MATCH REPORT | West 1-2 AFC Liverpool
Thursday 12th April 2018, NWCFL Premier Division
West 1 (Bailey 76)
AFC Liverpool 2 (Schorah 32, 90+1)
West tasted defeat at Brookburn Road for the first time since November as AFC Liverpool struck late to claim all three points.
Tom Bailey’s equaliser with 14 minutes remaining, cancelling out Callum Schorah’s first-half opener, looked to have salvaged a point for West in a match low on incident. But Schorah swooped to nod home a cross in stoppage time as the Reds grabbed a lifeline in their battle to avoid the drop.
This was a disappointing end to West’s four-game winning run, but the Reds deservedly took the points back down the M62 after edging proceedings. For the home side, however, the night was overshadowed by a worrying leg injury to Josh Tinker in the closing stages.
The exertions of Tuesday night’s win over Padiham appeared to tell in the opening exchanges as West struggled to make any sort of impact in the Reds half – a sole Bailey offside the sum of their attacking efforts in the first 30 minutes. AFC were more productive at the other end, and twice Tinker had to be in the right place at the right time to snuff out ominous Reds moves. In between, the dangerous Leon Arnasalam arrowed a shot wide following a short corner.
West were punished for their lethargy shortly after the half-hour as the Reds opened the scoring. A low cross overstayed its welcome in the West area and Schorah pounced to deposit the remains in the bottom corner, despite the best efforts of Tinker. The home side were jolted to life and appeared to build a platform for the second half, eking out a trio of half-chances- Chappy Massamba twice forcing saves from Jack Cookson and Ash Woods guiding a Steven Affleck free-kick just wide.
But if the first period was a slow-burner, the second was soporific. Keeping warm would have been the main concern for the two keepers before Jay Howell headed a Schorah cross wide of Aaron Ashley’s goal on the hour. West struggled to create anything of note despite the directness added by substitute Ben Steer, but made an unlikely breakthrough with Bailey’s 33rd goal of the season and his first in seven games. After the ball was sent down the right channel, Woods, who maintained his own recent high standards, did exceptionally well to hook it into the area. The unmarked Bailey steadied himself before levelling the scores via a deflection.
As in the first half, a spell of West pressure followed the goal as they threatened to snatch an unlikely three points. Matt Eckersley was inches away from scoring his fourth goal in as many games when he nodded Steer’s corner over, and Matty Kay went even closer with his looping header over the straying Cookson.
However, there was to be a miserable conclusion. Tinker required minutes of treatment from both medical teams after a collision in the West area and ended the night in hospital. West were shaken and the Reds capitalised in the first of five added minutes when Schorah glanced a header past Ashley and into the bottom corner – the 100th league goal conceded by West this season, and one just as unwelcome on the other side of M21 as the visitors leapfrogged Maine Road.
West: Ashley, Affleck, Tinker (Reader 90), Eckersley, Rogers (Steer 58), Eiselt, Massamba (Whyment 85), Kay, Bailey, Woods, Sergeant. Not used: Middleton, Dickenson.