AFC Liverpool 3-1 AFC Blackpool | Match Report

Before we get in to the game itself, I have to say that it’s an absolute pleasure to watch this side play football at times. With each game and each win (7 on the bounce now, if you haven’t heard) this squad has visibly grown in confidence and they’re playing some brilliant stuff because of it. The management team deserve enormous credit for this. For the team they’re building, the culture they’re developing and the style they’re implementing, all of which have been vital in raising the standard of football and in raising the mood of the Club as a whole.

That said though The Reds had to put in some graft before they could play their best stuff and this was reflected in a tight opening 25 minutes that you could argue the visitors just edged. Benjamin Duffield was a handful in the early exchanges and almost got in after just 2 minutes. Failure to clear the danger allowed Duffield the ball but Jon Croasdale marshalled him well and forced the striker to put his shot wide.

AFC Blackpool won a series of scrappy free kicks deep in The Reds half, forced a number of corners and looked a threat on the counter attack throughout the half but it was AFC Liverpool that took the lead in the 28th minute through Jay McGrane. McGrane received the ball after a quick attacking move, his touch looked to have taken him too wide of the goal but he cut in, dropped his shoulder and curled it top right corner.

The goal settled The Reds, they managed to find their rhythm and the chances started to come. Jay McGrane continued to be a nuisance down the left flank to create space for Drew Lewis and Callum Schorah. Schorah in particular had a couple of really good half chances but the visitors remained well organised and defended well. The wing backs, Ben Lightfoot and the returning Bradley Owens got involved too and were vital to AFC Liverpool’s success in this period. Owens was a constant option on the overlap and got in behind a few times. Lightfoot controlled much of the play in the first half from wing back with confident runs into midfield before he utilised his excellent range of passing to open up the space for the forward line.

Just as those in the stands wound down awaiting the half time whistle, AFC Liverpool too knocked off just enough to be punished. A long diagonal ball over the top was shepherded behind for a goal kick by Chris Brady. Unfortunately for Brady, Connor Finlayson had other ideas as he nicked the ball just on the by line, took a touch and gave Benjamin Duffield a tap in from a few yards out to put the visitors level just on half time.

1-1 at half time seemed harsh considering the control The Reds had begun to exert but it served as a reminder, if one was needed, of how quickly matches can turn if concentration is lost and chances aren’t taken.

The visitors carried momentum gained from their late goal through after the restart and enjoyed a decent 5 minute spell of pressure but the AFC Liverpool back line and keeper Joao Mendes coped well. This solidity at the back gave The Reds a platform to grow back into the game and then re-establish dominance.

Schorah continued to terrorise the Blackpool defence, pressing smartly without the ball and attacking with real intent in possession. The forward dribbled into space and set Drew Lewis, Lewis then turned his man neatly and forced a really good save from Alex Cameron. Just a couple of minutes later, 10 minutes inside the second half, Lewis was in again and The Reds were back in front. The striker took a great first touch, moved wide of the goal and smashed the ball into the roof of the net with some venom to put AFC ahead.

Blackpool struggled after going behind again, struggled to keep their shape, to keep the ball and to even get out at times as The Reds pressed on for a third. At this time there just always seemed to be an extra red shirt, the movement was fluid and players made brave choices on the ball to keep the visitors under pressure.

Jay Howell pulled out wide on one occasion and delivered a teasing ball right on the penalty spot but Callum Schorah was just unable to connect in the middle. Soon after, Drew Lewis charged down keeper Alex Cameron and blocked his clearance. The ball ricocheted to the feet of Schorah who took a touch and lobbed a shot towards goal but Cameron ran back to his line and tipped the ball over the crossbar.

Schorah would be central to a further two near misses, one after the other. Firstly, after a fantastic run from Jay McGrane to beat his full back the ball was set for Schorah but his effort was put wide. The hardest to believe of all the near misses in this period came next as Schorah again caused havoc inside the 18 yard box, twisting away from his marker his shot struck the post only for the rebound to be skied over from 10 yards by Drew Lewis. Centre back Jon Croasdale, going through a bit of a drought since his flurry back in August, tried to get amongst the goals also but nodded his header from Lewis’ cross just wide. Somehow it was still 2-1.

Until it wasn’t. The introduction of Anthony Lyons and Jordan Foster to The Reds forward line freshened legs and added additional physicality that Blackpool were unable to deal with. Jay Howell profited from excellent front foot pressing by Anthony Lyons as Howell picked the ball up in the number 10 position and drove towards goal. Howell stood the goalkeeper up and rolled the ball towards the far post as Jordan Foster ran in and finished to give AFC Liverpool the two goal cushion they deserved and made the three points certain.

A seventh straight league win sees The Reds continue on their march up the league table and with a game in hand have put themselves well in the mix near the top. A trip up the M6 awaits these lads on Saturday now, a trip to league leaders Carlisle City and the sternest test of the season so far. Come through this though and who knows what’s possible for this side.

Lineup vs AFC Blackpool

Attendance: 82

Alan Williams Man of The Match: Callum Schorah

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