LFC U21s 3 (Morgan 23’, 75’, Adorjan 60’) – 2 (Akpom 26’, Gnabry 64’) Arsenal

After last Monday’s defeat to top of the table Spurs, Alex Inglethorpe’s Under 21s took on their North London Rivals Arsenal at Anfield. Inglethorpe made 4 changes from the 3-1 defeat, bringing in goalkeeper Danny Ward and First XI experience in Jonjo Shelvey, Andre Wisdom and Suso in place of Peter Gulasci, whilst Lloyd Jones, Kris Peterson and Joao Carlos Teixera drop to the bench. There was a huge surprise in the Arsenal starting line-up as Poland International and regular first team starter Wojciech Szczesny was in goal for Arsenal Under 21s, so it will be great experience and a greater sense of accomplishment if the Liverpool players were to beat him. Liverpool are currently 4th place, and it is the first time they have been out of the top 3 all season. However, the Reds are only 1 point of 2nd place Man Utd, so it’s all to play for as the season enters its closing stages.

Liverpool started the game in control, having most of the possession, but Szczesny was not tested until the 10th minute as Jordon Ibe’s through ball found Adam Morgan, and the striker’s shot was saved by an advancing Szczesny at a tight angle. However on the 23rd minute Morgan did beat Szczesny to give Liverpool a well deserved first half lead. The move started when Jonjo Shelvey received the ball in the Arsenal half, and his through ball found Jordon Ibe. It was Ibe and Morgan who combined again as Ibe’s first time ball found Morgan as the young English striker scored his 11th goal of the season and his 2nd in consecutive games.

Arsenal quickly responded and found an equaliser when former Borussia Dortmund winger Thomas Eisfeld’s free-kick was directed to Sead Harjovic at the back post but Craig Roddan cleared it only to the feet of Chuba Akpom, and the England U19 striker gave the Gunners a well timed equaliser on the 26th minute. These two goals upped the games tempo, and it was the home side that had another chance as Suso skilfully dribbled the ball down the by-line and his chip fell to Krisztian Adorjan, but the Hungarian could only strike his shot at an Arsenal defender to deny Liverpool a near certain goal. The Gunners had another chance to take the lead in the 39th minute as a through ball from the Arsenal midfield found Hector Bellerin, and the former Barcelona full back’s close range shot was well saved by the feet of Ward.

On the 42nd minute, Jonjo Shelvey had a great chance to make it 2-1, as a pass from captain Conor Coady was collected by the England Under 21 midfielder, but his 20 yard shot was well matched by the agile Szczesny and the Polish ‘kepper tipped the ball over his crossbar. That was the last chance in an action packed first half, as the teams entered the break all square.

Arsenal had the first chance of the 2nd half as on the 48th minute, a Thomas Eisfeld shot was again well saved by Danny Ward, as the Welsh Under 21 goalkeeper forced it out for a corner. 2 minutes later, Arsenal had another glorious chance as Arsenal captain Nico Yennaris’ curling shot beat Ward, but was only denied by the post as Arsenal looked for their 2nd goal. Liverpool had the chance to take the lead on the hour mark as Adam Morgan set the ball up on his right foot and immediately hit a lofted left footed shot, but was again acrobatically denied by Szczesny. From the resulting corner, Suso’s ball missed everyone and hit the arms of Hayden on the line, but neither the referee nor the linesmen noticed it.

Fortunately, this error was not too costly, as on the 61st minute, Krisztian Adorjan ran through Arsenal’s defence to fire an unstoppable shot past the helpless Szczesny. Adorjan also grabbed his 11th goal of the season and is on the same number as Adam Morgan.

Like Liverpool’s first goal, it didn’t take the visitors too long to get an equaliser as Serge Gnabry received the ball on the edge of the area, looked up and saw Ward off his line before firing another unstoppable effort.  The equaliser came just 3 minutes after Adorjan’s goal, in the 64th minute.

The end to end action continued as in the 65th minute, Adam Morgan ran clear at goal, but couldn’t capitalise as his shot went wide of Szczesny’s far post. This time it was Arsenal’s time to attack and a wayward Meade header fell to Andre Wisdom, but his clearance hit Gnabry and only went a few inches away from Danny Ward’s left hand post.

Then Liverpool fought back as Conor Coady received the ball on the half way line, and passed it to Suso on the right wing. The Spaniard then threaded it through to Adorjan, and the Hungarian pulled it back across the face of goal and found Morgan, who simply tapped it into an empty net to complete a wonderful team goal. This was Morgan’s 12th goal of the season and 2nd in front of the Kop in 2 games to give Liverpool the advantage of the 75th minute.

For the first time in the match, Liverpool didn’t concede almost instantly so started to keep the ball a lot more and as a result took of Jordon Ibe and brought on Swedish winger Kris Peterson, as Ibe will be used in Friday’s FA Youth Cup Semi Final First Leg for the Under 18s.

Despite 3 minutes, added time Liverpool managed to hold on for the win, and the result means they leapfrog both Southampton and Man Utd into 2nd in the U21 Elite Group as these two sides play tomorrow. This was also Alex Inglethorpe’s first win at Anfield and as a former Tottenham coach, there will be no better first victory than beating Arsenal.

The Under 21s are next in action on Sunday afternoon as they face West Brom Under 21s at Kirkby Academy, a game live on LFCTV. This will also be the Under 21s’ last home game of the season, as their last 3 games of the season, are away  from home.

Scott Taylor

LFC XI: Ward, McLaughlin, Roddan, Sama, Wisdom, Coady, Suso, Shelvey, Morgan, Adorjan, Ibe.

Arsenal XI: Szczesny, Bellerin, Meade, Yennaris, Hajrovic, Hayden, Eisfeld, Olsson, Akpom, Zelalem, Gnabry.

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