TBT sent Joe Watson to The Hawthorns stadium to watch the so far successful Liverpool U21s face a strong West Brom side.
Joe was lucky enough to watch a goal-fest, although not see the outcome he would have wanted.
Alex Inglethorpe’s young Reds marched into The Hawthorns full of confidence after a convincing 5-0 victory over Tottenham, but ultimately fell short against a pacy, resilient West Bromwich Albion side. Despite creating chances and generally dominating possession in the second half, a poor defensive first half showing gave Liverpool too much to do, and they eventually fell to a 4-2 defeat.
West Brom began the game as the better side with George Thorne causing all sorts of problems with his tenacious play and range of passing. They created the first chance of the game and were unlucky as Graeme Dorrans shot zipped over. However, Joao Teixeira was a bright spark for the away side and he gave Liverpool the lead with a 20 yard effort which somehow evaded Luke Daniels’ grasp and crept into the far corner. This stung the home side into action and soon afterwards the equaliser came. George Thorne received possession in a seemingly unthreatening position but the pass he lofted through to Matej Vydra was excellent. Despite this, goalkeeper Dan Ward should have dealt comfortably with the danger, instead hesitating and then retreating to his goalmouth before coming back out. This allowed Vydra to round him easily and roll the ball into the empty net. Liverpool were unable to rally themselves due to the host’s pressure, with Vydra hitting the post. It wasn’t long until the pressure told, and when Adam Morgan carelessly lost possession in his own area the ball was laid into the path of Thorne to hammer home, leaving Ward with no chance. Things soon went from bad to worse for Liverpool, when Craig Roddan and Brad Smith played themselves into danger and lost the ball, Vydra’s shot was well blocked and fell into the path of Kemar Roofe, who finished emphatically.
George Thorne was running the game from the midfield alongside Graeme Dorrans but was substituted towards the end of the first half, which was surely down to injury. His replacement, Alex Jones didn’t do anything particularly wrong but wasn’t as influential, and Liverpool gradually began to impose themselves. Their attacking told when Ryan McLaughlin cleverly turned and was brought down out wide, just outside of the penalty area. Craig Roddan’s delivery was inviting, and Cameron Brannagan got the final touch to beat Daniels. The final stages of the first half were end to end, with Dorrans twice going close for West Brom. Then, on the stroke of half time, Liverpool squandered a golden chance to equalise. The impressive Jordon Ibe broke free down the left and cut in, before feeding Michael Ngoo with a perfectly timed ball. Ngoo took the ball in his stride well, but the big striker couldn’t find the corner with his curling effort.
Whatever Alex Inglethorpe had to say at half time, it worked. Liverpool dominated the opening stages of the second half, with first Lloyd Jones and then Michael Ngoo coming close from corners, and Adam Morgan fired in a free kick which Luke Daniels did well to get a fingertip to. Joao Teixeira’s influence on the game was increasing, and he teed up Brannagan for an effort which was well saved, before forcing a save himself. Samed Yesil replaced Michael Ngoo just after the hour mark, and it was pleasing to see him back in action after a long injury lay off. However, with just 5 minutes left, Lloyd Jones felled Morgan Ferrier in the penalty area, and the referee rightly pointed to the spot. The impressive Roofe coolly converted, sending Ward the wrong way. This goal took the wind out of Liverpool’s sails, and the game petered out in a flurry of misplaced passes and hopeful yet wayward shots.
As a whole, the Liverpool management can take some positives out of the game. Inglethorpe has stated in the past that players developing into potential first team competitor is more important than success and glory at this level, which is true. Liverpool had no real senior level experience out on the pitch, whereas their opponents had former first team regulars Zoltan Gera and Graeme Dorrans on the pitch, as well as Matej Vydra who had a tremendous season in the Championship last year with Watford. Joao Teixeira and Jordon Ibe in particular stood out for the away side, who may feel disappointed with the result but can look to the future with positive thoughts.