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Liverpool Res 3 Everton Res 1 (Apr 30 2007)

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LIVERPOOL RES 3 Everton Res 1

Report by Dave Usher at the Racecourse Ground

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Scorer(s) Paul Anderson, Nabil El Zhar, Craig Lindfield

Half Time – 2-0

Venue – Racecourse Ground, Wrexham

Date - Mon 30 Apr 2007

Star Man – Paul Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Liverpool fans are looking for good omens ahead of tonight’s semi final, the sight of Harry Kewell on the comeback trail and hoping to be fit for his annual cup final appearance is a pretty good one. The Aussie hasn’t kicked a ball all season, but his sense of timing is usually perfect when it comes to regaining fitness. He can smell cup finals, so fingers crossed he’ll have the chance to limp out of another one in a few weeks.

 

 

Harry came off the bench ten minutes into the second half of a game that the reds were completely bossing, and he wasted no time making an impression, creating a goal for Lindfield with a dazzling run and cutback from the byline. He looked slimmer than he has for years, and seemed to have a yard of pace that’s been missing since his injury problems started. It’s still early days, but it’s actually good to see him back, as love him or loathe him, he’s better than anything else we have on the left wing.

 

This was the reds’ final reserve game of the season, and they bowed out in style by avenging the 2-1 defeat they suffered at the hands of the blues in a stormy meeting between the sides earlier in the season. The first half performance was excellent, and Everton will have been relieved to go in at the break trailing by just two goals.

 

Gary Ablett’s side settled into their stride quickly, and Lindfield and El Zhar looked to have too much quality for a young Everton backline. The reds front two were linking up well together, and with Paul Anderson his recent good form the blues had their hands full.

 

Charlie Barnett was handed his first reserve start in something like 18 months, and he slotted in well alongside Jay Spearing in the middle of midfield. Those two bossed the middle of the park, and the reds were controlling this game from the start.

 

Lindfield had the first opportunity on nine minutes following a good cross by Darby, but he failed to connect properly with his header. Everton approached the game in their typically robust manner, and their number seven was booked for a shocking lunge at Insua. The Argentine did well to ride the challenge or it could have been very bad, and to his credit he got straight up and got on with the game.

 

El Zhar should have opened the scoring after 18 minutes, when he did well to control and turn on a cross by Anderson but his shot was straight at the keeper who saved with his feet. The blues were struggling, and a minute later they were behind. Anderson capitalised on hesitancy in the Everton midfield and intercepted a pass before bursting through the centre and sliding the ball past the keeper into the net.

 

A few months ago he wouldn’t have been able to do that, but Anderson’s confidence has been growing by the week, and he’s flying again now. It’s great to see him back on form, and the season is ending at the wrong time for him. He’s a lot more positive in everything he’s doing now, and I’d like to see him feature in our of our remaining Premiership games.

 

Everton could have pulled a goal back very quickly, after Spencer took advantage of some sloppy play from Insua but couldn’t keep his shot down. It proved costly, as Liverpool immediately went up the other end and made it 2-0 in comical circumstances.

 

Lindfield tried to release El Zhar through the centre, but blues defender Dennehy got there first. He was challenged by El Zhar as he tried to clear, and the ball flew into the top corner of the net from 18 yards. I’m not sure whether the reds’ forward even got a touch on it, but he seemed to claim it and surely the defender would have directed his clearance a bit better? So unless Andy Gray and his stupid panel decide otherwise, El Zhar will get the credit.

 

The reds were really turning it on now, and two minutes later Lindfield sent a brilliant dipping 35 yarder over the head of the keeper for what looked a certain goal, but the ball dropped just the wrong side of the post. A minute after that Insua swung over a brilliant cross that was just too high for Lindfield, but was met by a flying header from El Zhar. Again, a goal looked certain but the ball went inches wide of the far post.

 

The blues were hanging on for half time, and they were having a lot of trouble dealing with El Zhar and Anderson in particular. Six minutes before the break, the blues were enjoying a rare sortie into the Liverpool half and had forced a corner. The ball was cleared to the edge of the box, where Anderson lobbed the ball over an Everton player’s head and headed off up the field. He knocked the ball thirty yards into space down the right wing and set off after it with blistering pace.

