Liverpool 1-0 Shrewsbury Town: Reds' next generation make FA Cup progress

Ro-Shaun Williams' own goal condemned League One side Shrewsbury Town to a 1-0 defeat by a young Liverpool side in the FA Cup fourth round.


Liverpool players celebrate the own-goal that sealed a spot in the FA Cup fifth round.   -  Getty Images

Liverpool's youngest-ever side earned a place in the FA Cup fifth round as Ro-Shaun Williams' calamitous own goal gave the Reds a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town.

With Jurgen Klopp having refused to field any of Liverpool's first-team regulars in Tuesday's replay, as well as handing academy coach Neil Critchley the reins, a group with an average age of 19 years and 102 days battled to victory at Anfield.

Ultimately, it was a huge slice of good fortune which sealed the win - Shrewsbury defender Ro-Shaun Williams heading Neco Williams' crossfield ball into the visitor's net in the 75th minute.

Shrewsbury had a goal of its own ruled out by VAR prior to the opener, but this win was no less than Liverpool's next generation deserved, with a trip to Chelsea coming up in round five.

Despite a sell-out crowd, Liverpool's youngsters showed no signs of stage fright in the opening exchanges, though its first attempt did not come until the 26th minute, when 19-year-old captain Curtis Jones' free-kick was comfortably saved by Max O'Leary.

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Neco Williams arrowed a strike just wide before half-time and he looked all set to break the deadlock shortly after the restart, but O'Leary stuck out a leg to prevent a Liverpool opener.

Yet it appeared Shrewsbury had dealt the first blow just before the hour. A minute after coming on, Daniel Udoh drilled a low cross into the six-yard box, with Shaun Whalley heading home from point-blank range after Caoimhin Kelleher's initial save.

However, VAR came to Liverpool's rescue, disallowing the goal for Scott Golbourne drifting offside.

With Udoh and Jones having exchanged chances, Sam Ricketts introduced Jason Cummings - the Shrewsbury hero of the first leg - with 16 minutes remaining.

But Shrewsbury was behind moments later, as Ro-Shaun Williams headed Neco Williams' hopeful long-range punt over O'Leary and into an empty net, as Liverpool's hard work finally paid off.

What does it mean? Youngsters have earned their chance

Chelsea awaits at Stamford Bridge in the fifth round and Klopp is sure to take charge of that one, and bring his established stars with him. But the likes of Jones, Neco Williams and Harvey Elliott have all surely done enough to put themselves in contention for at least a place on the bench in west London, if not a start.

Jones leads by example

He only turned 19 on January 30, but Jones - who scored the exceptional winner against Everton in round three - took to the role of captain brilliantly. Indeed, he became the club's youngest first-team skipper on Tuesday, and ran the show with the assurance of a first-team regular.

Nightmare at the Kop end for Ro-Shaun Williams

Donald Love scored an own goal for Shrewsbury in the first leg and it was his team-mate Ro-Shaun Williams, a former Manchester United youth player, who cost his side on Tuesday. Neco Williams' pass should have been a simple one to deal with but, seemingly unaware that O'Leary had raced off his line, the defender attempted to cushion a header back to his goalkeeper, only to realise far too late that he had directed it towards an empty net.

What's next?

Liverpool needs six wins to wrap up the Premier League title - that is assuming Manchester City does not drop more points - and the Reds' charge towards the top-flight crown continues against Norwich City on February 15. Shrewsbury returns to League One action against MK Dons on Saturday.

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