April has seen Finnish striker Lauri Dalla Valle bring his goalscoring tally to 19 goals this season to help the Academy under-18s reach the final of the FA Youth Cup, while Hungarian hot-shot Krisztian Nemeth netted the winner in the Liverpool Senior Cup final for the reserves on Monday night.
The Reserves’ season has came to a close on Thursday night after a magnificent 5-1 victory over Newcastle. The result means Gary Ablett’s side will not finish bottom of the Barclay’s Reserves Premier League North this season. Also in the last month, Conor Coady represented Liverpool as he helped England U16’s successfully defend their title as champions of the Montaigu Tournament, beating Germany in the Final in France.
The Liverpool Reserves started the month of April at the bottom of Barclays Premier Reserve North League and began with a 2-0 defeat to Sunderland at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington. Godwin Antwi returned to the starting line up after his loan spell at Hereford United but ended the night with an unfortunate own goal. Daniel Pacheco and Jay Spearing were best on the night for Liverpool in front of a frustrated crowd.
The following game saw the young Reds face Blackburn Rovers and were on the verge of a second successive defeat until Brazilian Vitor Flora stepped off the bench to strike a late equaliser for a 1-1 draw. Liverpool were without Jay Spearing and Stephen Darby for the game. Man of the Match for the Reds was Dean Bouzanis who pulled off a string of quality saves to keep the Reds’ hopes alive while Liverpool had chances with Nemeth and Pacecho going close. Blackburn took the lead on 55 minutes when Carlos Villanueva fired in a low shot from 25 yards. But with five minutes left Brazilian striker Flora equalised after being set up by fellow substitute, Dalla Valle.
Liverpool then entertained Bolton Wanderers to a seven goal thriller. Gerardo Bruna had an impressive game but it was Jay Spearing who grabbed all the headlines. Reserve manager Gary Ablett singled out Jay for special praise after the midfielder scored a hat-trick during the reserves 4-3 defeat. The 20-year-old midfielder gave an inspirational display with a superb first-half treble but it was not enough to move Ablett’s men off the foot of the Premier Reserve League North table, as the Trotters came from behind on three occasions before snatching a winner two minutes from time.
The following game saw the reserves move off the bottom of the Barclays Premier Reserve League North courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Hull City at North Ferriby United FC. Goals from Damien Plessis and Gerardo Bruna sealed the win after Jamie Devitt had given the home side a first-half lead from the penalty spot. Robbie Threlfall was handed a start at left-back for his first reserve appearance of the season following his loan spell with Hereford United. Plessis returned to the centre of midfield while Ryan Crowther and Gary Mackay-Steven were also drafted into the starting line-up. Mikel San Jose had an impressive man of the match display at the back. After the game Gary Ablett commented;
“We went 1-0 down, but Damien Plessis came to the fore for us. He doesn’t score many, but when he does they are vital ones. I thought Andras Simon was magnificent working the line for us. He worked his socks off and all he was missing was a goal. I also think Plessis gave a very good, controlled performance for us in midfield alongside Jay Spearing. Those two were exceptional in what was a very good team performance.’
The following game saw Krisztian Nemeth strike a late winner as Liverpool Reserves secured the Senior Cup with a narrow 1-0 win over Waterloo Dock. Nemeth scored his first goal of 2009 to win the trophy after a superb move involving Gerardo Bruna and Vincent Weijl. Liverpool County Premier League champions Waterloo Dock gave a very good account of themselves and were unlucky not to score on the night. After the game Gary Ablett commented
“We weren’t great but we won and scored a very good goal. It was a decent passing move and Krisztian finished it well. I was pleased for Krisztian as he was unfortunate not to score before then. He keeps getting in there and he got his reward. He’s missed so much football this season through injury, and just as he’s starting to look sharp again unfortunately the season is coming to an end.”
Argentine starlet Bruna also had an impressive game in a role just behind Nemeth and was at the heart of the Reds best moves in the second half. “I thought Gerardo did very well. We were worried before the game whether some of our lads would have been able to cope physically but he came to the fore second half and showed his true worth to us.”
In the final game of the season for the Reserves, the Reds finished with an impressive 5-1 win over Newcastle Reserves to ensure a seventh-place finish as the Reds brought the curtain down on their second and possibly final season at The Halliwell Jones Stadium. Goals from Mikel San Jose, David Ngog, Damien Plessis and a brace from substitute Daniel Pacheco made sure Gary Ablett’s men signed off a rollercoaster campaign in style.
After only 11 minutes, David Ngog’s rasping 20-yard drive was touched on to the post and over the byline by Newcastle keeper Soderberg, San Jose scored with a great header from the resultant corner. David Ngog then made it 2-0 firing a low shot into the far corner. Gerard Bruna rattled the post with a stinging free kick that swung around a four-man wall in the 20th minute and Ngog had a second goal ruled out for offside three minutes later. Damien Plessis then made it 3-0 while Daniel Pacheco scored a brace to make it 5-1 to the Reds. Highly-rated Nikola Saric also made his Reds bow with an impressive cameo.
The Under 18’s began April with a 2-1 victory over Stoke City at the Academy with goals from Lauri Dalla Valle and Nathan Eccleston sealing the win. Liverpool went ahead after 10 minutes when Eccleston and then Adam Pepper combined for Finnish striker Dalla Valle to fire home his 15th goal of the season. Just over 10 minutes later Liverpool were 2-0 ahead when Thomas Ince ‘“ back after representing England under-17s ‘“ set up Eccleston to fire low past Stoke keeper Dave Parton from 20 yards. Liverpool were rampant at that stage and Dalla Valle saw one effort hit the post. Chris Oldfield also had a very good game in goal for the Reds.
The U18’s then travelled to Birmingham City for their first leg of the FA Youth Cup Semi Finals and enjoyed a glorious 3-0 win. Finnish ace Lauri Dalla Valle enhanced his glowing reputation with two poacher’s goals, while David Amoo’s picture-book strike was the highlight of an exciting display. Once again, David Amoo took the man of the match award, Bouzanis had a commanding game in goal, while Irwin, Buchtmann, Ayala and Kennedy all looked steady at the back while Wisdom, Amoo, Pepper, Dalla Valle, Ince, Eccleston all impressed.
The following week seen the return leg with Lauri Dalla Valle hitting a superb double as Liverpool surged into the final of the FA Youth Cup with a 3-1 victory over Birmingham City at Anfield. The prolific Finn struck a goal in each half with Alex Kacaniklic also on target as Hugh McAuley’s men followed up their first-leg triumph at St Andrews to claim a comfortable 6-1 win on aggregate.
Liverpool now play Arsenal in a two legged FA Youth Cup Final. The first leg will take place at the Emirates Stadium on Friday, May 22, at 8pm, while the return game at Anfield is on Tuesday, May 26 at 7.45pm.
Meanwhile, Sky Sports reported Jack Metcalf has joined Wolves. Metcalf linked up with Premier League-bound Wolves earlier this month on trial after leaving Liverpool’s Academy. A host of clubs expressed an interest in signing Metcalf after he left Anfield, but Wolves have won the race for his signature.