Congratulations have to go out to Gary Ablett and his excellent reserve side who last night added a third trophy to their haul for this season at the end of a great performance at Anfield.
After winning the Dallas Cup earlier in the season they became the Barclays Premiership Reserve League North champions after a season of excellent results. Then last night was the chance to claim the national title by beating the champions from the Barclays Premiership Reserve League South – which they did in style.
Aston Villa’s reserves were beaten 3-0 by Ablett’s boys, all of them made up of youngsters the club hope they’ll soon be able to pick from for first team appearances.
Krisztian Nemeth and Jordy Brouwer scored the first two, with regular first-team player Lucas, brought in because of injuries, finishing Villa off with the third.
Brouwer got the assist for the first goal from Nemeth, which came after ten minutes. Liverpool continued to threaten the Villa goal after that, with El Zhar narrowly missing on a couple of occasions and Villa’s 27-year-old keeper Stuart Taylor forced into action to deny Brouwer a goal of his own. But with 67 minutes gone Brouwer finally got his goal, Liverpool’s second, Nemeth returning the favour with the assist.
Villa had not been short of chances to get back into the game, Herd and Salifou hitting the woodwork, and Liverpool’s Mikel San Jose needed to clear off the line to prevent a Shane Lowry effort from going in.
The Lucas goal came on 76 minutes, when a good Daniel Pacheco pass allowed the Brazilian to slot the ball past Taylor in front of a delighted Kop.
Over seven-and-a-half thousand supporters turned out to watch the game, a figure that would have been higher had Villa fans not faced traffic problems on the M6.
That’s three pieces of silverware so far for the youngsters, and they’ve still got a chance for more with a match against Manchester United to come in the Lancashire Senior Cup final.
Rafa Benítez was at the game, sitting alongside Rick Parry in the directors’ box.
Liverpool coach Gary Ablett: “It was nice to win because it shows how far we have come since the beginning of pre-season when you wouldn’t believe how bad we were. Full credit to the lads for what they have achieved because they have come on leaps and bounds in the time we’ve had with them and hopefully now we can step a few more up from here and get them into Rafa’s plans.
“We all know how difficult that will be but I think a few of them have shown their potential to do that. The most pleasing thing about the victory is that we had to tough it out. There were times when we were really under the cosh and for 20 minutes we couldn’t get hold of the ball but with a bit of fortune and some good defending we managed to come through that.
“It was a smashing game of football and I couldn’t be more happy with them. You can see how much it means to them by the way they’re carrying on in the dressing room.”
“It’s a great achievement. We said all along that this is the aim from the moment we came together in pre-season. They showed a great attitude and work rate and it’s the result of all the hard work they put in from the start, like adapting to the language and a new culture. It wasn’t easy at times and Villa played particularly well at the start of the second half and put us under a lot of pressure. We rode our luck at times and produced some great defending on other occasions and we eventually got back into the game and took the chances that came our way well.
“We’ve got a group of players who aren’t fazed, no matter who they come up against. Even in practice games against the first-team, although we don’t do particularly well in them and why should we, but you see that the ability is there and the attitude is there, and if we keep bringing them along and developing them how we have been, we’ll have some very good young players.
(On the goals) “Krisztian’s been on fire and took his goal very well with his so-called weaker foot. The second goal involved some great play where we got a nice little passing sequence going and we put Jordy in and he took it very, very well. For the third goal Pacheco came on and spotted a great pass for Lucas who did the rest.
“The main aim for us is to try and get young players into the first-team. It may be six-to-twelve months before we see the outcome of the work we have been doing with the players but they will be exciting times for us. The difficult part is doing it again now. Forget what we won in the past, we need to look forward now and start planning for the new season.”
Emilaino Insua: “It was really good to be part of a young team which won something at Anfield because we all know what a special place this is. I was lucky enough to play there for the first team against Manchester City and that has made me hungry for more.
“There are a lot of good young players at Liverpool and we all want the same thing – to play for the first team. I have done that but I want to do it more and more. The challenge for me now is to become a regular in the first team squad.
Jay Spearing (who missed out last night due to injury but played a part in getting the club into this play-off): “It’s obviously disappointing for me personally to miss the final but I’m delighted that the lads went out and won it. I’ve just started running again in training and if the game had been two or three days later, I could have been involved. But it wasn’t to be.
“We did what we set out to do and we kept a clean sheet against a good side which is a good achievement and scored some great goals too. It was just great to be at Anfield. When we found out it was going to be played here we were all made up and we were determined to go out there and we celebrated as a team because that is what has seen us do so well this season.
“The lads work really hard for each other. As the season’s gone on we’ve become very good friends and good teammates and we are always willing to put in that extra bit of work for each other. If you’d said that we’d achieve all this at the start of the season we’d have happily taken it and we are just delighted with how the season has gone.
Jordy Brouwer: “It was the best moment of my life (his goal). To score in any game is amazing but to score in front of the Kop is something else.
“They had four or five first-team players and we only had Lucas, so we really turned it on and to win 3-0 is a great achievement. Everyone knows their job and we have proved we are a good side. I have been scoring a few recently and it was good to finish with a goal in the last game and such an important one too.”
Liverpool Reserves: Gulacsi, Darby, Insua, San Jose, Huth, Plessis, El Zhar (Simon, 86), Lucas, Brouwer (Pacheco, 73), Nemeth (Lindfield, 80), Flynn
Unused subs: Bouzanis, Kelly, Simon
Aston Villa Reserves: Taylor, Lund (Bannan, 74), Baker (Delfouneso, 46), Osbourne, Clark, Lowry, Salifou, Routledge, Harewood, Herd, Maloney (Albrighton, 77)
Unused subs: Bevan, Collins
Ref: Mark Clattenburg