Neil Critchley has challenged his Liverpool side to ensure that their victory over Shrewsbury is not a defining moment in their careers after sharing his pride at the young Reds’ performance in the FA Cup.

With Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool first team away during the Premier League’s winter break, Under-23s coach Critchley and the club’s youngsters stepped up to fill in for a first team fixture for the second time this season after December’s Carabao Cup defeat to Aston Villa.

Ro-Shaun Williams’ second-half own goal was the difference on the night in front of a jubilant full-house Anfield crowd as Liverpool’s next generation set up a fifth round trip to Chelsea for Klopp and his side.

And while the Reds’ victory over the Shrews will inevitably be the highlight of many of Liverpool’s young players’ careers so far, Critchley insisted it is just the beginning for them.

“I thought as a coach you picture the game beforehand and try and predict what’s going to happen,” he said after the final whistle. “With young players you’re never quite sure but from the first whistle the maturity those young boys showed to play that game was remarkable. 

“They actually calmed me on the side and I think over 90 minutes we had the better chance and were just about deserved winners.

“We've definitely made a step forward. We played the game with real maturity pleased with the way we stood up to the game, first and second balls, set-pieces. We did that outstandingly well, much better than the Villa game. 

“This is a step forward but we don't want this to be a defining moment of their careers. We want this to be a taste to whet their appetites. They want more of it.

Liverpool players celebrate victory after the FA Cup tie against Shrewsbury Town.
Liverpool players celebrate victory after the FA Cup tie against Shrewsbury Town.

“What's important for the young players when we speak to them on the training ground, when these things occur in the game it allows them to understand that the work they do in training benefits. 

“It gives them the belief and confidence in the work they do on a daily basis that people don't see until a night like this.”

Taking time to praise the club’s entire academy staff for their role in Liverpool’s win, Critchley also praised the Reds’ fanbase for the support they showed his young side on a memorable night at Anfield.

“I'm here as an extension of the Academy and I'd love to share this with Alex and the Academy staff who work tirelessly,” he said.

“I know it's a special moment for them and it's only right they share that with us.

“The way that we handled the ball, the technique and way we played that's because of the hours of work that go on at the Academy.

“The Academy staff will rightly be very proud. “For me to share this win with them is amazing.”

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He continued: “The support we had was incredible. A full house, it's ridiculous. 

“For them to turn up tonight and support those kids, the boys fully appreciated it and they stayed right until the end. 

“We played like a Liverpool team and I am so proud of them.”