City of Liverpool 1

Silsden 2

“TAKE a walk around my centre-half gentlemen, he’s a colossus.”

So said Bill Shankley on the arrival of Ron Yeats at Liverpool in 1961. On Saturday Silsden had their own 'Colossus' in Dan Illingworth, although this was far from a one-man effort, with every player rising to Danny Forrest’s challenge to get back on track.

City of Liverpool FC, leading the Hallmark Security League Premier Division by 14 points at the start of play, had only lost two games all season, at home to their landlords, second-placed Bootle and away at third-placed Congleton. Silsden were unlucky not to have beaten the Purps in October, the visitors scoring a late equaliser.

Without regular goalkeeper Callum Jakovlevs, who was serving a one-match ban, Forrest was struggling to find a replacement, signing Cameron Alisson, a second year scholar at Fylde.

Added to that, the recent results, three narrow defeats in January to teams below the Cobbydalers, made Forrest’s demand a tall order.

Craig Bentham and Aidan Kirby returned for the Reds, who began with a strong wind at their backs, not a major advantage as some ball caught on the wind and went dead.

However, Silsden were out of the blocks immediately. Matty Moses stormed down the right on the overlap and crossed into the Purps’ box. Kirby headed wide.

A corner from the right held up in the wind and Illingworth couldn’t get enough on his header to beat Luke Denson.

Arley Barnes’s effort caught the wind and went wide but, when Kirby held the ball up, he slid it to Joe Mitchell who fed Storrie. His shot was deflected for a corner. The ball was partially cleared but Illingworth, who had stayed in the goal area, headed Mitchell’s cross into the goal.

Silsden continued to enjoy some good periods of possession with Mitchell pulling the strings. Luke Rhodes curled a shot marginally wide and Storrie had another effort deflected for a corner. Barnes and Moses were able to break down the wings as Kaine, Illingworth and Craig Bentham kept the Purps at bay.

It was midway through the half when City tested the Silsden defence.

A corner was swung in and Dan Dalton got a header in at the back post which McDonald couldn’t quite reach.

The Purps gained some momentum after the equaliser but Kaine’s superb defensive header kept the scores level. In fact it led to a breakaway with Mitchell bursting through deep into the Liverpool half. The attack ended with Bentham’s cross catching the wind and going dead.

Back came the home side. Peterson managed to get a header on a cross. The ball beat Allison but bounced on the crossbar not once but twice. Allison gathered it as it came back into play.

At the other end, Illingworth hit a ball across to Moses who sent it into the Purps’ penalty box. Kirby got his header in but the wind took it wide of the far post.

The last 10 minutes of the half belonged to the Liverpudlians but Kaine (twice) and Illingworth both headed clear before McGrath had a shot deflected for a corner.

The wind had eased a tad by the start of the second half. Silsden were the first to show, Mitchell shooting narrowly wide after good play by Bentham and Storrie.

The Purps pushed the Cobbydalers back. Kaine, Moses and Bentham in turn, cleared the danger. Silsden looked dangerous on the break with the pace of Storrie testing the home defence. Rhodes saw another effort just clear the bar.

A super tackle by Everingham led to a break-away, Barnes feeding Kirby, who drove the ball into the Purps’ goal area. There was a mix-up between the keeper and his right back. Storrie pounced to net from a yard out.

With half an hour to go, City threw men forwards. Silsden were pushed back. The ball was hoisted into the Silsden area time after time. The defence held firm with Illingworth immense. McDonald hit a post. Kaine made another masterful interception. When keeper Allison did make a mistake coming out of his area, the Silsden skipper was there to save the day.

No matter what the pressure was, the Cobbydalers were still a threat on the break. Kirby was denied by a swift intervention by Bacon before he hit another effort over the bar. Niall Sultan, on for Storrie, kept the home defence occupied while, at the other end, Illingworth headed out again and again. Allison went down at his near post to deny Hazelhurst. Everingham charged down a shot from substitute Owens.

With the clock ticking down, Lawrence Sorhaindo, who came on for Kirby, almost netted a third for the Cobbydalers after an error by Dalton.

The Purps had one last chance but Allison saved Hazlehurst’s low shot before the final whistle went.