XI: OJRZYNSKI; GALLACHER, BECK, BOYES, CLAYTON; CLARKSON, DIXON-BONNER, LONGSTAFF, WOODBURN; O’ROURKE, GLATZEL
The weather mirrored the referee’s performance as torrential rainpour and vicious winds would bear down on Kirkby.
Paul Glatzel nearly became the talking point of the game after another positive display in which the German Scouser played a key role in knitting together The Reds forward play.
Glatzel, making his first start since tearing ankle ligaments in November, frequently picked up pockets of space that led the Leicester backline awry complimented by incisive, sharp touches on the ball. Glatzel’s pinpoint cross that was deftly finished by Leighton Clarkson was swiftly added too after Glatzel was tugged down in the box after an intelligent run. Unfortunately, both times Leicester replied promptly.
It was a positive point given the circumstances.
Just seven minutes into the game Morgan Boyes saw a straight red card for a slide tackle that was deemed to deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity as the last man. The referee was quick to his pocket. The Reds played 80 minutes with 10 men. They played 3 minutes with 9 men.
The card-happy referee, who had given bookings for numerous offences all game which include Owen Beck taking a throw-in 2 yards forward, sent off Tyler Morton in the dying moments of the game. Morton becomes one of footballs rarities, joining what must be an exclusive list of players who get sent off with two yellows without making challenge.
If the initial red card was harsh, Morton’s was mind boggling in which Barry Lewtas was in agreement with and was rightly enraged. Lewtas became the third victim of the referee’s red after the final whistle.
It was not how the penultmate game of the season was envisaged.
At the best of times the game was fragmented.
The stop-start manner of the refereeing performance was only aided by the slippery surface with falls occurring all over the pitch and loose touches.
A number of turnovers in the middle third meant that early chances were limited with the early red card the game’s checkpoint. An incisive ball behind the Liverpool backline meant that Boyes rushed into slide tackle with the Leicester forward bearing down on goal. Perhaps Boyes could have stayed on his feet but with team-mates in close vicinity the goal-scoring certainty of the chance was certainly arguable. Boyes was sent off.
The Red’s however remained undeterred.
The reshuffled ten saw Tony Gallacher tuck into centre-back with Elijah Dixon-Bonner flanking the right of defence.
Despite being a man down, Liverpool managed to keep the ball between Clarkson, Woodburn and the dropping in Glatzel. Fidel O’rourke persisted in his pressing and fired some early warning towards Leicester managing to nick the ball high up the pitch on several occasions.
The breakthrough came down to good work from Glatzel. Engaging and winning a challenge on the halfway line saw Glatzel power towards goal, playing a one-two with O’rourke a picking up the ball on the left, high and wide. A pinpoint cross met Leighton Clarkson’s well timed run who deftly finished.
Liverpool 1-0 Leicester.
Liverpool’s remaining share of chances in the half fell to Glatzel. Woodburn, an ever-present in the press, won the ball in midfield teeing up Glatzel on the edge of the box who’s shot was too cute too trouble the goalkeeper and sailed wide. Mere inches denied Glatzel as Luis Longstaff flashed a ball across goal only for the Leicester goalkeeper to interject before Glatzel could get a toe to the ball.
Leicester would pose a threat of their own, especially with a man advantage. Initially targeting the newly shifted Dixon-Bonner as he eased in a new role, Owen Beck was forced into some solid defending as an arching cross-field ball went over his head and he was forced to stand up his winger, Campbell, where he was then able to play out of defence.
Vontae Dalley-Campbell soon found himself in space beyond the Liverpool defence firing his shot under the onrushing Ojrzynski with Wakeling powering home a ball dribbling tentatively towards goal.
But Liverpool restored their lead within a minute.
Paul Glatzel was subsequently manhandled to the ground meaning he was unable to meet Luis Longstaff’s whipped cross. It was enough for the referee to give a penalty which captain, Ben Woodburn hit comfortably in the bottom right.
Liverpool went in at half-time with the lead with Glatzel at the forefront of the attack.
Leicester City were much improved.
Looking after the ball much better and playing slightly more aggressive, Leicester looked to make their extra man count. Leshebala and Da Silva appeared to provide the creative heartbeat of the Leicester side, rotating in movement and dictating play.
Leicester looked to be overpowering Liverpool, who thus far had defended well but could count themselves lucky to not concede as Leicester crashed the crossbar twice. A towering Da Silva header came off the upright with a rebounded effort hitting an almost identical spot.
The equaliser came in sublime fashion.
An in-to-out pattern started by McAteer helped find Flynn out wide who’s cannoned cross left McAteer with an mountain of work to do. McAteer nonchalantly stuck out his left to caress the ball in to the far side of the goal.
And thus, the score remained 2-2.
Outside of two comfortable Ojrzynsky saves from range and a Clarkson effort that was tipped over from a crossing position, the games remaining highlights belonged to the referee.
Several yellow cards were dished out for verbal offences while it appeared that Owen Beck was booked when he moved forwards an extra 2 yards to take the throw in. The game was arguable fragmented as the referee spent so long talking to players in-between play.
The boiling point was reached when Tyler Morton kicked the ball for a Leicester goalkick into stoppage time. Having already being booked for backchat, the referee produced a second yellow card. It is certainly something the young Scouser will learn from but it was perhaps the amalgamation of prior petty decisions that sent temperatures rising.
Most notable of which was Barry Lewtas in what is an event that we cannot often pertain him too, when the referee brandished a red card for The Reds’ coach.
The points were shared, but Liverpool will feel they were on receiving end of unfair treatment on what will feel a loss.
PAUL GLATZEL: Glatzel does not look like a man who has missed two years of football. Popping up allover of the pitch, committing to duels but perhaps more importantly showing intellligent position. When linking up, Glatzel always makes meaningful contact with the ball in order to force that high tempo playing style we want to see at Liverpool.
Another 70 minutes in the bank here. Magnificent since his return.
LEIGHTON CLARKSON: Seeing an increased goal threat in recent weeks has been nice to see. Clarkson is clearly technically proficient with a good understanding of ball manipulation. His run into the box today will be a good addition to his arsenal of skills if he continues in a similar fashion.