Hodgson apologises to fans and hails underdogs who 'deserved to win'

Liverpool 2 Northampton Town 2 (Northampton win 4-2 on penalties)

As Abdul Osman, a Manchester United fan no less, stepped forward to score the penalty that sent Liverpool out of the Carling Cup against League Two side Northampton Town last night, the rain at Anfield continued to fall in the most biblical manner possible. How very apt. David was about to slay Goliath.

And more worryingly for Liverpool, it was no less than Northampton deserved and entirely in keeping with an evening of stupendous drama in this third-round tie.

The visitors did not arrive on Merseyside and somehow conjure a victory from nowhere, they did not score fortunate goals and then profit from Liverpudlian profligacy, or at least not too much; this was an encounter which might well underline that class can be found in English football's lower divisions.

Alternatively, and perhaps more precisely, it could also suggest that not much class can be found at Anfield at the moment, particularly when Roy Hodgson, the club's manager, changed all 11 starting players from those who lost at Old Trafford at the weekend.

The thinking was clear; blood some youngsters against inferior opposition. It backfired badly. Very, very badly.

"I can only apologise to the fans who expected to see us win," the aghast and sodden Hodgson said afterwards. "The fact is the players have to accept responsibility. I accept the responsibility for changing a lot of players in the team. I thought they were good enough to wine but they weren't. You must give credit to Northampton, who are an experienced side.

"They will feel they have stolen nothing here and they will believe they deserve their victory. I've got to say I'm not in the mood for talking about positives. We want to do well in the Carling Cup – we haven't done well in the Carling Cup.

"We have been given a kind draw when you look at the possible sides you could draw. When you play a team from three leagues below then you expect to win. When you don't win you have to take criticism from the top downward. We must all take our responsibility. It's a major setback for the club as a whole, of course it is.

"The Carling Cup is a cup we are capable of doing well in and we are playing against lower league opponents. So if it doesn't result in a victory it is a very negative thing and a setback for the club and one of several setbacks."

When Milan Jovanovic scored the first goal and his maiden Liverpool effort after just nine minutes, the Kop relaxed and expected a cricket score. What they got instead was a sublime example of a side not being overawed by venue, history or reputation.

Not that there were many Liverpool reputations on display, as the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were eschewed in favour of Jay Spearing and Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

To Northampton's credit, they were not bothered who they were facing. It was still Liverpool, it was still Anfield, they would still give their all and proved that in fine manner.

Billy McKay found the equaliser after 56 minutes as he ghosted away from Daniel Agger to thrash the ball past the debutant goalkeeper Brad Jones before Michael Jacobs also benefited from loose Liverpool defending during extra time as Northampton went 2-1 up.

Northampton's dominance had been such that they had an incredible seven corners to Liverpool's two going into the second period of extra time. However, the nagging perception that they couldn't and wouldn't do it refused to go away. After all, they had lost to Shrewsbury Town at the weekend in the league.

That feeling seemed to be set in concrete when David Ngog headed Liverpool level in the 116th minute and Liverpool then flooded forward looking to win the match before it came down to the 12-yard lottery.

That did not happen as attempt after attempt was deflected away from danger by the Northampton side, who by now were out on their feet.

They clambered back up, though, during the penalty shoot-out, facing the Kop End. Steve Guinan missed the first for the visitors before Liverpool's Ngog missed their first attempt as well and, although 69 league positions separated the two sides, the tension in this famous old stadium was as genuine and as heartfelt as for any of the engrossing evenings it has hosted in the past.

It came down to who would break first and the answer was Nathan Eccleston, the Liverpool substitute who hit the crossbar.

Cue Osman's finest hour. Cue the blackest of nights for Hodgson and Co and the heaviest of nights for the Liverpool manager's opposite number, Ian Sampson.

"I was delighted with the way we played and how we passed the ball around," he understandably grinned. "I'm over the moon; to play like that is fantastic. It is starting to sink in and we'll have a few beers on the bus. You're all more than welcome. We will make it a party bus. This is up there as one of the highlights of my career," Sampson declared.

"To win at Anfield as a manager after just one year is absolutely delightful and certainly a highlight. The way we played was great. Full credit to the players, they are a young team and they followed their instructions very well."

Liverpool were also a young team. Yet that was where the comparisons ended. It was where the Northampton celebrations began.

Liverpool (4-5-1): Jones ; Kelly, Kyrgiakos, Agger, Wilson; Pacheco (Ince, 105), Lucas, Spearing, Jovanovic (Eccleston, 90), Babel (Shelvey, 100); Ngog. Substitutes not used Hansen (gk), Amoo, Wisdom, Robinson.

Northampton (4-5-1): Dunn; Johnson (Wedderburn, 88), Holt, Tozer, Davis; Rodgers (Herbert, 80), Gilligan, Thornton, Osman, Jacobs; McKay 7 (Guinan, 83). Substitutes not used Walker (gk), Harris, Slowe, Kaziboni.

Man of the match Osman.

Referee A Taylor (Cheshire).

Attendance 22,577.

Match rating 9/10.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn