Written by: James McHale @jamesmchale2607
Our Under 23 lads picked up just their fourth point in five games as another sloppy defensive performance resulted in a promising start turning into a scrappy scramble at the end.
Liverpool started brightly and took the lead after only 16 minutes following Dixon-Bonner’s mature finish following a good run that was instigated by a smart Curtis Jones pass with the young captain spotting Liverpool’s number eight in space and releasing the ball at pace towards him.
Dixon-Bonner carried the ball into the left-hand side of the box before calmly rolling it into the bottom right corner and giving the youngsters an early lead. Derby struck back soon after when Max Bird latched onto a Louie Sibley pass and drew the Rams level after just 23 minutes ensured that Derby went into half-time with a draw.
Liverpool were arguably the brighter side in the first half and attacked with real power and pace but ultimately the withdrawal of Rhian Brewster after 20 minutes seemed to take some of that flair away and while his replacement Louis Longstaff did have a decent game, he doesn’t have that edge to his game and it was evident that Liverpool were a side without a real striker.
You would have thought that the withdrawal of former Liverpool man Andre Wisdom would have opened Derby up in the second half but in fact they were even better after the break and Liverpool found themselves on the back foot soon after following Whittaker’s 58th minute goal.
We were offered a lifeline soon after following some intelligent play by the whizzkid Harvey Elliott and an own goal by Derby’s Brown in the 63rd minute once again meant that the score was tied. This seemed to give us a little boost in belief and just 17 minutes later we went ahead, again thanks to that kid Harvey Elliott, when Curtis Jones poked the ball in at the far post and put Liverpool ahead with just 10 minutes left on the clock.
Liverpool looked to be on their way to recording just their second win of the season before Liverpool’s recent arrival Sepp Van Den Berg gave away his second penalty of the game and after lashing the ball towards the referee in frustration following his decision, he was lucky to come away with just a yellow card.
Derby made sure to make this one count following their penalty miss in the first half and Hector-Ingram made light work of it when he placed it into the right-hand side of the goal with Liverpool’s Winterbottom unable to make another heroic save.
A chaotic game which saw what felt like about 10 minutes of injury time added on at the end saw both teams strike three times and each have spells of domination. Ultimately it was Derby were the better side for large parts of the game and Liverpool were very fortunate to come away with a point and that is largely thanks to their goalkeeper Winterbottom who made save after save and stopped the score resembling that of a cricket game.
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Neco Williams and Harvey Elliott were the standout players for me against Derby with the young Welsh right-back looking technically classy on the ball and positionally sound when under pressure defensively. He has shown that he is ready for regular U23 football and that he is good enough to allow Hoever to play centrally and not out on the flank.
Elliott was superb in flashes but will need to add some consistency to his game if he wants to compete with the big boys but that will surely come with time. Make no mistake, Liverpool’s young winger is a huge talent and his creativity on the ball should see him go all the way to the top he can do it on a regular basis.
Van Den Berg was a player I was eager to see in action and after witnessing his defensive horror show in the flesh I am even more confused as to why he was selected over Hoever for a place in the Champions League squad. His two penalties, sloppiness on the ball and general on field attitude left much to be desired and while I do still think he has all the tools to go to the very top, he is much rawer than I thought and clearly not ready for senior football yet.
His defensive partner on the other hand Hoever had a quiet game in contrast but he did look silky on the ball and whatever he did he seemed to do quite well.
Speaking of players who are supposedly on the fringes of the first team, Liverpool’s U23 captain Curtis Jones put in another captain’s performance with a goal and an assist to his name whilst operating as both a winger and a false nine at different points in the game. A senior call-up looks increasingly closer with every massive performance for the U23 side and all we can hope for is that this impressive run of form continues.
Article by James McHale @jamesmchale2607