Blackburn U23 2-2 Liverpool U23: Blackburn claw back after Dixon-Bonner brace with brilliant Bajcetic debut.

19:00 | 25/10/2021 | Leyland County Grounds | Downpour

Liverpool U23s surrendered a two-goal-lead to Blackburn Rovers after conceding a controversial penalty in the latter stages of the fixture. While draws and losses have provided a dreary narrative for Liverpool U23s in recent weeks, tonight’s fixture provides doses of positivity for the young reds.

Elijah Dixon-Bonner signed off on a memorable week in which he touched down in Madrid with the first-team by scoring a first half-brace. Reacting the quickest to Max Woltman’s rebounded effort, Dixon-Bonner would then nestle a sumptuous curler into the top-right corner from the opposite side of the pitch.

Blackburn, were never entirely omitted from the game, though, and made it known when Brennan struck the bar deep in the second-half.

Eventually Liverpool came undone after Butterworth’s shot that sped down the corridor of uncertainty was converted by Davenport. The referee found himself at the centre of Blackburn’s equaliser after Billy Koumetio had seemingly cleared the ball legally with his head, only to concede a penalty for handling. Davenport converted.

THE TEAM

XI: Pitaluga; Quansah, Boyes, Koumetio, Gallacher; Bajcetic, Clayton, Dixon-Bonner; Beck, Bearne, Woltman.

A few eyebrows were raised when trying to predict the teams shape as Barry Lewtas rung the changes; a number of players would play away from their primary position.

Jarell Quansah would fill in at right-back while Owen Beck started high and wide on the left. 17-year-old Stefan Bajcetic debuted at the base of midfield, playing the majority of his football at Liverpool as a central defender. As a consequence, captain, Tom Clayton pushed higher into the midfielder.

DIXON-BONNER DELIGHT

First of all, it is infectious happiness when a young footballer comes through a difficult period and shows that he is clearly enjoying his football – being pretty handy at it in the process.

A regular invitee of the AXA first-team training facilities, Dixon-Bonner touched down in Madrid this week as part of the first-team group that thwarted Atletico Madrid. It would be an experience the 20-year-old described as “incredible”. After starring for Liverpool U21s as a makeshift false-nine, Dixon-Bonner impressed again this evening. With the license to go forward as the highest midfielder, Dixon-Bonner showed vigour in the press, ready to snap in when the first line of defence was breached and particularly in the first-half, was at the heart of Liverpool’s attacking impetus. It’s clear that Dixon-Bonner has worked on being in the right place at the right taking, regularly offering himself in promising forward positions and at times seems a little savvier than opponents, perhaps making the correct decision more often than he had previous as first-team exposure comes to fruition. Even more impressive having been booked after a meagre 30 seconds. Both goals this evening showed different qualities of the former Arsenal man, and he could have had a hat-trick.

STEFAN BAJCETIC DEBUT

Torrential rain on a frostbitten night in Lancashire is not the ideal ideal circumstances to make a Premier League 2 debut – certainly a far cry from what birthplace, Vigo, Spain has to offer – but Stefan Bajcetic crept around the pitch, pinching the ball with little concern or complaints.

The Spaniard, who was only 17 on Friday, stepped up an age group to anchor the midfield, putting in a performance worthy of man-of-the-match. Having played primarily as a centre-back since arriving in January from Celta Vigo, technically ability and reading of the game has meant that he has been sparingly used in midfield. But it is no easy feat.

It was not so much a destructive performance that we associate with defensive midfielders but a crafty one. Pinching the ball round corners, cutting away passing lanes and nicking the ball from opposition toes. Not entirely perfect, but a brilliant start. Even managing to wriggle away beyond the midfield line at times, Bajcetic provided an offensive threat. A memorable moment came when a disguised pass was flung into Elijah Dixon Bonner, cutting throw the midfield line with Bajcetic’s body shape throwing off the Blackburn backline. It gave Dixon-Bonner an extra second.

IMPRESSIVE PRESS

Owen Beck’s industrious style of play perhaps benefitted Liverpool despite playing out of position as the Welshman was a part of a well co-ordinated press that would see a number of dangerous turnovers fall in Liverpool’s favour, giving The Reds’ somewhat of a handle on the game. Bearne, Woltman and Beck gave little breathing space. Recent displays have been unorganised and disjointed, but the trio provided a great foundation for Liverpool build from.

Max Woltman, is perhaps particularly unlucky. Sacrificing for the team, the manner in which he links up play perhaps goes under the radar. Combining well in the pockets of spaces between the lines while being able to mix it up and offer an outlet in behind the defence provides a semblance of balance in Liverpool’s forward play. While the finishing is not always there, Woltman has shown that he’s more than capable of hitting the goal trail and it does not need to be perfect while he learns on the job. Only a late flag denied a winner that highlighted a persistence to run in and find space. Woltman will improve further as the season goes on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: