South Liverpool FC - First Division North Play-off winners 2023-24

Sun 28th April 2024 | South Liverpool
By Media Team

South Liverpool FC rounded off an impressive season with a stunning penalty shoot-out win over Ashton Town to secure promotion to the NWCFL Premier Division and hail another big milestone in the clubs return to the National League System.

The game was watched by over 1000 people at a packed Bartons Group Stadium as the two teams locked horns.  It was Ashton Town who had the lions share of the first half, testing the South Liverpool goalkeeper on a few occasions early on with a number of shots also going over the bar.  South Liverpool were not without threat themselves as Stephen Doyle and Fidan Hadjari both created chances before the break, with the impressive Mohammed Abdi just unable to connect both times.  As the half time whistle went, both clubs were antitled to rue missed chances but it was still very much an open game.

The occasion was one that the town really got behind, it was noted in the crowd that there were peaky blinders, folk in dinosaur costumes and even a sumo wrestler in attendance, all of which were enjoying the superb matchday experience that Ashton Town put on for a match day. 

The second half proved as much as a spectacle with both sides seemingly upping their game a gear with a number of chances for both clubs, Ashton Town arguably having the best chance with an almost open goal after some intricate play in the 18 yard box gifted the opportunity which was put just wide.  As the full time whistle went, there was almost a subdued atmosphere around the ground as the reality of the lottery that its the penalty shoot-out dawned on the numerous fans from both clubs.

The penalty shoot-out was a tense affair with both sides scoring their fair share, however South Liverpool Goalkeeper Alex Fowell was on great form, saving two of the penalties which gave South Liverpool's Substitute, Neil Weaver with the opportunity to score the winning penalty, which he did to the joy of his team-mates and the 100+ travelling South Supporters.  Cue scenes of celebration as South Liverpool claimed the play-off Final win.

At Full Time, South Liverpool Captain, Alex Griffiths was presented with the trophy by League Vice Chairman, Geoff Wilkinson assisted by League Director Ian Williams.  Alex took the trophy to his amassed team mates and celebrated as South had not been promoted at this level since winning the Lancashire Combination in 1962.

After the game, Manager Martin Ryman stated "This has been a tremendous effort by everyone at the club, we played rubbish today but managed to get through to the penalty shoot-out where anything can happen. When I brought (Neil) Weaver on he told me he was either going to score the winner or the winning penalty and he went and done it!  An inspired signing by myself, but joking aside, despite the game being a tough battle at times we stood up to be counted and these lads have made history at a historic football club."

South Liverpool Chairman, Gary Langley added "What a day, the game itself was a difficult watch at times, but there was so much at stake.  Ashton Town put on a superb match-day and are such a tough side to play against as we found out the other week when they beat us hands down at our place a few weeks back.  Admittedly, the game being away probably suited us today, a grass pitch and backed by our loyal travelling support, we could just go out there and give it a go.  I have to say that Ashton Town put on a great matchday and their Chairman Chris Wright has been excellent and open with us across the whole build-up to the game.  They have a great set-up here and good plans for the future, the town of Ashton in Makerfield has really come out to back them today and whilst it was not their day, they likely won't be far behind us in achieving their ambitions.  For us, we now head up to Step 5 with a number of local derbies and hopefully we can get up there and consolidate and shake a few trees.  Im really pleased for Martin Ryman, Stephen Ward and all of the coaching staff who have been methodical this season.  Our Volunteers and Committee are her en-masse and you can see in their eyes how much this means to them and a number of our commercial partners have made it here today too, without them along with us for the journey, we wouldn't be here.  The planning starts tomorrow!" 

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