Reds in Reserve: Liverpool 1 Sunderland 0

Posted by AdamS on September 17, 2004, 05:16:05 PM

Liverpool Reserves
Kirkland, Diao, Traore, Henchoz, Whitbread, Potter, Partridge, Welsh, Mellor, Sinama, Warnock

Sunderland Reserves
Ingham, Christensen, Dodds, Dickman, Collins, Clark, Thornton, Wanless, Teggart, Leadbitter, Ryan

After being in The Kop to witness our return to the Champions League a reserve game in Wrexham was always going to be a bit of a come down. Like Liverpool Reserves last "home" game this one was set against a backdrop of impending doom! There has been a bid made for £15m for The Racecourse & the chairman is proposing a groundshare (don't get me started) with Chester. The future of Wrexham FC is looking very bleak indeed. But on to the future of Liverpool Football Club ...

The fixture was 4th from bottom Liverpool against bottom team Sunderland. Sunderland had a very young team and I felt confident that a Liverpool team containing several 'names' would prove their league position to be a false one. Djimi Traore who was selected at left back, began the game very nervously. He gave the ball away on 2 minutes and it fell to Grant Leadbitter who's shot sailed over the bar.

The early minutes saw Steve Warnock (from the Champions League to the reserves in less than 24 hours) putting himself about in the usual manner but the game was scrappy early on. Richie Partridge showed the first bit of class as he flicked over his markers head and slotted a through ball which Sunderlands keeper had to be alive to collect. He skinned his man again 2 minutes later but his final ball this time lacked quality.

The Liverpool defence looked uncertain playing the offside trap & it was Henchoz of all people that was pushing the backline forward. Djimi Traore got forward in Liverpool's next move. After great work from Sinama and Warnock the ball fell to Djimi just inside the box, but he toe poked about 15 yards wide and 10 yards over.

Sinama was again involved in the 20th minute as he released Partridge, but his ball to Diao on the overlap was a little aspirational and Diao couldn't quite make it.

Sunderland were really condensing the game and space was at a premium. It needed someone to start using the space for Liverpool, but nobody was stepping forward, so the game continued to be a messy affair - especially wherever Traore was involved, he was having a shocker. He offered a terrible back header but Henchoz was there to tidy up.

On the half hour Liverpools best move led to Partridge crossing from in space on the right. He unfortunately put it right into the keepers hands. His final ball was disappointing all evening. Five minutes later and the most impressive player on the pitch Grant Leadbitter tried to lob Chris Kirkland from nearly forty yards, it was a great attempt, but Kirkland managed to stop the shot first attempt and gather the ball second. A couple of minutes later Kirkland was again involved as he dominated his area in claiming a dangerous Sunderland cross near the penalty spot.

John Welsh had Liverpool's best attempt on 40 minutes as he hit a brilliantly controlled left foot volley from 18 yards. It was one of those he hit too well as it went straight down the keeper's throat.

It was good to see Benitez signing all the kids programmes and shirts as he left the "director's box" (a partitioned part of the stand) at half time. On the whole, a scrappy first half - Sunderland's youthful zest but lack of experience seeing to that.

Early in the second half Sinama laid off well to Partridge, who again disappointed with his delivery. A couple of minutes later and Kirkland was called into action again. This time he did what many other keepers wouldn't have been able to, diving full length and tipping another shot from Leadbitter around the post - I'd go as far as to say it was a great save!!

Liverpool took the lead on 55 minutes. Lewis Dodds gave the ball away and it broke to Sinama who ran clear, jinked inside his man and unselfishly laid the ball off to Mellor - who had the kind of chance he doesn't miss and slotted home with aplomb!

On 63 minutes the lead could have been doubled. Sinama again involved as he ran clear, he beat his man with ease and approaching the goal from wide on the right he chipped the ball, but the keeper hadn't gone to ground and he held on with ease. Bigger gaps were beginning to appear on the pitch now as the Sunderland side tired.

That didn't stop them coming close again on 72 minutes. Yet another shot from Leadbitter was deflected & from the resultant corner the ball broke to Ryan, who struck the ball cleanly and hit the top of the bar.

Sinama went to ground after a challenge on the half way line. He looked for all the world as if he'd been shot - but it seems that the Cramp Gun was the weapon of choice. This saw the introduction of Robbie Foy & if he doesn't start the next reserve match I'd like to know why - he was far and away Liverpools best player when he came on. He was all over the pitch and always looking for the ball. A couple of minutes after his introduction he linked well with Partridge, the ball fell to Foy who struck well from 20 yards, with the keeper not moving the ball slid past the left hand upright.

As the game moved into stoppage time a cross fell between Liverpool defenders and to an unmarked Ryan. he might have had time to bring the ball down, but chose to stoop and headed it into the hands of Kirkland.

So three points for Liverpol. Sunderland can consider theirselves unlucky. On the bright side, the way Liverpool tried to play in the second half seemed to mirror what the first team are starting to do, moving the ball fast and having few touches. There is a long way to go, but I said the same about the first team after freezing half to death in the Reebok.

Man of the Match: Zak Whitbread Calm and collected, never did anything to really stand out, but didn't put a foot wrong all night and was there whenever he was needed.

© AdamS 2004

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