AFTER the disappointing defeat to Oldham Boro Formby had the perfect opportunity to bounce back midweek with a Liverpool Senior Cup tie at Premier Division AFC Liverpool. The two sides had met at the same stage of the competition last season with the Squirrels coming out on top after a penalty shootout. As it turned out penalties were again the decisive factor but this time they went against Formby.
Despite the impressive surroundings of Valerie Park being more than matched by the loyal and vocal support for the Reds, Formby were un-intimidated and began in incendiary style. A brilliant forty yard ball from Connor Smith found Adam Wilkinson on the edge of the AFC Liverpool area but his subsequent shot was blocked and cleared.
Formby certainly settled quicker and continued to take the game to their Premier Division opponents, passing around them and continually pressing forward and with a quarter of an hour gone Formby got the goal their dominance deserved, a pinpoint cross from Wilkinson being met on the full by the head of Connor Smith giving Kasbarian no chance at all.
Gradually though AFC Liverpool fought their way back into the match and midway through the half Jay Wynne fouled the tricky Muktar Mahama twenty five yards from goal. Those who remember John Lawless’ time at Altcar Road knew exactly what would happen next and he hit a shot that bent over the wall and dipped before nestling in the bottom right hand corner of Formby's goal.
Formby continued to play the brighter football and on the half hour mark restored their lead with another stunning goal. Mini Adegbenro collected the ball on the right and set off for the area, unleashing a ferocious shot as he got to the D that flew into the top left corner of Kasbarian's goal.
The second half got underway in pouring rain and clearly AFC Liverpool had been told to increase the tempo and pressurise Formby more. The tactic worked and for the first time in the match Formby were on the back foot.
But for all their redoubled efforts, it took the award of a controversial penalty by referee Helen Byrne to get AFC Liverpool back in the game, with Lawless emphatically thumping the ball home.
Formby were still in the game and Paul Speed spurned a good chance when he fired wide. However from their next attack AFC Liverpool took the lead.
Shaun Harris held the ball up on the left edge of the area but was facing the touchline, but when Josh Essery came across and knocked him off the ball, the referee pointed to the penalty spot and this time there could be no argument. Up stepped Lawless and once again he buried the kick giving O'Connell no chance.
With seventy five minutes gone Formby though they should have had a penalty when there was a clear handball in the AFC Liverpool area but nothing was given.
With five minutes left Mikey White moved up front to see if his presence in the opposing area could produce an equaliser and Formby came close when a Connor Smith free kick was scrambled clear. In the last few minutes Josh Essery was booked for a foul that owed much to the conditions and shortly after the referee blew the final whistle. The jubilant reaction of the AFC Liverpool players at the end told much about Formby's performance and that it took a free kick and two penalties from the prolific Lawless to beat them says much about their game.
Saturday's League Challenge Cup tie at Irlam was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch but is due to be replayed tonight. This Saturday the month of cup adventures continues with a trip to Yorkshire to play Nostell MW in the FA Vase.