Football: Shrews will fancy chances at Anfield

Left: Jason Cummings, Shrewsbury's two-goal hero, is crowned after the 2-2 draw in the FA Cup fourth round, as stewards prevent ecstatic fans from mobbing him. PHOTO: REUTERS Below: Curtis Jones putting runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool 1-0 up
Above: Jason Cummings, Shrewsbury's two-goal hero, is crowned after the 2-2 draw in the FA Cup fourth round, as stewards prevent ecstatic fans from mobbing him. PHOTO: REUTERS
Left: Jason Cummings, Shrewsbury's two-goal hero, is crowned after the 2-2 draw in the FA Cup fourth round, as stewards prevent ecstatic fans from mobbing him. PHOTO: REUTERS Below: Curtis Jones putting runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool 1-0 up
Above: Curtis Jones putting runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool 1-0 up at the New Meadow. This was the first time in nearly two years that the Reds did not win a match in which they led by at least two goals. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Third-tier side earn FA Cup replay against Reds' second-stringers after gritty display

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed he will not take charge of the Reds' FA Cup fourth-round replay against Shrewsbury Town and none of the senior players from the European champions will take part.

He made 11 changes as the League One side, 59 places below Liverpool in the English football pyramid, came from 2-0 down on Sunday to earn a trip to Anfield next Tuesday.

Despite a calm finish from 18-year-old midfielder Curtis Jones to open the scoring on 15 minutes, Liverpool never settled down as Shrewsbury missed a host of chances to level before the break.

A freak own goal from Donald Love doubled the visitors' lead a minute into the second half, but the Shrews were given a lifeline when substitute Jason Cummings converted a penalty. The striker then sent New Meadow into raptures by slotting low under Adrian 15 minutes from time.

"It was a dream come true against the best team in the world. Going to Anfield is what it's all about," he said.

It was the first time that Liverpool failed to win after leading by at least two goals since April 2018, when they drew 2-2 with West Bromwich Albion in the league. They had won their last 47 such games.

Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts felt they should have secured an even better result. "I am not being big-headed but I am a bit disappointed we did not win," he said.

They might yet pull off an upset. While Klopp did still include a handful of experienced players such as Adrian, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Fabinho and Divock Origi on Sunday, the first team are set to miss the replay as it falls a few days into Liverpool's two-week winter break from Premier League action.

The German, who has never taken Liverpool into the fifth round of the FA Cup since arriving in October 2015, said he has already promised that week off to first-team players and that Under-23 coach Neil Critchley will take charge of the team.

  • 12

    Number of times Liverpool have failed to win away at third-tier opposition in the FA Cup in their last 14 games.

"In April 2019, we got a letter from the Premier League where they asked us to respect the winter break, not to organise international friendlies and not to organise competitive games in respect of it," said Klopp. "I have said to the boys already, two weeks ago, that we will have a winter break, so it means we will not be there - it will be the kids who play that game because they cannot deal with us like nobody cares about it.

"I know it is not very popular, but that's the way I see it and, how I said, the Premier League asked us to respect the winter break and that's what we do. If then the FA do not respect it we cannot change."

But the English Football Association noted yesterday that Liverpool were warned before the current campaign began about the possibility of a fourth-round replay during the mid-season break.

 
 

The FA, which acknowledged the importance of a rest for the players, said clubs were all aware that such a situation could arise.

"This will only affect a small number of clubs due to the split of Premier League fixtures in the mid-season player break," it said.

For the first time, all fifth-round matches this season will be played midweek and go straight to extra-time if they finish in a draw, followed by a penalty shoot-out.

Manchester United and holders Manchester City ensured they were in yesterday's fifth-round draw after thrashing third-tier Tranmere 6-0 and 10-man Fulham 4-0 respectively on Sunday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2020, with the headline 'Shrews will fancy chances at Anfield'. Print Edition | Subscribe