After The Match 


Liverpool-Northampton 2-4 (pens) (1-1, 2-2 aet) 22.9.10 CC-3.r 
Goals: Jovanovic (8), Ngog (116)     McKay (56), Thornton (98)
Team: Jones, Kelly, Wilson, Kyrgiakos, Agger, Lucas, Spearing, Jovanovic, Babel, Pacheco, Ngog
Subs: Eccleston (Jovanovic 90), Shelvey (Babel 99),
Ince (Pacheco 105)
Not used: Hansen,  Amoo, Wisdom, Robinson
Yellow: Thornton (61), Rodgers (66), Davis (82)
Red: None
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Attendance: 22,577
Shots on target: 4-3
Shots off target: 10-7
Blocked shots: 0-1
Fouls conceded: 13-11
Corners: 6-7
Offsides: 3-0
Possession: 57-43
Yellow: 0-3

isn't just

Steven Gerrard
2309: From kings to clowns -
          Liverpool FC's most embarrassing Cup exits

2309: Sorry seems to be the easiest word 
2309: Gerrard issues rallying call
2309: Pathetic Reds hit a 51-year low
2309: Sampson on a high after win
2209: Hodgson makes Reds apology
2209: Cobblers add to Mersey misery 

Gerrard issues rallying call

By Dominic King - Liverpool Echo

Steven Gerrard today promised there will be no sulking at Melwood as Liverpool bid to bounce straight back from their Carling Cup nightmare.

The atmosphere at the Reds' training ground was understandably subdued this morning, as Roy Hodgson's squad came to terms with the shock of losing 4-2 to League Two side Northampton Town on penalties at Anfield last night.

It was a chastening experience for all those involved, as it was for the 11 senior men who watched from the sidelines as Liverpool laboured to a 2-2 draw after extra time.

But with Sunderland arriving at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, Gerrard believes the squad will be pumped up for that crucial fixture and even feels the loss could, in time, be a help to the young men who were pitched into the fray against the Cobblers.

"They will learn from this experience. Football isn't just about highs," Gerrard said.

"Throughout my career I have experienced both highs and lows and probably learnt more from the lows because you look at yourself first, look at what went wrong and try to learn from your mistakes.

"The players are allowed to be down today but it's up to players like myself to pick them back up because playing for this club there are big games every two or three days and we need to get everyone's head focused on Sunderland now.

"I can understand everyone's frustration but I think the Carling Cup now, when you're part of a big club and a big squad, is all about giving young players the chance and the experience because if you put a strong side out then the kids will never get the chance to experience playing in front of big crowds and big competitions.

"There are still some positives underneath the frustration. Although we've gone out and everyone is down and disappointed, the experience that would have given the lads in the dressing room might be vital for the future."

Hodgson's reign has not got off to the start many might have expected but Gerrard, echoing comments Pepe Reina made after the 0-0 draw with Birmingham City, urged fans to be patient and stick with the team.

"What I would ask all the supporters is to trust the players and what the players are saying," Gerrard stressed.

"I've been reading and listening to what they've been saying and they've all said we'll get it right in the end - and we will."

Pathetic Reds
hit a 51-year low

Comment by Dominic King - Liverpool Echo

THIN RED LINE: Manager Roy Hodgson prepares his players for a penalty shoot-out – only the second Liverpool have lost in a senior first team match in the history of the club.

PATHETIC. Absolutely pathetic. The abomination of a story that is the modern day Liverpool Football Club has reached its most depressing low.

Worcester City in 1959 is widely regarded as the most cataclysmic result in Liverpool’s 118-year history but last night 22,577 hardy souls saw Northampton Town achieve a result that must rank alongside it.

How the once mighty have fallen.

Never mind the fact there was late drama.

Ignore that Liver- pool mounted a frantic push to save themselves in the second period of extra time and their proud penalty shoot-out record has taken an unexpected battering.

There is only one fact that matters today: Liverpool have been knocked out of the Carling Cup by a side from League Two after a performance that was shameful in so many ways.

Results such as these plunge clubs into a crisis.

Roy Hodgson took a gamble last night by making 11 changes to the side that had been beaten 3-2 by Manchester United on Sunday, but it backfired spectacularly.

As a result, the disaffected natives are becoming even more restless with their lot.

Normally when Tom Hicks and George Gillett were up to their antics or there was trouble and strife in the boardroom, you could depend on Liverpool to pull out big results and big performances, but now the only thing that follows the Reds is embarrassment.

“We have been here for a very long time and the club will be here for a very long time,” said Managing Director Christian Purslow in his much publicised interview yesterday.

“Our raison d’etre hasn’t changed. We exist as a football club to win trophies. That’s never going to change.”

Yes it is.

When a club gets sucked into a maelstrom such as the one Liverpool have inhabited for the past 12 months, things start to change dramatically and there is no doubt whatsoever that their rivals will have surveyed this result and howled with laughter.

