Defender James Kiffe scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute and forward Daniel Trickett-Smith made a brilliant debut against his old team as Republic FC defeated the Liverpool FC U-21 team 2-1 Saturday night in a friendly at Bonney Field.
It was a wide open game as the two teams combined for 30 shots, 12 on frame, despite subbing liberally. Liverpool played 18 players and Republic FC 16.
“I think we all needed this game,” Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said. “I thought it was a thoroughly entertaining game. We knew we’d have to be solid, but I think we’ve been solid all season. We looked dangerous.”
Kiffe’s game-winner came after he took a pass from Alfonso Motagalvan on the left side, dribbled quickly through several Liverpool defenders into the box and buried a well-placed back-post blast.
“Fonso gave me the perfect layout,” Kiffe said. “The defenders were kind of frozen, and I was moving with speed so when I took my touch, I was by them.”
It was Kiffe’s first official goal in his three seasons with Republic FC.
“It was a wonderful goal, and we are going to want more of that now,” Buckle said.
Liverpool FC tied the match in the 75th minute on a give-and-go from Herbie Kane to Ryan Kent, who put the ball past Sacramento goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek.
Republic FC’s first goal came in the 30th minute after Cameron Iwasa crossed the ball to Danny Barrera on the right side.
As two defenders closed on Barrera, he put a curling left-footed shot into the box that Harry Williams headed to Agustin Cazarez, who was standing wide open six yards in front of the goal.
Cazarez finished with a left-footed blast that goalkeeper Lawrence Vigoroux had no chance to stop.
Trickett-Smith, who joined Republic FC on Friday, entered at the start of the second half. The attacking midfielder and forward played the past four years for the Liverpool FC U-21 side.
He wasted little time making an impact. He showed pace, touch and quickness and had the crowd oohing and aahing at times.
He had two of the best shots of the night by Republic FC, though Vigoroux turned back both, including a diving save in the 80th minute.
“(He) played very, very well,” Buckle said. “(It’s) a credit to our team for making him feel welcome in a short space of time. I wanted to play him, I wanted to get him on the field. We’ve lacked a little creativity at times … hopefully Dan will be the answer.”
“You could see his football intelligence. You could see the way he thinks, and he actually made our players come alive.”
Trickett-Smith had been in Sacramento a little less than 24 hours, and said he played through his fatigue after the long flight.
“I was a bit jet-lagged,” he said. “I think it is just the adrenaline. The crowd here was unbelievable, and I was really enjoying myself. As soon as you start playing football (adrenaline) just takes over, doesn’t it?”
He said “it was crazy” to be playing against his former teammates after leaving the team just a few weeks before.
“They are all good friends of mine,” he said. “ ... so obviously seeing them on the opposite team was a bit weird.”
The teams will meet again Wednesday at Greater Nevada Field, the home of the Reno Aces Triple A baseball team and the future home for Reno 1868 FC, a USL expansion franchise that will debut in 2017. Both franchises are owned by Herbert Simon, the owner of the Indiana Pacers.