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Liverpool Report Part 2
By: Richard Lord
2000 After a journey, which spanned just over four hours, we were finally here to see what we came for. Town attacked the Kop in the first half, but fans were still confused trying to work out our formation. When Beharall was announced over the PA system to be playing, we predicted he would play at the back alongside Broomes and Groves may well slip into midfield. Then when we saw all three jogging about in defence it really confused matters. Then the absence of Butterfield at right back was spotted and so it was Beharall who played in the unaccustomed right back position. The other surprise inclusion was Ben Chapman on the left of midfield.
First Half The first real sign of danger arrived on Town's doorstep when Nick Barmby was released into the area and his pace caused him to get ahead of the defence. However he had failed to cut inside and so the angle favoured Coyne to make the save and a sigh of relief could be heard in the away end. The action was all in front of us and whenever Town got over the half way line everyone stood up. Then we were all back in out seats once more when Liverpool won back possession. The difference of class between the teams was clear from the off. Liverpool kept the ball and moved well around the park, bringing in just about all ten outfield players in every move. Grimsby were coping well at the back and had only restricted Liverpool to one real chance in the first 15 minutes.
Then Pouton broke down the right but looked to have lost out when he tried to take on Barmby. The England international did eventually give away a corner under Pouton's pressure. Campbell swung in a terrific cross which evaded everyone but no one had picked up Chapman, stood just on the edge of the area on the left hand side. He struck a powerful volley way over the bar. But it was a chance. It was the first time in the game we had got forward and gave Liverpool something to think about at the back. Then more trouble came Town's way. Jari Litmanen was beginning to get into the game and he had a chance just inside the area, which he struck to the left of Danny Coyne. Gallimore headed off the line but the ball fell back to Litmanen, whose next shot was deflected by Groves and put out for a corner. Town were beginning to sweat a little, although everyone was pleased it was still 0-0. The longer it stayed like that, the better it was. There was just a chance that if we kept it at 0-0 for a while longer, Liverpool could get frustrated and then it would be a case of them trying too hard, just as England did on Saturday against Greece. Then we might be in with a chance. Hyypia and Carragher were impossible for Jevons and Rowan to break down. However, where we were having trouble up front, the back line sat comfortably on the ball. The home side allowed Town to pass freely in their own half but as soon as Town crossed the half way line everything became too tight and we lost the ball. On some occasions some neat passing created one or two half break-aways but Kirkland wasn't ever tested.
It was clear from the off that Chapman and Pouton, the two wide men in midfield, were almost used as wing-backs. Pouton once or twice was covering for Beharall whereas Gallimore didn't get up the field far enough to rely on Chapman getting back as cover. The communication between Beharall and Pouton wasn't all that impressive, as the right back on two occasions played the ball ahead of Pouton, with the former York player standing still. Butterfield then nearly scored an own goal when Litmanen's devilish cross invited Danny B to stick a boot out to clear. It only just crept over the angle of bar and post. So far, so good. After having such a torrid time of defending set pieces, Gary McAllister's corners were cleared every time. Smicer and Litmanen were kept very quiet, although the Finland striker was dropping back into midfield more and more, just to get into the game. The midfield duo of Hamann and Murphy were playing balls over the top to the wide men stood on the touchline. This seemed to be Liverpool's game plan and especially down Town's right it caused all sorts of problems. Coyne was forced to make another good save and Butterfield put his body on the line to clear a goal-bound effort. The time wore on and for all Liverpool's possession, they couldn't make it count. Half time approached and we played one minute of injury time. The Town fans whistled as if for full time and when the whistle finally did blow it was greeted with wild cheers as if we had won the game.
The report continues in Part 3
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