The University of Liverpool Football 1st Team were on the receiving end of a stunning comeback as the bragging rights on derby day were shared with Liverpool John Moores University on Wednesday afternoon. In a game of two halves, UoLFC led by 3 at half-time after goals from James Frudd, Maxim Green and Ed Simon, before a resurgent John Moores eradicated the deficit to claim an unlikely point on the astroturf at Wyncote Sports Grounds.
UoLFC were alert right from the match’s kick-off, with both centre-backs combining to block an early John Moores chance well. After having difficulty retaining possession in the early exchanges, the team began to find the rhythm in their play seen in previous weeks. A Frudd header from a Simon short corner struck the bar after 16 minutes, and, although John Moores appeared to be growing into the game, this would be a warning for the forthcoming UoLFC dominance. The scoring was opened five minutes later when a Simon strike was fumbled by the John Moores keeper, allowing Frudd to pounce on the rebound. With Billington orchestrating play from a deeper position, the Blues created a string of chances and were dominating the game, but failed to capitalise on their opponent’s frequent mistakes.
A particular trouble area for John Moores was the pace of Green on the right flank, with his team-mates realising this and beginning to feed him more. This pattern of play came to fruition on 43 minutes, with Green doubling the UoLFC lead with a finish around the keeper after being picked out by Simon. A third followed just two minutes later, with a purposeful Billington run ending in a through-ball collected by Simon and powered past the John Moores keeper. Playing some scintillating football, it seemed as if the Blues had the game wrapped up at the break.
The second half began in the same vein as the first, with Frudd missing from close range after a slick UoLFC passing move. This would prove costly, however, as even with the introduction of fresh legs in the form of Rutnam and Healy, John Moores showed more grit to battle back into the contest. A corner on 58 minutes was headed home after some slapdash marking to make the score 3-1; however, UoLFC still looked dangerous on the break and were fashioning good openings. Again, these weren’t converted, and John Moores reduced the lead to one after a long-ball clearance was misjudged by goalkeeper Hancocks and his defenders, giving the opposition striker an empty net to tap in to.
The feistiness expected in a local derby reared its head in the last quarter of the match, with John Moores being more physical and a poor challenge sparking a bust-up with fifteen minutes to go. The scuffle momentarily got out of hand, with even a spectator getting involved, but was eventually sorted by several yellow cards from the referee. John Moores were certainly the better side as full-time drew closer, with UoLFC clinging onto their lead after a host of chances against them. Their resistance was broken in the 87th minute, as the John Moores striker cut inside the box and fired a drive past Hancocks to equalize. Incredibly, there was time for a final Blues chance, with a header inside the box saved well by the John Moores keeper.
Speaking after the game, manager Fran Alonso rued UoLFC’s many missed opportunities, saying: “It’s unbelievable how many chances we missed… At the end of the day, you need to be clinical.” Despite the match feeling like a loss, the draw keeps UoLFC second in the Northern 2A League, with their next match away to bottom club University of Lancaster on 28th November. Elsewhere on Wednesday, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Teams all lost at Wyncote, capping off a pretty disappointing week and creating more motivation for the next set of fixtures.