Longridge Town 5-3 AFC Liverpool

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”

If he hadn’t been dead nearly 150 years you’d have sworn old Charlie Dickens was in the stand at Longridge Town and talking about These Reds.

The best and the absolute worst of what this side is capable of was distilled into those 90 minutes, with all its contradictions laid bare and with all the agony of unfulfilled promise.

The opening period promised, and at first delivered so much. AFC Liverpool were aggressive out of possession and decisive when on the ball. The Reds threatened in behind early and often and after just 10 minutes Callum Schorah opened the scoring. The ball was moved well around the Longridge box and just as it looked as though it may have been overplayed, Schorah created himself space to curl the ball into the top corner.

The Reds continued to pile the pressure on keeper Lee Dovey who made a couple of tricky saves look comfortable and marshalled his back line well through a difficult early spell. AFC Liverpool kept going though and Schorah doubled the lead in the 23rd minute after dribbling into the area and driving the ball hard and low under Dovey.

The next 15 minutes followed in the same vein as The Reds picked pockets in midfield and sprung forward with neat passes and attacked with pace. Ultimately though, two goals never became three and never became four with Schorah, Jonny Quirk and Mike Jones all failing to put AFC Liverpool out of sight.

Buoyed by the profligacy at the other end, the reality of still being in the game must have dawned on Longridge as they had a massive 10 minutes before half time. The home side kept the ball much better and The Reds defence struggled with the movement and clarity with which Longridge now attacked.

Tom Ince (not that one) halved the lead a few minutes before the break after The Reds failed to clear their lines and Longridge were able to play the forward in for a simple finish. AFC Liverpool didn’t learn their lesson as they almost gifted a second goal moments before the half time whistle.

Despite such a positive start, The Reds were only a goal ahead and in the final minutes of the half the momentum had clearly shifted in Longridge’s favour, momentum they carried with them into the second 45.

Longridge followed up with another big 10 minutes after the restart as AFC Liverpool struggled to get out of their half in the early exchanges. The Reds continued to create problems for themselves as the home side capitalised on a failed half clearance and allowed George Melling to grab the equaliser.

So began a nightmare spell for AFC Liverpool defined by a lack of fluidity moving forward and compounded by further defensive errors that ultimately cost the game.

A mix-up between keeper Lee Carr and his defender followed by a standard cross under no pressure provided forward Jason Hart with a quick double to put Longridge 4-2 in front by the 70th minute.

The Reds responded okay, the movement was better and the passing more confident as they looked to express themselves more. Jonny Quirk in particular grew into the second half and was more quick and direct in his play, linking up well with Anthony Lyons and Callum Schorah. A lack of certainty in the final third in this period let Longridge off the hook however.

Unfortunately for AFC, the home side were less forgiving. Richie Allen capped off a complete performance with a goal to make it 5-2 but again didn’t have to work particularly hard for it as Allen jumped on the indecision in The Reds back line to convert from just a few yards out.

Substitute Dylan Fitzsimmons grabbed a goal back for AFC Liverpool 10 minutes before the end with a tidy flick into the roof of the net from Rhys Hardacre’s corner kick. At 5-3 The Reds tried to mount a late comeback with Callum Schorah and Anthony Lyons coming closest but just lacked the requisite quality to find the net.

Congratulations then to Longridge Town, to their supporters, staff and players for making a comfortable transition into North West Counties League football, all the best for the rest of the season.

For AFC Liverpool though, this was not good enough. The challenge set out for this season was to be better than before and this afternoon we fell way short of that.

There are no excuses, there is however a whole season ahead of us and starting on Wednesday evening, an opportunity to put it right. Wednesday 7:45 we welcome Chadderton to the MTA and the first step to putting it right is clear – be better than before.

Team vs Longridge Town

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