MATCH REPORT | City of Liverpool 4 – 0 West

City of Liverpool 4-0 West Didsbury & Chorlton
Home Scorers:
Karl Clair (6p), Jamie McDonald (19), Thomas Peterson (40), Craig Cairns (78)
HT: 3-0 Att: 346

At its worst, football can seem like a series of random occurrences bundled together, onlookers grasping for the final score as a means of making sense of what they’ve just seen.

For sure, there were large passages of play during West’s 4-0 loss in Bootle to league leaders City of Liverpool that felt very much like a desperate grope for answers where there were none. There were also moments of hope and pain – the latter outweighing the former with ease by the time the full time whistle blew

A few minutes in, and those first pangs of existential dread were felt: for the second time in a week, West conceded a penalty. For a second time in a week, it initially looked unclear as to what infraction had been committed. Against Barnoldswick, it was a push in the back: here, it was a high foot – and the home side gratefully gobbled up the opportunity from the spot, Burgess sadly sent the wrong way.

From there, West had much of the ball but seemed unable to turn that into meaningful possession in the final third. The home side, however, looked dangerous whenever they had the ball. Crucially, they also had luck upon their side: an attack turned into pinball as it approached the area, before a deflection – one of those random occurrences – saw a Purple shirt bearing down on goal. No mistake made, and the City of Liverpool faithful cheered being two goals to the good.

From there, the game was rarely in doubt, even at such an early stage. As much as West hassled, harried, and pressed, nothing seemed to stick. Defensive Liverpool headers would hit the back of their own player, and end up in a better position because of it; promising West runs turned to blind alleys; shots that started out with fizz would end up comfortable in the keeper’s hands.

Before the first half was out, the Purps would have their third – this time, some sense could be made of it all. Beautiful interplay on the edge of the box saw a precise through ball reach a purple shirt that had broken the offside trap. Burgess – who had made a number of smart saves to keep the difference between the sides down to two – left with no chance, 3-0.

West started the second half much brighter, gaining some control of the midfield while managing to enter that vital final third – possession in the box eluded the players in white & black still, however. Henderson, along with his strike partner McLaughlin, pressed every ball – but it would still end up being cleared to a Purple shirt. Some joy came from Mason and the pacey Tsegay on the wings, but the fortress of box remained impenetrable.

Then, a moment that would dominate the home support’s discussion post-game. Chasing a lost ball, Tinker lunged in. To howls for a red card from Purple fans, a fracas broke out: hands were raised and bodies pushed against one another. A yellow card for Tinker and the Liverpool number 2 were the result, with Josh substituted for newly appointed assistant manager Matty Kay shortly afterwards.

After that, back to searching in the dark for answers. Matt Eckersley was peeling away to celebrate by the time the whistle went to deny him. His emphatic header from a corner was ruled out due to the ball in going out of play en route to his forehead. The game in microcosm for Stevie Settle’s boys: something comes from nothing, and serves only to crush the spirit a little more.

The home side found themselves open in front of goal several times over, only to be brought back by an offside flag. They were not to be denied forever, though. It may not have been the final throw of the dice for West, but it was approaching it: an attack broke down, a clearance for the home side turned into an incisive, counter, turned into the Purple 11 being alone with the ball inside the area, turned the scoreline to 4-0.

The game could be played a million times, a million different ways. In some, that early penalty is given as a goal kick. In others, the ball bounces a different way a few times and West nick a vital away win. In many, that second half fracas ends in the red card being brandished to players on both sides.

Ifs and buts are good for the soul in moments like these as they give hope that things could’ve so easily gone so much differently. Still, there’s no escaping the reality we live in: West come back to Chorlton with zero points from their travels, having lost 4-0 to the league leaders, and the ball having bounced exactly how it did. Random chance, occurrence, and a defeat.

Team sheets to follow.

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