The Blues line-up included Clemence and Melchiot, both returning from injury and so a degree of dominance over their young opponents was pretty much inevitable. It was a surprise, though, to see Blues take the lead inside the first minute, when Kuqi cashed in on a defensive blunder to pop the ball home. I didn’t see exactly what happened as I was drinking my Bovril at the time but it looked a right old cock-up from where I stood. For some reason, Kuqi has greeted the onset of winter by having his long locks cut off, exposing a bald bonce to the elements. I wonder if it’s an Icelandic thing to cock a snoot at our relatively tame weather?
The game was played at a decent pace and, if I were manager, I’d have used it to give several of the recently injured first teamers a work out, following last nights’ postponement. Blues were well on top although chances were few and far between. I derived great entertainment from Listening to the comments of the inevitable clutch of Wannabee Saddos, clad in their Liverpool regalia but having no family link to Liverpool whatsoever. Apparently, Liverpool are far, far, better than Chelsea who are a team of expensively-assembled jammy hoofers. I never knew that.
Blues defence was looking particularly tight, marshalled by Alex Bruce and with Painter, Sadler and Melchiot all doing a fine job in snuffing out attacks before they really got going. Clemence was bossing midfield but Blues were relying too much on trying to hit spectacular diagonal balls behind the full back for Motteram to run onto. I don’t think Motty actually won a single ball from this tactic, but they kept using it. Liverpool looked good defensively as well, particularly Zak Whitbread at left back who had Nick Wright in his pocket throughout. A special mention also for centre-half Daniel O’Donnell, if only for sharing his name with an Irish crooner, beloved of grannies everywhere.
Liverpool’s keeper, Paul Willis gave a fine display of kicking into touch. I hope Jonny Wilkinson was there to watch and learn. Of course his team mates were well miffed as the ball kept whizzing off the pitch but I, for one, enjoyed it, having lived in Twickenham for a few years during the 80s.
Nothing much happened in the first half, apart from the goal and a very good save by Colin Doyle following a free kick which led to a goalmouth scramble. It would have been harsh on Blues if Liverpool had scored because they rarely threatened to, and, frankly, were poo.
Half time, 1-0. Rather greasy bacon cheeseburger with no less than THREE rashers of bacon piled on top of the quarterpounder and squeezy cheesy slice. Kept me occupied, if nothing else.
The second half resumed pretty much where the first had left off, with Blues well on top, Bruce and Clemence looking superb - totally in control, Liverpool passing the ball everywhere but to one of their own men, Kuqi having a physical tussle with Liverpool’s strong young defender, Godwin Antwi but few chances for either side. Liverpool’s main chances came from a string of free kicks, one of which drew another fine save from Doyle when David Mannix got the ball up and over the wall.
Sam Alsop took a knock and was replaced by David Howland after 61 minutes, at the same time Liverpool took off Jack Hobbs and replaced him with Miguel Roque-Farrero. Now, for me that’s what’s wrong with football today. A chilly night at Solihull Borough, with a game played under dodgy floodlights in the shadow of Land Rover’s Press Shop to a backdrop of trucks coming and going is surely MADE for players with names like Jack Hobbs? I mean, Miguel Roque-Farrero, for God’s sake? He should be playing at Camp Neu, not Land Rover’s Press Shop/
68 minutes and Mario’s evening was over, subbed for Cotterill. He’d had a good game, looked better than before he was injured, managed to defend quite well and generally seemed to enjoy himself. I think we’re getting our Mario back!
After 84 minutes Kuqi hit the post but had been given offside during the build-up. He then had a goal disallowed after 87 minutes and was booked for handball. Immediately after this, Liverpool finally had a chance from open play, when Doyle had to move very quickly to smother a one-on-one chance.
89 minutes and Blues clinched the game. A very pacy breakaway led to Barrowman feeding Sadler on the edge of the box. Sadler’s shot was blocked by the keeper but Barrowman picked up the rebound and calmly lobbed the stranded ‘keeper. A fine finish. Sadler, by the way, had his best game since his own return from injury. If he keeps up the improvement, he may get himself back into first team contention before the end of the season.
Blues: Doyle, Melchiot, Sadler, Bruce, Painter, Alsop, Wright, Clemence, Kuqi, Barrowman, Motteram Subs: Blake, Cottrill, Asa Hall, Howland, McPike
Liverpool: Willis, Raven, Whitbread, Antwi, O'Donnell, Hobbs, Barragan, Peltier, Calliste, Idrizaj, Anderson Subs: Mannix, Roberts, Smith, Roque, Hammill