Burton 2 City 1
Report by Ian Bason
Taking in a rare away game, the contrast in grounds between sitting high up behind netting in Porto, to standing nearly in touching distance of a corner taker at Burton can hardly have been in sharper contrast.
As the safe standing lobby took a significant step forwards last weekend following the results of the Spirit of Shankly (Liverpool Supporters Trust) survey, I have personally always been in favour of fans having the choice but always felt I would not use the standing section myself, but last night’s experience at the tight Pirelli Stadium could cause a re-think, more so if away sections in grounds had separate standing and seating sections, anyway on to the game.
The first half was largely a dis-appointing experience from an LCFC viewpoint, while recognising the majority of players featuring last night are unlikely to make the starting eleven against Arsenal, the lack of creativity with the notable exception of Mahrez, meant Burton looked the better side.
Far too many passes were square rather than testing the Burton defence, in part due to a lack of movement from Musa, Ulloa or King who seemed to be playing the more advanced role of a 3 man midfield, so it was mainly Chiilwell getting on the end of Mahrez’s balls into the box.
I was looking forward to my first view of Iborra, while Matty James had received positive reports from earlier pre-season appearances, but we failed to control the midfield, with Burton looking the more lively, while defensively it was hardly a surprise when Burton took the lead from a fairly basic cross into the box.
Lloyd Dyer was given a rousing reception prior to kick off and doesn’t seem to have lost much of his pace given a few years have passed since he left us, but several of the Burton attacking players continued to test the back four and a second Burton goal resulted, although it looked offside to me.
Benalouane’s attempts at reaching the strikers became increasingly embarrassing as half time approached, managing the touchline and directly out for a goal kick, with no LCFC shirt anywhere close by, but his night was only going to get worse.
Half time saw two changes with Hamer and Maguire replacing Jakupović and Morgan. If I had to pinpoint the main reason for the vastly improved second half performance I would put it down to Maguires’s distribution from the back, because again the central defensive pairing had plenty of the ball, but Maguire consistently made good use of it.
On the hour Gray replaced Mahrez and he contributed an excellent probing 30 minutes, which again sparked debate among the fans around me as to whether a formation could be found to accommodate both Gray and Mahrez (assuming they both remain at the club)
Numerous chances came and went before Maguire converted a re-bound from about the penalty spot in the 66th minute.
Shortly afterwards Ndidi replaced James, however the next change was enforced when Benalouane made a challenge that was equally dangerous and totally unnecessary given it was close to both the touch and halfway lines. In a League game, a straight red card would have been instantly flashed, but Shakespear immediately substituted him to keep an 11 vs 11 game
I have previously said to fellow fans that Benalouane is “a red card waiting to happen”, so let’s hope that’s it out his system and I was pleased to read Shakey’s after match quote “Reckless, would have been a red card for me. He’s got to learn from that. If he doesn’t he won’t be involved.” A clearer public message could not have been made.
Further chances came and went, although credit to Bywater for several excellent saves.
Ndukwu, who had been an unused sub for several previous pre-season games, was finally given a cameo role and as part of if took the best corner of the night with vicious in swinger from the right, this followed several good quality corners from Gray. We could certainly do with that far more often in League games.
So will the Iheanacho deal finally be done before the final pre-season game on Friday or will the greediness of two rival agents mean we could face Arsenal with a player who may not start because he isn’t used to how his new team mates play. To me that is a disgrace and highlights all that is wrong with football.
Teams Here https://www.lcfc.com/match/22334#line-ups
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation