Youth Cup Final 2nd Leg: Manchester City 0-2 Liverpool (2-3 on aggregate)

Posted by Rushian on April 22, 2006, 01:01:21 PM

Liverweb Youth Cup Final Match Report

Manchester City 2 Liverpool 0, Liverpool win 3-2 on aggregate

Liverpool: Roberts, Darby (capt.), Hobbs, Antwi, Threlfall, Anderson, Barnett, Flynn, Barratt, Lindfield, Hammill

Subs: Roque for Barnett (45), Spearing for Hammill (59)

Subs Unused: Mimms, Nardiello, Ryan

Attendance: 9,150

The Reds won the FA Youth Cup for only the second time despite going down to a 2-0 defeat at the City of Manchester stadium. The Reds were forced to defend for the whole game as City poured on pressure to get back the three goal deficit they conceded last week at Anfield.

The Reds named an unchanged side for the match and after coming out to the sight a huge away support lined up to hear the National anthem played. After that Stephen Darby won the toss and elected to defend the end where the Reds fans were in the first half. City got he game under way.

Reds fans were in good singing mood as the game got underway. On the pitch though it was all City from the off. The home side had to gamble and had welcomed Micah Richards back to the side. Richards missed the first leg due to being in the first team squad and he was a shining light for City all night.

On six minutes Richards rose well to head a corner ball just wide. In his attempt to get the ball he took out Evans of City and the Reds' Threlfall. Threlfall was up and back in action after a quick bit of treatment but the home side had to play with ten men for a few minutes as Evans went off for stitches.

On ten minutes cam what might have been a very controversial incident. Dave Roberts kicked clear from his area but after the game had carried on the linesman stayed flagging at the area. Bizarrely and something that rarely happens in the game the keeper was adjudged to have carried the ball out of his area and a free kick was given. Thankfully that kick went over the bar.

The Reds just didn't have any control in the midfield on the night and it stopped the Reds getting any possession and building on their three goal cushion. City hammered away at the Reds but the defence was being well marshalled by Antwi in particular.

On nineteen minutes the Reds were forced to clear an opportunity from Etuhu off the line after failing to clear a corner ball. Nothing the Reds seemed to do would stop the ball coming straight back at them. The outlet balls of Anderson and Hammill just weren't being played accurate enough.

The best chance of the half for the Reds came on twenty six minutes when Hammill latched on to a clearance from Anderson. He cut inside and allowed Barratt the ball. His shot though was pushed away for a corner.

City managed to take the lead on thirty two minutes through Sturridge. The young striker hit a superb shot from 25 yards out which left Roberts beaten despite a full length dive. It was exactly what City deserved and exactly what the Reds had dreaded.

City looked to build on the goal, whilst the Reds looked like they needed half time and a reminder if not a change in tactics. The half time interval saw Miki Roque coming on for Charlie Barnett who had seen the game drift him by on the night.

The Reds started the second half a little better than the first although it was still City making the most of the attacks. They were rewarded for their play on fifty six minutes when Sturridge again hit the back of the net. This time it came from a free kick which the Reds seemed to be sleeping on. Sturridge saw the ball fall at his feet at the back post and he struck home past Roberts.

This was now a crunch time in the game with the Reds just having one goal advantage left and the tactics were quickly changed. Jay Spearing came off the bench to replace Hammill who stormed down the tunnel - although he did reappear soon after.

The move meant the Reds had two defensive minded midfielders on the pitch now in Roque and Spearing. City looked to push on but the change for the Reds slowly had it's desired effect. The Reds had a massive shout for a penalty on sixty four minutes when Spearing struck a shot on goal from a corner. The shot was goal bound but blocked by a City hand as he threw himself out. This was a definite penalty in my book but Martin Atkinson waved play on.

The Reds were now starting to get a foot in the game now and City chances were starting to stretch out more. In fact on seventy seven minutes the Reds nearly scored when Roque headed just over the bar from a corner kick. It was to prove a tough final part of the game though as City tried everything to equalise and force extra time. Richards controlled a ball on eighty four minutes and then saw his overhead kick sail just wide of the goal.

As the clock ticked down though the game got stretched out more and more and the Reds had some chance to break on the counter but Matthewson wasn't called in to action at any time in the City goal. The City keeper actually got nearer the action in the final minute of stoppage time when he came up for a City corner. It was all to no avail though and as the final whistle went the Reds players and subs went mad and all raced to one another and also down to the end at which the Reds fans were standing.

This was a spectacular victory despite losing on the night as the Reds showed great character not to cave in under pressure. Jay Spearing did really well when he came on to help alter the balance of the Reds' midfield whilst Godwin Antwi was a rock at the back for the Reds.

This is only the second time the Reds have won this trophy and it was great to watch Stephen Darby follow in the foot steps of Phil Brazier and lift the trophy aloft.

© Andy Philip, Liverweb 2006

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