Reserve Report: Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool

Posted by parr on February 20, 2004, 11:11:44 AM

The reserve sides of England’s two great clubs contested a one-all draw at Altrincham’s Moss Lane tonight, a match which featured eight senior internationals.

A big crowd of 2,047 witnessed a bright start by the home team. Poor communication in the Liverpool defence almost created a created an opening for United in the 4th minute when Patrice Luzi was forced to rush out of his goal and blast the ball out of the ground. Less than a minute later Colin Heath had a chance to open the scoring from the left but couldn’t overcome the narrow angle and Luzi made the save.

Liverpool’s central midfield pairing of Salif Diao and Danny Murphy struggled to get into the game as the Mancs dominated. Kieran Richardson almost gave them the lead they deserved in the 14th minute when he smashed a free-kick against the bar from the right-hand side of the penalty area, Luzi had no chance but thankfully the ball rebounded to safety and the danger was gone long before the crossbar stopped shaking.

United got another chance on twenty-four minutes when David Bellion was put through but he sent his shot wide of the post.

Hughie McAuley’s side, playing in white, had only one threat, through balls for Milan Baros. It was he who created our first good shooting oppurtunity with Tom Heaton in the United goal saving comfortably from El-Hadji Diouf. It was only a half chance but the best we had created at that point.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (remember him?) was playing for the home team as part of his rehabilitation from long-term injury and was causing problems on the right-hand side. A good run by the Norwegian created a shooting chance for him and he stung the ‘keeper’s hands from 25 yards. It was well struck but Luzi will be disappointed not to have held on to it.

In the 34th minute Salif Diao gave the ball away in midfield, their no.8, youngster David Jones quickly spread the ball out wide to Richardson who put in an early cross for Bellion, with the Frenchman only managing to head it over the bar under pressure.

A United goal looked inevitable and that proved to be the case, Solksjaer received the ball near the right-hand touchline, drove forward and put in a low cross, the nippy Bellion got to the ball before his marker and put it away from close range. 1-0 after 37 minutes and no more than they deserved.

After going a goal down Liverpool finished the half brightly. A couple of minutes after the goal Baros got the ball and went on a good forward run, before wasting his work with a scandalous dive for which he was rightly booked.

Baros was again the threat in the 44th minute when doziness in the United defence almost gave him a sight of goal, their blushes spared by a great saving tackle from the commanding Wes Brown. A minute later a great diagonal run from the Czech international got him into the right-hand side of the penalty area, he shot hard and low across the face of the goal but the ‘keeper managed to divert wide for a corner as the half drew to a close.

The visitors started the second half well, Diouf started to get into the game more and in the 53rd minute Danny Murphy got on the ball and launched a shot from 25 yards, it was no trouble for Heaton though as it sailed over the bar.

A minute later the Merseysiders’ revival was nearly stopped dead as United managed to get three players beyond the Liverpool defence, somehow the flag stayed down and a goal looked likely, the attackers only managed to get in each others’ way however and the best they could manage was a chip over the French goalie and over the bar.

Shortly before the hour Liverpool managed to get back on level terms. A good run from Milan Baros took him past a couple of opponents and into the penalty area, when Baros went down under the next challenge the linesman, sorry, referee’s assistant, raised his flag and the ref pointed to the spot. Super Dan stepped up to a chorus of jeers and boos but he stayed calm, his stuttering run-up caused the keeper to move early and he firmly placed the ball in the opposite corner. 1-1.

Three minutes later we went close to taking the lead. Good work from Diouf led to Baros winning a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Murphy curled the kick wide of United’s right-hand post.

First Solskjaer and then Brown were withdrawn with youngsters Kenny Cooper and David Poole entering the fray. United were still holding their own though in what was becoming a scrappy game with both sides struggling to string passes together.

With nine minutes to go Richardson brought the game back to life with a great shot from a central position about 25 yards out. It flew past Patrice Luzi but rebounded off the post.

In the 39th minute of the half Diao and Michael Foley-Sheridan combined well on the left but the attack broke down and Man United countered. Bellion was on the ball and in full flight but Igor Biscan matched him stride for stride and forced him inside, what had looked like a dangerous attack petered out.

Liverpool threatened to win the game late on with Murphy curling a shot into the arms of their keeper and Baros running the ball into the area before getting it stuck under his feet at a vital moment. United nearly had the last say though with another long range effort from the exciting Kieran Richardson in injury time, Luzi managed to gather it at the second attempt though to ensure that the game finished all-square.

LFC Player Ratings:

Luzi – 6 – Did what was asked him though his handling could have been better.

Vaughan – 6 – Did nothing going forward from right back but had little oppurtunity to do so. Was pretty sound defensively.

Traore – 7 – Struggled a little bit with Solskjaer but coped pretty well. Looked comfortable on the ball and helped support attacks on the left-side, particularly when Solskjaer had been subbed.

Medjani – 7 – Was quick and alert enough to deal with most problems United caused.

Biscan – 7 – A good performance from Igor, calm on the ball and got the challenges in when necessary.

Diao – 5 – Never stamped any authority on the game, got in a few strong challenges but also some needless fouls and did very little with the ball.

Potter – 6 – Playing on the right he started energetically trying to get on the ball and putting opposition players pressure but never got much oppurtunity to create anything.

Murphy – 6 – Awful in the first half, partly redeemed himself in the second getting on the ball in forward positions but still looked sluggish and misplaced the odd simple pass.

Baros – 8 – A lively performance, our main threat. Showed good pace and touch, probably on the verge of getting back in the first team.

Diouf – 6 – Some nice touches, a couple of dives, needlessly leaving his foot in on Wes Brown, putting himself about a bit – typical Diouf.

Foley-Sheridan – 7 – Nothing spectacular but some good play on the left and he gave us an outlet.

Mancs to watch out for:

The old Manc sat next to me explained that David Jones was captain of the youth team and Lee Lawrence also impressing at left back. Both looked pretty good but as he told me it is hard to break through at Old Trafford and these two have a way to go.

Teams:

Liverpool: Luzi, Vaughan, Traore, Medjani, Biscan, Diao, Potter, Murphy, Baros, Diouf, Foley-Sheridan. Unused subs: Wright, Willis, Smyth, Gillespie, Flynn.

Manchester United: Heaton, Lynch, Lawrence, Djemba-Djemba, Brown (Cooper 63), Pugh, Solskjaer (Poole 68), Jones, Bellion, Heath, Richardson. Unused subs: Lee, Williams, Sims.

© parr 2004

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