Reds in Reserve: Liverpool 5 Sunderland 1

Posted by Rushian on May 7, 2004, 02:40:50 AM

Liverweb Reserves Match Report: Liverpool 5 - 1 Sunderland

Liverpool : Harrison, Otsemobor, Whitbread, Medjani, Biscan, Welsh (capt.), Diouf, Cheyrou, Le Tallec, Diao, Mellor

Subs Used : Foley for Biscan (64), Potter for Cheyrou (64), Mannix for Diao (70)
Subs Unused : Willis, Wilkie


The Reserves finished their season with a crushing 5-1 win over Sunderland. The sides were very contrasting with Sunderland fielding a very youthful side compared to the experience of the Reds. The class told in th end but the main class came from the reserves goal machine Neil Mellor who bagged a hat-trick.

The Reds got the game underway and were nearly in front after just one minute. Neil Mellor got round the back of his man and crossed a delightful ball only to see it sail just to far in front of John Welsh. Sunderland went close on three minutes when Leadbitter turned Diao in central midfielder and raced to the area before hitting a 30 yard shot. Thankfully the shot took a deflectiona dn sailed out for a corner which the Reds dealt with from their obvious height advantage.

The Reds started the better side and on seven minutes Cheyrou played in Le Tallec down the inside left channel but as he went to cross the ball in it was cut out for a corner. The Reds had the ball in the net two minutes later only to see the linesman with his flag up. Cheyrou played a ball through to Diouf who laid it off to Mellor who made no mistake from inside the area.

On twelve minutes Mellor did open the scoring though. A Reds corner was flighted in from John Welsh. Salif Diao rose highest and put his header on target. It was initially blocked but predator Mellor was on hand to slam the ball home for a deserved lead. It was Mellor's eighth goal this season in only four games.

On eighteen minutes a good move down the Reds left saw Whitbread get round his man and cross a lovely ball over but as Mellor shaped to meet the cross the Sunderland defence just cleared it in time. In fairness the game actually went very dull for the next fifteen minutes until the Reds actually scored a second.

El Hadji Diouf scored a stunning goal on thirty four minutes. Diouf picked the ball up on the right edge of the box and jinked himself a yard before firing a superb shot past the Sunderland keeper to double the lead. It's been a long time since he's done anything like that and the more central position for him certainly helped.

Sunderland had a couple of chances minutes before half time to cut the lead but on the first occasion Paul Harrison managed to tip the ball just over the bar from Flynn and then Smith fired his shot just over the bar. With just one added minute of time the half ended with the Reds two goals to the good.

Neither sides made any changes at half time and Sunderland kicked off. Neil Mellor forced a chance for himself on fifty one minutes but just couldn't quite get the ball to settle for himself before the keeper nipped in and won the ball. Sunderland pulled themselves back into the game on fifty six minutes through Adam Smith. The chance was gifted to him after Biscan put in a woeful header forty yards from his own goal towards his area. Smith raced on to the ball and rounded Harrison before slotting home.

Niall Flynn picked up the only yellow card of the night a minute after the goal for a poor tackle on Diouf from behind as he was in full flight towards goal. The Reds thought they had gone three one up on fifty nine minutes and in fairness the offside decision which ruled out Mellor's goal was very marginal indeed. Le Tallec had capitalised on a loose ball and appeared to cut the ball backwards across the area from near the byeline. Mellor stormed in and finished it off only to see the flag raised.

The Reds had started to force a better shape to themselves after the Sunderland goal and it made the last half four far better. Mellor threaded a ball through for Diouf on sixty two minutes but faced with just the keeper he slotted the ball past him but also the right hand post.

Then came a very eventful three minutes play. Foley and Potter replaced Biscan and Cheyrou on sixty four minutes. The next two minutes saw Mellor score two goals. His first saw him lash a shot past the keeper from the edge of the area after he latched on to a loose ball. A minute later he raced on to a through ball from Diouf and slotted home between the keepers legs. The crowd all cheerd as Mellor took his tally into doubled figures for the reserves this season having played only four games.

On sixty eight minutes Mellor nearly got a fourth goal for himself when he was played through by Le Tallec. This time though the goal machine dragged his shot past the far post having beaten the keeper. David Mannix made a very welcome entrance on seventy minutes in place of Salif Diao. Manno made his reserve debut a couple of seasons ago but bad injuries have stopped his career so this was great to see given the obvious talent of the lad.

A game wouldn't be the same at the Deva without the ball being cleared out of the ground and Zak Whitbread managed that on eighty three minutes as he raced back well to stop a Sundderland attack. The fifth Reds goal came with a minte left on the clock and it went to Diouf. Mannix played a superb ball down the line for Foley who whipped in a superb ball to the back post where Diouf headed home for his second of the night. With just added minutes the whistle was blown on another Reds in Reserve season.

Overall this was a game which had a huge lull in the first half before springing into life around the hour mark as the Reds got some form of shape to themselves and Mellor grabbed his hat-trick. The win ensured the Reds finished the reserve season as runners-up in the league and had a scorer on double figures.

MotM: Neil Mellor - the lad just doesn't even have to think twice before lashing the ball in the back of the onion bag. Given his lack of games this latter half of the season his attitude has been superb since he got back playing again. Zak Whitbread also played really well at the back and deserves credit for his improvement as does Carl Medjani.

The Season: Looking back across the whole reserves season it has been a good one overall. At times a few to many first team squad members have played in the games but some of the youngsters have progressed well. Picking out just three regulars :-

John Welsh has continued to show he is better then reserve level and rarely plays badly.

Zak Whitbread has moved on and played well despite being changed between left back and centre back on more than one occasion.

Carl Medjani has for me really improved throughout the season. He appears to have picked up some pace but his reading of the game has really improved and he cuts out so many attacks now before they happen.

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© Andy Philip, Liverweb 2004

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