Maghull FC 4 – 2 AFC Liverpool

Maghull FC’s ground sits nestled alongside houses, schools and churches next to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The space surrounding the ground is as important to the town as its civic buildings; the dogs seem to love it too (non-league dogs would be in their element). The pitch is well maintained if not slightly long and conditions look fine for AFC Liverpool’s final pre-season friendly.

As the teams line up, supporters run to their cars for sunglasses and then ran back again minutes later for their umbrellas. One idiot didn’t bring a jacket at all and gets deservedly drenched.

AFC start the game on the front foot, passing forward and using width to get in behind the Maghull back four. A series of one and two touches in and around the Maghull box end with the ball dropping nicely just wide of the penalty spot and a venomous half volley forces an impressive save.

Hunting in packs without possession is a trademark of Stammers Reds. Maghull begin to concede possession in dangerous areas searching for an out ball as AFC’s forwards look to spring attacks. With Maghull failing to clear, Adam Weston controls the ball and plays through a perfectly weighted through ball for Danny Boden. Boden dribbles past his marker, his quick feet striking the ball hard and low before the keeper can react, 1-0 AFC.

The first of several decisions go against AFC Liverpool as physical striker Kevin Edgar is harshly ruled offside despite timing his run well. The forwards determination pays almost instant dividends however, as he breaks the offside trap. Edgar stands the goal keeper up, waits for him to commit himself and buries it far into the bottom left corner, AFC lead 2-0.

Both sides create a series of chances in the final 10 minutes of the half but are extremely wasteful. Maghull would feel unfortunate not to be level but AFC could be home and dry.

The second half sees both sides make changes, AFC making theirs with one eye on the FA Cup. Maghull’s substitutes come on with something to prove, confident of salvaging something from the game. Maghull come to life second half, their enthusiasm translating into some heavy challenges however. AFC make more changes as their priorities shift towards protecting their players for the game against Litherland REMYCA.

AFC create a couple of good chances early in the second half to put the put the game beyond Maghull but lack the ruthlessness of the first 45.

The home side on the other hand have all the luck they lacked in the first half and the goals tumble in. A skilful run from 40 yards out follows a neat finish to cut The Reds lead in half. Soon after, a scrappy deflection creeps past substitute goalkeeper Dom Garner, 2-2. Maghull old boy Danny Dillon commits himself just on the edge of the area, the referee pointing to the spot, 3-2. The finest goal of the night seals the result. Following some poor defending the Maghull full back finds space to put an excellent cross to the far post, the forward in the middle catches the ball mid-flight and sends it flying into the top left corner, 4-2 to Maghull.

So The Reds couldn’t do it on a rainy Wednesday night in Maghull but they have played some really exciting football during pre-season. A new manager and players have developed together since their first game against Lower Breck and the challenges faced pre-season will be good preparation for the coming season. Dolly Parton said that if you want the rainbow then you have to put up with the rain. Hopefully our rainbow reveals itself sooner rather than later, oh say about Saturday lunchtime.

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