But there are more ramifications.

Losing in such a bitter way impacts on spirit around the training ground; imagine how Jamie Carragher, Dirk Kuyt, Pepe Reina, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres et al felt watching this, knowing another route to silverware has just been wrenched away.

You get the picture. This was Liverpool’s big chance of winning something this season.

A number of rivals for the pot they have lifted a record seven times all fell at the first hurdle and for them to do the same is careless beyond words.

Among the many hot topics that were posted on Liverpool’s official website yesterday, the title of one story leapt off the screen – “Does this cup matter?”

It may be the done thing to poke fun at the Carling Cup, but every Red answer should have been “absolutely”.

It had all started so routinely.

With just eight minutes having elapsed, Daniel Agger rolled the most inviting of balls through Northampton’s defence for Milan Jovanovic to scamper on to and the Serbian forward duly applied the finish that was demanded.

Having given an interview to a television station in Denmark when he stated that he would not sacrifice his principles, here was Agger providing proof of what a talented footballer he is – it was the kind of pass some midfielders at the club could not think of making.

Sadly it was the only flash of quality Liverpool mustered in an opening 45 minutes that was just not good enough; laboured and lethargic – you will have read those words once or twice already this season – they never fashioned another chance to test Northampton keeper Chris Dunn.

Just read that again.

A Premier League side – one of the greatest names in football history – failed to put any kind of pressure on a club whose most recent piece of silverware was the Fourth Division title in 1987 – there can be no bigger indictment.

Full credit to Northampton. Determined, disciplined and knowing they had a stage to make themselves heroes, Ian Sampson’s men gave everything they had and more; for that reason, they absolutely deserved to draw level just before the hour.

Billy McKay was the man who sent the 5,000 visiting supporters into raptures, hooking the ball past Brad Jones from eight yards, but it was utterly shocking for Liverpool to concede – that the defence was undone by a simple chipped ball into the area defied belief.

Then again, most of what was produced – or should that be what wasn’t produced? – defied belief. Other than the goal, Liverpool did not have one single shot on target in normal time and the failure to impose themselves as an attacking force was incomprehensible.

The more Liverpool staggered, the more it became apparent they were in grave danger of being jettisoned from the competition and they were fortunate that the killer blow did not arrive in injury time when Northampton mounted another attack. It proved only to be a temporary reprieve.

Within eight minutes of extra time getting underway, the Cobblers had got the second goal which they had been threatening, Michael Jacobs sweeping the ball past Martin Kelly with Jones stranded.

Though Ngog got them back into it, heading in via a Kyrgiakos flick on, it was impossible to escape the feeling that Liverpool had got away with it.

But their luck ran out after Kelly had made an astonishing goaline clearance from Nathaniel Wedderburn in the penalty shoot-out.

Don’t single Nathan Eccleston out for censure for missing the crucial kick – at least he had the courage to step up and take one. The blame must be shared around from top to bottom. Something, after all, is rotten in the state of Anfield.

Sampson on a high after win

Sky Sports

Northampton manager Ian Sampson rated his side's sensational win over Liverpool in the Carling Cup as one of the best night's of his career.

The League Two Cobblers stunned their Premier League opponents with a penalty shoot-out victory at Anfield to move into the fourth round.

For Liverpool, it was a new low in a dreadful 2010, but the win represented a significant high for Northampton and Sampson.

"It is certainly up there as one of the best nights of my career," he said.

"I won a play-off final at Wembley as a player for Northampton and it ranks right up there with that occasion.

"To be a manger and win at Anfield after only one year in the job I'm absolutely delighted, it is a particular highlight.

"Full credit to the players, they are a young team, with the attitude and desire they showed I can't praise them highly enough."

Hodgson makes Reds apology

Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson apologised to the club's fans after their shock Carling Cup exit at the hands of Northampton.

Hodgson conceded he and the players had to accept responsibility for the defeat as Liverpool saw one of their biggest chances of silverware this season go up in smoke.

Hodgson fielded an under-strength side which still included first-team regulars like Daniel Agger, David Ngog, Ryan Babel and Lucas Leiva and went ahead when Milan Jovanovic scored his first goal for the club in the ninth minute.

However, the Cobblers hit back 10 minutes into the second half through Billy McKay and Michael Jacobs' goal in extra-time appeared to have done enough until Ngog spared Liverpool's blushes four minutes from the end.

But it was only a temporary reprieve as Ngog and Nathan Eccleston missed their spot-kicks, allowing Abdul Osman to net the decisive penalty.

"I don't think we came anywhere near what I hoped to see apart from in the last 15 minutes of extra-time when we made a superb effort after going 2-1 down," he said.

"When it goes to penalties and you are at home and in front of the Kop your hope is that at least the players will have the composure and confidence to win the penalty shoot-out but we didn't.

"All I can do is congratulate Northampton and apologise to everyone; the fans came expecting to see us win and I expected us to win but it wasn't to be.

