Friday 14th April 2006


Liverpool have given themselves a great chance of winning their first FA Youth Cup since 1996 after goals from Robbie Threlfall, Ryan Flynn and Miki Roque gave them a superb 3-0 victory over Manchester City in the 1st Leg of the Final at Anfield tonight.

The Reds will take a commanding advantage to the City of Manchester Stadium for next Friday's 2nd Leg after a fine display. But it was only the superb form of Manchester City goalkeeper Laurence Matthewson that stopped them finishing the job tonight after he made a series of superb saves.

City made a bright start to the game when Etuhu took advantage of a loose pass to surge into the box, but the Reds soon asserted themselves and Robbie Threlfall hit a free kick just over before Ryan Flynn almost intercepted a nervous clearance from
the visiting keeper.

The Reds were soon well on top and their domination created another good chance, this time for Anderson, in the 10th minute. It came when Hammill's cross was fisted straight to Barratt by goalkeeper Matthewson and when his header found Anderson, the young winger flashed an athletic overhead kick narrowly wide.

There was a healthy crowd inside Anfield to see the Academy stars take centre stage and they didn’t have to wait long to their side go in front. We'd had just 17 minutes when the breakthrough came, but it was no more than the Reds deserved for their positive start.

They might have been in front just moments earlier when it took a last ditch clearance from Manchester City Captain Johnson to deprive Antwi of a goal scoring chance. But from Barratt's resulting corner Robbie Threlfall stooped in to score into the Kop net at the second attempt.

Manchester City, being watched by first team boss Stuart Pearce, responded well when first Johnson and then Etuhu brought the best out of Reds stopper David Roberts. But Liverpool were soon back on top they would go on to create a host of first half chances that would see them lead 2-0 at the break, with only the agility of Matthewson preventing it from being more.

The Reds came close to doubling their lead in the 25th minute when Lindfield's header was block saved by Matthewson. And Matthewson needed to be at his very best just a minute later when this time saving Barratt's shot at point blank range after he had collected a pass from Anderson.

But there was to be little respite for the busy City keeper because in the 32nd minute Liverpool made it 2-0 through Ryan Flynn. And again it was an Anderson cross that was City's undoing as Flynn steamed in to plant his cross firmly into the back of net.

Matthewson must have been wondering how he was again picking the ball out of the net after making so many saves, but if it weren't for another fine save from Anderson in the 40th minute, he'd have been doing it for a third time.

Manchester City came here with a big reputation so it was perhaps no surprise to see them make a fight of it in the second half. Their intentions were clear from the moment the game restarted when Etuhu sped clear and forced a brave clearance from Roberts.

And they will wonder how they didn't pull a goal back when first Sturridge struck a post with a 57th minute shot from six yards and then the same player blazed over when clear of the Reds' defence in the 69th minute. But Sturridge must have finally realised it wasn't his night when Roberts brilliantly saved his 72nd minute shot with a goal looking inevitable.

Liverpool almost made it 3-0 in the 75th minute when Paul Anderson breathtaking overhead kick cannoned back off the crossbar, but they weren't to be deprived and they did make it 3-0 with substitute Miki Roque's header in the 83rd.

Steve Heighway can congratulate his young stars on a job well done tonight and you can be sure they will go to Manchester next week determined to finish the job and bring home the cup.

Liverpool: David Roberts, Stephen Darby (captain), Robbie Threlfall, Jack Hobbs, Godwin Antwi, Charlie Barnett, Paul Barratt, Ryan Flynn (Jay Spearing 85), Craig Lindfield, Paul Anderson, Adam Hammill (Miki Roque 75). Subs unused: Josh Mimms (GK), Jimmy Ryan, Michael Nardiello.

Heighway post match reaction: "The boys did well but it's only half the job done as we've got the second leg to come and that will be a real tough game I'm sure."

"We could actually have scored seven goals tonight but for the City goalkeeper.

"We started well and got the opening goal from Robbie Threlfall. We thought Robbie would be a threat from set pieces so it gave us a good start. Charlie Barnett gives us great deliveries from set pieces. It's easy to look at people like Beckham and Steven Gerrard and say to Charlie they only got as good as they are through hours and hours of practice. That's the incentive for Charlie and the more he practices the better he gets and he's only 17.

"We scored an excellent second goal and Ryan Flynn passed the ball into the net and showed good composure."

The former Reds winger also had praise for his goalkeeper David Roberts who pulled off a great save at the Kop end when the score was 2-0 in Liverpool's favour.

"At 2-0 our goalkeeper David Roberts made a fantastic save and sometimes you need that at vital moments," enthused Heighway.

"I must mention our captain Stephen Darby who was fantastic again at right back. He is a young boy who is slight and a bit light weight but we just couldn't imagine playing without him.

"It was nice to get the third goal and Miki Roque showed a good attitude when he came off the bench. That's what good players do. You get players who are on the bench and sulk and then when they come on they are not likely to score a goal. Miki came on and was ready."

Jack Hobbs post match reaction: "It was just a great night and to score three goals and keep a clean sheet was absolutely fantastic, but we know we are only halfway there."

"We have still got a long way to go in the second leg so we are not going to get too overjoyed yet and we will keep our focus, but we are quite happy with the way it went at Anfield. We started very well and when we started passing the ball and used the width it caused City a lot of problems.

"We could have scored quite a few more goals but for the Manchester City keeper who had a very good game."

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