An army of players, committee and volunteers cleared the frozen snow off the pitch on the Friday evening and the evidence was there to see with certain members hobbling around holding their backs. A massive thank you to all of them.
Manager Michael Dunwell made 3 changes for this Buildbase FA Vase 3rd round Tie against North West Counties side City of Liverpool FC. Dale Mulligan and Fred Woodhouse came in for Jamie Poole and Sonni Coleman who were amongst the substitutes along with the fit again Chris Stockton, Matty Garbutt started at Right Back in place of Joe Carter who was working. CoL brought a large following with them that provided a great atmosphere for both players and the home spectators some of the antics which wouldn’t have been out of place in an Istanbul derby at times.
A crowd of over 500 (a Vase record for the Anchors) were in place early and saw the Anchors make a good start, (Match day sponsor Sud’s) MoM Jimmy Ward getting the writer amongst others out of their seats after just 3 minutes latching onto a loose ball and fired a left foot shot across the goal with McCall scrambling to touch it round the post. Kev Hayes picked up a loose ball and hit a curler which McCall just managed to stop sneaking in under the bar as CoL struggled to contain the movement of Stocktons attackers. A goal was coming and after all of his previous good work CoL keeper McCall will want to forget his effort to save it as the shot slipped underneath him tamely. However the build up was much better on the eye with Hayes again causing problems down the left playing a 1-2 with Woodhouse and after seeing the CoL defence follow him he rolled it back to WOODHOUSE in acres of space to fire in from 16 yards. McCall redeemed himself on 32 minutes as he palmed away a curling Free Kick from 2nd Round hero, Max Craggs . It wasn’t totally one sided and CoL did have efforts from Connelly and McGrath, but the dangerous hard working Nevitt was feeding off scraps and marshalled superbly by Coulthard and Mulligan as it remained 1-0 at the break.
As expected CoL came out of the traps quickly and pressed for an equaliser McGrath on 48 minutes fired a shot from 20 yards but Arthur collected it comfortably. Nevitt had the best opportunity on 55 minutes when put through by Roberts he found himself free from the shackles of Coulthard for the first time but could only fire into the side netting. CoL worked very hard to create openings but apart from an effort converted by Peterson after 67 minutes didn’t really look like they were going to score and despite the rumblings from CoL the play had already been stopped by the referee’s whistle for a foul on a Stockton player long before he netted. Sub Chris Stockton could have finished it all off on 89 minutes when he raced away from the CoL defence and with McCall rooted he hammered it against the post. The Referee found 7 minutes of injury time from somewhere maybe Arthurs injury when kicked in the head on the floor, but the magnificent Coulthard and the equally dogged Mulligan and Cossvella formed a barrier to keep the Liverpudlians at bay.
Second half was unusually workmanlike and Stockton are showing a bit of steel when they need it at times. Tom Coulthard was outstanding again and my man of the match but Dale Mulligan and Alan Cossavella were almost as good, Sponsor’s mom Jimmy Ward had his best game of the season and returning Matty Garbutt proved he still has plenty to offer. A fourth round home tie with high flying Vase Favourites West Auckland awaits in early January but the Anchors should fear no one at home.