Litherland REMYCA 2 – 0 AFC Liverpool

The BBC’s Conor McNamara put the average attendance at Litherland Sports Park at around 80-100 people but over 300 turned out to support their teams on a bright Saturday afternoon. The match marked Litherland REMYCA’s debut in the FA Cup and was their first meeting with AFC Liverpool. Another first of the day was the coverage of the FA Cup from the opening stage of the competition with broadcasting provided by the BBC Sports website.

REMYCA kicked off the match and started with a long diagonal ball but it’s anticipated by left back Dylan Sweeney and it’s headed clear to Steve Milne. Early pressing from The Reds saw REMYCA continue for direct long passes but centre backs Chris Anderson and Allen Weston managed to deal with them without much trouble. REMYCA’s Connor Murphy was then correctly ruled offside following a knock on and quick through ball from Colin McDonald and Lennon Whewell respectively.

AFC then started to keep possession better and created their first real chance of the game. Adam Weston picked the ball up just inside his own half and spread a beautifully weighted cross field pass just ahead of right back Deklan Hill. Great industry and skill saw Hill beat Alex Ryan to the ball, dribble beyond his man and put a very good cross across the face of goal. Keeper Ben Morrow pushed the ball away from goal with Joe Whittington unlucky not to connect from close range.

A rushed pass out from holding midfield by Adam Weston was easily intercepted by Litherland’s Connor Murphy and lead to the best chance of the game for either side. A series of quick one touch passes outside the AFC area saw the ball squared across to Lennon Whewell who had his effort cleared off the line by Allen Weston. Weston remained in a good position as the cross that followed the clearance was headed away convincingly.

Shortly after, Andrew Lewis announced himself with a great first touch and a mazy run past two defenders deep in the Litherland half, the attack cut short after being pulled back by Stephen Ferrigan. AFC were unable to make it count though as Lewis blasted the resulting free kick into the REMYCA wall.

A loose pass from AFC almost proved costly once more as Whewell charged at the back four. A good run and difficult shot was matched by Dom Garner’s first good save of the afternoon as he blocked the attempt with his chest, it would not be the AFC goalkeepers final contribution. Adam Weston’s subsequent clearance was chased down by Steve Milne and lead to another half chance for The Reds. Milne created himself just enough space to loft a cross over to the head of Whittington but Litherland centre half Lowe jumped higher and disrupted the flight of the header.

Michael Boyle provided a much needed spark in the AFC midfield as he began to run at players and bring his team mates into more effective positions. Nice interplay in the REMYCA final third lead to a nice turn by Whittington, space opened up in front of him at the edge of the area but his effort was struck tamely, no problem for keeper Ben Morrow.

At the other end however Dom Garner had to work that bit harder. A miss-hit goal kick landed to Litherland’s Alex Ryan who found it all too easy to skip his way into a one-on-one with Garner who came off his line early, closed the angle and produced a fine stop to deny REMYCA once more. A good 5 minute spell of possession from REMYCA lead to another fine run from Whewell who was chopped down for his trouble on the right side of the 18 yard box by Chris Anderson. After several bemusing minutes, Anderson had his name taken by the referee and received a yellow card, as did Whittington for dissent.

The subsequent free kick was whipped in hard and the lightest touch off the head of Connor Murphy changed the flight of the ball. Only a moment of undeniable quality from Dom Garner denied REMYCA an opening goal. A strong right hand met the header destined for the bottom corner and pushed the ball wide.

AFC Liverpool struggled for the remainder of the half to build up any sort of sustained possession and REMYCA continued to cause them problems. The Reds inability to head the ball clear fell to Conor Murphy just inside the AFC Area, his tidy half volley struck the woodwork just on the stroke of half time.

A first half then with a few moments of quality punctuated by a number of crunching tackles, the demands of non-league on display for the whole world to see but so far no goals.

AFC began the second half and took their lead from their captain. Boyle showed real intent from the off. His attempt to drag The Reds forward from the first half looked promising as AFC won a corner after good anticipation, some clever movement and a dangerous cross was cleared behind.

REMYCA began to ramp up the pressure from set pieces, creating a number of chances. One effort was scooped just over the bar while Ferrigan saw his header strike the post.

The introduction of Danny Boden for AFC looked as though it might inspire some creative flare in The Reds forward line. The winger caused his markers havoc on a number of occasions, skipped inside with ease and hit the side netting and minutes later put a great cross in to Michael Boyle who hit the post.

Just as it looked as though AFC Liverpool may have been getting a grip on the game, Litherland finally broke the deadlock. Holden dribbled past his marker and put a dangerous ball across the 6 yard box. A scramble ensued and after another goal line clearance the ball landed to the feet of Colin McDonald who tapped home from close range, 1-0 REMYCA.

Following the opening goal, the game became very much a midfield battle for the next 15 minute period. Whewell looked to get in behind again for REMYCA but after going down in the area was deemed to have dived by the referee and was the first Litherland player in the book.

REMYCA substitute Luke Holden had a notable cameo appearance and capped it off with a fantastic run from near his own corner flag. Holden dribbled easily through four AFC players and put fellow substitute Paul Cliff (equipped with a white line of tape on his shirt to turn number 9 into 19) through for what seemed like a tap in. Charlie Middlemore, recently introduced by The Reds, had other ideas however and cleared the ball to prevent a certain goal.

The match was finally put beyond AFC Liverpool 5 minutes from the end, as a lofted through ball was controlled well by Lennon Whewell and lobbed calmly over the head of Dom Garner, 2-0 REMYCA.

The match wound down with a series of fouls on both sides as REMYCA enjoyed the final moments of their successful FA Cup debut. The Reds cut a different figure, hands on hips and sunken shoulders as they prepared for the final whistle.

The game ended Litherland REMYCA 2 – 0 AFC Liverpool. The home supporters elated. Dom Garner a colossus. Lennon Whewell with a moment of magic. Litherland REMYCA worthy winners. Best of luck in the next round against Penistone Church FC. Thank you to the lads from Redmen TV for coming along and showing their support. Finally, many thanks to the FA and the BBC for the much needed coverage given to grassroots football on this opening weekend of the FA Cup, long may it continue.

Match attendance: 312

Litherland REMYCA:

Ben Morrow, Anothony Barnes, Jake Connor, Chris Lowe, Stephen King, Chris Tyson, Connor Murphy, Stephen Ferrigan, Lennon Whewell, Colin McDonald, Alex Ryan.
Subs: David Flynn, Jamie Colbourn (Used), Lee McConchie, Luke Holden (Used), Anthony Cato, Tom Foley, Paul Cliff (Used).

AFC Liverpool:

Dom Garner, Deklan Hill, Dylan Sweeney, Allen Weston, Chris Anderson, Adam Weston, Andrew Lewis, Danny Dillon, Joe Whittington, Michael Boyle, Steven Milne.
Subs: Liam Murray, Andrew Murphy, Danny Boden (Used), Charlie Middlemore (Used), Kevin Edgar (Used).

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