Charnock Richard beat AFC Liverpool 2-1 at the Marine Travel Arena with two goals from Carl Grimshaw. The second goal was his 50th of the season.
AFC Liverpool 1 Charnock Richard 2
Monday 7th May 2018, North West Counties League Premier Division
AFC LIVERPOOL 1
CHARNOCK RICHARD 2
Team: Adam Halton, Spencer Bibby, Alex Ralph, Ryan Schofield, Ross O’Farrell, Harvey Close, Alex Dodd (Matt Davison), Mark Woods, Carl Grimshaw, Joe Noblet, Jordyn Fitton. SUBS: (Not Used) Nathan Fairhurst, James Walker.
This was another excellent performance by Charnock Richard and the 2-1 win ensured that they remained in sixth position in the table. Unfortunately for AFC Liverpool the defeat saw them relegated to Division 1. Conceding a penalty in the first 15 seconds was not the start that Charnock were looking for and it was close on half time before they managed to equalise. Liverpool struggled to create chances in the second half and the match was decided with a goal for Charnock with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Four players Walker, Fairhurst, Rufus and Young, from the squad that defeated Hanley Town on the previous Saturday were unavailable and with the Reserves playing in a cup final Charnock struggled to put a side together. As it was they had 12 players, Fairhurst and Walker were named on the bench but were not present at the kick off. In came Harvey Close, Jordyn Fitton and Mark Woods with Matt Davison as the sole substitute. Another very hot day with little wind and a decent pitch at the Marine Travel Arena; the attendance was 141.
Charnock won the toss and AFC Liverpool kicked off and immediately won a penalty. From the kick off the ball was launched out to the left it appeared that Bibby thought that the ball was going out as he let the ball go over his head but Schorah picked it up went past Spencer who pulled him back and it was a penalty. Evans took the kick and Halton got down to push the ball out, Zach Hardacre followed up to hit the ball home. It was a devastating start for the Villagers. Not surprisingly Charnock struggled for a while, they had to thank Halton for diverting the ball for a corner and then when O’Farrell and Ralph failed to communicate Zach Hardacre raced away down the right but screwed his shot wide. Slowly the visitors were beginning to put their game together and they began to monopolise possession. Liverpool were adopting the tactics of hitting the ball long whenever possible. On 14 minutes a good move down the left saw Fitton centre and Grimshaw knocked the ball back to Close, however it was a difficult bounce and Harvey shot well wide. AFC Liverpool, desperate to avoid relegation, were very physical and conceded a number of free kicks. However, the team in green were not intimidated and with Woods and Close working very hard in midfield they were looking the better side. A clever pass from Close set up Fitton for a centre but it was just too long for Grimshaw. A delightful flick by Dodd found Noblet and he tried a shot from 30 yards that went well wide. Liverpool nearly increased their lead on 33 minutes Lyons saw Halton fail to collect his shot cleanly and only a quick reaction from Adam saved the day. Halton then had to dive to his right to turn a free kick out for a corner. Charnock equalised on 41 minutes Noblet delivered a free kick from the left Close headed it on and GRIMSHAW headed home. After complaints from the home side the referee consulted his assistant and the goal was confirmed. After a catastrophic start Charnock had settled down well and produced some good football and definitely deserved to be at least level at the interval.
Early in the second half a long ball found Grimshaw who held off a defender to shoot into the side netting. Carl then had a golden chance to give Charnock the lead on 55 minutes, a Woods left wing corner resulted in a free header but his effort went wide. The home team were struggling finding it difficult to retain the ball and their long ball tactics were not creating any real shooting opportunities. Matt Davison replaced Alex Dodd after 63 minutes. The excellent football that the Villagers were producing was rewarded in the 74th minute when Ralph’s right wing corner was headed home by GRIMSAW for his 50th goal of the season. Matt Davison then headed the ball down on the edge of the area for Close, the keeper came out and missed the ball but Harvey could not control it and it ran out for a goal kick. The goal keeper then came out and was just too late in attempting a clearance and kicked Grimshaw who had laid the ball out to the left and when the shot came in a defender cleared from in front of the empty goal. Close hit a free kick wide and then Bibby from the same position brought a diving save out of the keeper. With 11 minutes left a diving header by Zach Hardacre from a free kick went wide, a good opportunity missed and the home side realising that relegation was threatening really applied the pressure. Bibby missed out and substitute Nevitt saw his shot saved at the foot of the post by Halton. A pass found Schorah in front of goal but he failed to control it before Halton grabbed the ball. On 85 minutes the ball bobbed a around in the Charnock area and when it was cleared Woods raced up to the edge of the area but instead of shooting he tried to find Davison and the chance was gone. On 90 minutes another attack created desperate problems for the visiting defence and at one point it looked odds on for an equaliser but somehow the ball was eventually cleared. The referee played four minutes added time and there was time enough for another desperate spell of defending in the Charnock goalmouth but the Villagers survived due to good defending and quite a lot of luck.
In view of the players missing it had been another magnificent performance, another occasion when manager Andy Westwell has to field a team without several regular players and Charnock come through with a win. Whilst this was a team effort mention must be made for a couple of players who have only joined the club in the last few weeks Harvey Close was chosen by AFC Liverpool as the Charnock “Man of the Match” and he continues to improve every game and Jordyn Fitton is another player who is making a real mark in the team, his ball control and ability to pick a pass were particularly important in this match. Mark Woods ran all over the field, as usual, and the performance of these three players in midfield was really important in this win.
If 1874 beat Northwich Victoria on Wednesday, Charnock will need to win at West Didsbury and Chorlton on Saturday 12th, their final fixture of the season if they are to finish in the top six. Kick off is at 3pm.