‘Reds Suffer Derby Heartache’
LFC U21s 0 – 1 Man Utd U21s
On a cold Monday night at Langtree Park, saw bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester Utd lock horns in the U21 elite group. Like their first team has done so many times in the Premier League, it was Man United who scored an injury time thanks to Italian Centre-Back Michele Fornasier, which brought last minute heartache to the Reds. Missing a number of key players such as Jordan Ibe, Danny Wilson and Michael Ngoo, the reds called on the first team experience of Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom, Suso and Jonjo Shelvey to help boost the U21s.
In a very busy first 15 minutes of the match saw lots of chances created for both sides. Manchester United trialist Jeffrey Schlupp missed a one-on-one oppurtunity in the first minute of the match, narrowly missing Danny Ward’s goal. It wasn’t just Man Utd’s number 9 who was in the chances as Adam Morgan headed wide after a sweeping cross from Suso, with later replays showing that it did hit the arm of the 18 year old Liverpudlian. This was a rare moment where Suso had the chance to deliver the ball as Manchester United fullback Alexander Buttner was making opportunites hard to come by for Liverpool’s young Spanish winger.
It wasn’t too long before Morgan was in the chances again. Following a darting run and low cross on the right hand side from fullback Andre Wisdom, Morgan collected it on the far left hand side inside the box and with the help of Ben Amos’ right boot and the post, he was denied from giving Liverpool an early lead.
After the 15 minute mark in the match, chances came very hard to come by, with the best chances of the first half falling to 20 year old Schlupp who after a smart passing move from the visitors, resulted in a good yet comfortable save from Liverpools Danny Ward. Following his recent lack of games, Jonjo Shelvey was determined to make a positive impression to manager Brendan Rodgers, who was in the crowd for the match. Shelvey made numourous strong challenges and showed a determined and professional attitude similar to what he shown earlier in the season, which impressed the Reds fans at the game and manager Alex Inglethorpe.
After Liverpool’s first corner of the match in the 48th minute following a cross from Andre Wisdom, the first chance fell to the home side but Manchester United’s defence were able to clear. The second started in the worst possible way for the home side and the agility and manouverability of Jeffrey Schlupp became too much for Liverpool centre back Stephen Sama, and after a foul on the German Striker, he was given his second yellow of the match in his second foul, meaning he would miss the Reds next fixture against Southampton U21s at St Marys on the 4th March.
This was Sama’s 2nd sending off against the red devils, so Liverpool would have to climb a mountain to get a good result. Following the sending off of Sama, Manchester United did their best to capitalise with the one man advantage. Liverpool found themselves having to adapt their side with Jonjo Shelvey moving to Right-Back as a result of Andre Wisdom moving to centre-half. The visitors kept creating several chances and if it wasn’t for the heroics of Welsh international Danny Ward in the Liverpool goal, Manchester United would have scored a handful of goals.
However, Liverpool still couldn’t find a stronghold in the match, and Jeffrey Schlupp continued to cause problems for the home sides defence with his skill and powerful shots that Danny Ward matched and safely kept it out. Manchester United continued to apply strong pressure in the match however it was moments of outstanding defending from defenders Conor Coady and Jonjo Shelvey, who were called upon multiple times to stop the visitors from taking the lead with the latter clearing an attempt off the line from a Manchester United corner.
After this wake-up call, Liverpool showed a lot of character to get back into the match. Adam Morgan wasted an opportunity after trying to dribble it in the box instead of shooting first time, while Suso sliced a shot high and wide of Ben Amos’ goal from the edge of the area. Then came the best chance of the half for Liverpool as Joao Carlos Teixeira hit a strong and powerful shot from 30 yards, which took a slight deflection off Jonjo Shelvey forcing a terrific save from Ben Amos.
The game was marred by suspected racist chanting from the away fans and temporarily stopped as a result of flares being thrown onto the pitch once again from the Manchester United fans. The opening goal came in the 93rd minute of stopping time, after a cross from Frederic Veseli was not cleared properly by the Liverpool defence and it fell to Jesse Lingard who produced another fine stop from Danny Ward. However despite Ward’s heroic efforts, even he couldn’t stop the 19 year old Italian from looping his shot over Jonjo Shelvey on the line.
The result means that Alex Inglethorpe’s side remain second in the Elite Group on 9 points, but are 7 points adrift of leaders Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand, so could reduce the gap to 4 points if they beat Southampton at St Marys next Monday and hope Spurs slip up against Wolves. The defeat is Liverpool’s 2nd defeat this season and 2nd defeat in the last 3 games. It was also Alex Inglethorpe’s 2nd defeat in charge of the U21s. The Reds face a stern test against 4th placed Southampton U21s at St Mary’s on Monday 4th March where the will look to get back to winning ways and put pressure of leaders Tottenham Hotspur.