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Liverpool u18 1 Sheff Utd u18 1 (9 Apr 2005)

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LIVERPOOL U18 1 Sheffield United 1

Report by Dave Usher at the Academy



Scorer(s) - Karl Noon

Half Time - 0-1

Venue - The Academy

Date - Sat 9 Apr 2005

Star Man - Karl Noon








A battling display saw the reds u18's overcome the 1st half dismissal of James Frayne to come from a goal behind to claim a point in an eventful game at the Academy.


Frayne saw red for spitting at an opponent on the stroke of half time, and the reds ended the game with nine men after keeper Paul Willis was stretchered off with what looked like a serious injury. Despite these setbacks, John Owens' side were the better team throughout, although they now seem almost certain to finish the season at the foot of the table.


U16 defenders Jay Spearing and Robbie Threlfall were both included in the side, but James Smith was ruled out due to the broken ankle he sustained in training last week.


Liverpool started very well, with tricky right winger Adam Hamill very prominent in the opening exchanges. He created the game's first opening for Noon in the opening minute, when he linked up well with Spearing on the right, before delivering an excellent cross which Noon drove just over the bar.


A minute later Noon went close again, when he chested the ball down from a corner and sent an acrobatic overhead kick inches wide. Frayne saw a header saved after another good delivery from Hamill, as the reds dominated. Yet as has happened so often to them this season, they fell behind from the oppositions first real attack, which came on 25 minutes.


To be fair to the Blades it was an excellent finish from their number eight, but he was given too much space on the edge of the box. On the half hour the reds almost levelled, when a good ball from Barratt released Hamill once more, and his cross was headed just wide by Frayne.


Frayne had been having a running battle with the United left back, and had been lectured by the referee after a late challenge on him. Their lad wasn't an innocent victim in it all though, and was constantly tugging his shirt and nudging into him when he walked past. It came to a head just before the break, when the pair chased a ball towards the touchline.


I was only a matter of yards away and saw the whole thing clearly. The full back impeded Frayne as he went for the ball, and then grabbed him across the shoulder and pulled him back as went to retrieve the ball. It was fairly innoccuous, but it wound Frayne up and he spat at the lad. Not in his face, the lad was about five yards away and had his back to him. I'm not even sure if any of the spit hit him, and the lad didn't even know what had happened.


But the linesman was right there and saw the whole thing. He had no choice but to inform the referee, who produced a red card. It seems harsh in view of the fact that the spitting was more of a gesture than anything else, but it was a stupid thing to do nonetheless, and he can't really have any complaints. It's the second time recently Frayne has saw red, although the first occasion he was completely justified as he'd suffered racist abuse. This time he was just petulant.


A goal down, and a man down, it didn't bode well for the second half. Yet the ten men continued to play the better football and create the better chances. Noon did the work of two players in the absence of his strike partner, and he was superb after the break. His tireless running gave the visitors a lot of problems, and he was ably supported by Hamill and Barratt.


Nine minutes into the half Noon got his side back on level terms, when he timed his run perfectly to beat the offside trap and collect Hamill's through ball. With just the keeper to beat he held his nerve and finished in some style.


The reds continued to make the play, but struggled to create any clear cut opening. Wilkie came closest to winner but his shot was well saved by the United keeper. Hamill was a constant threat, and was regularly beating two or three players with his quick feet and direct running.


Eventually he, Noon and Wilkie were withdrawn as Owens opted to get fresh legs on for the final ten minutes or so. Conal Platt - who is one of the few u18 players who has been retained - replaced Wilkie on the left wing, whilst u16 stars Lee Woodward and Craig Lindfield were also introduced.


Platt's neet footwork and football brain immediately made an impact, but he ended the game wearing the goalkeeping gloves after Willis left the field on a stretcher after bravely saving at a strikers feet. It's difficult to say what the injury was, but the medical staff were very careful in the way they moved him, and it took about five minutes to get him on the stretcher. Hopefully it's nothing too serious.


The point isn't really much use to Owens' side, as going into this game they were six points behind Bolton, who are second from bottom. Bolton also have a game in hand, whilst the reds now only have two games remaining.


It seems likely that they'll finish bottom, which is unacceptable. Changes have to be made, but that's a discussion for another time. Today the lads deserve credit for the battling qualities they showed.


I gave Noon the star man, but it could just as easily have gone to Hamill. Spearing and Threlfall were also impressive at full back, and Spearing was responsible for the most amusing moment of the match just after Frayne was dismissed.


Some of the Sheffield lads parents were giving Frayne some stick, and one of them must have made a crack about scousers. I didn't hear the comment, I just heard little Jay having a go back: "What's wrong wi' scousers, eh? What's wrong wi' scousers?" It was a miserable, freezing cold, wet day, and I was soaked through, but that made me laugh.



Team: Willis; Spearing, O'Donnell, Hitchin, Threlfall; Hamill, (Woodward), Guthrie, Barratt, Wilkie (Platt); Frayne, Noon (Linfield):



Email me at dave@liverpoolway.co.uk


For exclusive photo's from this game click here

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