Reserves: Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle

Posted by AdamS on February 14, 2005, 09:47:25 PM

I was expecting big things today. It was Valentine's Day after all and as Liverpool had named their strongest reserve side of the season I was hoping to have my heart warmed by a convincing victory. On the way to the ground I rang my sister (who works in a card shop) to see if Valentine's Day had been postponed as I hadn't received any cards. When she said it wasn't I should have known not to expect too much from the rest of the day.

In the end what was on the menu for the Valentine's Day special was a pretty disappointing one all draw. There were positives - the return of Kewell & Josemi and the continued recovery of Smicer who tonight played his first 90 minutes since his near year long injury. At the moment any positives are gratefully accepted by most Reds.

The game started very well for Liverpool. Smicer headed over the bar on two minutes after Kewell crossed from the left after his corner was deflected back to him. A few moments later and that combination was reversed when, after good work by Le Tallec, Smicer slipped Kewell through. Kewell drove hard and low as he was one on one with the keeper but the keeper got down very well and pushed the ball behind from a corner. This little spell of dominance prompted a classic from the lad behind me who said "We are making Newcastle reserves look positively normal!"

Liverpool were denied a penalty just before the quarter of an hour mark. Kewell and Smicer who had been linking up like two excited newly weds again combined well and when the ball was crossed Nunez rose but the ball was knocked off his head in a Chelsea stylee & again the result was no penalty.

Le Tallec found himself one on one against the keeper just a few moments later and although the angle was tight he will have been disappointed with his effort which he basically fluffed. That led to a corner which Newcastle comfortably cleared. Nunez was involved in the next Liverpool attack, skipped past a couple of players and his low cross was cleared for a Liverpool corner. Pellegrino flicked on at the near post as the ball was crossed, but this was cleared for yet another corner.

Newcastle finally joined the action as the game approached the twenty minute mark. They has a fluent break and Carson did very well diving to his right and pushing the ball around the post after Milner had made firm contact with a volley from about 10 yards out.

The pitch at The Racecourse is starting to cut up a bit now and this made for a bit of a scrappy affair with players quite regularly mis-controlling. And although Liverpool in particular were getting deep into the opposition's half there were seldom clear cut chances created.

Kewell continued to be heavily involved in the first half action. He was again slipped through by Smicer and just when it looked like he was going to shoot from 20 yards he cut back and the attack fizzled out. He was making an identical run a minute later and was put through this time by Potter, but the linesman adjudged Kewell offside. The linesman was late with decisions all night which is very frustrating for players and fans alike.

Newcastle nearly took the lead in first half injury time. It took some very good defensive covering from Welsh and a good save from Carson to deny them the goal.

At half time Josemi who was rarely involved was taken off and Raven came on as a straight replacement. Liverpool had the first dangerous attack of the half. Nunez jumped up after being fouled and slipped Welsh into the inside right channel with a quick freekick. Unfortunately Welsh delayed his cross too long and the ball was deflected out for The Reds 49th corner of the night!!

From this corner we did actually create something, although not directly. The ball was cleared to Potter who controlled it in towards Smicer, who twisted and shot and saw his effort hit the bar on it's way into the stand.

Five minutes later and we got a scene of emotion befitting the day of the lovers. Nunez turned very well and as he ran to put a cross in he was being pulled but clearly still had an advantage. The referee blew his whistle though which prompted Nunez to pick the ball up and goal kick it high into the night sky in a display of sincere displeasure. I thought he was going to cry and the crowd certainly laughed at him!

Le Tallec had a tame shot from twenty yards which bobbled up as it went to the keeper, but he managed to readjust and collect the ball. Harry Kewell went off to rapturous applause (if about 400 people can be rapturous) on the hour. Within a minute Liverpool were behind.

Milner was slipped through by Pellegrino with an inch perfect pass. Milner then cut inside Whitbread and slid his shot to the left of the advancing Carson and into the bottom corner. Pellegrino impressed me last week, but this week his distribution was as haphazard as my postman's must have been this morning, when (I don't know if I've mentioned it) I didn't get a single card.

Carson was forced to come out of the area and head clear with 15 minutes to go. His header went straight to a Newcastle midfielder who lobbed it back over his head but fortunately wide of goal.

Just as I was beginning to total up how bad my games to losses ratio is for both the ressies and the firsts over the last two seasons, Liverpool equalised. Le Tallec looking for the ball and dropping a bit deep looked up and saw Smicer at the far post. He clipped in a cross which Vlad took down on his chest - just as he was about to shoot a tackle came in which knocked the ball out to Partidge on the left. He crossed it back in where Le Tallec had advanced unmarked and he rose well to powerfully head home. He enjoyed the goal and celebrated slightly over dramatically considering the context. Still, it was nice to see in a sort of "calm yourself lad" way.

If anyone was going to win it from here it was Newcastle as Liverpool had seemed to lose structure. They created a few half chances and one moment of concern was when Carson came to catch a cross and got nowhere near (didn't I tell you we'd stop him catching crosses!).

On the whole, not a great performance. Kewell looked very good while he was on the pitch and so did Smicer. Warnock was solid and started very well. It's difficult to pick a Man of the Match, but I'll go for Potter. He has the unusual ability for a youngster to control the pace of the game at times. He's inconsistent at doing it, but when he does do it, he does it very well.

Team: Carson, Josemi (Raven 45), Warnock, Whitbread, Pellegrino, Potter, Nunez, Welsh, Le Tallec, Kewell (Partidge 60), Smicer

Unused subs: Luzi, Mannix, Ostemobor

© AdamS 2005

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