Result: Liverpool u19 5-0 Napoli u19 (UEFA Youth League)
Venue: Langtree Park, St. Helen’s RLFC (Tuesday 11th December 2018, 1pm)
Att: 350 (approx., no idea)
A chance to tick off a non-regular ground is always hard to pass up, and so this one proved as well. Liverpool u19’s have been using St Helens RLFC’s home at Langtree Park for their UEFA Youth League games this year and what better time to get it “ticked” than with a 1pm kick-off? Even better, it was a free one, with my Liverpool supporting Mum being quite eager to go and my Dad tagged along as transportation!! As such, there’s very little to mention pre-match as it was a straight journey there, though I did miss the first couple of minutes trying to find the open turnstiles.
Eventually the ticket office pointed me in the correct direction and for £3 (my Mum was free with her LFC membership), I was into Langtree Park – or the Totally Wicked Stadium as it’s quite amusingly known for sponsorship reasons. The ground is similar to most newer-build rugby grounds with two large covered terraces, one behind each goal, and two all-seater stands on the sides that run the length of the pitch. Two corners are filled in too between the Main Stand, where hospitality boxes are situated and either terrace, with a small scoreboard in the other corner of the left-hand goal end from my viewpoint in the North Stand. Liverpool were already qualified so little rode on the tie all things considered, bar the fact they could pip PSG to top spot with a win. With that being said, let’s get straight on with the action….
Finally getting into a seat in the…not so packed ground, it quickly became apparent that the Italian side’s youngsters were no real match for their counterparts. Goalkeeper and skipper Alessandro Fortunato D’Andrea pulled off a pair of fine early stops to deny Jake Cain and Paul Glatzel and keep his side level, though he did soon commit one of those truly blatant ‘keeper fouls when rushing out of his area and bringing down pacey winger, and my current Football Manager left-winger, Rafael Camacho.
Curtis Jones had earlier fired wide as Liverpool quickly stamped their authority on proceedings in the first twenty minutes or so, whilst Liam Millar shinned a shot high over the bar from around ten yards and with an empty net gaping, before the young Reds finally grabbed the breakthrough with around ten minutes remaining to the break, when a good move down the left flank resulted in the ball finding Jones whose initial shot was deflected into the path of Camacho, the Portuguese making no mistake in finding the net.
Liverpool sensed a quick kill now and duly added a second before the break when D’Andrea could only parry a low Camacho cross-shot to the arriving Millar who slotted home this time round. That would be it for the first-half action, with us lot heading down into the concourse beneath the stand, where I ended up with the final hot-pot pie on offer, thanks to my Mum kindly giving it up to me on blog purposes! It wouldn’t be one otherwise and I’ll make it up at Christmas. Anyways, she ended up with Haribo’s, so who really won here?! Food arguments notwithstanding, the game was shortly about to restart and so it was back to our seats for the second period…..and it started with a bang!
Just a couple of minutes after the resumption, the third goal would arrive through Glatzel playing the ball to Millar, before the latter returned the favour and Glatzel rocketed a shot into the roof of the net, the ball shaving the bar on its way in. D’Andrea may have been a bit disappointed in where he’d been beaten, the effort flying beyond him at his near post and this would have almost certainly have been the case almost immediately afterwards, when Jones beat his man and shot under the body of the Neapolitan custodian for number 4. The small number of Italian fans who’d come out to watch the first of a likely double-header for them were surely hoping this wasn’t a precursor of things to come, their very slight ripple of applause for the first band of subs not being repeated.
The glut of allowed substitutes broke the game up somewhat and the visitors began to gain something of a foothold, including managing their (apparent) one and only effort of the contest during this period. However, the Reds soon put a stop to any kind of hopes of a consolation and added a fifth just before the end when sub Bobby Duncan fired a finely struck effort from outside the area into the bottom corner, leaving D’Andrea with no chance. However, without the ‘keeper being in very good form, this could have been double figures and that wouldn’t have been a surprise, considering the apparent gulf in determination. Perhaps this is unsurprising given that, as I said earlier, Napoli were playing for nothing but pride.
That was that and Liverpool u19’s marched on to the next stages and continued their European adventure post-Christmas, while the Napoli side headed off home licking their wounds. As for us, a bit of getting lost in finding a pub eventually ended up with us at the ground’s near neighbour, by the name of the Glass Horse – the name seemingly deriving from nearby Haydock Park and the famed St. Helen’s Glassworks. Whatever the case, I ended up with a pint of Greene King’s East Coast IPA which was pretty decent at £3.35 before the trip home was undertaken without issue.
Not much to say on this one really, all things considered. The ground was decent view wise, but obviously there was next to nothing in terms of atmosphere with 8/10ths being empty. The game was fine, albeit one-sided, and the food and pub were both decent too, the pie being well worth the effort if you get the chance. Onwards to Saturday and a rare trip down to the Southern League….
Value For Money: 8