A scrappy encounter in the mini-derby ended 1-1 in what was a largely uneventful affair at Haig Avenue on Monday night.
EVERTON U21s 1-1 LIVERPOOL U21s
Monday, 14th April 2014
BEN TWELVES REPORTS
Jordan Lussey handed Liverpool the lead half way through the first period but Everton equalised with just five minutes from time with a goal from Ryan Ledson to prevent the Reds from securing top spot.
Liverpool remained unchanged from the team that produced an impressive 1-0 win away at Chelsea last Monday, despite speculation that Portuguese midfielder Joao Teixeira may not feature due to moving to first team duty covering for Jordan Henderson’s forthcoming suspension.
The game got off to a scrappy start on the bobbly surface at Haig Avenue, with both sides struggling to have any sustained spell of possession and create any goal scoring opportunities.
With six minutes on the clock there was a horrible collision involving goalkeeper Ryan Fulton and Everton striker Chris Long, which saw the Blues’ striker having to be replaced after an unpredictable bounce saw both players clash as they raced onto the loose ball.
After five minutes passed, the game continued and Liverpool increased the tempo forcing two corners, the latter which was only half cleared to Jordan Rossiter on the edge of the box but he fired high and wide. Kristoffer Peterson was next to try his luck moments later, after quick feet from the Swede created space for a shot which lacked power and trickled out for a goal kick.
It was a tight game and both sides struggled to find the space to open up either defence, restricting both teams to long shots predominantly. Jordan Williams tried his luck from 20 yards but his low drive was straight at Everton keeper, Taudul.
With 20 minutes gone, Liverpool produced the first meaningful attempt of the game. A strong run down the right from Connor Randall was followed by a good pass to Jack Dunn, who sent a curling effort towards the far corner but Taudul produced a good save, holding onto the ball.
After a slow start to the mini-derby, Liverpool took the lead on 25 minutes through Jordan Lussey. Joao Teixeira picked the ball up out on the left and delivered a teasing cross which saw Lussey flick the ball over the onrushing Taudul with a glancing header.
Everton then registered their first effort on goal after an excellent move which started in their own right back area produced the opportunity for Joe Williams to shoot, but his effort flew over the bar from 25 yards. A minute later, Teixeira came close to doubling Liverpool’s lead on the half hour mark but his low strike produced an excellent save from Toudal, who pushed the ball away and Everton cleared.
The home side had a good chance to draw level before the break, after a good cross from the left by George Green found substitute Courtney Duffus but he couldn’t keep his header down. Down the other end the Reds almost made it 2-0 when an excellent move from a free-kick released Brad Smith down the left and his low cross found Rossiter, but the young midfielders’ left foot curler flew narrowly wide of the near post.
In first half stoppage time, a sloppy pass from Rafa Paez handed Duffus the ball but the powerful striker fired wide of Fulton’s goal after a strong run. It proved to be the last effort of the first half which saw Liverpool head into the break with a 1-0 lead.
The second half got off to a slow start much like the first, as the poor pitch at Southport continued to make life difficult for two sides that wanted to play with the ball on the floor.
There was a rare moment of action ten minutes into the second period after Brad Smith fouled Everton’s Joe Williams and from the resulting free kick Magaye Gueye sent in a teasing free kick which flashed dangerously across the Reds’ goal with no one getting on the end of it.
Two minutes later, Everton had loud shouts for a penalty turned down by the referee after Duffus went down in the box under a challenge from Smith. The home side began to grow into the game and started to put Liverpool under pressure but the final ball deserted Alan Stubbs’ side on a number of occasions.
As the 70 minute mark approached Liverpool had a rare second half attack as Rossiter nicked the ball in the Everton half and burst forward before releasing Dunn, who’s right foot shot was blocked for a corner. Lussey took the corner which was rolled short towards the edge of the box where Rossiter was waiting, but his curling strike looped over Toudal’s far post.
With just over 15 minutes remaining, Blues boss Stubbs shuffled his pack, changing to a three at the back in an attempt to rescue something from the game, replacing wide-man Green with central defender Curtis Langton. And the tactical change almost paid off two minutes later but both Gueye and Duffus somehow failed to connect with two dangerous crosses delivered from either side just seconds after one another.
But Everton were finally rewarded for their second half persistence as they equalised with only five minutes of normal time remaining. A ball deep into the Reds’ box was met by Ryan Ledson and his header trickled over the line and into the right hand corner of Fulton’s net to draw the home side level.
The home side pushed for a dramatic late winner and Ibou Touray had a glorious chance to win it, but he fired wide on the volley and a goal wouldn’t have stood anyway as the linesman raised his flag for offside.
The Blues continued to push for an injury time winner but the Liverpool youngsters held firm to claim a point and remain at the top of the under 21 league table.
Team: Fulton: Randall, Jones, Paez, Smith, Williams, Rossitter, Teixeira, Peterson, Lussey, Dunn.
Goals: Lussey 25, Ledson 85.