LFC U21s 2 (Nacho 53’, Coady 63’) – 0 West Bromwich Albion U21s

Goals from Nacho and Captain Conor Coady ensured Alex Ingelthorpe’s Liverpool Under 21s beat a West Brom side, who are struggling in the elite group as they lie at the foot of the table. The Reds didn’t let the weather distract them as they remain second and close the gap on leaders Spurs in very wet conditions at Kirkby. Inglethorpe made 4 changes from the side that beat Arsenal at Anfield last Monday. Despite another strong performance in goal, Danny Ward was replaced by Peter Gulasci and Nacho comes in for Jonjo Shelvey, who was rested. Also, because the Under 18s played the FA Youth Cup Semi-Final on Friday, Ryan McLaughlin and Jordon Ibe were replaced by the returning Jon Flanagan and Joao Carlos Teixeira respectively.

The young Reds knew that they had to take maximum points especially against the weaker sides in the league and created two chances in the opening six minutes of the match. First of all, Hungarian Krisztian Adorjan looked to continue his form in front of goal but made a vital slip to deny any chance of a goal following a perfectly placed cross from Nacho. Moments later, Suso tried to give the Reds an advantage as he cut in from the right wing but his 25 yard effort forced a great save out of West Brom Shane Lewis to keep it goalless.

Although the home side created the best of the first half chances, West Brom settled into the game and almost had a chance of their own if it wasn’t for a last ditch tackle by makeshift fullback Craig Roddan. This was the only notable attack from the Baggies, as Liverpool started to dominate. Nacho came in for Jonjo Shelvey and relished his chance as he created a great chance to take the lead in the 30th minute as his swerving shot forced another good stop from ‘keeper Shane Lewis. Another chance fell to Adam Morgan, as the Liverpudlian was looking for his 14th goal of the season but he could not convert his chance. Joao Carlos Texieira forced yet another good save out of Lewis but the rebound fell straight to Morgan, but he couldn’t capitalise as the ball rolled under his foot.  Alex Inglethorpe’s side went even closer to taking the lead as Suso took a free-kick that was centimetres away from the outside post as the game was goalless at half-time.

Liverpool couldn’t break the deadlock in the first half, but took just 8 minutes to score as Suso’s dangerous cross found fellow Spaniard Nacho who finally beat Lewis to put the Reds in front and to score his 1st goal of the 2012/13 season. After the first goal, the second goal came just 10 minutes later, as on the 63rd minute scorer Nacho turned provider to Conor Coady, who superbly led by example as he brilliantly curled a 30 yard strike past the helpless Lewis to double the Reds’ lead. Before this fullback Jon Flanagan was replaced by Under 18 player Yalany Baio, as the Englishman completed his comeback from a knee injury that he picked up against Southampton Under 21s in January.

Moments after Coady’s goal, it could’ve been 3 as Coady attempted to score another from 30 yards. This time, his deflected shot beat Lewis in goal, but couldn’t beat the woodwork as his shot crashed off the crossbar. This wasn’t the only time  Alex Inglethorpe’s side hit the crossbar because when the game entered its closing stages, Krisztian Adorjan intelligently turned inside the box before chipping it past Lewis but not past the goal frame.

The result means that Liverpool remain second in the Under 21 Elite group behind Tottenham Hotspur and this was the perfect send off for the fans in attendance, as this was the Under 21s’ last home game of the season, as their final 3 games are away from home.

Scott Taylor

LFC XI: Gulacsi, Flanagan, Roddan, Sama, Wisdom, Coady, Suso, Adorjan, Morgan, Nacho, Teixeira.

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