A penalty from Liverpool midfielder Nathan Burke was the difference as Liverpool beat rivals Everton in the first Merseyside derby of the season to kick-start their season and pick up their first points in the campaign. This was Burke’s and Liverpool’s 2nd goal of the season, a strong start by the midfielder. Following last Friday’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Arsenal, Liverpool were looking to bounce back against Everton at Kirkby. Unfortunately for Mike Garrity’s side, new recruits Pedro Chirivella, Sergi Canos and Kristof Polgar were unavailable due to international clearance issues, meaning that Liverpool Under 18s were not at full strength, but Garrity still had plenty of cover in those positions, especially since Daniel Trickett-Smith returned from the Under 21s to play in a false number 9 role.

Like most Merseyside derbies, the game started off in a very tough tempo, with many strong battles throughout the pitch. In fact, it took just 6 minutes for the first yellow card to be produced after Ryan Ledson awfully fouled Liverpool winger Ryan Kent and was lucky to stay on the pitch following the altercation.

The winger was then on the receiving end of another bad challenge just 15 minutes later, as this time James Graham brought him to the floor just outside the penalty area. This incident produced the second yellow card of the game, both issued for fouling Kent, showing that he was causing the Everton defence a lot of problems earlier on. From the resulting free-kick, Daniel Trickett-Smith did not test the Everton ‘keeper Russell Griffiths, as his effort went high and wide of Everton’s goal.

Liverpool continued to build momentum on the half hour mark as good play from Trickett-Smith and goal machine Harry Wilson, resulted in the latter picking up the ball and being denied by a superb save from the Griffitths to keep the scores level. However, on the stroke of half time, the home side, in front of an impressive crowd were rewarded a penalty after Ryan Kent was again brought down. Nathan Burke then stepped up and with a mature head, sent Griffiths the wrong way and converted the penalty to ensure the Reds have the advantage over their bitter rivals as the half was brought to a close.

The half time break didn’t seem to interrupt the flow of the Liverpool attack and less than 10 minutes into the half time saw Liverpool create their first chance of the half. Despite making important saves in the first half, Griffiths suffered a miskick and it fell to Cameron Brannagan, but the Everton Number 1 redeemed himself as the Liverpool midfielder could not take his chance.

The visitors knew that if they were to stand any chance of forcing a result from this game, then they needed to create chances, and after the hour mark, they started to test Ryan Crump in the Liverpool goal. In the 64th minute, Everton has their best chance of the match as their striker had the chance to head the goal in an empty net, but could not hit the target from just six yards out.

After this wake-up call, Mike Garrity needed to make a tactical substitution and brought on fresh legs in the form of David Roberts for Sam Hart, to limit Everton’s attacking opportunities.

The Reds then fought back just after the 70th minute mark, as Trickett-Smith created two chances in a minute to relieve the pressure that Everton asserted in the first stage of the half. Firstly, the false number 9’s free-kick was tipped round the post after yet another good save from the Everton ‘keeper. From the resulting corner, the ball found Trickett-Smith in the box, but he could only head his effort wide.

Despite this mini break from the Reds, Everton still were putting pressure on the Liverpool defence and after another cross from the wing by Everton winger Micheal Donohue found Delial Brewster, but he could not hit the target, despite being only 3 yards out. After this chance, it was believed that the away side were not going to convert their chances, after being presented two golden opportunities to equalise.

As the game ended the closing stages, Everton continued to dominate, and could have finally got an equaliser, but a last ditch block from Irish youth international Dan Cleary ensured that the Reds still had a vital 1-0 lead in the tie.

In the 90th minute of the match when Liverpool were on course for their first win of the season in the Premier League, disaster struck as the visitors were awarded a penalty for a handball inside the area by Harry Wilson. Thankfully for Liverpool, their bitter rivals were not taking chances all game, and this continued from the penalty spot as Ryan Crump emulated first team ‘keeper Simon Mignolet by saving last minute penalty to give their side a 1-0 victory. The win would have been more satisfying for the Reds since it was against their bitter rivals, however, there was cause for concern as Everton seemed to control the second half, but with the addition of the new summer signings then I can see no reason why Mike Garrity’s Under 18s cannot build on this win and start picking up more wins.

Mike Garrity’s Under 18s will be heading out to New York to Compete in the Newark Liberty International Soccer Summit, where 8 teams will compete for the trophy, including the likes of QPR and Inter Milan.

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Stay tuned for more content tomorrow, when a new weekly series will be launched on my blog tomorrow. Until next time Reds…