Witton Albion FC 3-1 AFC Liverpool

 

Narrow roads where trees blocked out all light overhead wound their way through the Cheshire countryside. Nearing the stadium, rural idyll gave way to old warehouses and industrial estates. Just beyond a small lane you’d be forgiven for missing, a vehicle repair workshop and a family owned storage business were signposted. At the end of the road is something more entirely, one of the finest grounds in non-league. This is how Witton Albion announced itself.

The pitch was impressive, heavy rain the day before and the sprinklers before kick-off provided a slick, fast playing surface for both sides. From early on however, Witton played very direct. A series of long diagonal passes over the top in the first 15 minutes put the AFC back four under pressure.

Albion had the better of the early exchanges and forced a couple of good saves from Goalkeeper Ben Morrow. This spell of pressure from Witton came mostly down the right side, testing central defender Declan Hill and right back Liam Murray, both coped well but the corner count was rising.

AFC Liverpool settled into the game after the early pressure and played simpler football resulting in a good spell of possession. Witton were able to win the ball back deep inside the AFC half and after some neat passes on the edge of the box went through on goal and struck the crossbar.

This warning shot was followed quickly by the real thing. The ball ricocheted off a few players after a failed clearance and sent a Witton trialist through on goal, able to slot the ball just beyond Ben Morrow. The ball appeared to come off a Witton player however and with the trialist at least a full yard offside, 1-0 to Albion seemed harsh. The goal scorer injured himself in the process and had to be replaced.

AFC Liverpool responded well to going a goal down, they grew more confident on the ball and probed down Witton’s right side. Much of the good work was done by Captain Michael Boyle who caused problems cutting inside and used full back Liam Murray on the overlap. This positive spell resulted in a series of corners for AFC, one of which was just headed wide by Calum Woods. Another corner soon after saw Joe Whittington beat his marker and his header was just cleared off the line by the Albion player on the post.

Albion then had an effort cleared off the line at the other end on the stroke of half time, with Declan Hill in the right place at the right time.

AFC Liverpool started the second half and picked up very much where they left off, they looked confident and broke well. A pass split the defence and put Joe Whittington in space on the right side of the 18 yard box but his cross was unable to find Steven Milne who waited in the middle. Again down the right wing Michael Boyle received the ball after some quick one touch passing. Boyle dribbled through on goal but could only hit the side netting. After another good move AFC were unlucky not to be level.

Witton looked to wrestle back control of the game and this resulted in a few chances in quick succession. Two of these were one-on-ones as AFC substitute goalkeeper Dom Garner came out confidently and made important saves. Garner then made another vital stop soon after as the ball looked to find the top right hand corner but the keeper tipped it over the bar at full stretch.

AFC’s Steven Milne turned sharply just inside the Witton half and played a lovely ball to Callum Routledge on the left wing. Routledge then cut in on his right foot, opened his body up nicely but just put the ball wide.

Around the 65th minute mark, Witton won a foul close to touchline on the left hand side of the pitch, deep inside the AFC half. The resulting free kick was whipped in at pace and the deftest of headers from Michael Wilson was enough to put the ball into the top right corner, Witton 2-0.

The final 20 minutes were frantically end to end, with chances for both sides. AFC quickened the pace and played down the right side as Amir Falah and Liam Murray linked up well. At the other end, Witton’s Will Jones found space on the edge of the area and unleashed a wonderstrike to make it 3-0.

Undeterred, AFC played some of their best football of the match. A great move was started from the back, one and two touches moved the ball quickly to Falah on the half way line who flicked the ball skilfully around his marker. Danny Dillon picked up the flicked pass and played an accurate lobbed pass wide to Routledge who chipped the keeper but the shot was just wide.

AFC Liverpool’s pressure paid off as Amir Falah was dragged to ground in the 6 yard box. The penalty was confidently dispatched by Steven Milne making it 3-1. Witton had the final attack of the game as Declan Hill blocked a shot from close range and prevented what was otherwise a certain goal.

A highly entertaining game with plenty of chances for both teams finished 3-1 to Witton Albion. AFC Liverpool played some exciting attacking football at times and defended well against a very good Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side.

Match Attendance: 101

Witton Albion Line-up:

Trialist, Matthew Coughlan, Matthew Devine, Michael Wilson, Nick Ryan, Trialist, Prince Haywood, Trialist, Will Jones, Steven Tames, and James Foley. Subs: Anthony Gardner, Trialist, Trialist, Rob Hopley, Micah Evans, Trialist, Paul Williams and Calvin Hare.

AFC Liverpool Line-up:

Ben Morrow (GK), Liam Murray, Dylan Sweeney, Adam Weston, Declan Hill, Chris Anderson, Michael Boyle, Ryan O’Hare, Joe Whittington, Calum Woods and Steven Milne. Subs: Amir Falah, Charlie Middlemore, Danny Dillon, Callum Routledge, Danny Hughes and Dom Garner (GK).

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