LFC U21s 3 (Dunn 8’, Bijev 39′, Peterson 43′) – 4 (Rowe 14’, 29’ Sinclair 22’, 69′) Southampton U21s
After 3 months since their final game of 2012/13, Alex Inglethorpe’s Liverpool Under 21s were in action against Southampton U21s in the opening game of the U21 Premier League season. This season will be all about progression for the youngsters as there will be many players who will play their first season for the Under 21s after a few season in the Under 18s, players such as Jordan Rossiter, Jordan Lussey and Daniel Trickett-Smith. Under 21s regulars Danny Ward, Ryan McLaughlin and Jordon Ibe were missing for the game whilst Brad Smith and Samed Yesil are still on the sidelines.
The game could not have started any better for Liverpool as a mistake from Southampton’s Jack Stephens was capitalised by Jack Dunn, and he made no mistake as he calmly put the Reds in front on the 8 minute mark. From then however, the game went downhill.
Just 6 minutes later, Southampton equalised after a poor backpass from Jakub Sokolik fell to Omar Rowe, and after a second attempt following a good original save from Mersin he made the scores level.
On the 20th minute, the Reds almost took the lead from an unlikely source in Lloyd Jones. It was unlikely as he was involved in a 1-2 with Jack Dunn and only a good save from Southampton goalkeeper Will Britt denied the Wales Youth International. He then soon learnt the harsh reality of Under 21s football as the Saints went up the other end and took their chances and as a result took the lead for the first time in the match. This time, Scott Sinclair’s brother Jake was rewarded with a goal following very average goalkeeping from Yusuf Mersin.
The game went from bad to worse as Omar Rowe scored his second goal of the match. Rowe easily beat Craig Roddan on the right hand side before delivering a low cross, which fell to Sinclair. Sinclair almost made a goal from nothing as he was superbly denied by Yusuf Mersin but the Liverpool goalkeeper could not do nothing about the rebound as the game was running away from Liverpool in the 29th minute.
However, as it was the first game of the season there will be plenty of goals for either side, and this theory did not disappoint as Liverpool pulled one back from American forward Villyan Bijev from the penalty spot after 39 minutes. The penalty was won by goalscorer Jack Dunn as he beat Southampton defender Jordan Turnbull for pace and was brought down following an intelligent through ball from Bijev.
The comeback was completed for Alex Inglethorpe’s side 2 minutes before half time. Daniel Trickett-Smith’s long ball over the top caused dramatic errors between ‘keeper and defender and Swedish winger Kris Peterson was left with an easy tap-in to equalise and draw the curtains on an excellent first half at Kirkby.
The second half started as good as the first half as Kris Peterson saw his effort smash off the past after just 21 seconds on the clock, from the rebound, Daniel Trickett-Smith again forced Will Britt into another good save, as the Reds had the momentum. Five minutes later, the young Reds could have took the lead for the second time in the match as Jack Dunn raced forward and after finding himself one-on-one with Britt, he could not convert and forced yet another great save off Britt.
Liverpool went close from a free-kick from Jack Dunn as his effort went inches wide. From that goal-kick, Southampton again took the lead as Yusuf Mersin unnecessarily charged out of goal and missed the ball, allowing Jake Sinclair to calmly slot home his second and Southampton’s fourth goal of the match.
Knowing that they needed goals, Liverpool made their first substitutions of the match. Firstly, Villyan Bijev was replaced by Adam Morgan and then Jordan Lussey, who was arguably Liverpool’s best player thus far, was replaced by Nacho.
The third and final substitution soon followed as Daniel Trickett-Smith was replaced by Harry Wilson, who came on to make his Under 21s debut. Wilson was part of the Milk Cup Globe Winners squad and has scored some decent goals in pre-season for the Under 18s, so deserves his call-up.
Liverpool came very close to equalising in the 85th minute as Adam Morgan’s shot from 30 yards looked to be going in the top corner but a superb save from Will Britt meant that Southampton remained in front.
Will Britt’s save seemed to be vital as the score remained 4-3 to end a fantastic opening game in the Under 21 Premier League as Southampton go away with all 3 points.
Liverpool’s next game will be against arch-rivals Manchester United on Monday. The Reds will be looking to add 3 points to their points tally, with not only bragging rights at stake, as they look to kickstart their season. For more Under 21s and even Under 18s match reports, be sure to browse through my blog and for more updates on everything Liverpool’s Academy, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@scotttayloruk).
LFC XI: Mersin, Roddan, Maguire, Jones, Sokolik, Rossiter, Peterson, Lussey, Dunn, Trickett-Smith, Bijev.
Southampton XI: Britt, Stephens, McCarthy, Turnbull, Young; Reed, Flannigan, Moore; Sinclair, Seager, Rowe.