1AFC Lpool213345
2Wigan R P192139
As of: 16/02/09 14:30

AFC Lose at Home

Vodkat League 1st Division leaders AFC Liverpool fell to a surprising home defeat against Eccleshall on 14th February, with poor defending and lacklustre finishing to blame.

The Staffordshire side didn’t come to frustrate leading to an open game, although there were few opportunities for either side in the first quarter of the game. AFC upped the tempo around the half hour mark and Andy Barlow saw a drive well beaten away by keeper Phil Bruce. Ryan Wignall, often dangerous down the right, was felled on the edge of the box and from the resultant free kick Dean Thurston flicked the ball on but Liam Coynes header was easily saved.

In the 35th minute Eccelshall took the lead after a mix up between Jack Baker and Jay Chandler in dealing with a low cross allowed Scott Chaplin to slide the ball into an empty net from six yards. Two minutes later the visitors were almost gifted an opportunity to double their lead when Mark Gregory completely missed the ball when trying to clear but luckily Jack Baker was out of his goal quick enough to boot the ball to safety.

As half time approached Thurston had the ball in the visitors net after turning his mane and firing past the keeper but the goal was ruled out after a late offside flag. A free kick appeal was also turned down after Alex Hutchinson sliced his clearance and the keeper caught the ball with Thurston hovering but the referee ruled against a back pass. The last action of the first half saw Ian Sheridan get to the by line and pull the ball back for Thurston but the strikers shot was weak and posed Bruce no problems.

Early in the second half Brad Warbuton saw a good long ranger effort well held by Bruce and at the other end a quick passing move saw Danny Hughes clean through but his clipped his shot past the advancing Baker went just wide. AFC hit back and a low Thurston cross from the left was cleared away just in time with substitute Dave Eaton on hand to turn the ball into the net.

AFC seemed uncharacteristically reluctant to shoot on occasions, with players sometimes taking too long to set each other up. In the 75th minute Thurston hesitated in controlling a cross and it was cleared away for a corner, from which Bruce dropped the ball but no players were on hand to capitalise and the danger was cleared.

Ecceleshall weren’t sitting on their lead and AFC were lucky not to fall behind after a few cases of sloppy defending. Gregory was slow to clear and dispossessed outside the area but the assistant referee flagged for a foul as a second goal looked certain and Coyne lost possession as he tried to dribble his way out of the area but got away with it when the subsequent shot was deflected over.

In a frantic last ten minutes AFC spent most of their time in the visitors half bgut couldn’t find an equaliser. A fierce Sheridan drive was spilled by the keeper but he managed to gather the ball at the second attempt before Thurston. AFC’s leading scorer was then denied at point blank range by Bruce after a good knock down by Andy Olsen. Ian Johnson was sent on to try and save the game but he stayed on the pitch for only a minute or so, receiving a straight red card for a challenge on Josh Whitmore that didn’t look too malicious. Moments later Coyne was yellow carded for what had looked a harsher challenge.

Credit has to be given to Eccleshall though who continued to seek a second goal with dangerous looking forays into the Reds half as late as injury time. All I all it was just one of those days and some questionable refereeing on occasions didn’t help. Its now up to the players to list themselves in the clash of the top two sides in the table at Padiham next week.

(February 15, 2009)