Reds in Reserve: Liverpool 1 Blackburn 1

Posted by Rushian on February 25, 2004, 02:30:58 AM

Liverweb Reserves Match Report: Liverpool 1 - 1 Blackburn

Liverpool: Luzi, Vaughan, Raven, Medjani, Traore(capt.), Wright, Foy, Flynn, Smyth, Pongolle, Diouf

Subs Used: Gillespie for Pongolle 49, Wilkie for Foy 81
Subs Unused: Willis, Guthrie, Massie
Att: 643

Liverpool grabbed a share of the points at home to Blackburn and all but conceded the championship as a result. The goals came inside the first fifteen minutes with the visitor's opening the scoring. The game was very much one of two halves though as it was enjoyable to watch in the first and cold and dull in the second. The biggest problem from the game came for the Reds in that they lost Sinama-Pongolle to an ankle injury just three minutes in to the second half.

The game got underway at Chester with the Reds giving match practice to El Hadji Diouf and extra play for Sinama Pongolle. Diouf had a good shot on two minutes but could only direct it straight at Blackburn keeper Enckelman. The Reds found themselves a goal down on three and half minutes when Jemal Johnson capitalised on a poor back pass from Andy Wright. Johnson reacted extremely quick and slotted home before Luzi could do anything.

The Reds went really close to an equaliser on nine minutes when mark Smyth had a back post header but it was cleared for a corner. El Hadji Diouf who had started the game well then really should have scored on ten minutes when he dodged around the keeper and from two yards hit a shot on goal only to see it blocked by the last defender.

The equaliser did come through on fifteen minutes through Mark Smyth. Pongolle played a neat one two on the edge of the area with Diouf and his return sent him in to the area where he squared the ball for Smyth to tap home. The Reds came close through Smyth again to taking the lead midway through the half when a chipped ball through from Wright sent the winger clear but his shot from a tight angle was straight at the keeper.

A minute later and Blackburn winger, Watt played a ball across. It was meant as a shot but his skewed ball actually nearly embarrassed Luzi as it went over his head and clipped the bar before going out. Luzi was called into action again on twenty seven minutes as Johnson hit a snap shot from twenty five yards out. His shot had Luzi scrambling across his goal at full stretch. The keeper managed to get finger tips on the ball and collected it at the second attempt.

Djimi Traore who was playing left back in the game although rarely in that position got forward well on thirty eight minutes and sent in a superb curling shot on goal but he saw it fly just over the bar. Harkins then picked up a booking with four minutes of the half left as he went in hard and late on Andy Wright. The challenge sent the Reds midfielder spinning to the floor and the referee to his notebook.

The half still had time for another chance from the lively Pongolle but his shot from twelve yards was no trouble for Enckelman. With the two added minutes of play gone the referee blew for half time. No changes were made at half time for either side.

Florent Sinama Pongolle lasted only two minutes of the second half as he was badly injured in a ruthless challenge by Martin Taylor. Pongolle picked the ball up on the right wing only to be clattered round the ankle by Taylor which sent the French youngster screaming to the floor. The card could have been Red in fairness but the referee adjudged only a yellow card offence. After some treatment Dave Galley and Mark Waller carried Pongolle off the pitch and down the tunnel. With no instant change made the Reds took the free kick. They got the ball in the net from Diouf but his goal was adjudged from being in an offside position.

Patrice Luzi managed to clear the ball over the far stand on forty nine minutes which gave the Reds time to bring on Ste Gillespie for the already departed Pongolle. Djimi Traore went on another superb run on fifty three minutes before freeing Smyth on the left side. His cross looked destined for Diouf until Taylor got his head in the way to clear the danger.

Matt Jansen should have scored a minute later when he was given a free header on goal from a right wing cross. However his header was weak and Luzi saved the ball with ease. Two minutes later and a snap shot from the impressive Jemal Johnson in the inside right position forced Luzi into another save. The second half was rather poor in contrast to the passing and movement of the first and very little of note happened in fairness.

In fact the only other noteworthy chance of the game fell once again to Mark Smyth but he shot straight at the keeper after Diouf had held the ball up well on seventy two minutes. A minute later and Djimi Traore saw yellow for what can only be described as a Djimi tackle. He just got a rush of blood and threw his legs in.

The Reds made a switch with nine minutes to go when Ryan Wilkie replaced Robbie Foy but the change didn't alter the Reds' play with Blackburn finishing the stronger side. The Reds did have a chance very late on when the impressive Medjani strode forward at pace before passing to Smyth but the chance was blocked out. After three extra minutes of stoppage time the game ended in a deserved draw.

Overall the first half was good to watch and the second definitely not good to watch as the temperature dropped at Chester. The game rightly finished equal but the biggest drawback for the Reds will be the injury to Pongolle which is likely to keep him out for a week or two. Notable in the game was the decent partnership between French and England captains Raven and Medjani. Both played well together which can only be good for the club as a whole.

MotM: Carl Medjani - continued his improvement since arriving at he club with a commanding performance at the back. He read the game very well and even had a couple of good runs forward. He was pushed close by Andy Wright as well who despite the goal had an excellent game in his natural central midfield position.

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© Andy Philip, Liverweb 2004

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