Liverpool U21s (Adorjan 76′) 1 – 1 (Forren 30′) Southampton U21s

Kristien Adorjan’s 76th minute header ensured that both Liverpool and Southampton shared the points in front of a good St Mary’s crowd. It was Southampton that took a 30th minute lead when Omar Rowe’s corner eventually found Vergard Forren whose volley crept in the far corner of Peter Gulasci’s goal.

After last Monday’s defeat to arch rivals Manchester Utd, the U21s were back in action away to 4th placed Southampton in the U21s Elite Group. The Reds were looking to close the gap on leaders Tottenham Hotspur to 4 points, but couldn’t capitalise and are finding themselves 6 points behind the North London side. Alex Inglethorpe made 2 changes from the side that lost on Man Utd. The first change came in goal and despite Danny Ward’s heroics at St Helens last week, he drops to the bench and in comes Peter Gulasci. Also there is no Raheem Sterling in the team so U18 Centre-Half Lloyd Jones comes into the side. As well as Jones, Alex Inglethorpe called up 3 other U18s to the squad, they are: Jack Dunn, Cameron Brannagan and Yagany Baio. Despite Stephen Sama’s sending off last week, he keeps his place as he won’t serve his ban until next week against West Ham. The Reds won the previous fixture 1-0 after Dani Pacheco’s deflected shot secured the win at Kirby, so Southampton were looking for revenge as they would’ve gone above Liverpool with a win.

The game started in a very quiet tempo, with the first action in the game coming in the 8th minute when Suso challenged Jamaican international Omar Rowe on the edge of the box, but the resulting free-kick was safely cleared by the Liverpool defence. Liverpool quickly responded and after a smart run from Andre Wisdom on the left wing, Joao Carlos Teixeira’s shot was deflected for a Liverpool corner. After 17 minutes, the home side had the ball in the net but Alberto Seidi’s effort was ruled out for offside, after a low cross from Omar Rowe. Just a minute later, Omar Rowe’s corner was beautifully placed onto the head of Callum Chambers, whose effort crashed off the post and eventually Chambers second effort went high over Peter Gulasci’s bar. Minutes later, the visitors responded but a free-kick from Suso could only hit the wall. However, Southampton continued to show their creative and inventive way and after Kristien Adorjan was muscled off the ball by Liverpool January target Vergard Forren, and after a neat one-two with Rowe saw Forren’s strike deflected out for a corner. The best chance for Liverpool came in the 25th minute of the match, when Suso’s through ball found Adam Morgan who steered in wide of the Southampton goal. On the 30th minute, Southampton opened the scoring through Norwegian centre-half Vergard Forren. Omar Rowe’s in swinging corners have been causing all sorts of problems for the Liverpool defence and after Rowe’s corner was flicked on by Andre Wisdom it fell to Forren, whose volley glided in the bottom corner. Rowe continued to cause problems for the Liverpool defence and on the 36th minute his free-kick forced Gulasci into making a save and the Hungarian could only tip it wide for a corner.

This time it was Alex Inglethorpe’s side who had the ball in the back of the net, and after a good passing move from Suso and Wisdom, it fell to Jonjo Shelvey, whose strike hit Teixeira and deflected in, only for the midfielder to be in an offside position. Liverpool ended the half brightly but couldn’t find the equaliser they were looking for.

Liverpool started the second half just as they finished the first, good passing movement from the midfielders resulted in a lot of possession in the final third of the pitch, but couldn’t get men in the box to capitalise. Another inventive through ball from Suso on the 50th minute found Adam Morgan, but the striker was tackled in the box. Immediately, the Reds won it back and after another good passing move from the visitors found Adorjan, he thread it Andre Wisdom, who could only blast over. On the 55th minute, Southampton had the move in the net, but for the 2nd time in the match, it was ruled offside. The move started after Liverpool gave it away and the cross of Jake Sinclair, the brother of Man City’s Scott found Sam McQueen in the box who tumbled the ball in, only for it to be disallowed. The home side asserted more pressure on the Liverpool defence and Jake Sinclair’s low cross found Corby Moore, who hit his strike wide from 6 yards out.

Liverpool started to respond. Firstly, Craig Rodden delivered for Kristien Adorjan, who couldn’t put power in his shot and it barely tested Argentinean keeper Paolo Gazziniga. Then, after another good passing move from Liverpool saw Wisdom drag it back for Suso, who like Adorjan didn’t get enough power on his shot and the Southampton defence comfortably cleared it off the line.

Because Southampton kept switching to a 4-5-1 formation after losing the ball, they began to feel tired and didn’t have the stamina, enabling the visitors to create more opportunities, and chances were created in quick succession by Teixeira and Suso, but none of them really testing Gazziniga. Then on the 72nd minute, a chance created by Shelvey seemed to sum up the Reds in front of goal, after a well worked free-kick from Suso found the number 9, whose effort blazed way over the bar. A minute later U18 star Jack Dunn was rewarded after his goal at Anfield last week by replacing Adam Morgan up front for the Reds.

Liverpool then equalised in the 76th minute after Jonjo Shelvey produced an inch-perfect cross to find Kristien Adorjan who headed in from 6 yards out. The Portuguese Forward has now scored his 10th goal of the season, making him the top scorer for the U21s so far, and once again proving that Alex Inglethorpe’s ‘Never Say Die’ attitude works.

As the game entered its final stages, Liverpool looked for a winner, and the visitors created more and more opportunities, with Andre Wisdom heading wide a Suso corner in the 81st minute of the match. 3 minutes later, Suso showed all his skill and tirelessly skipped past the Southampton defence, only to run out of room in the penalty area. Liverpool now well in the Southampton half most of the time, and crept ever so closer to a late winner when Teixeira struck a 30 yard shot just over the bar. The drama didn’t end there, after individual brilliance from Suso, the young Spaniard’s shot looked to be creeping in, but only the hand of Gazziniga stopped the visitors all 3 points. The game ended 1-1 and the result means that Alex Inglethorpe’s side remain 2nd in the U21 Elite Group, but will be looking to close the gap on Spurs when they face West Ham at the Academy next Monday afternoon.

Scott Taylor

LFC XI: Gulacsi, Roddan, Wisdom, Sama, Jones, Coady, Teixeira, Adorjan, Shelvey, Suso, Morgan.

Saints: Gazziniga, Chambers, Targett, Robinson, Stephens, Forren, Seidi, Ward-Prowse, Sinclair, Moore, Rowe.