The broadcasting blackout didn’t stop the story. Liverpool and Shrewsbury took to Anfield to play out an intriguing tie that was defined by two goals; one against Liverpool, the other for them. This FA Cup replay, populated by unfamiliar personnel (both on the pitch and the sideline), was ultimately settled by an unfortunate own-goal by Shrewsbury’s Ro-Shaun Williams.
That statistic doesn’t tell the full story, as Liverpool’s youth team were more than a match for a Shrewsbury side who seemed devoid of the pluck they showed in the original fixture.
The much-published absence of the first team squad and manager meant that Liverpool made 11 changes on the night, lining up with Caoimhín Kelleher in goal and a back four of Neco Williams, Ki-Jana Hoever, Sepp van den Berg, and Adam Lewis. The Reds midfield was Leighton Clarkson, Pedro Chirivella, Jake Cain and captain for the night Curtis Jones. Harvey Elliott and Liam Millar completed the Reds’ lineup.
Liverpool’s relative comfort in the game was highlighted by the fact that Neil Critchley wasn’t minded to make a substitution until the 82nd minute. At the end of play Liverpool had recorded 58% possession, 14 corners to Shrewsbury’s three, and four shots on target to Shrewsbury’s zero. Liverpool put together an accomplished display, and their goal in the 75th minute owed to concerted pressure on the Shrewsbury defence.
With 15 minutes left to play Ro-Shaun Williams planted a header that would’ve considered sublime had it been into the correct net. It owed much to Williams’ delivery, who with each appearance looks more similar to Trent Alexander-Arnold with respect to having a right-foot wand.
This was after Liverpool had survived a scare, with a Shaun Whalley goal disallowed for offside following a VAR consultation. The finish was shrewd, but celebrations were cut short after the video system intervened. Notwithstanding the correctness of the call, the Shrews will lament the inclusion of the technology at Anfield.
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Though Shrewsbury wouldn’t have deserved the lead, the fact that it was a tangible possibility seemed to scare the young Reds. They had been comfortable to that point without really applying consistent pressure. Emboldened from their near-miss, Liverpool’s goal came 16 minutes later.
Liverpool saw out the remainder of the game surprisingly comfortably, despite the introduction of fourth round hero Jason Cummings. No Reds fan left the game early, as the Anfield faithful jubilantly cheered for their future Reds.
Liverpool march onto the fifth round of the FA Cup. It may not be a headache that Klopp wants, but the kids will march onto Chelsea with his utmost admiration.