Report: Liverpool Reserves 1-1 Blackpool Reserves
A stunning goal from Ishmel Demontagnac saw an experienced Blackpool reserves team draw 1-1 with Liverpool reserves earlier this afternoon.
'Pool's reserves went into the game bottom of the table, having lost five out of their last six, conceding eighteen along the way. However, they gave the league leaders a good game and came away with a deserved point.
Liverpool's side included ex 'Pool keeper Brad Jones, Fabio Aurelio, Jonjo Shelvey, one time 'Pool target Nathan Ecclestone, and Jay Spearing on the bench. Ryan Babel missed the game after a late call up to the Dutch national side.
Blackpool lined up: Rachubka, Eastham, Keinan, Edwards, Baptiste, Sylvestre, Basham, Husband, Ishmel, Ormerod, Euell.
In the absence of Steve Thompson, Steve McPhee managed the side, and it was his team who got off to the brighter start, stroking the ball around well with some nice movement.
Ludovic Sylvestre looked particularly good on the ball throughout, although went for the Hollywood pass a bit too much at times. On the other hand, several players showed that they're simply not up to the standard we require now (match fitness aside); Rob Edwards, Ishmel (despite his goal) and Jason Euell being the most notable.
In the 4th minute, Ormerod had a shot deflected wide. 'Pool then forced a string of corners (the delivery, as we've come to expect, on some being awful!), but Liverpool's defence held firm.
In the 11th minute Aurelio fired wide after Shelvey and Ecclestone linked up well. Ecclestone gave Baptiste a really tough first half and the defender looks someway short of match fitness, although he did grow into the game in the second half.
Steven Husband then fired high and wide at the other end after a nice Blackpool move. And yes, it was Husband and not Basham; the Liverpool TV commentator got them the wrong way round for the entire game!
Knowing what each of them looks like however, I can say - with some confidence - that Husband has returned to form, passed the ball around well and really looked to get stuck in (he picked up an injury late on, but seemed to shake it off). He could probably benefit from the loan move that he so craves. Basham, on the other hand, was quieter, and looks like he needs to work on his passing. In short, it was easy enough to see why he's not featured more to date - you get the sense that he's in for some hard work on the training ground to fulfil his potential.
Blackpool's defence looked shaky throughout, often parting like the Red Sea. It was through one such parting that Liverpool's Bruma found space, but he could only fire wide.
That said, young Ashley Eastham - who played at both left back and right back during the game - had a very good game and clearly has potential. Meanwhile, as I have observed before, Dekel Keinan looks hit and miss. Sometimes he looks like a cracking defender, but at other times he looks hopeless... perhaps that's why the other Premier League clubs interested in him previously have never taken their interest further? His booking at the end of the first half sums up my opinion of him perfectly.
With a quarter of an hour gone, 'Pool headed wide from a corner, whilst at the other end, Rachubka saved from Amoo who's scampered free after another defensive error.
It was a nice return for Rabs who will be feeling that he can push Richard Kingson all the way for the number one jersey in Matt Gilks' absence (personally I feel that whilst Kingson has great reflexes and distribution, his positioning and confidence with crosses are awful).
Second after the Amoo chance, Ecclestone had a shot cleared off the line by Eastham with rest of Blackpool's defence nowhere.
However, the hosts did take the lead with 23 minutes gone; Shelvey, Bruma and Ecclestone linking up brilliantly, with the latter firing home first time. However, the goal only came about because of a slip by Baptiste.
A few minutes later 'Pool could have equalised, but Husband delayed his ball to the waiting Euell and his cross was cleared.
On the 33 minute mark, a great ball by Sylvestre freed Basham, but his cross was pounced on by Jones with Euell waiting.
Liverpool fans must be praying that Pepe Reina doesn't get injured as there's no way that Jones is Premier League standard - he's worse than all our keepers!
Unsurprisingly, he's still not learned to catch since playing for the 'Pool on loan all those years ago (when he did ok for us, but clearly was League One standard at best!), and tamely punched a cross clear ten minutes before the break.
On 36 minutes, Pacheco skinned Baptiste, but could only force a corner. Liverpool's captain, Irwin, then blasted high and wide.
Five minutes before the break the 'Pool defence was caught out again, but Eccleston could only fire straight at Rabs.
A minute later the same player fired wide after leaving Edwards for dead. Two minutes later Amoo also fired wide, with the hosts' pace really causing the Seasiders problems.
'Pool did exert some pressure at the end of the half, but it was dealt with.
Liverpool replaced Shelvey with Spearing at half time, in what was to be a much quieter second half.
On 52 minutes, Ormerod nearly found his way through, but his dogged, low cross was cleared.
Just a minute later, Pacheco fired over at the over end after tormenting the Seasiders with his flair.
On the hour, Amoo fired wide, before firing across the face of goal five minutes later.
However, 'Pool were playing ok, and the likes of Baptiste were growing into the game and getting forward more.
However, on 67 minutes, Baptiste was replaced by Adam Todd. On the basis of that run out, I don't think that Baptiste will be involved at the weekend.
On 79 minutes Ormerod was replaced by the chunky Lewis Almond. Brett battled hard all game but without much reward. Will he open his Premier League account for the Seasiders - thus becoming the only man to score in every division for us - before the season is out?
A minute later the poor Jason Euell was replaced by promising young striker Tom Barkhuizen. This kid's one to watch, folks! Been banging them in for our very impressive youth team.
Just a minute after 'Pool's final changes of the game, Ishmel struck. Collecting the ball on the right touchline, about 30 yards out, he curled a wonder strike past a backpeddling Brad Jones. It was an absolute peach of a strike, and he most certainly meant it!
Five minutes later he fired wide as he looked to repeat his heroics.
It was Liverpool who were to have the final chances of the game however; Pacheco firing a freekick wide before the same played forced Rabs into a low diving save.
All in all a good workout for some fringe players and youngsters, but more importantly a work out for the likes of Baptiste; fingers crossed he's available for the first team again in the very near future!