Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Marsh rescues Liverpool amid Palace revival

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Liverpool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Crystal Palace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

FOUR DAYS after succumbing 5-0 to Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League, a makeshift Crystal Palace were within 14 minutes of a well-earned place in the quarter-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup last night when a Mike Marsh penalty cancelled out Chris Coleman's goal shortly after the interval.

It was debatable whether Marsh should have been on the pitch to take the spot kick, having come perilously close to his second sending-off of the season moments earlier. Liverpool, however, finished strongly and will not be unduly daunted by the prospect of a replay at Selhurst Park on 16 December, where Palace have not won a League game this season.

Steve Coppell deployed Eddie McGoldrick as sweeper and gave full debuts to George Ndah and Rob Bowry, yet Palace were anything but negative. Graeme Souness had warned that no two games are ever alike, and a first half in which the visitors might have turned Saturday's scoreline on its head proved his point.

This unexpected tone was set in the 10th minute, when Mike Hooper had to dive to stop Richard Shaw's low shot after a strong run and cross by John Humphrey. Liverpool immediately had to replace David Burrows, carried off after a robust but unpenalised tackle by Gareth Southgate, and almost conceded a goal while they were reorganising.

Ndah chased a long pass only for Hooper to drive his clearance against him. With the goal unguarded, the 17-year-old's involuntary strike passed just wide.

Palace again came close in the 21st minute, when a long ball broke off Torben Piechnik to Coleman. The Welshman, nominally a defender but playing up front in the absence of the ineligible Chris Armstrong and the injured Paul Williams, was too close for Hooper's comfort with his chip. .

On the half-hour, a one-two with Ndah left Bowry in the clear, his angled shot rebounding off the near post into Hooper's arms. Next it was Ndah's turn to go clear, but he showed too much of the ball to Hooper.

The total of Liverpool's first- half attacking was a John Barnes volley that missed the target. Nigel Martyn's first save did not come until the 48th minute, when he easily held a Barnes header.

Justice was finally seen to be done in the 56th minute as Palace sent their 300 followers wild with a fine goal. Southgate - who with Ndah, Bowry and Simon Osborn formed the most inexperienced midfield in the club's history - broke away down the right, and his cross was met with a near-post header by the diving Coleman.

Stung into retaliation, Liverpool were close to an equaliser in the 61st minute. Barnes's shot flashed across the goal to safety, but the booking of Eric Young for a foul on Don Hutchison was an indication of the pressure Palace were under.

Young, the captain, was fortunate to avoid dismissal after another crude challenge on the same player. Equally, Marsh might have been shown the red card after a professional foul on Ndah. He was not, and was therefore able to earn Liverpool a second chance after Ndah had toppled Rob Jones in the 76th minute. Remarkably, it was Liverpool's first shot on target.

Souness later said Burrows would be out for three months with torn knee ligaments, but appeared to over-react in his condemnation of Palace. 'We expected a physical game, and we certainly got one,' he said. 'The referee allowed things to go on that I've never seen since I've been back in England. If that's what football is about, I might as well get another job.'

Coppell, when told of the Liverpool manager's outburst, responded pointedly: 'We were hard, but I don't think we were dirty.'

Liverpool: Hooper; Marsh, Burrows (Wright, 11), Nicol, Piechnik, Hutchison, McManaman, Redknapp, Stewart, Barnes, R Jones. Substitute not used: Kozma.

Crystal Palace: Martyn; Humphrey, Shaw, Southgate, Young, Thorn, Osborn, Ndah, Coleman, Bowry, McGoldrick. Substitutes not used: Watts, Sinnott.

Referee: B Hill (Kettering).

Liverpool's Cup-Winners' Cup hope, page 31