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Liverpool Res 4 West Brom Res 1 (Sep 30 2004)

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LIVERPOOL RES 4 West Brom Res 1

Report by Dave Usher at the Racecourse Ground

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Scorer(s) - Darren Potter, Neil Mellor (2), Robbie Foy

Half Time - 0-0

Venue - The Racecourse Ground

Date - Thur 30 Sep 2004

Star Man - Darren Potter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three goals in the final ten minutes enabled Hughie McAuley's reserve side to notch up only their second win of the season, as West Brom were swept aside by an excellent display of attacking football.

 

Neil Mellor found the net twice, with man of the match Darren Potter and the impressive Robbie Foy also getting on the scoresheet, as McAuley's men produced easily their best display of the season so far.

 

The reds included Chris Kirkland and Florent Sinama-Pongolle from the squad which had travelled to Greece for the Champiosn League defeat to Olympiakos, whilst the out of favour Stephane Henchoz also started.

 

Liverpool got into their stride quickly, with Potter spraying the ball about Alonso style in the centre of the park, and Foy looking lively on the left wing against former Alaves full back Cosmin Contra.

 

The last time he faced the reds was in the 2001 UEFA Cup final when he gave Jamie Carragher and Danny Murphy all kinds of problems. It's a measure of how far his stock has fallen that he's now unable to get a game for West Bromwich Albion, and was struggling to cope with an 18 year old Scottish rookie.

 

Contra's most meaningful contribution to the first half was a long running verbal battle with Pongolle.

 

On one occasion when Flo had skinned Contra down the touchline, only to then be crudely chopped down by ex manc Ronnie Wallwork, the young French striker got up and taunted the Romanian.

 

Contra had said something to him whilst he was on the floor, and when Flo got up he made a gesture which I interpreted as a dig at Contra's lack of physical conditioning. I could be wrong, but it looked like he was indicating that Contra couldn't run, and that he had big tits!

 

But my French body language interpretation may not be the best, and it's possible that it meant something completely different. Contra has put on a few pounds since his Alaves days though, that's for sure.

 

Foy had almost given Liverpool the lead in the tenth minute, when he chested down Partridge's deep cross and lashed a left foot shot against the angle of post and bar.

 

Soon after Kirkland was called into action when his defence failed to deal with a right wing cross, and Elvins found himself with time and space to get a shot in. The big keeper spread himself well though and made a good block.

 

Liverpool dominated possession, and Potter and the rejuvinated John Welsh bossed the game from the middle of midfield. Welsh has had a very disappointing start to the season, and by his own admission let his head go down after he was omitted from the senior squad's tour to North America.

 

But he played well at Birmingham last week, and against the Baggies he was a lot more like his old self. Rafa Benitez has yet to see what Welsh is capable of, but no doubt he'll have received good reports from his coaching staff after this performance.

 

Mind you, the reports on most of the players will be good, as it was an excellent all round display. How the scoreline was goalless at half time is a mystery, as Liverpool could easily have been four or five goals to the good.

 

Neil Mellor had three clear headed opportunities, but directed each one narrowly wide. Sinama-Pongolle did likewise from an excellent centre by left back Zak Whitbread.

 

The service from the flanks was very good, with Partridge and Whitbread supplying a steady stream of crosses into the box.

 

Welsh and Potter were linking the play extremely well, and moving the ball so quickly, that it was easy for the wide players to get into positions to deliver the ball. That's one of the mian things which has been lacking in the reserves' play this season.

 

They haven't been able to move the ball around at a quick enough pace. It's been similar with the first team, certainly in away games. Benitez is trying to incorporate a quicker passing style, and wants all of the clubs teams - be it first team or under 18's - to play this way.

 

Against West Brom the reserves looked like they may finally be getting to grips with it. |But one swallow doesn't make a summer and all that, and they'll need to repeat this kind of performance regularly if they are to please Senor Benitez.

 

For all Liverpool's dominance, it was the Baggies who took the lead very much against the run of play early in the second half. Substitute Chambers - on at half time for the ineffective Inamaoto - surged through the middle before playing in Elvins who beat Kirkland with a fine low shot into the far corner.

 

Liverpool then laid siege to the visitors' goal. Sinama-Pongolle should have levelled the scores when Mellor did well to square the ball to him, but the young Frenchman's snapshot went straight at the Albion keeper.

 

Foy then forced the keeper into action again, when he struck a low shot from 18 yards after cutting across the penalty area from the left wing.

 

The keeper could do nothing about Darren Potter's thunderbolt shortly afterwards though. The Irish u21 midfielder got forward and met Sinama-Pongolle's cutback with the sweetest of strikes from 14 yards which almost burst the net as it nestled in the top corner.

 

The reds continued to press, but had to wait until ten minutes from time to take the lead, but the goal was well worth the wait.

 

Foy swung over a deep corner from the left, which went over everyone's head except for Mellor, who had anticipated the defender missing it and had peeled away to the back post.

 

He met it with a stunning volley sending the ball back where it came from into the far top corner. Not quite Marco Van Basten in the European Championship final of 1988, but a pretty good imitation!

 

Foy then added a third when he challenged for a cross from Partridge, and got a lucky bounce before producing a beautiful right foot shot into the roof of the net from about 12 yards out.

 

The young Scot then turned provider in the last minute, sending Mellor clear on goal to claim his second of the night and third of the season. It was Mellor's 13th goal in his last nine games. Not bad considering he's been in a bit of a drought recently!

 

They may have left it somewhat late, but this was a well deserved win and had Mellor not taken until the second half to rediscover his scoring touch, the game would have been out of sight by half time.

 

There were good performances all over the park. At the back, David Raven was his reliable, unruffled self, Whitbread played well on the other flank and got forward to good effect, whilst young Danny O'Donnell produced his best reserve team performance to date at the heart of the backline alongside Henchoz.

 

Welsh and Potter excelled in midfield, whilst Foy was another who enjoyed perhaps his finest second string outing so far on the left wing.

 

Up front, Flo worked hard and showed some nice touches without really looking likely to get on the scoresheet too often. His footballing ability is undoubted, but for some reason he seems to be les and less of a goal threat each time I see him. He's perhaps one of those players who looks better at a higher level.

 

Mellor on the other hand, was a constant danger, and simply got better and better as the game wore on. His fitness seems to be there now, but he needed a goal or two to kick start him and this game may be a turning point in his season.

 

With the league cup due to start soon, the likes of Flo, Mellor, Welsh, Potter and even Whitbread and Raven could be given a chance to show Rafa what they can do.

 

They did their chances of a call up no harm in this game. Now let's see if they can produce a repeat performance away at Newcastle next week.

 

 

 

Team: Chris Kirkland; David Raven, Stephane Henchoz, Danny O'Donnell, Zak Whitbread; Richie Partridge, John Welsh (David Mannix), Darren Potter, Robbie Foy; Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Neil Mellor:

 

 

Agree or Disagree? Email me at dave@liverpoolway.co.uk

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