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City of Liverpool and FC United of Manchester played out a keenly fought draw on an entertaining afternoon in front of 600 fans at Broadhurst Park.
Both sides started brightly, but the Purps were indebted to solid defending from skipper Jay McCarten and Anthony Brown in the opening minutes, as the hosts looked to get in behind.
It was the Purps however who could have opened the scoring early on, as great footwork from Jamie McDonald saw him beat his man out wide and clip a ball to the back post. New signing Nathan Burke and Ethan Devine got in each other’s way arriving late, and the former sliced wide.
The hosts built a foothold in the game and looked dangerous with their passing football out wide and threatening delivery from set pieces. McCarten and Brown stood firm though and despatched a catalogue of dangerous deliveries from corners as FC pressed for the opener.
City of Liverpool looked extremely dangerous on the counter-attack, with Jamie McDonald giving FC United right back Jack Lenehan a torrid time all afternoon.
It was McDonald and strike partner Craig Cairns who pressed well to win back possession and release Burke, however just as the ball broke for the midfielder to get his shot away, FC defender Aaron Morris got a vital toe on the ball to nick it away.
The Purps were buoyed by the chances they were creating, and took the lead when FC failed to cope with Stephen Rigby’s header from a Jay McCarten long ball.
The ball appeared to break to Jamie McDonald in an offside position causing confusion in the FC backline, however the forward played to the whistle, hammering a brilliant angled across keeper Joshua Brooks and into the net.
The linesman’s flag wasn’t forthcoming and the Purps had the lead.
FC rallied and had a great spell of possession following the opener, with the Purps defending resolutely in their own half and limited to counter attacking opportunities.
Jordan Barrow made a brave block to deny a rasping long range effort from FC skipper Mike Potts as the hosts looked to restore parity.
The Purps continued to look dangerous on the counter through the lively McDonald who carried the ball deep into the FC half and released Burke on the right of the area.
The Purps midfielder tied Adam Dodd in knots with lovely footwork and just as he looked to get a shot away, feigned a selfless ball to the back post for Cairns waiting for a tap in, only for an FC defender to intercept his cross at the last second.
Moments later, Cairns had a golden opportunity to make it two nil but sliced wide left footed across the face of goal when clean through.
Nathan Burke again drew a good save from Brooks after beating a couple of defenders on the angle again with tricky footwork as the Purps finished the half strong on the counter-attack.
As the half closed out, the visitors were indebted to in-form goalkeeper Owen Wheeler who made a sublime point-blank range stop to deny FC at the back post after an inch-perfect ball in.
The Purps went in ahead at the break and looked good value for it in a keenly contested end to end affair with both sides threatening.
Within minutes of the restart however, FC finally had the parity they craved as on loan Fleetwood Town forward Michael Fowler nodded home a perfect ball from the left by the dangerous Regan Linney.
The Purps stood strong and settled well after the goal with Jordan Barrow and Jay Yates in particular doing everything asked of them as FC looked to attack.
Yates had to receive lengthy treatment from Purps physio Nathan Sullivan after sustaining a nasty facial injury taking Adam Dodd’s forearm to the face. The FC full back was lucky the referee didn’t appear have a clear view of the incident as several Purps were incensed the officials didn’t take action.
Purps goalkeeper Owen Wheeler produced the save of the match as the dangerous Linney again cut in off the left and curled an arrowing right footed effort towards the corner. As the crowd and FC fans waited for the net to bulge, Wheeler clawed the ball out for a corner at full stretch.
Jordan Barrow almost capped an individual display with the winner on a rare foray forward. The ball broke kindly on the right hand side of the area for the midfielder who chested down and hammered a right footed effort which was clawed out by a great stop from Brooks.
At the other end, FC had a great chance to win it as Fowler was released in behind on the right hand side of the area, but the powerful forward fired wide as Wheeler rushed out to narrow the angle.
As the half drew to a close, things became rather spicy as both sides put in some poor challenges. A melee ensued as Tom Stevens took revenge for a dreadful challenge from behind on Nathan Burke by going through the back of Fowler. The forward retaliated and as the ref calmed things down only a yellow was produced for the initial foul on Burke.
There was still time left for Stevo to make a brilliant block in his own box deep into injury time as FC threatened to grab the winner, however the full time whistle went as the resulting corner went out of play and the Purps had a deserved draw in a pulsating game.
FINAL SCORE: FCUM 1-1 COLFC
COLFC: Wheeler, Yates, McCarten, Brown (Stevens), Rigby, Burke, Barrow, Devine (Hazlehurst), McDonald (Nevitt), Cairns (Gray), Reid (McGrath).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jay Yates had a brilliant game at right back at takes the MOTM, just shading the imperious Jordan Barrow who was also fantastic all afternoon.
MATCHDAY PHOTO GALLERY: