First goals of the season from strikers Samed Yesil and Michael Ngoo ensured that Liverpool Under 21s cruised to a 2-0 win over 18th placed Aston Villa at Langtree Park. It was the second time in as many games where the young Reds have kept a clean sheet at home, and will be looking to keep that run going, as Alex Inglethorpe’s side have had trouble keeping clean sheets.
Alex Inglethorpe made 4 changes from the side that narrowly beat Middlesbrough a month ago, firstly Under 18 captain Connor Randall comes in at right back to make his debut for the Under 21s replacing Martin Kelly, who is currently training with the first team. Also, £7m summer signing Tiago Ilori misses out, and Stephen Sama comes in to replace him to get some valuable game time. Another person in need of game time is Jordan Lussey who replaces Craig Roddan as Roddan joined League One side Carlisle United on a month loan deal. The final change sees Samed Yesil come in for Jordon Ibe, who is more than likely to be involved for the first team’s match against Norwich tomorrow. It will also be a good chance for Samed Yesil to cement his place in the side as Adam Morgan has been loaned out to Yeovil for a month.
Although it has been a month since their last competitive game, Alex Inglethorpe’s side have played two friendlies against Sevilla B and PSV. The Under 21s drew with Sevilla 1-1 thanks to a goal from Kris Peterson and beat PSV 3-1 thanks to goals from Peterson, Cameron Brannagan and Jordan Rossiter. Kris Peterson has since gone out on loan at Tranmere. Lloyd Jones captained the side in Holland and captains the side for the first time in the league tonight.
Liverpool will be wary of Villa despite them being 18th in the League, as this was the side who won the NextGen series last season.
Liverpool started well, an had two early chances in the first 5 minutes. Firstly, Joao Teixeira’s through ball found Brannagan and the Number 10 pulled it back for Ngoo, but his effort was well blocked by the Villa defence. Moments later, Ngoo had another chance to score as Samed Yesil’s cross found an unmarked Ngoo, but his header went straight at Aston Villa ‘keeper Bradley Watkins.
Villa then had chances of their own before the 5 minute mark as Andras Stieber’s long range effort was well saved by Danny Ward, who tipped it over the bar for a corner. From that corner, the ball fell to Graham Burke whose effort flashed wide of Ward’s goal. Liverpool kept pressing and used width very well, as Connor Randall impressed on his debut and when the ball was distributed to Brad Smith on the left flank he did not put a foot wrong. Joao Teixeira was the heart of Liverpool’s creativity and was often involved in Liverpool’s chances, but on the 20th minute mark his effort could only fly over Watkin’s bar.
The Reds did have two chances in succession in the 23rd minute. Firstly, Brad Smith’s cross found Samed Yesil at the back post and his header was deflected out for a corner. From that corner, the ball eventually fell to Brannagan, but he could only fire his shot wide. Liverpool did eventually take the lead as Teixeira’s through ball found Yesil and the German Under 19 international slotted it past Bradley Watkins with the help of a deflection off Josh Webb to give the Reds a well deserved 1-0 lead. It was also Yesil’s first goal of the season and that goal will give him the confidence he needs to score in future matches.
Liverpool looked to add a second shortly after, but Michael Ngoo’s deflected effort was easily saved by Watkins. The Reds then had a golden chance to double their lead as Yesil’s cross flashed across goal, but Michael Ngoo seemed to give up on the ball as it went out for an Aston Villa throw-in.
Moments later, Ngoo didn’t give up on the ball as Brad Smith’s cross picked out an unmarked Michael Ngoo, who powerfully headed home from 12 yards out and end his goal drought to give him his first goal of the season. It was nearly 3-0 shortly before half time as Smith’s cross was parried by ‘keeper Bradley Watkins but Jordan Rossiter could only place his effort wide as the half ended with a comfortable two goal lead for Alex Inglethorpe’s side.
The second didn’t start as brightly as the first as the first 10 minutes of the game was predominantly a midfield battle with few chances being created at either end. Villa did look to respond in the 53rd minute but Michael Drennan’s shot went straight at Danny Ward, who saved comfortably. Villa continued to pile on the pressure and in the 57th minute, Villa had a great chance to reduce the deficit but Drennan couldn’t keep his head down. Moments later, Ward made an important save following a mistake form Stephen Sama to deny the Villa attack as the Wales Under 21 ‘keeper was determined to keep a clean sheet for the first time since Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Spurs at Langtree Park.
Despite the Villa pressure, Teixeira almost made it 3-0, but his long range curling effort was well saved by Bradley Watkins as Liverpool reminded Villa that they still oppose an attacking threat. Villa continued to pose a threat and because of that Liverpool made their first substitution of the match and goalscorer Samed Yesil, who made his first start for over a year was replaced by Jack Dunn to give the Reds’ attack a lot more energy going forward. Liverpool were dominating possession and were camped outside Villa’s box for a few minutes but when Villa broke, Danny Ward again couldn’t be beaten as he made yet another great save to deny Drennan. On the 79th minute, a defensive mix up lead to the ball falling to Robinson on the edge of the bench, but again Ward denied Villa with yet another good save. Liverpool were still looking to make it 3-0 and a clever one-two between Jack Dunn and Cameron Brannagan resulted in the former’s shot spiralling just wide following fantastic build up play from Liverpool. Ngoo again caused problems for Villa’s defence in the 84th minute but his cross couldn’t find the lurking Jordan Rossiter as it somehow remained 2-0 to Liverpool.
Villa then switched to a 4-2-4 formation to at least get a goal, but Stephen Sama was determined not to give Villa their goal making crucial blocks.
The Reds then went up the other end and Brad Smith produced another fantastic cross but Jordan Rossiter headed just wide from close range and was left wondering how it wasn’t 3-0. Their final chance to make it 3-0 came when Jack Dunn’s through ball found Ngoo, who was again denied by Bradley Watkins in the Aston Villa goal as the game ended 2-0 and Liverpool picked up 3 more points and more importantly a clean sheet.
The win means that Liverpool Under 21s rise to 2nd in the league and will be looking to go one better next time out.
LFC XI: Ward; Randall, Jones, Sama, Smith; Lussey, Rossiter; Ngoo, Brannagan, Teixeira; Yesil.
Aston Villa XI: Watkins; Bateman, Webb, Donacien, Kinsella; Lewis, Burke; Stieber, Johnson, Robinson; Drennan.
Alex Inglethorpe’s Under 21s are back in action next Monday (9th December) when they play host to Bolton Wanderers, a game that will be live on LFCTV. Also, it will be an afternoon kick-off instead of an evening one, so kick-off time is at 2pm instead of the regular 7pm.
Thanks for taking the time to read this new match report on my blog, and for more content on Liverpool’s Under 21s and Under 18s then simply keep an eye out on the blog http://www.thenextgenkopites.wordpress.com. Finally, for more Academy updates, then be sure to follow me on Twitter (@ScottTaylorUK).