A look at the Academy's under 16 side - match report

Posted by liverweb on February 14, 2005, 03:43:14 PM

A few people have mentioned to me in the last week about the up and coming U16 side.  So I thought I'd go down to see what the fuss was about. 

Liverweb Academy Match Report

Liverpool 2 Stoke City 2

Liverpool : Roberts, Darby, Behan, Spearing (capt.), Threlfall, Ryan, Barnett, Cox (Mattone), Linfield, Pringle, Woodward

For me this was the first I had seen the U16 side this season. I've heard lots about them though including the fact they've only lost twice all season. Despite the U18 game being on the other pitch this definitely seemed the better choice of game. The U18 side simply don't look like a team.

So on the back pitches of the academy it was and it has to be said it was freezing and for a time through the game it was very wet. But then that's nothing unusual for the academy really. Walking up to the pitch the first thing that hit me was that we had a female official running the line which is rare. The three officials were wearing their all black strip but upon reaching the pitch had to borrow three training tops off the Reds so as not to clash with the very dark away shirt of Stoke. So the Ref was suddenly wearing a white Liverpool training top.

Stoke got the game underway kicking from right to left as I watched it. The Reds looked a decent side and from the off tried to get the ball down on the floor. Dave Shannon is a quality coach at this level and instills good discipline to the players. If only it continued after the players left this level - but that's a personal opinion.

The Reds were the dominant side in this one without looking superb. You could see the kids had talent but were having an off day. They lost last week to United and were feeling their way through this game at times. The first real chance fell on fourteen minutes but from a tight angle Jonathon Pringle hooked his shot just wide of the post. The Reds were forced into a change shortly afterwards as Cox went off with a shoulder injury. Mattone replaced him on the right wing.

The Reds hit the post halfway through the first half. Charlie Barnett picked the ball up in midfield and danced his way through the Stoke side. His shot beat the keeper but hit the foot of the post and went out for a goal kick. Linfield should have opened the scoring on twenty five minutes but his weak shot went straight to the keeper. Forty minutes had past and the ref called a halt to the first half which came as a slight surprise. I'd forgotten it was only forty each way at this level.

Time for a walk about to try and get warm again as the wind blew across the pitches. It didn't help and my hands were frozen throughout the match as well as wet. After the change round the Reds got the second half underway.

Dave Roberts was forced into a save two minutes into the half as Stoke tried to push forward. However the Reds were back in the ascendancy soon after. Barnett floated a free kick in on forty six but it was glanced just wide. The lead finally came and deservedly so ten minutes into the half. Jonathon Pringle dived to convert a right wing cross.

The Reds were oh so close to a two goal lead just four minutes later when Linfield got himself free of the offside trap. He lobbed the keeper from outside the box but his shot hot he base of the post and came out. Jimmy Ryan tried to follow up but got crowded out and despite wriggling free his cross was blocked.

The Reds did go two up though three minutes later. Linfield charged in on indecision in the Stoke back line. As he collided with defender and keeper the ball broke free and Pringle was in like any good striker should be to hook it home.

That should have been game over but two fluke moves from Stoke saw them peg the Reds back. The Reds eased off the game a little. The first came on sixty three minutes as the Stoke forward headed home a left wing cross. Their was some loose marking in the back line which allowed the header to go unchallenged.

With just four minutes to go Stoke were back on level terms but there was a huge element of luck. Stoke got a lucky break and the number 9 was sent through. Roberts charged out of his box but frankly got nowhere near the ball and he was easily lobbed from thirty yards and despite the best efforts of Darby the ball went in the net.

The Reds did try and rally late one to get the deserved win but the best opportunity was wasted in the final minute by Linfield. His shot went straight to the keeper and the game was brought to an end.

All in this was a good game to watch despite the Reds playing below par. A few of the parents said the game wasn't what they can produce and looking at a number of the players you can tell. Jimmy Ryan and Charlie Barnett run the central midfield very well. Jay Spearing is as loud as you want your captain to be and he partnered Robbie Threlfall at the back. Threlfall was another player like Barnett and Ryan who you can tell has played at the better level.

This is a decent side and I can only hope they continue to develop as they have so far. It's easy to see how the academy themselves have high hopes for this team.

© Andy Phillip 2005

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