Liverpool U21s 2-0 Spurs U21s
Report from Chester
25 January 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
A lack of goalscoring opportunities, coupled with some sloppy errors at the back, cost our Under-21s the points against Liverpool on Monday night (January 25).
The Reds took the lead inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour at Chester FC when Ryan Kent’s free-kick squirmed past goalkeeper Tom Glover at his near post and, as we struggled to break down a packed Liverpool defence, the home side went on to complete a 2-0 win when Jerome Sinclair helped Sheyi Ojo’s low driven ball in from the right over the line in the second period.
Liverpool finished the game with 10 men after ex-Spur Kevin Stewart was dismissed for two bookable offences in the space of three minutes with a little over 10 minutes to go.
There were a couple of changes to the side that drew with Manchester City last week, notably with Will Miller tasked with spearheading the attack as a false nine for the first time since his days as an Under-18s player in 2013-14.
He found himself up against our former player and Academy graduate Steven Caulker at the back for Liverpool and, with a clear difference in stature between the two, he set about trying to weave his way into the right areas as we placed a reliance on creating chances on the surface.
That proved tricky in itself, though, as the home side kept us largely at bay – Miller’s snapshot from Andros Townsend’s pass that flew over the bar towards the end of the first period the closest we went to beating Adam Bogdan in Liverpool’s goal.
In other team news, Cameron Carter-Vickers came back in at centre-half for us and captained the side, Cy Goddard returned to the starting line-up and there was a first start of the season for Joe Pritchard on the left side of midfield.
Townsend was lively down the right flank in the opening 45 minutes but, while we had more of the possession, chances at either end were few and far between.
Sinclair flashed the ball dangerously across the six-yard box on 10 minutes but nobody in red was there to convert, while a couple of robust challenges from Luke Amos gave Liverpool some early opportunities from set pieces.
We routinely dealt with Cameron Brannagan’s free-kick in the first instance, but there was a horrible moment for goalkeeper Glover with 13 minutes on the watch as Kent’s in-swinger from Liverpool’s right following another Amos foul slipped through his hands and into the net at the near post for 1-0.
Pritchard made a couple of incisive runs in-field from the left as the half wore on but the resulting shots – from he and Goddard – didn’t cause Liverpool any real problems.
Townsend’s wide free-kick sailed all the way through to Bogdan just beyond the half-hour mark before our best chance of the game arrived on 34 minutes as Townsend’s low ball in from the right found Miller in the box, but he had to pull the trigger quickly and he could only blaze over from 12 yards.
We struggled to get out of our own half as the second period got underway and we conceded a second goal on 56 minutes. A free-kick was only half-cleared with Matthew Virtue-Thick turning the ball quickly back through our defence into the path of Ojo, who sped towards the byline on the right and whipped the ball dangerously towards goal from the angle with Sinclair on hand to nudge it over the line from practically underneath the crossbar.
The latter duo linked up again three minutes later with Ojo supplying a cross from which Sinclair craned a header towards goal but it flew straight into Glover’s grasp.
Kent and Brannagan both sent efforts inches wide of the post from outside the box while, in between those chances, Glover crouched low to gather Kent’s drive at the second attempt after Pritchard gifted him possession in midfield.
The introduction of Emmanuel Sonupe gave us an extra attacking outlet midway through the half and he forced Bogdan to block at his near post just minutes after coming on.
Stewart picked up a yellow card on 76 minutes for a foul on Miller with Townsend whipping the resulting free-kick just over – and just three minutes later our former player got his marching orders when he hauled back Anton Walkes, who by that stage was playing up front following another change in personnel, as he broke forward.
We had more of the ball once again in the closing moments but Bogdan was only really troubled by a menacing cross from the left by Anthony Georgiou which looked to be spinning towards the top corner three minutes from time. The keeper stretched to catch it, though, and kept his clean sheet intact.
Ugo Ehiogu said
“A few players were given their first game for a while – Cy Goddard came in, Joe Pritchard got his first start in the league but we were up against an experienced Liverpool team and it was very tough,” he said.
“I thought the way we moved the ball in the middle third was very good, especially in the first half and without creating many chances we were comfortable.
“The disappointment was that we conceded the goal on 13 minutes at the near post and it changed the game. The first half especially should have been 0-0 and then we might have been in for a different game but, to be fair, Liverpool had a lot of league experience and with one or two exceptions we couldn’t match that."
Liverpool U21s: Bogdan, Virtue-Thick, Hart, Caulker, Enrique, Stewart, Ojo (Wilson 90), Chirivella, Sinclair (Dunn 74), Brannagan (c), Kent (O'Hanlon 84). Substitutes (not used): Maguire, Firth (GK).
Spurs U21s: Glover, Walker-Peters, Georgiou, Amos, Carter-Vickers (c), Lesniak, Townsend, Walkes, Miller (Maghoma 77), Goddard (Paul 84), J Pritchard (Sonupe 68). Substitute (not used): Voss (GK).