 

A defender came across but Anderson got there first and headed towards the byline. After carrying the ball a good 70yards or so he still had the energy to produce a great cross towards El Zhar, but the keeper just managed to get a touch on the ball to prevent the Morroccan claiming his second of the game. Brilliant stuff from ‘Ando’ though.

 

Not so brilliant was his finish in first half stoppage time. Threlfall delivered a great ball from the left to the back post, and the winger brought the ball down on his chest, steadied himself, and with the goal at his mercy he fired his shot over the bar from 12 yards.

 

Everton made two changes at the break as they tried to stem the red tide, but Anderson continued to give them a hard time. Six minutes after the break another direct run saw him make his way into the area and get a shot in, but this time the ball nestled into the side netting.

 

Ablett then made his first change, withdrawing Ronald Huth – who had played well – and sending on Kewell. That meant Threlfall switching from the left wing to centre half, the position he filled with such aplomb in the youth cup success.

 

Kewell was roundly booed by the sizeable Everton contingent in the crowd (Evertonians outnumbering Liverpool fans in Wales, now there’s a shock) as he took the field, and they continued to boo his every touch. It took just six minutes for them to be silenced however. It was funny listening to it. Spearing plaed a nice little one two in the middle of the park before sweeping the ball out to Kewell just outside the box – boooooo – he leaves the full back on his arse and heads into the area – boooooo – goes round another defender – boo .. .uh oh – and another as he reaches the byline and cuts the ball back to Lindfield who makes it 3-0 with a simple finish – silence from them, cheers from us.

 

Shortly afterwards, Ablett replaced Lindfield with Jordy Brouwer, and Liverpool seemed to take their foot off the gas. Whether that had anything to do with the substitution or not I’m not sure, but the Dutch striker is yet to show anything since he came to the club and needs to improve a hell of a lot next season. He made the same amount of impact in this game as he has in the others he’s appeared in, minimal.

 

When Lindfield went off, Liverpool only created one more opening, when Kewell got down the left and picked Anderson out on the far post. His first time volley was well struck, but the blues keeper made a smart save.

 

As Liverpool eased off, Everton began to rally and enjoyed much more of the ball than they had. In Jack Hobbs though they were up against a young man in excellent form. Jack was flawless once again, and had he not missed a large chunk of the season through injury he’d be my reserve team player of the year. Whenever he’s played at the back he’s been brilliant, and he has every right to feel disappointed that Paletta is the one on the fringe of the first team, as Jack has shown much more in reserve games than the Big Argentinian.

 

Everton hit the bar through an over-hit right wing cross that sailed over Dave Roberts’ head, and had four or five penalty appeals, only one of which looked even remotely like it could have been a foul. Eventually they got the consolation goal that they probably deserved when Agard ran onto a through ball and finished well. There may have been an element of offside about it, but the reds defence didn’t appeal too strongly.

 

The second half performance was somewhat disappointing given how well the first half had gone, but overall this was a nice way to end the season. Ablett got off to a bad start, losing his first four games, but the longer he has had to work with the squad the more their results – and performances – have improved.

 

Interestingly, some of the better performances have come since some of the more established reserve players went out on loan. Ablett lost the services of Smith, Hammill, Guthrie, Martin, Antwi, Idrizaj and Roque (as well as the injured Duran), but the squad has coped extremely well.

 

Picking a star man in this game wasn’t easy, as El Zhar, Anderson and Hobbs all stood out for me. I was going to go for Hobbs, as he was really commanding again, but seeing as how we were on top for so long in this game giving it to a defender didn’t seem right. El Zhar was consistently good for the entire game and maybe deserves it the most, but Anderson posed the biggest goal threat all game, and even though he flitted in and out I think I’m going to give it to him because with a bit more luck he could have had three or four goals. So ‘Ando’ shades it from El Zhar and Hobbs.

 

For exclusive photo's from this game, click here

 

 

Liverpool: Roberts; Darby, Hobbs, Huth (Kewell); Insua; Anderson, Barnett (Ryan) Spearing, Threlfall; Lindfield (Brouwer), El Zhar:

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