Critchley reflects on U23s defeat, red cards and debuts

Neil Critchley reflected on a 'frantic' clash for Liverpool U23s against Tottenham Hotspur that ended in a 1-0 defeat and his side with nine men.

It proved an encounter to forget for the Premier League 2 leaders, who were beaten by Jack Roles’ second-half goal and had Adam Lallana and George Johnston sent off.

After the final whistle, Critchley provided his take on the game, the performances on full debut of Tony Gallacher and Adam Lewis, and the dismissals.

On the overall performance of his team…

It’s hard to sum that game up really, quite an eventful game. I thought we started reasonably well and had some chances early on which we didn’t capitalise on. They had some chances towards the end of the first half and there wasn’t really much in it at half-time. It was a pitch for playing forward, both teams were pressing forward. It’s difficult to play, the pitch is quite lively. Any lack of momentum and you were handing the initiative to the opposition.

So we were saying to play the ball into the strikers, get the ball up, run forward and try to get the ball into the box. The first goal was always going to be crucial; they got it and then the game changed with the sending-off. But the spirit we showed and the character of the team right until the end of the game was outstanding.

On the effort of the players after the red cards…

It was a frantic game. There was a fine balance between being aggressive and being competitive, and having the calmness to play in situations when they presented themselves. We were a little bit frantic in our decision-making and our play at times. But when we went down to 10 men, I actually thought we had a good spell. If we had equalised at that point, maybe the game changes in our favour. Even when we were down to 10 men at 1-0, I never thought we were out of the game. Right at the end, when we had nine men, we got a corner and got the ball in the box. We were hoping it landed for us and we could have got an equaliser that maybe our efforts deserved.

On Gallacher’s debut…

It was extremely difficult for him to come in tonight. He normally plays left-back; we played him on the left side of a back three and it’s not easy. We don’t play a defensive back three, we play an attacking back three where they have to defend big spaces, they press forward and he had to deal with space behind him. During the game he settled into it and got better. He’ll take time to adapt to how we play – and he’ll get better.

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On Lewis’ display…

I was really pleased with Adam, I thought he was excellent. He was a really good outlet for us in the first half and put some terrific crosses in. For his first start at U23 level, ‘mature’ was probably the right word for him. He looked as though he enjoyed it. He’ll benefit from it and get better.

On Lallana’s red card…

I’ve never seen Adam react like that, so I’d like to see the incident again. It was ironic because we had Liam Millar on the side of the pitch and we were ready to sub him. He was actually coming off. I’d have to see the situation again.

On the remainder of the season…

We have got games to go. We have to dust ourselves down and go again. The attitude and character we showed tonight, on a difficult pitch for both teams, was excellent. We’ve got plenty of games to come. We’ll dust ourselves down and go again at West Ham in our next league game.