Swindon crashed out the FA Youth cup at the 3rd Round stage for a second successive year after being thrashed by the Under 18s of Premier League outfit Liverpool. Writes Ben Wills.
Swindon boss Paul Bodin named an unchanged side from the one that knocked Cirencester out in Round Two after a 6-1 victory. Liverpool on the other hand played a 4-5-1 formation with the recognisable name of Jordan Ibe on the left flank and Jack Dunn playing the traditional number 10 role behind the striker Jordan Sinclair. Manager Steve Cooper in fact played an entirely different XI against Middlesbrough last week, focusing entirely on this game.
Swindon actually started the brighter with a number of early crosses that all went in the arms of Liverpool ‘keeper Ryan Fulton and sadly didn’t create any shooting opportunities. However, like it seems to be with the senior team the youth have the same problem, dominate the game, and then concede and that’s exactly what they did in the 9th minute.
Jerome Sinclair picked the ball up on the left hand side, he skipped past Luke Murden and Jake Johns before firing a shot that hit Josh Helm’s near post which then hit Helm’s back and into the net, the Swindon goalkeeper unfortunate but it goes down as an own goal. Swindon could’ve leveled seconds later after Mark Francis broke free of the Liverpool defence but his low squared ball couldn’t find Waldon and was cleared away.
Swindon’s best chance of the game was probably in the 15th minute. A cross by Murden found Waldon to the left of the 6 yard area in space but he could only head it into the side netting and was never troubling Fulton. An indication on how strong Liverpool were defensively. Swindon were perhaps a bit fortunate to not concede a second own goal when danger man Jordan Ibe used his blistering pace to collect a cross field Jack Dunn pass and then fed left back Maguire whose low cross inside the box was deflected wide by Oakley.
Just 3 minutes after this incident though Liverpool did grab a second goal. On the 24th minute mark, Ibe collected a Murden header away and the Swindon players simply couldn’t cope with his speed. He sprinted away from Ferris, took it away from Oakley and from the ‘D’ he let fly and his shot sailed into the top corner. Helm had no chance.
Liverpool didn’t have to wait much longer for their third either. A last ditch chipped pass by Liverpool captain Lussey found that man Ibe on the left who showed another part of his game, precise passing, by slotting the ball between two Town defenders into the path of Dunn who skipped past Oakley and firing past Helm for 0-3 using his weaker right foot. Seemingly game over after just 27 minutes. Jack Dunn celebrated this goal with the away side’s physios as he’s had a long battle with injury this season, you wouldn’t know it if you saw him play on Tuesday.
Liverpool were really on the front foot now, the right winger Kris Peterson got the ball near the touchline, took a heavy touch past a defender and then executed 2 step overs, darting into the box but could only fire over from a tight angle, he deserved a goal and in truth, he should’ve got it. Still only 30 minutes played.
Swindon just couldn’t handle the pace and the movement of the Premier League side, again just a minute after Dunn had the time and space to hit a 30 yard pile driver at Helm who could only parry and then smother at the second attempt.
One of Swindon’s limited chances came just before half time. A Murden throw from the right found Francis just inside the area, he passed to Ferris on the right wing who played a first time cross to Waldon who got a toe on it and Francis was there to hit a tame shot at Fulton from close range.
Brendan Rogers seems to have kept his promise by implementing his passing philosophy into the youth set-up and we saw this throughout the match as Liverpool passed Swindon off the park but this system really paid off in the 44th minute as Liverpool scored another goal after some sensational passing play.
14 passes were involved in the goal. This started with Peterson on the right flank and ending with a Dunn pass to Sinclair, who in turn found Peterson again on the right who played in Dunn again by the penalty spot in acres of space and Dunn scored his second of the night – with a powerful side foot strike again in the top corner and Helm again clutching thin air. This move started at 43:15 and ended at 43:52, taking just 37 seconds to have 14 passes and a shot, real Premier League pedigree on show at the County Ground.
The half ended 0-4 to Liverpool with an attendance of 1,533 seeing a really impressive display, from one team anyway.
Liverpool started the second half as they finished the first, a 33 pass move eventually made its way to right full back Ryan McLaughlin who was bundled over by Matty Jones for a free kick in a dangerous position.
Liverpool did get a fifth in the 51st minute when pressure from him, Curtis Da Costa passed straight to Peterson who dragged 3 Swindon defenders to him, leaving Sinclair free, onside, with all the time in the world to take a touch and then slotting the ball past Helm and into the back of the net.
Liverpool set out to embarrass Swindon further with Jack Dunn having another long range shot which was needlessly tipped wide by Helm who didn’t shower himself in glory during this match. From the resulting corner the ball was worked through to Peterson whose cross was flapped away by Helm only as far as Dunn, who was then fouled. Two blocked shots came in from Dunn, one by the wall and the second by the rest of pack and was then cleared.
3 of the 4 danger men combined yet again for another chance in a matter of minutes. Sinclair picked out Dunn in the centre circle whose precise pass found Peterson with left back Jones in no man’s land, Peterson then flicked it past Jones and struck a left foot shot straight at Helm who again could only parry it out for a corner. A final Liverpool chance in this 3 minutes completely dominated by the away side was a 25 yard shot from Lussey was palmed away to the left by Helm.
Swindon did manage to create a chance of their own after these seemingly never ending Liverpool shots on goal when on the counter attack the ball was worked out to the left to Simpson. He took two touches before playing a wonderful lofted pass into Waldon who let it bounce twice before shooting high and wide over the bar with a half volley.
Fulton was finally called into some serious action when a poor goal kick from him was optimistically flicked by McLaughlin but it hit himself and went into the path of Francis. Francis then dribbled away from Lloyd Jones and past McLaughlin and his low cross was eventually claimed by Fulton after 3 players were desperately trying to get to it (Fulton and Heaton for Liverpool, Waldon for Swindon).
Liverpool were still trying to get more goals, the Swindon defence again leaving too much space for a Dunn pass to slide a ball between them with McLaughlin in space who fed Ibe on the edge of the area but the former Wycombe man could only shoot over.
Swindon had a moment in the 62nd minute that really summed their night up. A dreadful and complacent kick by Fulton went straight to Da Costa 30 yards from goal and his header went to Waldon who could’ve either shot or ran at goal with space in front of him. He decided however to turn away from goal and pass it to Ferguson who slipped and Liverpool regained possession.
Liverpool decided to sit back for the last section of the match, showing their superiority by passing it round the Swindon team without really creating any chances or giving any away.
Liverpool did fashion four more chances before the end however with a 5 minute flurry to try and make it 0-6. In the 85th minute substitute Sam Gainford stole the ball off Murden, ‘Cruyff turned’ round him passed to Jack Dunn who took it round a defender and from a cute angle hit the inside of the post and away, so nearly his hat trick.
Gainford was involved in the next chance with his cross being headed away by Jones and then fellow Liverpool sub Connor Randall blasted over a half volley from the edge of the box. The game finished with Lussey curling a shot straight at Helm from 20 yards out and a third sub Seyi Ojo shooting wide from 30 yards.
With Swindon’s FA Youth Cup dream over, they can now focus on defending their league title, their next game is at home to fierce rivals Oxford, the perfect opposition to face to get back to winning ways. Liverpool on the other hand can continue their FA Youth Cup journey.