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Under-23s secure deserved draw at Anfield

PL2: Liverpool 1-1 Spurs

Fri 17 August 2018, 20:59|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-23s fought back from a red card in the second minute to secure a point against Liverpool in the Premier League 2 at Anfield on Friday night.

Japhet Tanganga received his marching orders for handball on the line to deny Glen McAuley from close range. Adam Lewis blasted the penalty over the crossbar.

We re-organised into a 4-4-1 system with George Marsh dropping into centre-half alongside TJ Eyoma and Troy Parrott left to battle up front on his own. Both did their jobs superbly, as did the whole team.

Liverpool took the lead when dangerman Bobby Adekanye drove low into the corner from 14 yards in the 14th minute. The flag went up for a brief moment as he received the ball but after a quick conversation with his assistant, referee Mr Johnson gave the goal.

A goal down and a man down so early, the script would normally read defeat for most visitors to Anfield. Our players didn't read that script, however, and found an equaliser on 23 minutes.

Parrott picked out Marcus Edwards in the right channel, 35 yards from goal. Edwards drove into the box, side-stepped Lewis and finished right-footed low across Caoimhin Kelleher.

Liverpool were always going to dominate possession and did just that, but we stayed together across the two banks of four, closed gaps, made blocks and actually restricted the home team to few clear-cut chances for the rest of the game.

Jaden Brown made a goal-saving sliding block to deny Adekanye, Isaac Christie-Davies shot straight at Alfie Whiteman while at the other end, a couple of bursts from Edwards came to nothing.

Liverpool continued to probe patiently in the second half but again, we remained resolute.

McAuley was inches away from Lewis' cross, Whiteman fingertipped wide from Adekanye and then the big save, Whiteman down to block at the feet of Adekanye one-on-one with only two minutes left.

As expected, a late flurry brought half-chances as Marsh blocked from Matty Virtue, Nathaniel Phillips fired over from a corner and Virtue could only volley straight at Whiteman.

If anything, the best chance fell to us on 66 minutes. Parrott put pressure on Phillips, the loose ball fell into the path of Edwards who was away, clear, only for Kelleher to save with his feet.

Key moment...

The obvious place to start would be Tanganga's handball and subsequent red card, reducing us to 10 men after just two minutes.

You could also argue the penalty miss immediately after.

However, with the score having stayed at 1-1, the key moment has to be the best chance of the second half, when Marcus Edwards raced through on goal only to be denied by a fine save from Kelleher.

What might have been...

That said, coach Wayne Burnett was pleased with how things panned out after that early red: “I’m really proud,” he said. “We caused our own problems within the first two or three minutes, they missed a penalty and then for the next 43 minutes we at least matched them.

“We knew it was going to be tough in the second half because they were going to try to overload us in wide areas but we defended brilliantly, defended the box excellently well and I’m proud of every single one of the players.

“It’s been a much better performance, almost in complete contrast to the performance we had on Monday (3-1 home defeat to West Ham) so I’m pleased about that, but this is the minimum requirement. We’ve shown some really good character tonight and we played some decent stuff, even with 10 men.

“For the majority of the time we dominate the ball, but we haven’t done that tonight. We’ve shown another side of ourselves as a team and as a collective and that’s pleasing. The players have blocked, they’ve covered, they’ve harried, they’ve worked, they’ve competed and shown willingness and desire – that’s something that hopefully we can build on.”

Liverpool 1-1 Spurs (Premier League 2)

Liverpool: Kelleher, Whelan (c), Lewis, Phillips, Johnston, Chirivella, Adekanye, Christie-Davies (Coyle 75), McAuley (Millar 65), Virtue, Jones. Substitutes (not used): Atherton, Gallacher, Masterson.

Spurs: Whiteman, Hinds, Brown (Dinzeyi 86), Marsh (c), Eyoma, Tanganga, Edwards (Duncan 90+1), Maghoma, Parrott, Harrison, Georgiou. Substitutes (not used): De Bie, Roles.

Match stats...

Goals: Liverpool - Adekanye 14; Spurs - Edwards 23.

Yellow cards: Spurs - Georgiou 26, Maghoma 39, Duncan 90+2.

Red card: Spurs - Tanganga 2.

Referee: J Johnson.

Attendance: 3,114.

Venue: Anfield, Liverpool.

Weather: Overcast, light rain, 16 degrees.