AFC Liverpool 3-5 Chadderton FC | Match Report

Two games, six goals, zero points.

Despite the same mad score line, this was a very different game of football and was not won and ultimately lost in different ways than Saturday’s season opener.

AFC Liverpool, like on Saturday, started brightly and moved the ball quickly and fluidly between the lines but didn’t get enough on target during this early dominant spell. A deep free kick to the back post was looped just over the bar by Dylan Fitzsimmons after 10 minutes and moments later Rhys Hardacre dropped a shoulder, cut inside and curled the ball just beyond the far post.

In this period The Reds also had two goals chalked off for offside in tight decisions as Anthony Lyons looked to beat the trap and slot in but the linesman raised his flag. Particularly cruel however was Callum Schorah’s rocket volley from the edge of the area which was ruled out after Schorah won an aerial challenge, turned and struck into the roof of the net. Still it remained 0-0.

On the half hour mark, Rhys Hardacre whipped a good corner in to a dangerous area and the subsequent header was blocked well, the follow up then struck the post and the final header from Anthony Lyons was glanced wide. A few minutes later, Chadderton delivered a corner into a similar area, Lee Carr parried the header into the path of Jack Turnbull who passed the ball into the net to put the visitors ahead.

The Reds again came painfully close without actually hitting the net just before half time. Callum Schorah struck a sweet free kick over the wall, against the crossbar and his team mates failed to capitalise on the ensuing panic and Chadderton were able to see it through to the break.

Hard lines then for AFC Liverpool in the opening 45 minutes but again, like Saturday, the lack of a clinical edge would prove costly.

Within a couple of minutes of the restart The Reds levelled the scoring at 1-1 through a cool Anthony Lyons penalty struck straight down the middle. Unfortunately, parity was short lived and a mix up between Dylan Fitzsimmons and Lee Carr gifted Bradley Kay an open goal and the striker put his side back in front.

What followed in the next 15 minutes was akin to two boxers lamping each other, both giving the other openings and each swinging and missing with varying degrees of success and failure but ultimately Chadderton proved to have the stronger chin.

In the 53rd minute the visitors extended their lead further after The Reds back line failed to prevent a run to the byline, allowed a ground pass to run across the face of goal and left Jack Turnbull unmarked at the back post to tap in from two yards out. AFC Liverpool struck back soon after tenacious pressing of Chadderton’s defence saw Rhys Hardacre collect and finish neatly to make it 2-3. Anthony Lyons then had a golden opportunity to level the score but with the goal gaping he turned and dragged his shot wide.

Turnbull completed his hattrick 15 minutes from time with a really good finish low into the corner but again the forward had it all his own way as he ran in on goal following a standard ball over the top. Rhys Hardacre then pulled The Reds to within a goal of Chadderton once more after his speculative effort pinballed off the post and in off the back of keeper Jordan Hadlow.

Substitute Leon Iluobe then delivered the coup de grâce after being brought down at the byline and converting the resulting penalty to secure a 3-5 win for the away side.

So, where to start summing that up?

Firstly, it’s all too easy to just blame one aspect of the performance for the result. To get a truer reflection of what happened it’s important to look at the team, the whole. It would be far too simplistic for example to just say the keeper has had a nightmare – Lee is at the scene for a couple of goals and football is cruel after all, but he shouldn’t wear the blame alone.

The defence in front of him were too porous, too reactive, too much on the back foot and were undone by the basics time and again. The midfield were too erratic and didn’t look after the ball well enough while looking after it too much when much quicker transitions were needed. Finally the forward line were too wasteful in front of goal and each player missed chances they would usually put away in their sleep. Much of this boils down to a lack of ruthlessness in both boxes then which the Manager’s cite as a key factor in how the game went the way it did.

Fortunately, this side doesn’t have to wait long to show a positive reaction.

Saturday 3pm – Ashton Athletic at home in the FA Cup. Not a distraction from the league but the biggest domestic cup competition in football. These lads have to seize that opportunity, the financial rewards of which are clear but more than that this game represents an opportunity to expunge the previous two results. To create memories for the supporters and for themselves, to generate goodwill and to kickstart a season in a way that only a cup run can.

Up the Non League FA Cup Reds.

Attendance: 124

Alan Williams Man of the Match: Callum Schorah

Lineup vs Chadderton

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