Football / FA Premiership: Fowler set on a fair course

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The Independent Online
Oldham Athletic . .0

Liverpool . . . . .3

Dicks 47, Fowler 53, Redknapp 80

Attendance: 14,573

THERE may still be a long hard road ahead but there was enough evidence here that the Liverpool manager, Graeme Souness, may have the basic ingredients of another side to bring tears of joy back to the Kop.

Oldham did not provide the most stringent of tests, but they are hard to beat for sheer honest endeavour. They showed that in abundance here but it was never enough to counter the wit, guile and imagination that oozed from young Jamie Redknapp and Robbie Fowler, cajoled and prompted by John Barnes.

The whirlwind of action that was the first half ended goalless because Bruce Grobbelaar made a brilliant save from Andy Ritchie's fierce 15-yard volley. He was to foil Ritchie again in the second half, but by then Liverpool were two up and in total control.

Three minutes into the second half a swift five-man passing movement springing from Fowler's burst to the edge of the penalty box climaxed with Dicks's 25-yard shot which flew past Jon Hallworth in the Oldham goal. Six minutes later Fowler had the legs of Richard Jobson in the chase for Clough's cunning long ball. The defender's challenge was shrugged off and Hallworth beaten from 15 yards. Ten minutes from the end another patient build-up gave Redknapp the time and space to stab Liverpool's third goal in from the edge of the penalty box via Hallworth's left-hand post.

Oldham's honest toilers refused to roll over and die and they contrived to build up a head of steam that might have brought them a late goal - a consolation they would not have deserved as the second half had emphasised that all the class was clad in red.

At times, though, the Liverpool defence trembled. Steve Nicol often saved their bacon as Neil Ruddock's physical menace failed to deter Ritchie and Graeme Sharpe. The Scot's ability in the air could have led to more serious damage had not Grobbelaar been at his most bizarre best. But the jewels in the crown of this Liverpool side all lie upfront where Ian Rush and John Barnes have developed into compassionate minders for the exciting talent of Fowler, Redknapp and Steve McManaman.

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