Report: Colls 3-3* City of Liverpool

City of Liverpool have picked up the first trophy of the new season, defeating Atherton Collieries on penalties in the Reusch Champions Cup at the Kensite Stadium. An entertaining match saw the destiny of the trophy decided on penalties at the end of an eventful final 20 minutes. In a terrific curtain raiser to the new season, the sides were tied at 3-3 at the end of the game, but as was the case in the Macron Challenge Cup semi-final and final last season, the Purples’ penalty marksmen held their nerve to win the resulting shoot out 4-3 on penalties. The match kicked off with City of Liverpool playing towards the changing room end. A fairly quick start saw Atherton Collieries looking to take command of the match and this they largely did. A couple of early half chances for Colls came and went before City of Liverpool had the first clear cut chance of taking the lead. A pass from midfield was perfectly timed for John Connolly to beat the offside trap and go one-on-one with Colls keeper Adam Reid. Reid was brave and smothered the effort well to keep the match at all square. As the half progressed the home side played some good football and were close to taking the lead in the 39th minute as a fine header by Darrhyl Mason looked to be goalbound until the Purples keeper Ste Longrigg got down smartly to his left to push the ball around the post for a corner. Colls pressed on to good effect in the 44th minute when a cross by Danny Lambert from the right hand side found Mark Truffas in space just outside the penalty area. Truffas made no mistake rifling in a shot past Longrigg. A 1-0 advantage to Colls at half time and perhaps it should have been more. The second half started in similar vein to the way the first half finished, with Colls playing some good football and, largely, controlling the game. On 53 minutes another through ball set up Jordan Cover in a similar situation to that which had confronted John Connolly for the Purps in the first half. This time the striker remained calm and slotted the ball past the advancing Longrigg to double his side's lead. The match settled to a rhythm which suited Colls, and all went well for the Premier Division Champions until City of Liverpool hit what we might describe as a purple patch. Several chances in a frenetic five minute spell saw two goals for the visitors. The first started from a weak clearance by the Colls defence which fell to Connolly. He quickly shifted the ball on to substitute Jamie McDonald who obliged with a shot from 15 yards to halve the deficit. Two minutes later the scores were level at 2-2, with captain Joe Camozzi shooting the ball past Reid. And then things got really lively. A challenge in midfield by City of Liverpool’s Michael Smith provoked something of a confrontation with most of the players from both sides involved. After consulting with his assistants, the referee dismissed Smith and booked Mason for Colls and Craig Robinson for the Purps. With order restored, the match continued but it was not long before a second City of Liverpool player was dismissed. This came from a cross by Mason for Colls which was met perfectly by Truffas. With Longrigg beaten and the ball heading for the goal, a deliberate handball by City of Liverpool defender Tom Spearitt prevented the ball from hitting the back of the net. Spearitt was dismissed and a penalty awarded to Colls was the inevitable outcome, and Cover kept cool to slot the ball home to restore Colls' lead. The match was now heading for its final stages but any thoughts that 11 man Colls might have had of cruising to victory against the 9 men of City of Liverpool had to be put to one side. A storming last five minutes by the Purps saw them equalise through Karl Noon on 90 minutes. Remarkably, as the match went into added time, it looked more likely that the visitors would secure the victory. The best of a couple of chances in the added time period fell to John McGrath, who brought a fine save out of Reid from a well hit shot. With that, the referee blew for full time. 3-3 at 90 minutes and we were in for a penalty competition. With City of Liverpool taking the first penalty the first five were converted well and then the effort by Vinny Bailey for Colls rebounded from the foot of a post. Advantage Purps. The next two penalties were dispatched which made it 4 -3 to the Liverpool side. Connolly stepped forward to take the fifth City of Liverpool penalty knowing that if he scored his side would win. Sadly for him he blazed his shot well over the crossbar. However, his evident despair was not to last long as Matthew Grimshaw stepped forward knowing that he must score to keep the match alive. Longrigg has pedigree as a penalty saver and this was confirmed yet again, as Grimshaw’s shot was saved and the Macron Cup winners took the Reusch Champions Cup to add to their impressive haul of trophies from last season. In truth, Collieries probably did enough to win the game but team spirit, togetherness and a refusal to throw in the towel are great qualities in any football side and that’s what brought the trophy to City of Liverpool FC on the day. Report: Stewart Taylor - HSL  Picture: Ian Monk

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