Purps lose out in tight encounter
A much changed City of Liverpool side were edged out 3-2 in a close encounter against Whitchurch Alport. Whitchurch took the lead in the first half through a magnificent free kick. But goals from Tom Peterson and Andy Fowler gave the COL's a second half lead, until 10 minutes from the end when Whitchurch equalised. The away side won the game 2 minutes from time with a penalty, to send the travelling fans into raptures.
The Purps fielded a side full of new and returning players. Andy Fowler made his debut up front alongside Tom Peterson and Billy Webb. Kev McEllin was joined in central midfield for his home debut by Chris Dykes, back from injury, and Michael Smith. The ever present back line of Lester, Weston, Dalton and Comozzi played in front of debuting Polish goalkeeper, Bartosz Kowalczyk. Declan Gregson and Daley Woods made the bench for their respective returns to action alongside Franny Barry, Tony Dunne and Todd Blayney.
The game started at a high tempo and was thrust into controversy early on when Whitchurch winger, Mike Blundell, blasted the ball at Joe Comozzi who lay prone on the floor from a prior foul. It was clear from that point on that was would be a feisty affair. 20 minutes in, Whitchurch countered and striker Simon Everall was clean through on goal and shot low. Kowalczyk saved excellently with his legs though to keep the scores level and not long afterwards Dean Twigg hit the bar from 25 yards out after City of Liverpool failed to clear their lines.
This was a tight game but it was the visitors who were creating clear cut chances with incisive counter attacks. However on 33 minutes, Whitchurch got the goal their play deserved. A central free kick from about the same range they hit the bar from, was magnificently dispatched by villain of the piece Blundell to put the visitors ahead. The game remained tight until the break, when both teams went in with only a solitary goal separating them.
The second half started similar to the first, both teams going hell for leather for every ball. But the game remained tight and uneventful - until the 60th minute when that all changed. Tom Peterson chased a hopeful long ball that he was unlikely to get to. However he was brought down by Luke Goddard. The ref blew for a foul and booked Goddard, but was Peterson fouled inside or outside the area? After consulting his linesman, who didn't raise his flag, a penalty was given which Peterson himself calmly slotted to the keepers bottom right. Game on.
6 minutes later, COL's took the lead somewhat comically. The Whitchurch keeper kicked the ball out of his hands - straight into Andy Fowler 30 yards from goal. As he ran out to close down the onrushing Purps striker, he slipped flat on his face and Fowler was able to pass into an empty net to send the Partisans wild. But there was still 24 minutes to play and this is where the game took a turn for the worse for those of a purple persuasion.
Clearly trying to kill the game off, Simon Burton sent on Daley Woods and Declan Gregson in place of Tom Peterson and Andy Fowler. From a 4-3-3, the lads switched to a 4-4-2, with Gregson and Smith providing Woods and Webb with service from out wide. Woods won every flick on and ran the channels superbly, but Billy Webb took a heavy knock and was becoming a passenger. The Purps had changed shape, but looked uncertain in pushing for an equaliser especially as Whitchurch had responded by going with 4 up top. Kowalczyk also nearly added to City of Liverpools woes on 72 minutes when, similar to his opposite numbers earlier error, he kicked the ball straight at the Whitchurch striker. Fortunately his recovery was terrific, as he spread himself tremendously to block the shot. This warning though was not heeded.
On 81 minutes, Matt Ashbrook twisted and turned down the Whitchurch left. Despite attempts by Chris Lester to stand up the winger, he crossed into the box but his cross was cleared by Weso. Sadly Weso's clearance only went as far as Dean Twigg, who dropped his shoulder to send Chris Dykes for the Echo and smash home a marvellous drive into Kowalczyks bottom right hand corner from around 20 yards out. 2-2 with 9 minutes to go and the away side now had momentum.
This momentum paid dividends in the 88th minute, when 3 COL's defenders were drawn towards the ball which eventually found its way to Ashbrook once again. He took one touch into the area and was felled by Blayney, who had replaced Chris Dykes immediately after the Whitchurch equaliser. The ref instantly pointed to the spot and the penalty was converted emphatically by Blundell for his second of the game.
City of Liverpool put in a token effort to get back into it but looked deflated and defeated, a notion shared by a very subdued and furious looking coaching team as the ref blew the final whistle.
A game that will be seen as an opportunity missed for the COL's sees them stay top of the tree on 25 points. 3 points for our visitors moves them into second place, level with ourselves on points but inferior only on goal difference. However the top 3 could look very different very soon, as Litherland REMYCA have a game in hand and are separated from ourselves and tonight's away side by a single point.