Man Utd Under 21s 1 (Flanagan OG 81’) – 1 (Shelvey 5’) Liverpool Under 21s

A 30 yard wonder strike from Jonjo Shelvey was not enough for as 10 man Liverpool drew 1-1 away to Arch Rivals Man Utd in a very controversial game at Old Trafford. After securing a semi-final place in the U21 Elite Group after picking up a point against Arsenal, Liverpool Under 21s played their final game of the season where they took on Manchester United at Old Trafford. It is most likely that these teams will meet in the semi-final, so today’s match will be viewed by some as a dress rehearsal for the semi-final. It is far from that, both teams are looking to get one over their arch rivals, to gain confidence and bragging rights going into the semi-final match. Also, the winners of this tie have home advantage if they win, so both teams will try to get a result. However Liverpool will have to win by 2 goals to have the right to play at Anfield. Alex Inglethorpe makes 5 changes from the side that dramatically drew against Arsenal in Underhill. Due to being rested, Jordon Ibe and Ryan McLaughlin drop out, meaning Craig Roddan returns to his makeshift left back role, and in comes Suso. Under 18 star and Under 21 regular Lloyd Jones drops to the bench, as the more experienced Andre Wisdom comes in. Jon Flanagan hands the captain’s armband back to the returning Conor Coady, who comes in for McLaughlin. The final two chances sees Jonjo Shelvey replace Krisztian Adorjan, while Adam Morgan makes way for Jack Dunn. The fact that there are 5 first team players in the starting XI just shows the intent shown by Liverpool. However, Man Utd coach Warren Joyce fielded a very young side, a questionable move by the Under 21 head coach.  These sides met earlier in the season, where the Red Devils edged in following a 94th minute winner, a game which saw Stephen Sama sent off.

The game started like no other with Liverpool taking the lead with just 5 minutes on the clock, after Suso found Jonjo Shelvey and the Number 10 with plenty of room, hit an unstoppable shot from 30 yards out that beat Ben Amos in the Man Utd goal. However, Man Utd came straight back at the Reds and Ryan Tunnilcliffe raced through on goal, only to be brought down by Stephen Sama, and the German centre-back inevitably received his second red card against Man Utd in consecutive games, meaning Alex Inglethorpe’s side had to play 83 minutes with 10 men.

More controversy followed minutes later as Man Utd player Jesse Lingard appeared to kick Craig Roddan and leave stud marks showing, but that foul went unpunished yet Jonjo Shelvey got booked for pointing out the severity of the foul. Then Craig Roddan came back on the field a little early and was booked for doing so. Very very poor refereeing and people now understand why many fans think the FA are bias to Man Utd. Since the sending off of Stephen Sama, Man Utd maintained possession but didn’t test Danny Ward, with their only attack being shots from long range, showing the organization and the resistance shown by Alex Inglethorpe’s side after such an early setback. Despite Liverpool being in their own half for the majority of the half, the Reds were very good on the counter, especially young Spanish winger Suso. Suso created a chance in the 41st minute as he ran the length of the pitch and put a dangerous cross into the box, but Ben Amos was they to get a hand away, and eventually clear it from an onrushing Kris Peterson. Andre Wisdom was by far Liverpool’s man of the match in the first half, and on the stroke of half time Jesse Lingard again beat Jon Flanagan and pulled it back into the box, but yet again Andre Wisdom was there to clear Liverpool’s lines as the visitors went into the half time break with the advantage.

Like the first half, the second half started in a fast tempo, with Man Utd yet again controlling the possession with Liverpool weathering the United storm quite well. The home side had their best chance to score when former Standard Liege player Vermijl ran through but his shot from a tight angle flashed across the face of goal with no one pouncing at the far post, as another Man United chance went begging. Alex Inglethorpe then made a double change on the hour mark. Firstly, Andre Wisdom was replaced by Lloyd Jones, before goalscorer Jonjo Shelvey was replaced by Krisztian Adorjan, meaning two first team players were replaced, something that might have been discussed with Brendan Rodgers. Man United had their next chance in the 66th minute, when Jesse Lingard was given plenty of space in the box, but his shot was at a comfortable height for Danny Ward to parry away, as the game stayed 1-0 to the Reds. Lingard’s shot was the Red Devils first shot on target of the game, emphasising Liverpool’s defence strength. Danny Ward was again called into action 6 minutes later, as Lingard run across Liverpool’s defence before hitting towards the bottom corner, only for it to be tipped around the post by Danny Ward. In the 81st minute, Man Utd did equalise as Ryan Tunnilcliffe’s cross was turned towards goal and then unfortunately helped in by Jon Flanagan to all but guarantee that Liverpool will be playing at Old Trafford in a few days time. The home side was now on the front foot and almost went ahead if it wasn’t for an acrobatic stop from Danny Ward, it’s safe to say that without Danny Ward’s presence, Liverpool would be in a lot more trouble. Due to the vast numbers in Liverpool’s defence, the Red Devils could only shoot from 30 yards out if they wanted to test Ward, but most of the shots went high and wide of the goal frame. After 3 minutes injury time, neither side could get a winner as the game ended in a draw. The game didn’t go how Liverpool wanted it to go after Stephen Sama’s red card as they couldn’t get an accurate idea of how they played against Man Utd with 11 men. The Under 21s next game will be against the same team at the same ground in just a few days time, where all the first team players are likely to miss out as Liverpool face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Scott Taylor

LFC XI: Ward, Flanagan, Roddan, Sama, Wisdom, Coady, Suso, Teixeira, Dunn, Shelvey, Peterson.

Man Utd XI: Amos, Vermijl, James, Thorpe, Foornasier, Ekangamene, Cole, Tunnilcliffe, Januzaj, Pearson, Lingard.

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