AFC Liverpool 0-1 Irlam

I’ll just start this one with the disclaimer that this won’t be the usual circa 1000 word match report I’d normally knock together after a game. Not because I don’t think the game deserved it, it was played at a good level in the right way and was on a knife edge for 80 odd minutes with one side involved fighting for survival. Neither is it because I don’t think these lads deserve it, short of the requisite quality at key times sure but their effort was undeniable.

Rather it’s because I felt as though the outcome of the match hinged on just a few moments, all in the first half.

  • Irlam’s early goal (Obvious, I know).
  • AFC Liverpool’s penalty miss.
  • The decision not to award a more blatant penalty seconds later.

 

Firstly, if you’ll allow me another disclaimer, Irlam are a very tidy side that play very tidy football, with more than a few tidy players and absolutely deserved to win. I say that because it’s true but also so that the above points don’t sound like I’m saying Irlam were lucky or that I am blaming the officials (I’m not).

The idea of luck is interesting though, Boland’s opening goal and eventual winner was a product of quick thinking and was well taken but it was born out of bad luck from The Reds perspective. Both keeper Jack Ferguson and centre back Jon Croasdale made the best decision in that moment. Ferguson’s decision to come for the ball was the correct one, as was Croasdale’s intent to head the ball clear. Those things came together and gave Boland the option on a plate to lob the ball into a near empty net though and so Irlam took the lead after 11 minutes.

Next, AFC Liverpool were correctly awarded a penalty in the 41st minute but Bobby Evans could only place his shot at Jake Aldred. In the chaos that followed 3 things happened.

  1. Another, arguably more obvious foul, happened on an AFC player in the Irlam box.
  2. The fouled player’s hand made contact with the ball on his way to the floor (see point 1).
  3. The ball was knocked through to Callum Schorah, who slotted it in.

 

Of those three moments, happening over just a few seconds, two of them would have put AFC Liverpool in a more favourable position going in to half time with the possibility of an equaliser or of a good opportunity to grab one. As it was though, the linesman flagged for handball, the referee agreed with him and Irlam led by a goal to nil at the break.

The Reds probably wouldn’t have deserved a draw at half time, but so what. This is football, the better team doesn’t always just get to win. It seems as though this season, this side has only ever got just what they have deserved, what they have had to scrap for and not a fraction more. Sometimes teams get the rub of the green or a decision goes their way but for this team, this season that just doesn’t seem to be the case.

AFC Liverpool’s second half performance was much better, with fewer errors in possession (still too many) and ultimately more involvement in the final third. The problems came when The Reds saw any sight of goal as their composure and decision making were extremely poor. Uncharacteristically so after some really clinical performances in recent matches from The Reds forward line.

Irlam continued in much a similar vein as they had in opening 45, comfortable and with a few players performing at a very good level. Midfielder Michael Tetteh screened well, was mobile and controlled much of the tempo of the game while wingers Matthew Boland and Marcus Perry remained a real threat until the final whistle.

Disappointing then from The Reds. With a run in that includes the already promoted champions elect Runcorn Linnets as well as 1874 Northwich and Charnock Richard, this feels like a massive opportunity missed to establish a bit of breathing room. As it stands now though AFC Liverpool might well need 6 points from the final 3 games to avoid relegation, depending of course on how Maine Road and Burscough fare between now and the end of the season.

For us though, our objective has been crystalised. It has never been clearer than this what the mission is.

Just. Win.

Starting with Tuesday and The 1874.

Match Attendance: 104

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