Youth Cup glory for Reds

21 April 2006

Ten years on from Liverpool first ever Youth Cup success the Reds were at it again, surviving a second-leg onslaught to see off Manchester City at Eastlands.

John Owens' side went into the clash leading 3-0 from the first-leg after goals from Robbie Threlfall, Ryan Flynn and Miki Roque gave them a commanding advantage in front of a crowd of 12,744 at Anfield.

It should have made the return match little more than a formality but, boosted by the return of first-team sensation Micah Richards, City turned the tables on Liverpool and a Danny Sturridge double almost inspired a sensational Istanbul-style comeback for the hosts.

However, the Reds rearguard stood firm through a combination of luck and heroic defending and they held on to clinch a famous 3-2 victory on aggregate.

Academy director Steve Heighway admitted he was relieved man at the final whistle and paid tribute to the character of his youngsters.

"It was a tough night for us and it feels like we lost almost because City battered us tonight but the boys came through in the end," said Heighway.

"I was under no illusions whatsoever going into the game and I felt we would have to score a goal to win it as I could see City scoring goals. The fact that we didn't score but still won pleases me because they were the better side.

"We kept getting forced backwards and they were winning every header and all the second balls and it was like 15 against our 11 at times, but there is something special about these kids of ours."

He added: "It is definitely a case of relief after this victory as if the game had gone to extra-time I couldn't have seen us coming back from that. It was a very dramatic final with a lot at stake but I'm just really pleased that our lads came through. 
  
"I said to the boys it reminded me of when we won the UEFA Cup in 1973 against Borussia Moenchengladbach. We were 3-0 up from the first leg at Anfield but they battered us in Germany and won 2-0 but we held on to win the cup."