AFC Liverpool 1-2 Maine Road FC

The Reds 11th league game of the season fell on Non-League Day and was played at home for the the first time since the clubs inception. The eyes of football fans across the country were focused at the base of the pyramid, for now at least, and many clubs and organisations within the football bubble did good work this week to help promote this thing we love. So a sincere thanks for the support.

To the match then and to these Reds. I’d like to come at this from a different angle and start off by talking about The Wire’s fictional Baltimore detective Lester Freamon.

Always full of wisdom, Freamon spoke tons and tons of sense. Don’t believe me? You can listen to him here. One specific pearl of wisdom involved building something and building it piece by piece. Although this match will be an L in the column for ever more, it was another vital piece for this club, this manager and this group of lads. The Wire and non league football may seem strange bedfellows but all will be clear by the end…

AFC Liverpool got the game under way with Maine Road attacking the main stand. The Reds started confidently and looked to use width early, full backs Daniel Flood and Jack Fleming played an active role throughout.

The visitors looked to keep it simple and beat AFC Liverpool’s press early on to great effect. A couple of neat one and two touch passes drew a foul in The Reds final third. AFC failed to clear the resulting cross and as it has been all too often for The Reds lately, luck was against them. The ball fell to forward Calum Broady in the 6 yard box who jumped at the chance to put his side ahead, 1-0 Maine Road.

Conceding a goal in such circumstances was hard to take but served as another lesson, if one was needed, that the more clinical side will often claim the points. The Reds had periods throughout the remainder of the first half in which they created chances but on the whole struggled to keep hold of the ball and impose themselves on the visitors in their usual style. Maine Road on the other hand played football and controlled large spells of the opening 45.

Momentary flashes of quality from Kevin Edgar and Joe Whittington unfortunately failed to yield an equaliser for The Reds. Also, on another day, centre back Lee McConchie would have converted Adam Weston’s well delivered free kick but a deflection over the bar confirmed that The Reds would not have the rub of the green and would not go in at half time level.

AFC Liverpool emerged from the changing room a full five minutes before their opponents. The message seemed clear, one of preparation and an eagerness to set the first half performance right.

And then…

The Reds lost possession cheaply in the midfield and a well weighted through ball to Matthew Morgan was taken skilfully around the onrushing Dom Garner and slotted in to double the visitors lead before many supporters had even returned for the second half.

To concede a second goal so early and in such a manner could have saw AFC Liverpool wilt but the opposite happened. The Reds reacted with controlled aggression in the press, spread the ball with speed and used width to great to effect to stretch the Maine Road back line.

Relative new lads Jack Fleming and Daniel Flood were outstanding in the second 45, always an outlet and always a threat. This renewed vigour wasn’t just limited to the full backs however, all players contributed and raised their game in search of a way back into the game.

A breathless half of football would see Danny Boden and Kevin Edgar get at the Maine Road back line but the final ball and that all important bit of luck eluded them. Also, some excellent skill and industry from full backs Flood and Fleming (alliteration lovers dream this) made an AFC comeback seem almost inevitable.

A further word on the full backs actually, they were outstanding second half. Despite carrying an injury Danny Flood attacked with pace down the Maine Road right wing and his delivery deserved a couple of assists at least. On the opposite flank, Jack Fleming overlapped brilliantly and I counted 4 successful Cruyff turns inside his marker and with a bit more luck would have seen him register a goal or at the very least an assist.

Boden and Woods came extremely close for The Reds as the half went on, both did all the right things and again on another day would have got themselves on the score sheet, Boden just unable to tap home Edgar’s cross and Woods’ header directed over the bar.

AFC Liverpool continued to press and control the game and eventually got some reward. Flood pumped the ball into the box and Maine Road failed to get rid. Substitute Andrew Lewis was the liveliest to it and pounced on the loose ball and converted from close range halving the visitor’s lead.

A double substitution followed, signalling The Reds intent with Wilson and Heron introduced and AFC desperate for an equaliser. The kitchen sink was thrown at Maine Road in the final 10 minutes but they hang on to their credit. Two sides out of and form and hungry for a win made for a mad spectacle but saw the away team take home all 3 points.

Although it was not the result we wanted, or indeed deserved, there was at least a return to the level we have come to expect from these lads this season. This was a match defined and ultimately decided by the start to each half. The Reds put themselves at the foot of a steep hill in both halves by conceding early twice.

There were many positives to take though, Wednesday this was not. New additions have slotted in nicely, key players have or will return imminently and all the hallmarks of the positive early season performances were plain to see, particularly in the second half. Although a loss, this was without doubt another important piece towards what is being built here, one which will bring these lads closer together and make them stronger.

Within the maelstrom of North West Counties League football it is easy to forget the context in which this group of lads find themselves playing in but I feel it bears mentioning. This is a squad being built on a young foundation in a highly competitive league chock full of experience. Two players remained from last season so the manager and his recruitment team set to work to put the pieces together, one by one.

Make no mistake though, we are building something here and to paraphrase Cool Lester Smooth we’re building it very much from scratch but have no fear, all the pieces matter.

Match attendance: 143

Alan Williams Man of the Match: Daniel Flood

AFC Liverpool Line-up:

Dominic Garner, Daniel Flood, Christopher Anderson, Lee McConchie, Jack Fleming, James Howell, Adam Weston, Calum Woods, Daniel Boden, Joseph Whittington (c), Kevin Edgar. Subs: Daniel Cattlin, Oscar Billington, Stephen Wilson (Used), Jamie Heron (Used), Andrew Lewis (Used).

Maine Road FC:

Ryan Livesey, Ryan Smith, Louie Inniss, Jonathon Mason (c), David Brown, James Ormrod, Jack Langford, Matthew Morgan, Jack Poxon, Calum Broady, Jamie Roe. Subs: Owen Pollitt (Used), Rhys Clooney, Christopher Hirst, Lee McGregor.

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