Sligo Rovers 1, Liverpool U-21s 2
SLIGO Rovers fell to a 2-1 defeat last night, Wednesday, as they hosted the Liverpool U-21s at The Showgrounds for their second pre-season outing.
In front of over 2,500 fans, Adam Phillips gave Liverpool U-21s a 32nd minute lead that the visitors held at half-time.
Rovers levelled through a penalty after 62 minutes from the impressive Jimmy Keohane but seven minutes later Liverpool U-21s retook the lead when Will Marsh netted.
Captain Tim Clancy was almost caught for pace by Jerome Sinclair after four minutes, but he recovered well to stop the striker in his tracks who otherwise looked through on goal.
Mikey Place had the first real chance of the game after 10 minutes when his strike from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection and looped just over the bar.
A ball into the box on the half-hour mark from Keohane threatened to cause havoc when a deflection veered it away from Andy Firth, but the visitors’ goalkeeper was alert enough to dive on top of it before any Rovers player could take advantage.
Liverpool U-21s broke the deadlock two minutes later when referee Ray Matthews played advantage in favour of Brooke Lennon, allowing him to burst forward and play in Phillips, who calmly rolled the ball around the onrushing Michael Schlingermann.
Rovers came close to equalising moments later when Liam Martin released a ball from the left into the box for Kieran Sadlier, who twisted and turned around Kris Polgar before shooting just over.
The home side went close again just before the interval when Craig Roddan knocked a super ball over the top for Martin who ran onto it but lost his balance at the crucial moment as his shot trickled wide.
After a lacklustre start to the second-half, Liverpool left-back Sam Hart sparked the game back into life when he made a superb run from the centre of the pitch before seeing a venomous shot tipped over.
Rovers were given a golden opportunity just past the hour mark when Joe Maguire was adjudged to have stopped Keohane’s shot with his hand inside the box.
The attacking midfielder stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and made no mistake as he placed his effort into the bottom left corner.
Liverpool reclaimed their lead with 20 minutes to go when, after an initial excellent save from Ciaran Nugent, Marsh was on hand to score from a tight angle just moments after his introduction.
With five minutes left, all corners of the ground rose to their feet and produced a rapturous applause as Alan Keane, who recently announced his retirement, was introduced for his final Rovers appearance.
Chris Lyons, Raffaele Cretaro and Gary Armstrong combined with one sweeping move but the latter’s low strike was blocked by Firth as the young Liverpool stars held on for a narrow victory.
Squads and management from both sides gathered at full-time to form a guard of honour for Alan Keane in a fitting tribute to the 31-year-old as he walked down The Showgrounds tunnel for the final time as a player.
With Kieran Sadlier the standout Rovers performer, Jimmy Keohane, Craig Roddan and Regan Donelon also shone.
Best for Rovers: Kieran Sadlier
Sligo Rovers: Michael Schlingermann; Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Tim Clancy, Mick Leahy, Regan Donelon; Jordan Richards, Craig Roddan, Jimmy Keohane, Mikey Place, Kieran Sadlier; Liam Martin.
Subs used: Ciaran Nugent, Gary Boylan, Jeff Henderson, Gary Armstrong, Raffaele Cretaro, Chris Lyons, Alan Keane
Subs not used: Oisin Connolly, Ross Taheny, Paul Doyle, Jason Hunt
Liverpool U-21s: Andy Firth; Kris Polgar, Tom Brewitt, Joe Maguire, Sam Hart; Matt Virtuee, Adam Phillips, Alex O’Hanlon, Ovie Ejaria, Brooke Lennon; Jerome Sinclair
Subs used: Paulo Alves, Caoimhin Kelleher, Madger Gomes, Toni Gomes, Will Marsh, Ryan McLoughlin and Ryan Kent
Referee: Ray Matthews