MATCH REPORT | AFC Liverpool 3-2 West
Tuesday 17th April 2018, NWCFL Premier Division
AFC Liverpool 3 (Schorah 32, Hardacre 86, 90+4)
West 2 (Woods 9, Kay 83, Kay sent off 88)
West suffered an intense bout of déjà vu as AFC Liverpool again struck in stoppage time to snatch all three points.
Just as at Brookburn Road eight days earlier, the Reds staged a late show – this time through substitute Zach Hardacre – to take a huge step towards Premier League survival. For West, there was a potentially more damaging case of history repeating itself. Matt Eckersley departed on crutches in the second half, after Josh Tinker’s serious injury against the same opponents last week.
The night started ominously for the visitors as traffic delayed Aaron Ashley and forced Matty Kay to start the match in goal. But Kay, who was to become a central figure, was barely troubled and kept a 13-minute clean sheet before Ashley’s arrival. In the meantime, West took a deserved early lead – a swift counter involving Tom Bailey and Ben Steer ended with Ash Woods ensuring Steer’s effort crossed the line.
A further series of repeated scenes followed as a dominant West failed to find a second goal. The outfield Kay had a fierce shot tipped over from the edge of the area, Jack Sergeant’s low cross somehow evaded a West touch and Steer engaged himself in a running battle with Reds keeper Jack Ferguson.
But the longer it remained 1-0, the more inevitable a Reds equaliser became, and it duly arrived just after the half hour. Ben Reader headed a cross against his own post, and Callum Schorah reacted quickest to follow up his brace at Brookburn Road. West had further chances to retake the lead – Bailey having a free-kick shovelled around the near post – but, not for the first time this season, entered the break wondering how the game wasn’t already won.
Any ill-effects from Ashley’s late arrival seemed to be delayed until after the interval as West lost their way in the second half. The game became as untidy as the reverse fixture, with the visitors’ frustration manifesting itself in cautions for Reader, Steer and substitute Sam Dickenson, all for dissent. Dickenson had taken the place of Eckersley after the West captain had been forced off after a challenge in the visitors’ penalty area.
West rallied, however, and after Woods had pulled a shot wide of the far post and Dickenson had slashed an effort into the side netting, put themselves back in front with seven minutes remaining when Kay arrived in the box to sweep home following an exchange between Steer and Woods. But this time the lead lasted only three minutes as Hardacre switched the ball onto his right foot and found the inside of Ashley’s near post.
Kay, who had collected a yellow card in the first half, completed an unlikely hat-trick when he saw red for catching a Reds midfielder late in the centre circle. The home side pushed for a winner which would take them out of the relegation zone, and ten-man West succumbed in the 94th minute when Hardacre seized on a loose ball to finish past Ashley.
West: Kay, Reader, Eiselt, Eckersley (Whyment 65), Middleton, Sergeant, Steer, Bailey, Woods, Shaw (Dickenson 76), Brockley (Ashley 13).