"These players have to accept responsibility. I accept responsibility for changing a lot of players in the team, I did it because I honestly thought the players I put on the field were good enough to win the game and they weren't.

"The obvious conclusion to that was I shouldn't have changed that many players but we should have been strong enough to get a result.

"We must all take our responsibility. I am just bitterly disappointed that the team I had so much faith in did not repay that faith this evening with the exception of one or two performances."

Hodgson has endured a mixed start to his reign as Liverpool manager after taking over from Rafa Benitez in July.

The Reds have registered just one victory in five domestic games and are 16th in the Premier League table ahead of this weekend's clash with Sunderland.

Hodgson accepted their Carling Cup exit was another setback.

"We wanted to do well in the Carling Cup and we haven't done," added Hodgson.

"We were given a kind draw against a team three leagues below us, were expected to win and when you don't you can expect to be criticised from the top downwards.

"It is a major setback for the club. The Carling Cup is a competition we are capable of doing well in and we were playing lower league opponents.

"Whatever happens, if it doesn't result in a victory it is a very negative thing and a setback for the club, one of many we are facing at the moment."

Cobblers add to Mersey misery

Sky Sports

Northampton plunged Merseyside into deeper misery as the League Two club stunned Liverpool with a memorable penalty shoot-out victory in the third round of the Carling Cup.

Ian Sampson's minnows produced a merited and major giant-killing, which equated to Brentford's spot-kick win over Everton on Tuesday night, and they came from behind to do so.

Goals from Billy McKay and Michael Jacobs seemed set to send Northampton through after extra-time at Anfield, having cancelled out Milan Jovanovic's early opener, but David Ngog took the match to penalties.

Ngog and youngster Nathan Eccleston both missed from the spot, allowing Abdul Osman to score the crucial winning penalty and send the noisy travelling supporters into dreamland.

For the first time in five years Liverpool have not got past the third round, denying them a chance in a competition they were thinking about winning.

Those chances were increased by the exits of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham but an under-strength team failed to deliver.

It would have not been so bad had the Cobblers come to Anfield and given a particularly stirring performance but they were only really energised by McKay's goal, growing in confidence as their opponents' gradually receded.

Worryingly for manager Roy Hodgson, Northampton goalkeeper Chris Dunn was hardly tested.

The Liverpool boss, as he has done in the Europa League, handed the responsibility to a number of fringe players after opting to rest all those who started in the defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.

If he was looking for a reward he did not get one as the team laboured in failing to dispatch opponents 69 league places below them.

The signs were there before the start as the Cobblers had already beaten higher-placed opposition in League One Brighton and Championship side Reading.

Their league form, however, was worse than Liverpool's with only one win in their last eight games and that was indicative of the way they started as the home side dominated.

Prior to the match there had been much fuss about nothing when centre-back Daniel Agger had felt the need to publicly clarify comments he made on Sunday, which were misrepresented as him saying he would not play Hodgson's long-ball game.

Not that he needed to prove a point but he did with a perfectly-judged defence-splitting pass through the inside-left channel which Serbia international Jovanovic collected and fired past Chris Dunn and into the far corner of the net.

Despite dominating possession, Liverpool's rearranged defence gave their opponents too much time on the edge of the penalty area.

Twice Jacobs was allowed to turn and shoot but on both occasions he failed to hit the target, although his curling effort from the left angle of the box briefly had debutant Brad Jones worried as it arced towards the far corner.

Ryan Gilligan also blazed wide from 12 yards after Wilson failed to clear a free-kick.

The second half began similarly until McKay struck in the 56th minute. Kevin Thornton out-jumped Sotirios Kyrgiakos to head Liam Davis' hanging cross into the path of the striker and he blasted home from close range.

In an instant the match appeared to turn on its head as Northampton then became the team in the ascendancy as Liverpool toiled.

Only in the last five minutes of normal time did they push for the winner but the visitors' defence held out to force extra-time.

There was a feeling an upset was on the cards and a second Northampton goal duly came in the 98th minute.

Wilson, a central defender playing at left-back, was too easily beaten by substitute Courtney Herbert.

Jones parried the cross, Martin Kelly stopped Thornton's half-hit shot, but Liverpool could do nothing about Jacobs' follow-up.

Kyrgiakos headed wide and Kelly fired into the side-netting before Ngog hauled Liverpool level with a headed goal from substitute Jonjo Shelvey's corner.

Even then both sides could have snatched a win at the death but Kelly cleared off the line from Nathaniel Wedderburn's shot and Davis deflected over a header from Kyrgiakos.

Northampton's Steve Guinan and Liverpool's Ngog missed the first spot-kicks but when 19-year-old substitute Eccleston hit the crossbar with Liverpool's fourth effort Osman stepped up to send the Cobblers into the last 16.

The result will only increase the scrutiny on Hodgson, whose side have had a disappointing start to the Premier League and are currently 16th.

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