Padiham 5-4 AFC Liverpool

AFC Liverpool came close to mounting an epic second half comeback, but ultimately left Padiham disappointed.

The Reds opened the scoring after just 7 minutes as Elliot Nevitt broke free of his marker and passed the ball across a crowded box, which allowed Anthony Lyons to fire low into the bottom corner.

The Reds continued to create chances with Harry Avis, Callum Edgar and Nevitt going close once again, but then they were hit with a sucker punch as Mark Ayres looped a header over Jack Cookson on 19 minutes.

Padiham took the lead just 2 minutes later as a slick move resulted in Daniel Boyle passing into an empty net. Lyons went close to getting an equaliser for AFC but couldn’t keep his header under the bar.

The hosts then extended their lead on 36 minutes as Jason Hart intercepted a clearance and sent a shot through a crowd of players which bobbled into the net and it was suddenly 3-1.

AFC Liverpool twice went close as Zach Hardacre’s shot fizzed inches wide, and Lyons stung the palms of the Padiham keeper with the ball rebounding off the base of the post and out for a corner.

Padiham then promptly landed another sucker punch on the Reds. A deep cross found Spencer Jordan and he nodded past Cookson to make it 4-1 in the 41st minute – a scoreline that didn’t reflect the amount of chances and possession had by the visitors, but they had allowed themselves to be undone at the back too often.

The Reds gave themselves a glimmer of hope just before half time as Elliot Nevitt broke forward again, cut across the edge of the 18 yard box, and let fly with an excellent strike past Marcus Burgess to make it 4-2 at half time.

The Reds came out with purpose after the break and had two early chances as Nevitt’s shot was deflected wide, and Rhys Hardacre’s long range strike was blocked. In the 58th minute, Zach Hardacre broke forward and played an excellent weighted ball into the path of Lyons and he finished with aplomb. A minute later Lyons headed into the net for an apparent equaliser but the whistle had gone for a foul and it remained 4-3.

Nevitt went close again but as time ticked on Padiham began to frustrate the Reds attacking play and were able get a foothold once again in the match. The Storks’ Daniel Boyle tried to shoot from the edge of the box but Cookson managed to push it wide as he closed down the forward, but Boyle was able to recover and place his shot from a wide angle to make it 5-3 on 81 minutes.

AFC weren’t for giving up though and one minute later, Lyons had the ball in the net once again but the referee blew his whistle to award a free kick to the Reds instead of allowing advantage to be played, and the subsequent strike went over the bar.

On 88 minutes, Chris Brady crossed in for Lyons to claim his hat-trick with a simple header to beat Burgess, and the score was 5-4.¬†With several minutes additional time to play, the drama wasn’t over as AFC captain Lee McConchie was dismissed after earning a second yellow card, and then a goalmouth scramble saw Lyons blast a shot against the bar, denying his side a deserved equaliser.

The final whistle brought disappointment for AFC Liverpool, unable to turn their efforts into vital points. The last three games have seen a win, a draw and a loss, but more importantly the belief, effort and will to win has been palpable. Ten games now remain to lift themselves away from the relegation places, but with their recent goalscoring form and team performances, the Reds have the tools to achieve it, starting with the visit of Charnock Richard to the Marine Travel Arena on Bank Holiday Monday.

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