Reds in Reserve: Wigan 0 - 2 Liverpool

Posted by AdamS on October 18, 2005, 11:03:43 PM

After the trauma of nearly running out of petrol on the M6 in rush hour, I arrived in Wigan in time to get some McNasty's before I went to the ground. The guy working there misheard my order and gave me a happy meal, so within my first twenty minutes in Wigan I'd received a free Acceleracers car and several funny looks.

The reserves had a tough night ahead of them at the fabulously named Robin Park Arena. They were facing a Wigan reserves side containing names such as Emerson Thome, Matt Jackson, Gary Teale and David Connolly. In what was a pretty scrappy affair they were the deserved winners notching 2 goals with no reply.

The thermometer on the side of Haydock Racecourse may have said 12 degrees but it felt much colder than that as the game kicked of. Contrastingly there was a warm start to the game when Mannix was booked in the second minute for a late lunge.

The early play was fairly even with the Reds just edging it. Calliste nearly got through on a couple of occasions, once being flagged offside and another time finding himself onside, but an offside Idrizal interfering with play.

Antwi was making his debut in his preferred position of centre half tonight and he looked a much better and more confident player in that slot. He was winning everything in the air and also looked fairly tidy on the ground.

The first real chance of the match fell to Calliste. He latched on to a through ball from Idrizaj, but he just dallied too long before shooting and his attempt was blocked by a retreating Wigan defender.

It was proving to be a typical reserve level match and a typical first half. Space was at a premium and there was very little in the way of flowing football. Liverpool, despite being a much younger team were winning their fair share of loose balls though and on 25 minutes this was epitomised by Antwi who went in for a fifty-fifty and flattened David Connolly.

A few moments later Mannix had a long range effort relatively comfortably saved after Calliste had laid it back to him. It would be only moments before Liverpool were to take the lead though. Guthrie and Raven worked a one-two which led to Guthrie being fouled. Mannix took the resulting free kick from the right wing and the onrushing Whitbread headed the ball into the top corner.

Mannix nearly doubled the lead not too long after. Again another foul on Guthrie led to a free kick about thirty five yards from goal. Manno took it on and saw his shot sail just inches past post and crossbar. Guthrie seemed to have taken a knock in the challenge and was replaced by Adam Hammill just after. As he walked past us he seemed to be holding his groin - draw your own conclusions!

On half time Mannix dived in again and as the whistle blew I feared he was getting an early bath, but the whistle was to signify half time. Wigan had a period of sustained pressure before the break but never actually created a clear cut chance and the Reds went in with the lead intact. Half time gave me chance to admire the fresh Wigan air and to notice that two teenage girls were purposefully leaning forward in their chairs to expose their G-strings to the players of Wigan's youth set up. How fame can turn your head!

Wigan began the second half as they had finished the first and this time looked a lot more dangerous. Their first serious effort came on 54 minutes. Teale hit a curling effort from twenty five yards which was bending right into the very top corner of the net. It took a tremendous save from Dudek to tip the ball behind for a corner. From the resultant corner Wigan nearly scored again but Connolly managed to get in the way of his team mates goalward header.

Raven was getting forward well down the right hand side and he nearly doubled the lead on the hour mark. Calliste initially miscontrolled a ball from Raven, but managed to turn back on himself and slot Raven through. His low shot from quite a tight angle was well saved by Saunders though.

The returning Dudek was getting a lot more action in the second half. On 63 minutes he was forced into another save as he dived to his right to cling to Johansson's header.

Peltier had come on in place of Idrazij just before the hour resulting in Liverpool switching formation. It was hard to tell if it was a 4-1-4-1, a 3-5-1-1 or a 4-1-3-1-1. It seemed to be the same formation we had changed to against Newcastle. I like to refer to it as the melee formation.

On seventy two minutes Liverpool had a great chance to increase their lead. Calliste with the ball at his feet headed down the middle of the pitch with options out numbering the defenders on both sides. Unfortunately he ran straight into a defender and the momentum was lost.

He was to get another chance five minutes later. Potter nudged a ball through which the defender should really have cut out. His failure to do so saw Calliste run clear. He made no mistake this time as he rounded the keeper and pushed the ball home.

Some other Reds who were near us in the stand picked up a team sheet:

"Ramon Calliste? Is he French?"

"No he's Welsh!" came the response, ensuring giggles all round.

Calliste raised his game as the match went on and did brilliantly down the right wing. He dispossessed Wright and whipped in a dangerous cross, but no team mate had managed to keep up with the attack.

Wigan came extremely close to pulling one back on the 83rd minute. Josip Skoko half volleyed a ball from nearly thirty yards out. It beat Dudek and he was unlucky to see the ball come flying back off the upright. In the last minute Connolly also raced onto a through ball, but a combination of the covering Antwi and the advancing Dudek managed to block any attempt at goal and the ball ricocheted off Connolly and behind for a goal kick. The referee soon blew his whistle leaving the Reds deserved 2-0 winners.

Man of the Match: Godwin Antwi Very powerful and imposing for such a young lad. He also looked tidy on the deck when playing in his favoured position today. Raven was good, but then we expect that of him nowadays.

Liverpool Team:
Jerzy Dudek
David Raven
Zak Whitbread
Godwin Antwi
Daniel O'Donnell
Jack Hobbs
Darren Potter
David Mannix
Ramon Calliste (84, Michael Nardiello)
Besian Idrazij (56, Lee Peltier)
Danny Guthrie (38, Adam Hammill)

© AdamS 2005

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