AFC Liverpool 1-2 Burscough FC

Two weeks and a few postponements later, AFC Liverpool finally had a game to play. While many would have hoped The Reds could continue with their upturn in form, ultimately a lack of quality saw them lose out on vital points against a bottom 6 rival.

Although Crosby was mostly without fog compared to the rest of the region it was still there, as if on the pitch but only affecting the lads in red. Much of The Reds performance was dogged by a lack of clarity and of vision in possession and set the tone for Burscough to claim a fairly routine win.

But it didn’t have to be, and very nearly wasn’t like that at all…

AFC Liverpool started brightly, on the front foot and for the first 25 minutes it looked as though there would only be one winner. The Reds retained possession well, regained the ball quickly and penned Burscough in their own half for much of opening period.

Midfield trio Conor Smith, James Howell and Adam Weston controlled the game while forwards Kevin Edgar, Danny Boden and James Sloane ran the visitors back line ragged. Boden in particular looked extremely sharp and should have opened the scoring early on after he controlled Weston’s diagonal through ball perfectly and struck the ball on the half volley with the effort just wide.

The Reds pressure resulted in a corner followed by an excellent cross in from Conor Smith. Centre back John Holmes was too strong for his marker and directed his header goal ward but keeper Josh Samberg was equal to it. Quickly after, Edgar got his first sight of goal after a couple of clever turns but his effort crept just beyond the far post.

The ease at which AFC Liverpool were able to get in at Burscough and create chances highlighted why they are where they are in the league this season. Unfortunately, The Reds profligacy was a reminder as to why they are right down there with them.

Burscough had weathered the early storm then and come through it unscathed. The visitors grew into the game as the half wore on began to play with a greater level of composure.

Even still, they could not have hoped for a softer goal to break the deadlock, tis the season after all and what a gift The Reds gave their opponents. Under no pressure from a Burscough throw in, a back pass was under hit towards Dom Garner as Terry Cummings gratefully latched on the loose ball. Cummings had a clear path to goal and slotted beyond the keeper despite Garner getting a finger tip to it.

AFC responded well to going a goal down and looked to wrestle back control of the game. Danny Boden and Kevin Edgar again had opportunities that would have seen their team level but Burscough, now with a lead to protect, defended well to deny The Reds a way back in.

Burscough had to try a bit harder for their second goal but not by much. The Reds knocked off all over the pitch and allowed Josh Dunroe to move out wide at a canter before crossing deep in to Matthew Ward. Ward looped his header beyond Dom Garner to double the visitors lead just before half time.

AFC Liverpool went in at half time two goals down and with something of a hill to climb second half while Burscough’s Christmas had come early in the form of a fairly comfortable lead without too much bother.

The second half started scrappy and continued in that vein until the final whistle. Many of the opening exchanges of the second 45 were characterised by soft fouls and throw ins and for large portions of this half the only moments of real note were how many balls would be cleared out the ground and in to someones garden (8 by the end).

Converted full back Oscar Billington was drawn in to the middle of the pitch and fouled his man, being booked in the process. The resulting free kick beat the wall and just curled beyond Garner’s left hand post much to the relief of the home supporters.

Neither side really managed to impose themselves on the game as they had done for periods in the first half and while quality was in short supply on both sides, Conor Smith quietly controlled the game. The midfielder must have registered twice as many touches as the next player as he popped up all over the pitch, picked out a red shirt and rarely, if ever lost possession.

A deep ball over the top from Smith was the catalyst for AFC Liverpool to attempt to salvage something from the game. The pass to Boden was superb but the winger still had much to do. Boden weaved brilliantly inside and out of full back Daniel Brady before laying the ball off to Kevin Edgar in the middle who finished coolly beyond Samberg, 1-2.

Smith would be called upon at the other end of the pitch as Burscough looked to extend their lead. A good spell of pressure from the visitors resulted in striker Chad Whyte on the ball just inside the area, Whyte moved to create space and aimed his shot for the far corner. The shot was blocked but still goal bound as Conor Smith headed clear off the line to keep The Reds to within one goal of their opponent.

As the time ticked away for The Reds to find an equaliser, they upped the tempo and attacked with greater urgency. Boden again looked a threat as he made another dangerous run after flicking the ball over the head of his marker and rushing in on goal. This time, Boden went himself from a tight angle but couldn’t quite direct his effort on target. Burscough failed to clear though and Conor Smith won the ball on the edge of the area but blasted wide.

The Reds had a final throw of the dice as Boden chased down a through ball but was clattered into by goalkeeper Josh Samberg. It looked a certain penalty however the referee was unmoved as he signaled for a goal kick and Burscough ran the remaining minutes of the clock down.

So ended our final home game of 2017, a disappointing defeat against another struggling side with few positives beyond promising debuts for Chris Cottington and James Anderson and the return of Joe Whittington from injury. Kevin Edgar also continued his goal scoring run which is of course brilliant for everyone – well done Kev.

We go again next Saturday, make no mistake though it will be a massive test against a quality side. 30th December we travel to Charnock Richard in our final match of 2017. Let’s hope these Reds rise to the occasion and close the year out in the best possible way.

Match attendance: 157

AFC Liverpool Line-up:

Dominic Garner, Christopher Cottington, Oscar Billington, James Howell, Lee McConchie (c), John Holmes, Daniel Boden, Adam Weston, Kevin Edgar, Conor Smith, James Sloane. Subs: Ryan Farnworth, Jack Cookson, Joseph Whittington, Kieran Hughes, James Anderson.

Burscough Line-up:

Joshua Samberg, Daniel Brady, Jamie Clark, Luke Gibson, Alexander Parkes, Neil Hulme (c), Terry Cummings, Joshua Dunroe, Chad Whyte, Peter Henerty, Matthew Ward. Subs: Christy Devlin, Carl Williams, Ben Maddocks, Michael Sampson, Anthony Whelan.

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