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FOND MEMORIES FOR O'KELLY

6 February 2014

First-team coach remembers our trip to Anfield...

FIRST-team coach, Richard O'Kelly, was part of The Saddlers' team which headed to Liverpool in the semi-final of the Milk Cup 30 years ago on Friday and he played his part in our 2-2 draw.

O'Kelly was heavily involved in our opening goal when he latched onto a loose pass and put the ball across the face of goal where Gary Gillespie's attempted clearance cannoned in off Phil Neal.

"I'm claiming that goal," he said. "It went down as an own goal, but it's mine - any striker worth his salt would do the same!

"That visit to Anfield was a real occasion for us, it was everything that we expected it to be and more.

"We went there flying high in the League and full of belief. I felt as though I could have run all night. I just didn't feel tired and we continued to play the type of pass and move football that had served us so well all season.

"It didn't matter that we were going to the home of the European and League Champions, our style and belief in how the game should be played remained.

"In those days the big teams fielded their full strength line-up. Liverpool had a couple of players missing on the night, but were still a strong outfit.

"When they took the lead it was actually against the run of play, but we kept plugging away and managed to get back on level terms.

"It was an enjoyable game of football, but we were disappointed to find ourselves 2-1 behind. One of our great strengths was our spirit and the fact that we never knew when we were beaten.

"Kevin Summerfield came off the bench and we changed a few things around and it paid off when he read a back-pass and lifted the ball into the net to level the scores.

"We had a good group with a nice blend of youth and experience. There was a real togetherness about us, the only thing we lacked was strength in depth and that ended up costing us.

"There are a lot of similarities between that group and the one we have here now in terms of the spirit, determination and work ethic.

"Both teams had clever midfielders who could move the ball out wide where we had skill and pace and a settled back-line. The only thing the current day team doesn't have is my pace up front!

"We really enjoyed going out and playing a passing game back then and this team has the same sense of freedom but with an understanding of what is required with and without the ball."

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