Jason Jeffries netted seven minutes from time as in-form City of Liverpool rescued a point at home to local rivals, Widnes.

The two sides came into the contest in contrasting fortunes, with the Purps having won five of their last six games. While Widnes – fresh off the back of a thrilling 6-5 win at Nantwich Town in Integro Cup action in midweek – haven’t won in the BetVictor Division One North/West since September.

Italian referee Claudio Gavillucci was the man in the middle – a former Serie A referee who was expelled from the league in 2018 for ‘technical reasons’.

And it was Craig Robinson’s side who raced into a fourth-minute lead. Elliott Nevitt latched on to a through-ball in behind and kept his composure to slot beyond the on-rushing Owen Wheeler to give City of Liverpool the lead.

Jeffries then went close, rampaging forward only to shoot wide of the target under pressure from Danny Shaw.

Widnes – thumped by their opponents 5-1 in the Liverpool Senior Cup just three weeks earlier – rallied and were arguably the better side on the day, aside from the opening 20 minutes.

James Steele and Rhain Hellawell both had long-range efforts saved by on-loan Wigan Athletic keeper James Aspinall for the Purps.

Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey’s visitors came close to an equaliser on the half-hour mark. Sam Heathcote had a powerful effort blocked which was helped back in by George Webster only for Shaw to head narrowly over.

The Purps were struggling to deal with the imposing figure of lone-Widnes striker Anointed Chukwu, and it was the Salford City loanee who fired the visitors level.

Chukwu’s equaliser came three minutes before the break, firing a trademark striker’s finish through a crowd of bodies after Aspinall could only push Jay Roberts’ corner into the Widnes man’s path.

The Whites carried their momentum into the second half and edged themselves in front on the 51-minute mark.

It was that man Chukwu again as the Purps once again failed to clear a corner, with Shaw teeing up the 19-year-old to smash an effort into the roof of the net, via the underside of the bar.

James Murray would spurn a chance to make it 3-1, but he blazed off target after good work by Chukwu in the build-up.

Robinson rolled the dice with a double change on the hour mark with the introduction of Jack Hazlehurst and Tom Peterson, but chances were few and far between with Widnes holding a comfortable lead.

The Purps’ best chance fell to centre-half James McCarten, but his seemingly goalbound header was brilliantly clawed away by the outstretched glove of Wheeler.

It seemed as though Widnes would hold on for a first league win since mid-September, but the Purps would strike late to maintain their own good run of form.

Jeffries’s equaliser came seemingly from nothing as he drove forward towards the edge of the box and hit a daisy-cutter that squirmed beneath Wheeler and in to rescue a point for City of Liverpool, who now move up to ninth in the table.