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City of Liverpool’s resurgent form continued as the Purps recorded their first home win of the season, with a deserved victory over Trafford at the Berry Street Garage Stadium.
After Saturday’s FA Trophy clash with Cleethorpes Town didn’t take place due to the opposition refusing to travel, Michael Ellison’s side had a break of 7 days since last week’s pulsating draw at Prescot Cables.
Ellison opted to start the same eleven which largely bossed the Cables fixture, with a welcome return to the bench for Kev McEllin and new signing Ethan Cartwright also featuring amongst the substitutes.
The Purps started the match just had they did at Brighouse and Prescot respectively, dominating possession and looking dangerous in the opening minutes.
Jack Hazlehurst started brightly and almost opened the scoring early on, carrying the ball from his own half and beating a couple of defenders in trademark fashion.
The Purple Messi then released a low shot from the edge of the area which drifted narrowly past Trafford keeper Matthew Cooper’s right hand post.
Hazlehurst was denied what looked like a stonewall penalty later in the half, as the playmaker was cleaned out by a defender in the box. The referee flamboyantly waved away the appeals, leaving fans and players extremely bemused.
Jamie McDonald was also denied by a brave block in the opening exchanges after a deft turn, as the visitors largely struggled to get out of their own half.
It was McDonald again who went close with another majestic turn moments later.
The Purps striker picked the ball up on the right-hand side of the Trafford area before shifting the ball quickly to his unfavoured left and curling an effort which Cooper did very well to parry away.
Jack Hazlehurst was quickly onto the rebound but smashed it onto the bar from a tight angle.
Despite their dominance, the hosts had to be on their mettle at the back as Trafford looked to counter. Owen Wheeler in the Purps goal was largely a spectator in the first half but had to be on his toes to fingertip away James Neild’s firm header from a corner.
McDonald went close again moments later, volleying narrowly over after the ball sat up nicely 25 yards out.
The livewire forward was unlucky not to open the scoring as Louis Corrigan’s left footed cross left the keeper back-pedaling and in all kinds of trouble but McDonald could only divert it over with a volleyed effort on the stretch from a difficult angle.
Dom Reid forced Cooper into another excellent stop after a barnstorming run down the right saw the winger cut in and beat a couple of challenges before curling a fierce left footed effort which the goalkeeper parried away assuredly.
Trafford were largely limited to fleeting counter attacks and Wheeler was the hero out of the blue just before the interval. The keeper raced off his line to win the ball with a sliding challenge out of his area as the visitors threatened in behind down their left.
HALF TIME: City of Liverpool 0-0 Trafford
After the interval the game was far more stop/start in nature and slower paced. The play was punctuated in stoppages for niggly fouls and injuries.
The Purps had already lost Jack Hazlehurst to a knock before half time, and within ten minutes of the second period has also seen Jordan Barrow and Ian Kearney have to be replaced.
The hosts continued to dominate possession however, with Gerry Kinsella slotting in well into midfield and Tom Stephens doing everything asked of him alongside the towering Jay McCarten.
Indeed it was Stephens and McCarten who combined to finally put the Purps ahead with thirteen minutes left to play.
Louis Corrigan looped in a left footed free kick from a central position 35 yards out for Stephens to cleverly head across goal where McCarten was waiting to control and slot across the keeper.
It was McCarten’s second goal in two games after getting his first Purps goal in the Cables fixture a week earlier. What do they say about London buses?
Moments after City of Liverpool’s deserved opener the visitors threatened with their best opportunity of the match. A looping effort looked to creep in at Wheeler’s right-hand post but substitute Gerry Kinsella was there to head off the line.
The game was suddenly end-to-end and Dom Reid almost made sure of the points with a magnificent long range effort which crashed back off the crossbar with Cooper well beaten.
In injury time Trafford were reduced to ten men as Jack Dorney, already on a booking, received his marching orders for a poor challenge on Jamie McDonald.
FULL TIME: City of Liverpool 1-0 Trafford
City of Liverpool: Wheeler, Shorrock, Kearney (Stephens 57), McCarten, Corrigan, Barrow (Kinsella 50), Burke, Reid, Hazlehurst (Cartwright 45), Rigby, McDonald.
Unused Subs: Devine, McEllin
Man of the Match: Jay McCarten. The Purps skipper was a towering and composed figure at the back, winning everything in the air to give his side a firm foundation to build from and grabbing the all-important winning goal late on.
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