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Liverpool Res 1 Aston Villa Res 1 Aug 30 2000

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LIVERPOOL RES 1 Aston Villa Res 1

Report by Dave Usher at Anfield



Scorer(s) - Bernard Diomede

Half Time - 1-0

Venue - Anfield

Date - Thu 30 Aug 2000

Star Man - Jon Otsemobor









Liverpool's defence of their Premier Reserve League title got off to a stuttering start as they conceded a stoppage time equaliser to ten man Villa. The first team have developed an irritating habit recently whereby they are unable to hang onto a lead (Southampton, Benfica, Valerenga) and it appears that failing has transmitted itself through to the reserves.


At times, the reds played some great stuff, with Bernard Diomede extremely impressive on the left wing. Diomede's link up play with Mad Erik and Ian Armstrong was exceptional, as they regularly sliced through the Villa rearguard, only to then try and walk the ball in. Mad Erik was twice denied in the space of a couple of minutes by Enckleman in the Villa goal, although he should have done better, particularly on the first one.


Danny Murphy was also prominent, hitting the bar with a brilliant chip, and then striking the post following a great cut back from the dangerous Diomede. If Danny's luck was out then, he can considerate himself a little fortunate to have still been on the field, after a first half bust up with Ian Taylor produced only a yellow for both players. It was the correct decision by the ref, as it was no more than handbags really, but arms were raised and had it not been for Big Erik dragging Danny away by the scruff of his neck then who knows what would have happened. Thankfully, the ref used some common sense, a rare commodity amongst officials these days, but I couldn't help thinking to myself ñIt that had been little Tommo he wouldn't have been so lucky.î


Villa were in fact reduced to ten men late in the second half, when the centre half tripped the lively Armstrong when he had a clear run on goal. A red card was the only option, and the ref duly obliged. It looked like the game was going to end up goalless though, as chance after chance had been created and squandered, until finally Alan Navarro's forceful run into the area allowed him to look up and square it for the unmarked Diomede to drive it past the impressive Villa keeper. That goal came with about five minutes left, but remarkably, as the game went into stoppage time, Julian Joachim (who had otherwise been anonymous) eluded the attentions of three defenders in the box before rifling a shot past Arphexad.


To be fair it was a fine goal, but it harsh on a reds defence in which young debutant Jon Otsemobor was outstanding in an unaccustomed left back role. Last season, Otsemobor was playing for the under 17»s, but he made the step up to reserve level with ease and was my man of the match just ahead of Diomede. He's pacy, and defends well, and despite being a right footed centre half by trade, he had no trouble adapting to the left back berth and has a bright future ahead of him. Villa obviously felt he was a weak link, as Joachim spent most of his time on the right wing trying to get at the youngster, but he got no change out of him at all, as the young Academy star matched him for pace and refused to be beaten.


Another young academy star making his debut was Irish midfielder Michael Foley, who is regarded by many as the biggest talent we have in the youth ranks. He had a quiet game in midfield, but generally did most things well and the experience will have done him a lot of good.


Joe Corrigan will be furious that such a good performance failed to yield the maximum three points, but there are plenty of positives to be taken from this game. The defence looked solid, the midfield were very inventive (particularly Diomede) and Armstrong and Meijer combined well up front. Had this game been at Knowsley Road we'd have probably scored three or four, but the Anfield curse has struck the reserves again it would seem. Last year, goals were extremely rare for the reserves at Anfield, yet at the home of St Helens they hit at least three in every game. The sooner we can get back there the better!



TEAM: Pegguy Arphexad; Alan Navarro, Rigobert Song, Frode Kippe, Jon Otsemobor; John Miles, Danny Murphy, Michael Foley, Bernard Diomede; Ian Armstrong, Erik Meijer:

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