Youngsters retain Youth Cup

26 April 2007

Liverpool's class of 2007 wrote their names into Anfield history by retaining the FA Youth Cup at, of all places, Old Trafford.

Steve Heighway's under-18s lifted the trophy after a dramatic penalty shoot-out against United as the 'Theatre of Dreams' became the Theatre of Nightmares for a generation of Mancunians.
Having lost the first leg at Anfield 2-1, the boys went into the game with a mountain to climb.

Spirit, maturity and poise would be needed to prevail, and that's exactly what Heighway got from his fledgling stars.

Liverpool had to be patient on the night, with the game getting off to a cagey start. United doubled up on dangerous wingers Jimmy Ryan and Ray Putterill, making it hard for the visitors to penetrate.

Youth Cup veteran Craig Lindfield could perhaps have done better on the one occasion Ryan did manage to get the ball into the box during the first half.
Liverpool's rhythm was nearly disrupted further four minutes after the restart when Febian Brandy found himself one-on-one with 'keeper David Roberts. It took a fine save to keep the scoresheet blank. 
It seemed finally we had a game on our hands when two minutes later Lindfield crafted a marvellous chance inside the United box. The Reds number nine was denied by the post, with strike-partner Ryan Flynn unable to direct the rebound into the net. 
But then came the moment the thousands of travelling Merseysiders had been waiting for when Robbie Threlfall, who scored an own goal to let United back into the contest 10 days earlier, went from zero to hero by sending an unstoppable left-foot volley into the back of Ron-Robert Zieler's net.

With the away-goals rule not applying in Youth Cup games, the tie was heading for extra-time. 
Putterill had different ideas, mind, and he nearly doubled the Reds' advantage on the night in the closing stages with a sublime curling shot which crept agonisingly wide of Zieler's goal. 
Liverpool perhaps came closest to clinching victory in extra-time when Lindfield turned the United defence inside-out before lashing a low drive goalwards. But, for the second time of the evening, the young marksman was denied by the post. 
With the 120 minutes up, United won the toss, with Magnus Eikrem stepping up to take the first penalty only to be denied by a fine save from Roberts.

Seven successful kicks later it was 4-3, meaning Sam Hewson had to score or the cup was going to Merseyside. He missed, and Liverpool were going home with their third FA Youth Cup.