Ngog 17, 59
I guess yesterday was a journey into the unknown? The papers were full of articles along the lines of “10 Things you need to know about Rabotnicki”. However the same could be said for Liverpool? Clearly everyone knows about the club, it’s history and were they come from but how would they perform?
Even if we’d slipped up one would have had sympathy for Roy Hodgson and the team. With many key players still on holiday or just back this was a tie that everyone could have done without, for a week or two at least? However, we acquitted ourselves well, increased in confidence as the game went on and eventually ran comfortable winners albeit against opposition that didn’t really test us.
So from a game that presented a problem to something to be positive about, a surprise even? The performances of Amoo, who clearly has pace in abundance, Spearing and in particular Martin Kelly suggested that we will see a lot more of them once the real campaign starts. Then of course there is David Ngog. Maligned in some quarters whilst others say give him a chance. Hopefully his two goals will have boosted his confidence and silenced those who impatiently seek to dismiss what he may have to offer in time?
Our first, after fifteen minutes or so, was just the start we wanted. Lucas’ free kick was missed by two Rabotnicki defenders leaving Ngog free to confidently find the net with a lifted shot over the advancing keeper. Easy stuff and just the sort confidence building, nerve soothing start we needed.
After that things went a bit quiet on the attacking front however. We were rarely tested by the home side. The nearest we came to any trouble was Ze Carlos’s long-range effort which was easily snaffled by Cavalieri. Indeed although Mr H had his options limited, he made dam sure that the defence had as much experience as he could afford. Agger, Skrtel and Kyrgiakos had a good evening and gave the rest of the side a decent platform upon which to build. The results of this were seen as the game progressed and we became more and more assured.
This was seen just on the hour as Martin Kelly, building impressively on his assured performance the Champions League against Lyon last season, found Ngog with a superb cross. The Frenchman finished coolly and impressively volleying into the top corner from around the edge of the six yard box. From then on with the tie effectively over the changes were rung giving everyone an unexpected chance gain more experience and fitness partly making up for the rained off game in Switzerland a few weeks back?
So, a good night. Some might say we gambled and got away with it however I’d say not so. Said Mr H
“I think it was a landmark occasion for many players. There were a lot of players there who have played very few games in the first team and there were other players who were only a couple of weeks back off holiday. I think to step out and play a tie of this nature it asked a lot of them but they all stepped up and answered any questions the opposition could pose”
It is refreshing that Mr H, albeit perhaps by necessity, had confidence and trust in his team even if some were inexperienced. On the negative side Aquilani and Jovanovic had quiet games however one shouldn’t complain, we deserved the victory even though the opposition wasn’t that demanding and will feel optimistic that there is life beyond Gerrard, Torres et al. Given the circumstances the result and performance was better than one had probably hoped for at this stage of the season. Let’s hope we continue to be surprised?
Finally, a word to Primetime TV: £4-99! Shame on you!
Rabotnicki: Bogatinov, Sekulovski (Adem 43), Dimovski, Belica, Todorovski, Gligorov, Tuneski (Petkovski 77), Fernando Lopes, Filho (Mojsov 57), Da Silva, Dos Santos, Substitutes: Kandikijan, Adem, Roberto Carlos, Marcio, Mojsov, Petkovski, Sinkovic
Liverpool: Cavalieri, Agger (Darby 72), Kyrgiakos, Kelly, Skrtel, Aquilani (Dalla Valle 83), Lucas, Spearing, Jovanovic, Ngog, Amoo (Eccleston 83), Substitutes: Gulacsi, Darby, Ayala, Shelvey, Dalla Valle, Eccleston, Ince