“England’s number one!”was the chant from the Liverpool fans at the end of this one-sided game – directed at AFC stand-in Carl Duffy, who donned the gloves and produced a man-of-the-match display after Callum Kirkland was injured early in the game.
The Mechanics’ Achilles heel all season has been the inability to field a settled side, and Saturday’s line-up showed eight changes from the team which won on Boxing Day and included three debutants drafted in from Lytham Town.
What was always a difficult Hallmark Security League game against the second-placed side became even tougher when Kirkland dislocated a finger after three minutes. Play was held up for five while the keeper received treatment, and although he tried to continue Kirkland went off after 20 minutes, by which time AFC trailed 2-0.
Thomas Peterson scored the first on 13 minutes, John Connolly adding a fortunate second five mintues later, when a charged-down clearance rebounded in.
With no sub keeper, Duffy volunteered and soon made a save with his legs, the rebound hammered against the bar from close-range. The visitors held out until the stroke of half-time, when David Forbes tapped in from three yards.
Duffy denied the dangerous Peterson with a double stop, then pulled off a wonderful fingertip save to turn the ball on to a post. However, AFC conceded a penalty from the resulting scramble and Peterson made it 4-0 on 54 minutes.
Driven on by captain Steve Betteridge, AFC were rewarded with a penalty of their own two minutes later after Chris Thomas’ clever turn. Aaron Fleming converted.
Declan Gregson added the Purples’ fifth on 64 minutes following another Duffy save.
Fleming’s second on 75 minutes was a well-struck 25-yard free-kick but Liverpool had the final say with an unstoppable second from Connolly in the last minute. AFC remain fourth-bottom of the first division.
Blackpool: Kirkland, Ainsworth, Betteridge, Richardson, Corbett, Lenahan, Hanslip, McCulloch, Tomlinson, Ing, Fleming. Subs Duffy, Thomas, Footman