LFC 3 (Sterling 25′ Suso 30′,78′) – 3 (Potts 3′, Paulista 56′, Lee 93′) West Ham

Despite a brace from 20 year old Spaniard Suso, Alex Inglethorpe’s Liverpool side couldn’t hold on as West Ham scored a 93rd minute equaliser in the U21 Elite League match at Kirkby. Alex Inglethorpe made 4 changes from the side that drew against Southampton at St Mary’s a week ago. Due to Peter Gulasci’s involvement with the first team, Danny Ward replaced him in goal and Ryan McLaughlin returned from injury to start at Right-Back to replace the suspended Stephen Sama. Nacho was also brought into the starting line-up, as well as 18 year old trialist Daniel Carr, who has scored 23 goals in 23 games for non-league side Dulwich Hamlet, so he was looking to impress in his first outing for Liverpool. There was also a substitute appearance for German Villyan Bijev, who has waited 2 years for a work permit, so he comes into the side.

The game started brightly for the home side, as after just 30 seconds on the clock, the ball fell to Daniel Carr, who burst down the wing but his cross was too heavy for Raheem Sterling. However, it was the visitors who took the lead after just 4 minutes as a Kieran Bywater corner found Dan Potts, who headed past Danny Ward in the Liverpool goal. It took a while for Liverpool to respond but on the 16th minute, Raheem Sterling created the Reds’ best chance to equalise but his 20 yard shot couldn’t test West Ham goalkeeper Raphael Spiegel. The 18 year old England International didn’t have to wait too long to score an equaliser, as the ball fell to him from a surging run by Ryan McLaughlin, and Sterling composed himself before striking it in the top corner of the net. Raheem Sterling was key to impress, especially today as first team manager Brendan Rodgers was in attendance at Kirkby.

Alex Inglethorpe’s side then completed the turn around as Shelvey fed the ball to Suso, who skillfully took it past 2 West Ham defenders before firing home. The Spain U21 International has been in good form for the U21s as of late, so his goal was just what Suso needed. Jonjo Shelvey’s contribution didn’t end there. A few minutes after Suso’s goal, Liverpool were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box, but the young Englishman fired wide. He found himself shooting from another free-kick but this time, it was from the half way line, and his 50 yard effort only went 2 feet away from Spiegel’s goal. His vision was similar to Xabi Alonso and Spiegel was well beaten.

West Ham ended a frantic first 45 minutes on the upper hand, and the Hammers thought they equalised after Wellington Paulista’s header was parried away by Ward only as far as Elliot Lee, who was in an offside position.

Like the first half, Liverpool started the second half brightly, with Suso creating a chance after Raheem Sterling’s pass eventually fell to him. However, like the first half West Ham got their second of the match as another Kieran Bywater corner found Wellington Paulista, who was unmarked and the Brazilian headed it past Danny Ward. In the first half, it was Paulista whose header eventually led to the disallowed goal, so Liverpool didn’t learn their lesson and as a result suffered the consequence of conceding.

Liverpool needed to find a winner so Alex Inglethorpe brought on Adam Morgan for Carr, who played a very respectable first 60 minutes in a red shirt. This was part of a double substitution, as Inglethorpe brought on Connor Randal for his U21 debut, replacing Ryan McLaughlin on his comeback from injury.

This substitution seemed to have worked for the young Reds, as on the 78th minute as Raheem Sterling pass found Suso, who took the ball inside and slotted it home in the bottom corner of the goal giving Liverpool a decisive 3-2 lead as the game entered its closing stages. Liverpool held their lead right until the 93rd minute of the match as yet another Kieran Bywater corner found Dan Potts who headed in goalbound and it fell to Elliot Lee and he flicked it past Danny Ward to rescue a point for the Hammers.

The result leaves Alex Inglethorpe’s third in the U21 Elite Group behind Tottenham Hotspur and arch rivals Manchester Utd on 11 points but without a win in their last 3 games. The current form of the U21s is not the only problem for Alex Inglethorpe, as his side conceded all 3 goals from corners, so he will be looking to tighten up his defence, who have only conceded 12 goals in the whole season, so it was disappointing that they conceded 3. The U21s will be looking to rebuild when they face Wolves next Monday, and apply pressure on leaders Spurs on 19 points and try to leap frog Manchester United who are on 12 points.

Scott Taylor

LFC XI: Ward, McLaughlin, Roddan, Wisdom, Coady, Shelvey, Teixeira, Suso, Nacho, Sterling, Carr.

West Ham XI: Spiegel, Driver, Shaw, Nasha, Potts, Spence, Turgott, Moncur, Paulista, Bywater, Lee.

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