AFC Liverpool 3-2 Bacup Borough | Match Report

Comfortable, edgy, nervy, ugly and then excruciating at the end – this game was all that and more. But then you can’t have everything your own way all the time and to come through a game like that, a scrap like that, with the win was the mark of a proper football team.

Four in a row for The Reds in the league then, each one different than the last and each one instilling in these lads the different ways to win that will see them home in a lot of games this season.

The opening 25 minutes was AFC Liverpool at their best and easily their most dominant spell in the match. Much like Saturday’s away win at Nelson it was also the period were the game was effectively won.

The pressure was on Bacup from the off and the returning Drew Lewis headed against the cross bar only a minute in after a great passing move pulled the visitors back line all over the place. Minutes later an inch perfect goalkick was pinged up field by Lee Carr, flicked on by Lewis and Jay McGrane came close to opening the scoring after firing across goal.

McGrane didn’t have to wait long for another chance however, another brilliant move from The Reds had Bacup chasing shadows and Drew Lewis dropped in to space. Lewis then chipped the ball into the box as McGrane ran on and buried the ball beyond keeper Lewis Monahan after 11 minutes.

McGrane continued to run riot just a few minutes later with a similar dash in the box but this time could only scuff his shot to let the visitors off. Bacup responded by going up the other end and created their first half chance of the game with an excellent deep cross from Joshua Walne but striker Benjamin Boyne was just a yard behind and Lee Carr was able to collect.

Normal service resumed though as AFC Liverpool continued to move the ball quickly and with purpose and pressed effectively when the visitors regained possession.

I’m pleased to be also be able to tell you that Jay McGrane was at it again in the 22nd minute in a move orchestrated by Callum Schorah. Schorah picked the ball up just inside his own half, beat a couple of players and lofted a sublime pass in behind as McGrane controlled well and blasted into the corner for his second goal.

Not to be outdone by his teammates, Drew Lewis popped up again and again and produced moments of magic to link up play as he looked hungry for a goal of his own. For the second time though Lewis was denied by the crossbar following a brilliant run and cross from wide by Ben Lightfoot.

In the 42nd minute Bacup grabbed one back from a free kick in a dangerous area. A decent cross in wasn’t dealt with and then wasn’t dealt with again and skipper Adrian Bellamy was given a tap in after the ball rebounded off the post.

Harsh on The Reds after a dominant opening 45 but a valuable lesson, if one was needed for this side, to guard against complacency.

AFC Liverpool struggled to hit the heights of the first half as they allowed the game to become scrappy, which suited the visitors, but The Reds continued to graft away. A tug of war set in for the midfield battle and as AFC remained much quicker to the ball, we started to see a string of late tackles.

Although letting a lot go, the referee dismissed Darcy O’Connor in the 76th minute for a second bookable offence after a couple more late challenges.

The Reds then enjoyed their most dominant spell of the second half as they made the extra man count. Callum Schorah in particular, now occupying a more advanced position, ran in behind on a couple occasions. After being blocked off and fouled in earlier moves, Schorah eventually raced free and forced a great stop from Lewis Monahan.

The release would finally come from the resulting corner as Schorah played it short to Rhys Hardacre who then whipped in a perfect cross to the back post on to the head of defender and golden boot challenger Jon Croasdale, 3-1 and no more than AFC deserved.

Unfortunately, the relief was short lived following a freak goal by Bacup fullback Nathan Tayo. Tayo put a high cross in towards the far post but the ball swerved in the air and lobbed Lee Carr.

So began 5 painful minutes as Bacup won free kick after free kick and corner after corner but despite a few hairy moments and following a Jay Howell header off the line, AFC Liverpool came through it to claim all 3 points.

An ugly win then, but a win nevertheless and if I’m honest the score line was much tighter than the game suggested. At various stages in both halves The Reds had the opportunities to put day light between themselves and the visitors but Bacup, to their credit, just wouldn’t know they were beaten.

Respite from the march up the table next then for AFC Liverpool in favour of a 260 mile round trip to Barton Town in the FA Vase. Cup football remains a challenge for this side but off the back of four wins, different wins, wins paid for with blood and sweat and lactic acid, it’s a challenge they’re equipped for.

Attendance: 111

Alan Williams Man of the Match: James Howell

Lineup vs Bacup Borough

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