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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Liverpool's senior side may not picked up any silverware this year, but on Wednesday night at Anfield, Gary Ablett's reserve team were on hand to show them how it's done. Having won their regional divisional with room to spare, the youngsters were sent out to face Aston Villa's second string for the Reserve League Play-Off Final, and they put in a performance that will comfort and assure the club's supporters. With an emphatic 3-0 victory, on the pitch at least, the future looks bright for Liverpool.

For the majority of Ablett's side, who play their league games in nearby Warrington, this was an Anfield debut. The old stadium wasn't full by any means but, while the players were flanked by empty sides, the Kop was nearly full. Liverpool weren't aided by the loss of their inspirational captain, Jay Spearing, to an ankle injury last week. Spearing watched the game from the stands, visibly disappointed not to be involved, but he's got so much potential that it won't be long before he's playing there for the senior side.

Aston Villa manager Kevin McDonald, a former Liverpool midfielder himself, was desperate to impress at his old stomping ground and somehow managed to convince Martin O'Neill to allow him the use of Marlon Harewood and Wayne Routledge. With former Arsenal stopper Stuart Taylor between the posts, they were no pushovers, but as the first half wore on, Liverpool's superior class began to tell. Kristian Nemeth opened the scoring after a fine move, started by Nabil El Zhar and aided by great link-work from Jordy Brouwer. It was a finish very much in the mould of one Fernando Torres. It certainly worried the watching O'Neill, because he came down from the stands to watch the second half from the dug-out. Not a huge vote of confidence for McDonald.

Liverpool fielded four players who have already represented the senior side. The most experienced, Lucas Leiva, was quiet until he popped up with the final goal, but his partner in midfield, Damien Plessis was superb throughout. The former Lyon midfielder is tall and gangly, but he has a wonderfully delicate touch and, after breaking up attacks, he was able to spread the play nicely with some fine passing. Nabil El Zhar, who has failed to impress on his sporadic outings in the cup competitions, was another who will be happy with his contribution. The Moroccan winger was a real handful, stretching the Villa defenders with his pace.

Aston Villa were much stronger after the break, but when Emanuel Insua, another to have played for Rafa Benitez, stopped Routledge in his tracks with a crunching tackle, Nemeth was able to return the favour and set up Brouwer for a decisive second goal. Lucas slammed home the third not long afterwards and Villa were a spent force. It wasn't all about the frontmen though. Ronald Huth and Mikel San Jose were excellent at the back, showing exactly why this side rarely concede goals.

There may not have been anything to cheer about for the superstars this year and you can bet that these triumphant youngsters will be putting them in their place at training tomorrow. Some of them may find themselves stepping up a grade next season, some won't ever get that chance, but this victory will be a memory that will stay with all them forever. Now, if Liverpool could just sort that boardroom out...
 
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