Stoke Under 18s 4 (Waring 2’, 68’, Cook 29’, Barrington 75′) – 0 LFC Under 18s

Following heartache in the FA Youth Cup Semi Final against Chelsea, Steve Cooper’s Liverpool Under 18s were back in domestic action against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. The Reds can still realistically win Group 1, but need 6 points in 2 games and have to score at least 10 goals, so the task is very unlikely. Steve Cooper made just 1 change from the side that lost to West Ham on Saturday, with the injured Nathan Burke being replaced by Ryan Kent. Seyi Ojo has returned from injury, but suffered a minor back injury in training and so misses out. This will be the 2nd game this week as they lost to West Ham on Saturday. Their next game will be away to Sunderland on Saturday 4th May, completing a hectic fixture list which sees the Reds play 3 games in just 7 days.

Liverpool had a disastrous start to the game as after a mix up between Daniel Cleary and Corey Whelan saw an unmarked George Waring beat Ryan Fulton to give Stoke the lead after just 2 minutes. Liverpool then responded brightly as Alex O’Hanlon’s corner found 15 year old Corey Whelan, but the young centre back couldn’t convert. It was O’Hanlon who was involved in Liverpool’s next chance as he received a pass from Cameron Brannagan in the midfield but Bermudan International ‘keeper Dale Eve was equal to it.

Liverpool started to control the game, but Stoke had the lead and the home side almost doubled their lead in the 28th minute when a shot from Stoke striker Shenton was heroically blocked by Yalany Baio and forced out for a corner to keep the score at 1-0. From the resulting corner, the Potteries doubled their lead in bizarre circumstances as the cross was dropped by Ryan Fulton and the ‘keeper’s rare mistake was capitalised by Jake Cook to give Stoke a 2 goal advantage. As with the first goal, the FA Youth Cup Semi Finalists responded brightly as Ryan Kent put a dangerous cross towards Jerome Sinclair but Liverpool’s youngest ever player couldn’t take advantage of the cross as it was cleared by the Stoke defence. Liverpool again started to get a grip in the game as Cameron Brannagan’s shot was well blocked by the Stoke defence from 20 yards.

However, this was the end of Liverpool’s attack as they were now on the back foot. Firstly, a penalty claim was turned down after Yalany Baio challenged Shenton in the box, before Brannagan executed a clinical sliding tackle to stop the Stoke attack from running at Ryan Fulton and the Liverpool defence. The Reds’ last chance of the half fell to Jerome Sinclair, who tested Dale Eve as the Stoke went into the half time break 2-0, even though evidence suggested that it was much closer than the scoreline.

To get a result from this game, Steve Cooper’s side needed at least 2 goals so started the second half in an aggressive manner, as Joe Maguire, Cameron Brannagan and Jerome Sinclair all created chances in the first 10 minutes of the half, but didn’t really test Dale Eve in the Stoke City goal. However in the 68th minute, Stoke Number 9 George Waring scored his second and Stoke’s third of the match to put any chance of a Liverpool comeback to bed. The move started as a long ball found Waring, and he took it past Cleary before firing through the legs of a helpless Fulton and in off the post to make it 3-0. To add insult to injury Waring is an 18 year old striker who was recently released by Merseyside rivals Everton, so Waring was sure to enjoy his goals.

Stoke’s 4th goal summed up the match for both sides as Yalany Baio’s 30 yard shot crashed of the crossbar and cleared by the Stoke defence. From the clearance Stoke advanced at the Liverpool defence and another long ball this time found Marcel Barrington, who rounded Ryan Fulton to give Stoke the 3 points. Liverpool now cannot win Group 1 of the U18s league, but will be looking to bounce back when they are away to Sunderland on Saturday, in a 2nd versus 3rd clash.

Scott Taylor

LFC XI: Fulton, Baio, Whelan, Cleary, Maguire, O’Hanlon, Rossiter, Brannagan, Kent, Trickett-Smith, Sinclair.

Stoke XI: Eve, Watkins-Clark, Hulme, Makrillos, Sanders, Ward, Cook, Barrington, Waring, Scott, Fenton.

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