West Ham U21s 2 (Marlow 10′, Lee 39′) – 1 (Adorjan 82′) LFC U21s
Tonight’s fixture saw Liverpool Under 21s return after an 11 day break to play West Ham Under 21s at Upton Park. A win for Alex Inglethorpe’s side would mean that they qualify for the semi finals of the U21 premier league, alongside Merseyside Rivals Everton, who won Division 1 of the U21 league earlier in the week. The Under 21s made 3 changes from the side that beat West Brom last Sunday. Due to first team involvement, Suso, captain Conor Coady and Andre Wisdom miss out meaning that Under 18 players Jordan Lussey, Kris Peterson and Lloyd Jones replace them. The Under 18s captain Lussey will make his Under 21 debut and there is also a substitute appearance for the impressive Joe Maguire. The young full back has impressed consistently for Steve Cooper’s Under 18s and deserves his place in Alex Inglethorpe’s Under 21s. Because of Conor Coady being called up to Brendan Rodgers’ squad for the trip to Newcastle on Sunday, Stephen Sama is promoted to Captain. The last time these sides met was in a spectacular 3-3 draw at Kirkby, where the Hammers grabbed a last minute equaliser to stop the Reds getting all 3 points.
The Reds started the game brightly, having the majority of the possession but it was the Hammers who created the first chance of the match. A cross from George Moncur floated across the box but it was inches away from the head of Elliot Lee. On the 10th minute, Ben Marlow came the home side a controversial lead. A corner was delivered and as Gulacsi went to win the ball he was barged over by Pelly Ruddock and it left Marlow free at the far post to give West Ham the advantage. This was the 4th goal West Ham Under 21s scored from a corner against Liverpool as all of the other 3 goals at Kirkby came from corners.
Liverpool needed to get back into the game and in the 19th minute, a cross from Jon Flanagan found Kris Peterson who beat the offside trap this time to have his headed blocked and fly out for a corner. From the resulting corner, Liverpool had the best chance to score as Nacho’s corner found Adorjan but his free header was disappointingly headed over. West Ham went lose to doubling their lead from yet another set piece by Bywater was well weighted but Ruddock could only divert his header inches wide to the relief of Peter Gulacsi and his defence. The game was very open with each defence being tight and not letting either attack create chances, meaning that West Ham tried ambitious 30 yard efforts to score. The Reds first real chance came from a corner where the clearance found Lussey, who passed to Joao Carlos Teixeira and the midfielder’s shot was well saved by Sam Baxter. Alex Inglethorpe’s side continued to press and Krisztian Adorjan came within inches of equlaising after his header went just wide of Sam Baxter’s goal following a cross from Jon Flanagan. Despite Liverpool’s attacks West Ham doubled their lead on the 39th minute after Elliot Lee took it past Stephen Sama and placed it past Gulacsi and his effort went in off the post to give the Hammers the advantage at half time.
Liverpool started the second half very aggressively and created several chances in the opening 10 minutes of the game, with Krisztian Adorjan and Adam Morgan having the best of the chances. Alex Inglethorpe than brought on Jack Dunn for Nacho in search of a way back into this game after Dunn helped the Under 21s beat Wolves earlier in the season. The Under 21s repeatedly drove to the heart of the West Ham defence, with Hungarian Krisztian Adorjan testing Sam Baxter, after a chance from Joao Carlos Teixeira minutes before. The Reds continued to dominate the second half, and produced arguably the best chance of the match as Jack Dunn cut inside from the right wing and had a shot from his preferred left foot, that produced a very good save out of Baxter, as he pushed it out for a corner. Liverpool should’ve scored seconds later as the ball fell to Adam Morgan, but he miskicked his shot. The Reds did have their lifeline in the 82nd minute of the match when Jordan Spence brought down Krisztian Adorjan and Liverpool’s Number 10 picked himself up to send Sam Baxter the wrong way and make it an interesting final 10 minutes of the game.
As the game went into 5 minutes of extra time, Jack Dunn’s snap shot went just wide to keep the pressure on West Ham. However, the home side held out for an important victory as they can still qualify for the Under 21s play offs. Liverpool remain 3rd and still a point behind Manchester United as the Red Devils lost at Wolves. Liverpool’s next game is against Arsenal at Underhill next Friday, a game you can see live on LFCTV and Online.
LFC XI: Gulacsi, Roddan, Flanagan, Sama, Jones, Teixeira, Lussey, Peterson, Adorjan, Nacho, Morgan.
West Ham XI: Baxter, Driver, Potts, Marlow, Ruddock, Spence, Bywater, Moncur, Lee, Maguire, Lletget.
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