By Scott Taylor
Sheyi Ojo returned from his loan spell at Wolves to get a valuable 90 minutes under his belt as Liverpool U21s drew 0-0 with Norwich at Carrow Road on Monday evening. Ojo, 18, has missed the last few Wolves games due to a knock he picked up, so temporarily returned to the Reds to boost match fitness before returning to the Championship club. He played the whole game as Liverpool were denied by a superb goalkeeping display from Norwich goalkeeper Jake Kean.
The home side started very brightly, with Glenn Middleton firing over inside the first minute. However, in a quiet opening half of the tie, Liverpool were frustrated with the end product to some of their build up play. Corey Whelan went closest for Michael Beale’s side when his shot was palmed away by Kean after receiving a pass from Harry Wilson.
The Reds also did very well to restrict Norwich striker Jamar Loza, who scored five goals in his last game at Carrow Road against Southampton. Liverpool stepped up their intensity and work rate in the second half, and started to put Norwich under a lot of pressure. Firstly Alex O’Hanlon fired over the crossbar before wingers Wilson and Ojo were proving to be a real handful for the Canaries’ defence. O’Hanlon then turned provider moments later when he played in Jerome Sinclair, but the striker, who reportedly had contractual issues, fired just wide of Kean’s goal.
The forward went even closer shortly after, but his shot from a tight angle was straight at Kean, who denied Sinclair with his legs as Liverpool knocked on the door. Former Blackburn goalkeeper Kean had to be at his best once again when Wilson forced him into a strong save low to his left after a clever flick from O’Hanlon.
The Reds thought they won it in the final ten minutes but Sinclair’s fierce turn-and-shot was superbly denied by the left glove of Kean, as Liverpool were getting frustrated by the brilliance of Kean, who was being watched by Norwich manager Alex Neil.
Brooks Lennon replaced O’Hanlon with six minutes to go in the game, and played a superb cameo role with him proving to be a constant threat on the right side of midfield. He created a few chances, but had arguably one of Liverpool’s best chances of the game, but he fired over Sam Hart’s cross from close-range with the goal gaping.
After an inconsistent season, Liverpool U21s end 2015 on a more positive note with back-to-back clean sheets, and a point in front of over 9,000 fans at Carrow Road. Despite the result, Liverpool remain bottom of the Barclays U21 Premier League table, two points adrift of Leicester City.
Liverpool XI: Fulton; Whelan, Cleary, Maguire, Hart; Virtue, Chirivella; Wilson, O’Hanlon (Lennon 84’), Ojo; Sinclair.
Norwich XI: Kean; Hall-Johnson, Coker, Crow, Uade; Grant, McGrandles; Eaton-Collins (Efete 67’), Cantwell, Middleton; Loza.