Widnes FC 1-0 AFC Liverpool – Liverpool Senior Cup

There was a break from league football for both sides as they contested a Liverpool County FA Senior Cup 1st Round tie at the impressive Halton Stadium.

The earliest of goals decided an entertaining game as The Reds played with greater confidence and intent but continued to lack that cutting edge in the box.

The only goal of the game came from a free kick almost from the kick off. Former AFC player Dylan Sweeney floated a deep cross toward the back post and Widnes captain Tom Mitchell bundled it beyond Jack Cookson.

The Reds response to conceding early was encouraging as each player looked to win their battles and find an equaliser. Jamie Heron was a constant nuisance for the Widnes backline with his movement and industry. Heron dribbled through a congested area and lashed a shot into the side netting – the crowd convinced he’d equalised but it remained 1-0 to the home side.

Joe Whittigton led the line for AFC Liverpool in Kev Edgar’s absence and was unfortunate not to put The Reds level. A neat touch put Whittington through on goal but he was just unable to keep his shot under the bar.

At the other end, AFC keeper Jack Cookson made his first vital stop of the evening. After some clever passes the ball came to forward Kevin Towey who looked certain to score but Cookson was able to get across to deny it.

Jack Cookson (apparently)

Despite the best efforts of both sides, the score remained 1-0 at half time. The Reds saw much of the ball and looked to probe in behind but Widnes defended their lead well and continued to be dangerous on the break.

AFC Liverpool started the second half well, their decision making in the build up much improved on previous weeks but an equaliser remained elusive. Widnes however were direct and soaked up pressure well before hitting the channels and putting the AFC back line under.

The home side pushed to extend their lead through number 9 Chad Whyte soon after the restart. The forward received a pass inside but his whipped effort just curled beyond the far post.

The Reds pushed back as skipper Michael Boyle and Danny Boden both had decent efforts at goal. Boyle manufactured himself space on the edge of the Widnes area and without a clear sight of goal, put it wide. Boden picked the ball up on the left flank and his audacious attempt hoped to catch Richard Mottram on his heels but the shot wasn’t accurate enough to test the keeper.

Around the hour mark, Jack Cookson was again called into action to deny Kevin Towey twice in the space of a few minutes. The first effort was tipped over instinctively after being struck powerfully from close range. The second save showcased Cookson’s agility as he got down well to push Towey’s low shot away from danger and keep The Reds to within a goal of a penalty shootout.

AFC Liverpool would again go painfully close to getting back into the game through Boyle and Billington. Boyle almost capped off a fantastic attacking move as Widnes scrambled to get their shape but just couldn’t keep his effort down. Billington, who was excellent at left back by the way, headed just over the crossbar in the 72nd minute.

The Reds made a triple substitution 15 minutes from the end as Deklan Hill, Calum Woods and James Howell looked to salvage something. Although fresh legs were welcome the substitutes struggled to get up to the rapid pace of the game and their impacts were mitigated somewhat as Widnes began to sit deep.

Although played at a frantic pace, the remainder of the match saw little in the way of chances created. Dek Hill was extremely close to getting through on goal but Widnes skipper Tom Mitchell did well to clear the danger.

After a short period of stoppage time the referee blew up and another good performance was jarred by the reality of another disappointing result. With plenty of time until Winsford United away though, positives can be built upon, answers can be found and at some point this bad run will turn. Let’s hope it turns at 3pm Saturday afternoon.

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