The Reserves: Liverpool 2 Middlesbrough 1

Posted by AdamS on February 2, 2005, 09:30:33 PM

There was another disappointing attendance of about 120 at The Racecourse tonight for the visit of Middlesbrough Reserves. As I have been struck by man-flu in recent days I wasn't in the mood to take many details tonight, so really the fact that the game was pretty uneventful was a happy coincidence. Liverpool were the deserved winners, taking a 2-1 victory in a strangely low-key game.

Early on Liverpool forced the pace and created the first chance of the match when Le Tallec connected to a Foy corner on three minutes. Unfortunately he could only flick the ball wide. Foy was again in the action five minutes later when he was worked into a shooting opportunity about ten yards out he shot through two players and the keeper did well to position himself so he saw it all the way and saved easily in the end.

Nunez got involved in the fifteenth minute. He skinned two players on the right wing and swung in what looked like a good cross. Unfortunately it was slightly too close to the keeper who claimed comfortably.

Ten minutes later and Nunez was involved in one of those bizarre incidents you don't see too often. The keeper came charging off his line to the left back area (I mean right in the corner), but Nunez beat him to it, he flicked it over the keepers head but the keeper stopped it with his hand. The whistle blew and everyone was waiting to see if he might get sent off Pellegrino started charging up the pitch, the free kick was taken quickly but four defenders muscled Pelly out of it and Middlesborough cleared! What was bizarre about it was that the keeper was still outside the box at this stage.

On the half hour mark Liverpool took the lead. Le Tallec again managed to connect to a corner and as it fell to Whitbread he smashed it in off the underside of the crossbar. Totally uncoincidentally it was then that a guy I sit near to at the game noticed that the ref looked like the only gay in the village.

There were no great chances for the rest of the first half. Carson had a tame header to catch and Welsh had a snapshot from a wide angle saved, but no serious alarm bells for either team.

During the half time interval Vlad and Otsemobor were getting warmed up to come on and Nunez and Pellegrino warming down. It was worth noting that when the second half started Nunez disappeared off down the tunnel, but Pellegrino who had been outstanding in the first half stayed warming down, watching the game and signing autographs for another fifteen minutes.

Two minutes into the second half and Vlad and Otsemobor exchanged passes in a neat one-two which saw Otsemobor run clear of the Middlesborough defence, he slid in a ball that reached the back post where the ever ready Foy drilled home! 2-0.

Vlad had a very good first ten minutes to the second half. His touch seemed okay and he nearly created a great chance for Potter but either Potter got in front of the ball or the ball was behind him meaning the header was weak and the keeper caught it without difficulty.

There was no rhythm or fluidity to the second half after the first salvos. It was very scrappy and neither side did anything to really threaten the opposition's goal again until the 77th minute when Whitbread seemed to be caught napping - he let their number nine through clear on goal, but Carson was quick off his line and blocked at his feet. Carson showed agility to claim the resultant corner too.

A few minutes later and Middlesbrough produced their second shot on target. This time Carson could do nothing as a low cross from the right was met by Jason Kennedy to stab home.

Liverpool could have hit back twice within the minute as first Le Tallec was put through but shot straight at the keeper and then Smicer found himself on the end of a bouncing ball, he flicked it over the keeper's head, but was unlucky to clear the cross bar too.

And that was that basically. It was a strange non-event in many ways. In summary I'd say Carson looked very sound again, although his kicking was a bit wayward on occasion tonight. Le Tallec looked like a player unhappy with his game. Like he knows he is capable of so much more and at the moment he just doesn't know what's going wrong - I'm sure it will change for him but he needs to knuckle down.

Man of the Match: Pellegrino He only played one half but was absolutely head and shoulders above anything else on the pitch. very calm and assured and read the game immaculately.

Liverpool team:
Scott Carson
David Raven
Stephen Warnock
Zak Whitbread
Mauricio Pellegrino (45, Jon Otsemobor)
Darren Potter
Antonio Nunez (45, Vladimir Smicer)
John Welsh
Anthony Le Tallec
David Mannix (64, Richie Partridge)
Robbie Foy

Unused Subs:

Patrice Luzi
Daniel O'Donnell

© Adam S 2005

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