AFC Liverpool 3-0 1874 Northwich

These lads. Capable of the sublime and the ordinary in all too equal measure across a long and turbulent campaign. These lads can still deliver a performance like that and it’s performances like that, whatever happens, we will remember.

As well as being remembered, performances like that deliver hope in a desperate situation, deliver The Reds’ biggest league win since September and deliver AFC Liverpool out of the bottom four, at least for now.

3 points and a solid goal difference puts The Reds in their highest league position in months and although the win in itself won’t be enough to secure safety a defeat would have been catastrophic. With Burscough and Maine Road still within touching distance it was vital to establish some sort of cushion, how long that will be will depend on how both sides fare.

As important as the win undoubtedly was, it’s the manner of it that really stands out. 1874 are a top side with quality players but The Reds gave them no time to breathe from the first whistle.

The visitors kicked off and AFC Liverpool were straight in their faces, closing passing lanes and forcing 1874 long. The away side to their credit dealt well under pressure at times and had good options for an out ball through Ryan Jackson, Taylor Kennerley and Kazim Waite-Jackson, who all stood out.

After only 5 minutes though The Reds pressing bore fruit as Greg Hall rushed a clearance that landed straight to Zach Hardacre. Hardacre burst through on goal but was unable to keep his effort under the bar but still the visitors looked shaken.

This sustained period of pressure saw AFC’s corner count start to rise and it was from this they broke the deadlock. A good delivery from Bobby Evans towards Callum Edgar and Jon Croasdale caused chaos in the 1874 box and the visitors scrambled to clear. The ball was put back in and found its way to Callum Schorah who finished calmly to put his side ahead after 21 minutes.

1874 responded well and enjoyed their best period in the game but still couldn’t trouble keeper Jack Ferguson. Ryan Jackson and Taylor Kennerley came close to levelling but their efforts were over the bar and just wide.

The Reds continued to play their game despite a resurgent opponent and the visitors had few answers for their aggression and energy. Callum Schorah, Anthony Lyons and Zach Hardacre continued to win the ball back for each other and continued to break the lines fashioning chances and forcing yet more corners. Physical centre half Jon Croasdale would come close to grabbing a brace just before half time with towering headers, the first forcing a great stop from Hall and the second just over the crossbar.

After a frantic opening 45, 1874 Northwich will have been grateful for the whistle and fortunate to still be in the game.

AFC Liverpool kicked off the second half and set the tone much as they had in the first, aggressive and intelligent in where and when to press the ball and wouldn’t have long to wait to double the lead. Bobby Evans and Sonny Parr closed the channels in the middle of the pitch forcing a back pass. Callum Schorah anticipated the pass and ran in on goal taking a good first touch and squaring the ball to Zach Hardacre who slotted beneath Hall in the 50th minute.

After breaking glass and introducing Kyle Riley and Scott McGowan at half time, the visitors then rolled the dice a final time just a few minutes later to bring Samuel Hind on. A bold move that displayed their intent to get back into the game would have consequences extremely difficult to account for after the hour mark as keeper Greg Hall was dismissed for handling the ball outside the box.

A moment of madness would cost the visitors dearly as they sacrificed the impressive Kazim Waite-Jackson to take over in goal, a player down and now one of their brightest outfield players light as well.

The Reds smelled blood and began to play more direct with balls over the top and crosses pumped in for the new keeper to contend with. Hardacre would again find himself in on goal in a one on one with Waite-Jackson, lobbing him but beating the crossbar in the process also.

Set pieces were targeted as they had been in the first half as an option for AFC to impose themselves. Evans delivered dangerously time and again, a scramble saw the ball headed in by a green shirt but the flag had already been raised to save any blushes. Moments later more corner confusion for the visitors after Waite-Jackson dropped a cross and Schorah’s follow up was cleared off the line.

The third goal finally came following a Callum Schorah free kick toward the far post. Third time lucky for Jon Croasdale who rose the highest and powered a header beyond the keeper 3 minutes from time.

Felt absolutely massive that and no more than The Reds deserved. 3-0 flattered 1874 in all honesty and I say that with respect of a quality side with some brilliant players. I also say it though because I think it’s true and out of pure respect for these lads as well.

They wanted it more, simple as that. It in this context is survival, it’s status, ours and theirs, it’s the chance to stay in this league and play and beat sides like this and to get to have more nights like these.

They outplayed and outfought and outthought a top side by wanting it more. Now they just have to do it again, twice. Starting on Saturday, starting with Runcorn Linnets. Until then, enjoy these lads and enjoy that win, it’s what we’re in it for.

Match Attendance: 129

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