've been, turned and fired wide of Lee Carroll's goal.
About 5 minutes later, Chris Lester, whose performance was much improved from Saturday, had the left back on toast. Coming into the area from the right, he fired a shot towards goal which was deflected. Carroll had already dived to his right and could only watch as it agonisingly hit his left post. City of Liverpool were in the ascendency but could not make their chances count. On 70 minutes Chris Dykes put a corner in from the right which pinged around the box. It eventually fell to Dalton 10 yards from goal. He took a touch to steady himself and shot low towards Carroll's bottom right, but his shot hit King which took the sting out of it and fortunately (for Carroll at least) bounced into the keeper's hands. But on 74 minutes, they finally did make one of their chances count.
Michael Smith collected the ball on the right and slid a superb ball across the box. Matty Williams took hold of it, took one touch inside his defender, and rolled it into the bottom left hand corner of the Litherland net. A brilliantly cool finish and Williams was off, joining his team mates to celebrate with the overjoyed Partisans who were about 3 miles away from the pitch!
The COL's then managed to see the game out well. Daley Woods had come on and was running the channels wonderfully. Chris Lester was also having a fantastic game, threatening the Litherland left back on more than one occasion and getting some decent balls in the box. On one occasion, Lester again beat his left back and crossed to the back post. Williams took one touch to bring it down and laid it off to Woods, who could only shoot straight at the defender. Litherland attempted a comeback, but were easily contained by City of Liverpool who continued to clear down the channels for Woods and Fowler to chase and hold up. As the ref blew the whistle, a massive roar went up from all in purple. A very tricky fixture overcome against awkward opposition on a difficult pitch. A huge 3 points gained and, finally, a tremendous performance to boot.
With this win, City of Liverpool reclaim first place in the Hallmark Security First Division with 35 points from 16 games. Charnock Richard are second, level on points and games but with a slightly inferior goal difference after keeping up with us by defeating Carlisle City 3-2 away on Tuesday night. Whitchurch Alport are third, a point off the top on 34 points. They travelled to and beat Sandbach United 3-0, also on Tuesday evening. Alsager Town sit fourth with 30 points from 12 games. And Litherlands defeat tonight sees them stay fifth, with 26 points from 13 games.
So clearly a vital win for the COL's tonight, which could possibly have eliminated another of their rivals from the race for the title. This was very much a potential banana skin for the Purps and one they managed to avoid quite impressively. Who knows, this may be one of the games we look back on in May when we are lifting the league trophy. After all, as the players will tell you, we want nothing less.