Image Credit- Evening Standard
Jurgen Klopp’s controversial absence at Anfield last night has been branded as disrespectful to a historic competition, but Liverpool’s youth delivered on the pitch, beating Shrewsbury Town 1-0.
Under-23’s coach Neil Critchley was at the helm in the Germans absence, and guided Liverpool’s youngest ever starting eleven in the club’s history to victory in a game which sets up an exciting fifth round tie away to struggling giants Chelsea. With the average age of the squad at 19 years and 102 days, their young players provided the goods in an impressive performance.
Captain Curtis Jones pulled the strings from midfield, whilst summer signing Harvey Elliot was influential as a right forward.
Despite an impressive performance from the reds, Shrewsbury were undeniably unlucky in their efforts, as Shaun Whalley’s 58th minute header was ruled out by VAR, an event the League One Club will not be used to.
Manchester United graduate Ro-Shaun Williams’ own goal provided Liverpool with the win, with Critchley declaring “We have given Jurgen a
game against Chelsea to look forward to”. It’s unknown whether the same youngsters will be given a chance in the next round, but it is a positive sign of a talented and well-organised academy system for the Premier League leaders, as they remain competitive on all fronts in their charge for the title.
Tuesday night’s other big fixture saw Newcastle travel down to the Kassam Stadium to play Oxford United after their goalless draw at St. James’ Park. A game filled with quality goals and excitement, the Magpies got off to a good start with fan favourite Shaun Longstaff curling in a fine effort from just outside the box.
Longstaff was again significant moments later, providing a lofted through ball to Brazilian Joelinton, who finished eloquently past Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood. As the second half begun however, the momentum rapidly changed in favour of the League 1 club, with substitute Liam Kelly scoring a truly magnificent free-kick to spark hope into Yellow fans hearts.
Nathan Holland’s thumping 94th minute volley pushed an enticing game into extra time, with both teams all out for the win.
The result was decided by the inconsistently brilliant Allan Saint-Maximin’s powerful strike into the top right corner after beating the Oxford defence, securing Newcastle’s access in to the next round as they travel to Championship frontrunners West Brom.
Oxford United, despite their exit, should hold their heads high after playing dynamic and free-flowing football against a much larger Premier League opponent, with manager Karl Robinson emphasising “I’m really proud of my players and the club. I think we have shown we can cope with the big nights”.
In other news, Wayne Rooney’s Derby County set up a tie with his old club Manchester United, scoring in the process as they decisively beat Northampton by 4 goals to 2. Both Birmingham and Reading went through on penalties against Coventry and Cardiff respectfully, with the Blues away to Leicester and the Royals at home to Sheffield United in the next round of the FA Cup.