West ended 2016 in familiar fashion as they surrendered a two goal lead as they were defeated at AFC Liverpool 3-2. The early kick off on New Year’s Eve captured the imagination of the West supporters as they made up a significant number of the crowd of 152.
Manager Steve Settle was without Anthony Potts, Mark Rogers and Carlos Mendes Gomes who were all forced out injured from the Maine Road game with Ben Steer, Jordan Poole and Richmond Botchey restored to the starting line-up.
Despite the make shift nature of the side it was West who created the games first chance on 5 minutes when a through ball wasn’t cleared allowing Saul Henderson a clean run on goal but the ball took a bobble at the vital moment and his effort from 6 yards out cannoned off the roof of the stand. A minute later Matty Kay forced the first save of the game as his header was palmed away by the Liverpool goalkeeper Dominic Garner before Joe Shaw fired just wide with the rebound with an overhead kick. At the other end Liverpool headed wide from the edge of the area following a terrific cross from the right. The home side came more into the game as they had several long range efforts none of which were on target.
On 28 minutes Henderson again forced a terrific save from Garner as he robbed the defender of the ball before unleashing a hard left footed effort towards goal. Two minutes later it was Kay’s turn again as he was played in by Nic Evangelinos but the keeper was equal to the task. The deadlock was broken on 34 minutes as Joe Shaw found space at the edge of the penalty and fired an effort into the bottom corner of the foot of the left hand post. A minute later he almost doubled his tally as Shaw headed a free kick onto the roof of the net.
The lead was doubled a minute before half time as Henderson received the ball at the edge of the area, neatly beat his marker and fired a low effort into the bottom left hand corner; a superb goal. However West switched off and Liverpool took full advantage as they worked the ball down the left before finding Jason Carey unmarked at the far post who finished from close range to reduce the deficit at half.
The goal galvanised the home side and they opened the second half with a long range effort which forced West goalkeeper Dean Williams into a terrific save to push it round the post. At the other end Evangelinos found Steer with a terrific curled pass laying it off to Poole who fired just wide of the post from the edge of the area.
On 52 minutes a pass through the middle found Emini Adegbenro at the edge of the area but he couldn’t find the target. Six minutes later Liverpool were level however as Jack Leamey was allowed to advance with the ball before firing a 25 yard effort over the head of Williams, a superb strike.
West almost responded immediately as Joe Shaw’s cross found Martyn Andrews as the far post but his side footed effort into the corner was cleared off the line. It proved to be the turning point and on 65 minutes Liverpool took the lead as another through ball released Adegbenro one-on-one as he rounded Williams and coolly slid it into the bottom of the net.
West should have levelled on 70 minutes when a great cross from substitute Ben Woods found Henderson unmarked at the far post but he miss-controlled it with the goal at his mercy. The final 20 minutes saw few chances as the home side looked to extend their lead whilst doing a good job to restrict West to half chances. West might have levelled at the death as substitute Georgi Whyment countered, playing in fellow substitute Jonny Poizer who found Evangelinos but the West striker could only fire over.
The game ended on a controversial note as the referee blew without adding an additional time for stoppages, despite several substitutes, goals, bookings and injuries, as the home officials clocked the game 10 seconds short of the full 90. However West were left to rue missed chances in the first half as they surrendered yet another two goal lead.