City of Liverpool book Northern Premier League West playoff ticket thanks to Witton Albion draw

Elliot Morris celebrates City of Liverpool goal

City of Liverpool booked their place in the Northern Premier League West playoffs after their 1-1 draw with Witton Albion. 

The Purps’ top-five fate was in their hands going into their final day showdown with Jon Macken’s side. All the impetus was on Witton as they needed to win to seal their place in Tuesday’s semi-final. 

Paul McNally’s side started strong and their key man Elliot Morris made another key contribution after 19 minutes. The attacker showed the defender a clean set of heels, racing through to convert past Danny Roberts. 

One could’ve been two for the hosts through Ismail Sonko but valiant defending from the hosts kept City of Liverpool at bay. 

The cagey first-half brought few chances but the visitors looked for an avenue back into the game. Michael Simpson almost inadvertently steered beyond Calvin Hare but he managed to smother the danger. 

Simpson was heavily involved shortly after as he made a superb goal line clearance to Joe Duckworth’s goal bound effort. 

Shortly after the break, City of Liverpool’s rearguard was broken. Elliot Rokka expertly curled home a free-kick to level proceedings. 

Despite their efforts and possession, Witton failed to find a way through. City of Liverpool had two chances to claim the points and rubber stamp their place in the playoffs. Roberts made an important save to deny Xenon Bahula and late on, Simon Wills had the ball in back of the net but was adjudged to have fouled in the buildup. 

A point was enough for Paul McNally’s side and there were joyous scenes at full-time as the Purps playoff position was secured. They will face Runcorn Linnets in Tuesday’s semi-final. 

‘Today was about getting over the line’

Paul McNally told Off The Park: “A massive achievement for the club and for the lads, it shows how hard we worked in June through to today. We got over the line, today was scruffy but they’ve shown commitment and attitude all the way through.

“Other clubs expect to get into the playoffs this year, my personal goal was to get in there. We’ve got in, do we have the tools or resources? No, the season we’ve had has been up and down off the pitch but we showed what we can do on it.

“We fully deserved to finish (in the playoffs), I genuinely believe if results swung in our favour earlier in the season we could be talking about second. But I’m happy that we’re in there and that was the goal. Today was about getting over the line whether we won or not.

“Do I truly believe we should’ve won? No but I think it was a hard-fought battle and a draw was all that mattered. If we needed to win, I think we would’ve found that other gear but I’m happy.”

A sprinkle of Morris magic encapsulates McNally impact

“See you all on Tuesday,” were the words from a jubilant Paul McNally as he went back to the home dressing room. 

Happiness, tiredness and relief were etched across the faces of the City of Liverpool players as they exited the pitch. Their heroic performance ensured that their season would be extended and for all the off-field troubles that has blighted the hard work on the pitch, full-time meant it was finally time to celebrate.

There were nervy times towards the end but it was an assured performance from the Purps.  For all of Witton’s possession, they lacked penetration and the hosts frustrated Jon Macken’s side. McNally described the encounter as a “ding-dong” in midweek and although it wasn’t entirely helter-skelter, they did what they set out to do. 

Defensively secure and dangerous in attack provided the perfect blend for them to secure fifth-place. 

Morris was on target for the Purps and he was a constant threat throughout. Reuniting with McNally has helped catapult them into the top five with key contributions.

A mention has to be given to Michael Simpson, his goal-line clearance in the first-half denied Witton Albion as they look to wrestle momentum back in their favour. 

Tuesday will be one of the biggest games in the clubs history and it is another marker on Paul McNally’s CV, as well as evidence of City of Liverpool’s transformation under his stewardship. Cup finals and a place in the playoffs, a far cry from where they were in September 2022.

[Featured Image: City of Liverpool]

For enquiries:

Other Match Reports...