City of Liverpool and Prescot Cables played out a pulsating 2-2 draw in the 10a derby in what turned out to be a frenetic fixture at the IP Truck Parts Stadium.
Purps manager Michael Ellison made two changes from the starting line-up which beat Brighouse on Saturday, with Jack Hazlehurst replacing Tony Gray and goalkeeper Owen Wheeler in for Scott Reed.
The visitors started the game how they finished at Brighouse on Saturday, looking at it from minute one and much the hungrier of the two sides.
Indeed this told early on as excellent pressing from Barrow, Burke, Hazlehurst and McDonald saw the Purps rob Cables of possession deep in their own half. Jamie McDonald’s opportunistic effort from range was deflected for a corner and when the set piece was played in Jordan Barrow teed up Jay McCarten but the hosts just managed to clear.
Kai Shorrock, fresh from an outstanding debut on Saturday, spent much of the first half giving Cables wing back James Edgar a torrid time. Shorrock sent Edgar to the shop on three occasions, the first resulting in a marvellous right footed ball in which Jamie McDonald headed narrowly wide. It was one where Jamie would have expected to see the net bulge.
Another turn and cross from Shorrock again left Edgar in his wake and again time picked out McDonald but Cables keeper Mitchell Allen bravely saved at his feet.
McDonald was denied again by Allen after cutting in down the left and forcing the keeper to block with his body from a narrow angle for a corner.
After banging on the door for much of the opening twenty minutes, the Purps finally made the pressure tell. Louis Corrigan whipped in a deep and devilish corner from the right and skipper Jay McCarten rose like a salmon to power home a header which gave Allen no chance. The Purps defender had his first goal for the club and it was no more than the visitors deserved.
As the half progressed Jack Hazlehurst and Dom Reid had Allen scrambling with long range efforts which went narrowly wide.
Corrigan’s set pieces continued to give the opposition a torrid night, he again picked out McCarten who turned the ball back for Barrow to strike, but it was agonisingly just behind the in-form midfielder. Stephen Rigby then had a shot blocked bravely by a Cables defender as the hosts half-cleared.
As the half closed out, a lovely driving run down the left from Rigby picked out Dom Reid arriving late at the back post. The winger attempted to knock it back across the face of goal, but a Cables defender blocked just in front of Jamie McDonald who was lurking for a tap-in.
On the stroke of half time another Corrigan corner had Cables again all at sea, it looked destined for the head of the unmarked Nathan Burke but somehow evaded everyone and went all the way through. The referee then blew for the interval after dominant half of football where the Purps rued not being further in front.
HALF TIME: Cables 0-1 Purps
After the interval, the hosts had a change of shape and were much improved for it. A silly foul on the edge of the area gave the visitors a good chance to test Owen Wheeler, but the whipped free kick struck the end of the wall and deflected for a corner.
In the 57th minute Cables had a golden opportunity to restore parity as the lively Michael Monaghan tumbled theatrically in the box under pressure from McCarten and referee Luis Griffiths was quick to point to the spot.
James Edgar stepped up to dispatch the penalty home, sending Wheeler the wrong way.
Cables were buoyed by their equaliser and the visitors were indebted to Wheeler who raced off his line to deny Josh Klein-Davies with his body. There was more than a hint of offside as the forward raced clear but Wheeler stayed big to make a fine stop one-on-one.
On an evening where questionable decision making left the Purps perplexed, there was a period of controversy as James McCarten was dragged down for what looked like a stonewall penalty in the Cables area only for the referee to somehow award Cables a free kick. The hosts went down to the other end and were given a free kick down the left as Kearney slid in and won the ball, Michael Ellison’s side incensed.
Matty Hamilton whipped the free kick in, which went all the way through to put Cables 2-1 ahead.
The Purps rallied and equalised almost instantly as a long ball over the top released Jamie McDonald who delicately lobbed the ball over the stranded goalkeeper to restore parity. It was the least the visitors deserved and a fine finish from the Purps #9.
Moments later McDonald was picked out by substitute Elliott Nevitt’s driving run and cross but his angled drive flew over the bar.
At the other end Wheeler made a great low stop to deny Cables on the counter attack, and Corrigan cleared the rebound as Klein-Davies looked for a tap in.
Deep into injury time the Purps almost re-wrote the headlines as McDonald’s pressing robbed Sean Myler of possession in his own box. Elliott Nevitt gathered the loose ball but Mitchell Allen saved with his body to deny him and save his captain’s bacon.
FINAL SCORE: Cables 2-2 Purps
City of Liverpool: Wheeler, Shorrock, Kearney, McCarten, Corrigan, Barrow (Stephens), Burke, Reid, Rigby (Nevitt), Hazlehurst (McGrath), McDonald.
Man of the Match: Jamie McDonald. The Purps forward lead the line well, grabbing a deserved goal and causing the hosts defence an evening of constant headaches.
Paul Manning spoke to Michael Ellison after the final whistle to get the managers reaction.
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