An Owen Beck inspired victory, again, displayed the strength of character associated with Liverpool Football Club as Barry Lewtas’ men come from behind twice to edge out an impressive Brighton side. Beck led the way with a second-half hat-trick of goal involvements.
An action packed second half drowned out a morbid first with Brighton rueing a handful of missed clear-cut chances.
A lack of urgency will have left Lewtas unimpressed to no end. It was not good enough from a team that had set such high standards with swashbuckling wins earlier in the seasons. The first half was flat.
But Brighton were as impressive as Liverpool were uninspiring.
As Liverpool looked to employ their usual high press, Brighton’s 3-4-3 remained unfazed as they were easily able to cut through each of Liverpool’s defensive lines and threaten in transition. Meanwhile the hosts where guilty of taking too many touches in decisive areas with a static forward line amplifying their lethargic showing.
A returning Leighton Clarkson would try and make things happen from deep, but to little avail. Little movement, nobody picking up the pockets and too many loose touches. Long balls amounted to little with Brighton first to what came next. Liverpool needed more from the likes of Woodburn and Hardy, the elder statesmen of the side.
Outside of a Woodburn half chance that was hit straight at Brighton goalkeeper, Rushworth, Liverpool had little to ride home about in the opening exchanges. The score would open after an unfortunate individual error – much to the frustration of Lewtas.
As Remi Savage found all passing lanes blocked by an organised press 30 yards out from his goal, a pass back to Hughes would only find the feet of 16 year old Evan Ferguson who emphatically finished in to the top left corner. Brighton take an early lead.
The outstanding players from each side were head-to-head. Owen Beck remained consistent when others faltered. A small spark in Liverpool’s stagnant forward play.
But Beck’s forays upfield left space for the ever-present Ayo Tanimowo. Playing as a wingback, Taniwomo was not only apart of Brighton’s resolute defending but every attack featured the 19 year old. Outmuscling those around him with ease with Taniwomo was excellent in his combination’s with midfielders Jenks and Cashman to find space out wide, his delivery was a constant threat throughout the half. A player to keep an eye on for the future.
The first half petered out with similar patterns. Dixon-Bonner had some of Liverpool’s brighter moments as he dropped deeper with several looping long balls inches away from a Liverpool man. The one that found a man jimmied its way in to the path of Luis Longstaff, who directed a backheel straight at the goalkeeper. And that was it.
Liverpool were lucky not to be two down at the break as Tanimowo, again, found Ferguson in the box who struck the post.
Liverpool needed more.
Thankfully, Owen Beck took Liverpool’s poor first half personally.
The first half quickly drowned out the second
Owen Beck did have a second half for the ages. But we cannot ignore the impact of Jake Cain. Cain replaced Clarkson at half time and added the dynamism the first half lacked, finding pockets of space with a dash of invention in his play.
Liverpool were much better.
Ben Woodburn looked much better with a well forged understanding with Cain, as Hardy had a man to play off. Flashes became flurries and Liverpool quickly took the handle of the game.
It took 10 minutes to make sure Lewtas’ men had put the first half to bed. That 10 minutes also marked the beginning of the Owen Beck show. Fresh from first team training and a first Wales U21 camp, it is not the first time this season that Beck’s forward play has come up trumps when Liverpool need it most. Its not even his first hat-trick of goal involvements this season.
A good show of invention for Liverpool’s first. As Cain picked up the ball in the left channel, many would have shot when the midfielder smartly played in an onrushing Beck running beyond the Brighton defence who set up Joe Hardy on the edge of the six yard box. Cain’s pass was disguised and incisive across his body, while Beck had bust a gut to find himself in the Brighton box.
But Brighton did not crumble.
The battle continued, with each fullback clearly eager to upstage the other as Tamiwomo found space on the right after Cashman picked up a loose ball in the midfield and worked the ball wide. Tamiwomo subsequently fired the ball across the right and no sooner had Evan Ferguson dispatched the ball in to the next to restore Brighton’s lead.
A Hardy shot flashed across goal from range as well with a Cain freekick coming close sandwiching a Liam Hughes save to stop Ferguson from sealing a hat-trick as momentum flitted between sides.
Owen Beck decided he was going to make Liverpool to score again
Outmuscling Brighton’s left back for a ball he ought not to have won, Beck proceeded to arch his way in to the box before incisively finding fellow full back who slotted home to equalise. A goal that should never have happened did so because of Beck’s endeavour and hard work which only supplements his forward play.
But Beck wasn’t done with the best of the bunch yet to come.
Returning the favour, Gallacher turned architect switching the ball to Beck who found himself on the left wing and was unfazed with work still left to do.
Easily leaving the man standing him up, Beck shifted on to his weaker right side before cannoning a shot of the bar just inside the area to cap off a hat-trick of goal involvements. An impressive effort with his weaker foot, but it begins to make sense when you learn Ian Rush is his uncle.
Although Liverpool had took the lead in the second half with a much improved performance, the game could have fallen either way.
Twice in the closing stages Brighton missed from close range, both times completely missing the target.
A resilient performance with that old added cliché of a game of two halves ensures Liverpool take all three points.
OWEN BECK – Hard to ignore the young Welshman today. Even without the goal involvements he was one of Liverpool’s most consistent performers. Against Arsenal it was his defensive game lauded, but today he showed the tropes of the modern fullback. He was in rare form and a constant threat.
AYO TAMIMOWO – Brighton’s brightest. One of the best players on the pitch between both sides. Similarly to Beck he contributed to both phases of play. Good shape on his crosses, a great engine and robust in the tackle. Impressive today.
Jake Cain – His introduction added the vibrancy Liverpool lacked. A threat all season and a threat today, it is not just his goal scoring but the ability to combine with team mates and play at an intensity for prolonged periods. Should start next week.