Date: 29th July 2009 at 5:22pm
Written by: Sam Robinson

A young Liverpool side twice came from behind to salvage a draw at Prenton Park against Tranmere Rovers thanks to some late drama.

With a large majority of the Reds’ first team and reserves on tour in Asia, young players like David Amoo and Nathan Ecclestone were given a chance to shine by John McMahon. The most notable inclusion was that of Liverpool skipper and England international Steven Gerrard, fresh from being found not guilty of affray by the Liverpool Crown Court.

Ex-Liverpool man Barnes made one change from the side which beat Southport 3-1 at Haig Avenue on Tuesday night with Terry Gornell replacing Craig Curran up front for the hosts. Loanee Luke Daniels started his first game at Prenton Park since joining the Whites on loan from West Brom.

The first opportunity of the match arrived within ten minutes and it was perhaps unsurprising that Gerrard was the architect of the move. Gerrard fed Vincent Weijl on the left and after a surging run to the edge of the area, the young winger sent over a cross that Nathan Ecclestone controlled before firing in a shot that was deflected over the top.

From the resulting corner the visitors came even closer, Robbie Threlfall powered a near post header just over from Gerrard’s corner.

The game started off with a quick tempo but that soon slowed as both sides tried to break each other down but with neither making a breakthrough or having a significant chance to take the lead. Tranmere seemed happy to retain possession in their own half for long spells of the game before looking to attack Liverpool.

Tranmere had barely threatened the Liverpool back four but had their first opportunity after 35 minutes when Chris Shuker raced down the right flank and cut the ball back for Terry Gornell who in turn set-up Ian Thomas-Moore to tamely shoot into the arms of goalkeeper David Martin.

Liverpool responded soon after with a free-kick from Gerrard hitting the top of the wall and going for a corner from which Victor Palsson saw his headed effort well held by Luke Daniels.

The home side were more than holding their own against their Premier League opponents and a spell of pressure towards the end of the first half led to them taking the lead.

Alan Mahon and Aaron Cresswell combined well down the left hand side and won a corner which Paul McLaren floated all the way to the far post where an unmarked Shuker, the smallest man on the field, had the simplest task of heading home from within the six yard box to the delight of the home support.

Steven Gerrard tried to bring the visitors level before the break but he was thwarted by Gareth Edds, who was again partnering Ash Taylor in the heart of the Tranmere defence.

Tranmere made their first change at half-time with trialist George Abbey coming off after looking promising in the first half. Youngster Alex Pursehouse was the man to replace him at right back as Tranmere looked to preserve or add to their lead.

Liverpool came out for the second half with all guns blazing and a superb pass from Gerrard released Amoo down the left flank and after a heavy first touch, the former Millwall man sent a low ball across the six yard box that Gerardo Bruna came within a whisker of touching home to the agony of the fans in the Cowshed.

Liverpool’s stand in manager McMahon then introduced Adam Hammill for Weijl, and the youngster made an instant impact, setting up Gerrard to crash a 25 yarder into the bottom left-hand corner on 56 minutes. It was a typical Gerrard goal and one that was applauded in all stands by the Liverpool fans present.

With Gerrard’s work for the night done, Liverpool made a flurry of changes and within seconds of making said substitutions they could have been ahead. Ecclestone seized upon a mistake by Ash Taylor but saw his low shot brilliantly smothered by Daniels, who is fast becoming a fan favourite with the Prenton Park faithful.

Paul McLaren almost regained the lead for Tranmere but his twenty-five yard effort whistled past the post with the Liverpool goalkeeper beaten.

Tranmere again threatened the Liverpool goal with Ash Taylor having two headers saved; the second superbly by the backpedalling substitute goalkeeper Chris Oldfield.

From the resulting corner, the home side re-took the lead as Gareth Edds powered a header into the ground which proved too much for Oldfield, who could only help the ball en route to the bottom corner.

With little over a minute remaining, Hammill charged into the box and he was brought down by John Welsh for a clear penalty which Hamill himself cooly converted to rescue the draw for Liverpool.