By Scott Taylor
Matthew Virtue scored his first goal of the season as Liverpool U21s came back from 1-0 down to draw 1-1 against Tottenham on Friday evening. After last week’s 1-0 defeat to Sunderland, Reds manager Michael Beale continued to field a very young side, with most still eligible to play for the U18s. The hosts went ahead in the 8th minute when Anton Walkes took advantage or plenty of free space down the left flank but Liverpool equalised in emphatic style. Former Chelsea youngster Virtue pouncing on a loose ball in the 32nd minute and firing his 20 yard effort straight into the top corner.
Liverpool were missing a number of key and experienced players for the tie. Cameron Brannagan, Pedro Chirivella and Connor Randall were training with the first team whilst Jerome Sinclair and Joao Teixeira didn’t make the trip South. That showed when Spurs created their first chance in just the second minute, but Shayon Harrison fired wide from a Anthony Georgiou cross.
The hosts didn’t rue that missed chance as they took the lead six minutes later. Keanan Bennetts was allowed to bring the ball through the middle and he then picked out Walkes, who capitalised on the space he was given to fire Spurs ahead.
Despite going behind, Liverpool recovered and slowly grew back into the game. Goalscorer Virtue forced Tom Glover into a strong, low save with a strike from the edge of the penalty area. Beale’s side went even closer shortly after, when Madger Gomes’ cross picked out Toni Gomes, but his flick was cleared off the line by Luke Amos. After knocking at the Tottenham door, Liverpool got a deserved equaliser shortly after the half-hour mark. A corner was only half-cleared by the Spurs defence and it fell to Alex O’Hanlon, whose shot was blocked. The ball then fell to Virtue and the youngster superbly fired into the top corner with Glover well and truly beaten.
After half-time, Tottenham started to dominate the game. Firstly, Harrison’s shot could only be parried by Ryan Fulton at the near post, before Georgiou fired wide after a mistimed Virtue header allowed him to go through one-on-one. As in the first half, Liverpool responded with a chance of their own. Yan Dhanda picked out second-half substitute, but his header was straight at Glover.
The final stages of the game were dramatic end-to-end stuff. Firstly, Georgiou and Walkes combined but the latter blasted his shot high over Fulton’s crossbar. Then, Dhanda again provided a good cross, but Madger Gomes’ header was superbly denied by Glover. The Spurs ‘keeper had to be at his best moments later as he made a point-blank save from Paulo Alves, with Marsh poking the loose ball inches wide.
The draw sees Liverpool move up to eighth in the Barclays U21 Premier League whilst Spurs also rise with Ugo Ehiogu’s side moving up to third. Liverpool U21s next host Southampton at Langtree Park on Sunday 1st November.
Liverpool XI: Fulton; Whelan, Cleary, Brewitt, Hart (Alves 78′); Masterson, O’Hanlon; Toni Gomes (Polgar 60′), Virtue (Marsh 60′), Madger Gomes; Dhanda.
Tottenham XI: Glover; Walker-Peters, Lesniak, Veljkovic, Amos; Carter-Vickers, Bennetts (Loft 82′); Stylianides (Goddard 72’), Harrison, Walkes; Georgiou.
By Scott Taylor