Reds in Reserve: Liverpool 1-4 Newcastle

Posted by AdamS on October 3, 2006, 09:45:08 PM

Newcastle were the visitors to The Racecourse tonight. It was the first ressies match that I had been able to attend this season and so I was excited to see names like Fowler, Paletta, Zenden, Dudek and Warnock were starting tonight's game. I was also keen to have a look at recently recruited Nabil El Zhar. I was as optimistic about the result as I ever remember being and certainly wasn't expecting Newcastle to beat us 4-1, but that's what happened.

The game kicked off a few minutes early which was great for the scousers who'd made the long journey and were still parking up and getting into the ground. The game didn't start well for Liverpool. Peltier went into a tackle with Bernard and the crunch could be easily heard from where I was sat on the opposite side of the ground. Bernard's challenge was hard, but it didn't warrant the booking that was given to him by referee Matador. Peltier was stretchered off and a few minutes later an ambulance could be seen outside the ground. I hope the two things are not connected, but Peltz doesn't stay down unless he's hurt. James Smith was brough on to replace him.

It was all Liverpool early on, both Warnock and Pennant had mazey runs that nearly created openings and Liverpool looked comfortable with Zenden orchestrating things from midfield. In the fifteenth minute Newcastle nearly took the lead against the run of play. Luque dispossessed Paletta and shot early trying to catch Dudek out. The Pole was up to the shot though and turned it away well.

El Zhar gradually got more into the game and Liverpool still looked the most likely, but the game changed in the 24th minute. Luque was afforded way too much space, he turned and shot from twenty yards. The ball deflected off Roque leaving Dudek with no chance. Newcastle were 1-0 up from the kind of deflected goal that will have alerted the Chelsea scouts.

Liverpool responded well to going behind and a great cross field ball by Guthrie found Threlfall sneaking in around the back of the Geordie defence. Unfortunately he was unable to control his touch and he knocked the ball out for a goal kick. Moments later and Threlfall was involved at the other end of the pitch. Troisi ran at him with the ball and the cut inside from the right onto his left foot, he let fly and scored in the bottom right corner - Dudek really should have done better.

Things were going from bad to worse for Liverpool and the trend continued when Warnock was forced to leave the pitch having picked up a knock. He was replaced by FA Youth Cup winning captain Stephen Darby, who hadn't even been listed in the squad but who seemed to be there in place of Antwi Godwin.

In the 35th minute Liverpool's best chance of the half arrived. El Zhar and Guthrie combined well to lay the ball up for Fowler to shoot from 16 yards. Just as you were thinking goal a Newcastle defender managed to dive across and block the shot.

Guthrie was the protagonist again minutes later, swivelling as he received a Robbie Fowler pass and shooting just wide of goal. Another chance came for Liverpool just moments later. This time Threlfall got down the left and whipped a cross in. El Zhar was unsighted as the ball came through and hit him. It appeared that it was going to sneak in the corner, but the ball trickled just wide with El Zhar unable to chase it down in time.

Half Time: Liverpool 0 Newcastle 2

Newcastle started the second half with a lot more prowess in the middle of the park. In the first half they had really struggled to win and retain any possession in the middle, but they were much better there in the second half. This improvement immediately showed as Finnigan was slotted through in the 48th minute. He was one-on-one with Dudek but failed to score as the keeper stood up well.

El Zhar and Zenden were soon both to go close for the Reds, but Liverpool couldn't get the goal they needed to get back in the game.

Pennant was taken off and replaced by Flynn with an hour gone. It was another frustrating night for Pennant. He too often wandered in from the wing and failed to deliver any end product. His best game for Liverpool this season was against Maccabi Haifa when he stayed wide and took his man on on the outside. I hope this is a lesson he learns soon.

Flynn had an immediate impact even though he was playing out of position on the right flank. He took the ball past two defenders and won a corner as his cross was blocked. The corner came to nothing. Liverpool were now in a good period of pressure but you has that nagging feeling that if we didn't score soon Newcastle would.

And Newcastle did. Dudek was found wanting again as Luque smashed in a free kick from thirty yards. It was a good freekick but from the delay in Dudek's reactions I think he must have been stood unsighted behind the wall. I couldn't believe we were 3-0 down when Newcastle had only had about 5 shots.

Over the next fifteen minutes we looked good going forward but awful at the back. Guthrie, Zenden and a great shot from El Zhar all appeared to be destined for the net only for a Newcastle player or the keeper to divert it away.

In the 75 minute Newcastle's number 9 was again clean through, but Finnigan was left scratching his chin again as it didn't go in again, this time sailing wide and up into The Kop.

Liverpool eventually got on the score sheet very late in the game. A Zenden cross from the left sailed over the keeper and hit the post, bouncing straight to Fowler to prod home. It was the only real proof that Fowler had actually played tonight.

Newcastle had the last laugh though when in the 90th minute Finnigan was again played through a pedestrian Liverpool defence. This time the wind must have been blowing the right way as he coolly slotted it past the advancing Dudek.

It was the final kick of the game as Newcastle came out 4-1 winners. They hadn't ever really bossed the game, but Liverpool's lack of a holding midfielder started to show as the game wore on. Hopefully we'll get a better result in the next fixture because it's the mini-derby and the bitters have had enough to smile about already this season.

Liverpool MotM: Zenden just pips Guthrie.

LFC: Dudek, Peltier (3, Smith), Warnock (33, Darby), Roque, Paletta, Guthrie, Pennant (61, Flynn), Zenden, Fowler, El Zhar, Threlfall

Unused Substitutes: Hobbs, Roberts

© Adam S 2006

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