Liverpool Under 18s 1 (O’Hanlon 42’) – 2 Manchester City Under 18s (Barker 51’, Celina 70’)
In what was a game of two halves, Manchester City edged a young Liverpool Under 18 side at the Kirkby Academy in very wet conditions in the north west. The first half was all about Man City creating chances and testing Reds ‘keeper Andy Firth but it was Liverpool who took the lead through Alex O’Hanlon. In the second half, it was mainly Liverpool creating the opportunities and the visitors scoring goals against the run of play through Brandon Barker and then Bersant Celina as the visitors extended their lead at the top of the Under 18s Premier League and are now 13 points ahead of Liverpool.
After consecutive defeats to Reading and then Bolton, Neil Critchley’s Liverpool Under 18s faced a tough test if they were to avoid 3 defeats on the bounce when they faced League leaders Manchester City Under 18s at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday. Critchley was without key players for the tie, including Pedro Chirivella and Sergi Canos who were with Spain and top scorer Harry Wilson was out with a muscle strain. It meant that Sheyi Ojo had a new experimental role in the number 9, as he looked to add to his tally of 5 goals this season whilst young left back Sam Hart found himself playing in the left winger role. The Under 18s were also without Joe Maguire, Connor Randall and Ryan Kent who all featured for Alex Inglethorpe’s Liverpool Under 21s on Friday night.
Despite all these injuries, Liverpool were bolstered with the return of 16 year old Adam Phillips, who returns to the side after being rested for the last two games.
Manchester City started brightly but it was Liverpool who had the first chance in the 5th minute of the game when Alex O’Hanlon’s through ball found Daniel Trickett-Smith and his 15 yard shot from the right forced Manchester City ‘keeper Jimmy O’Brien to tip it onto the post and out for a corner as the Reds almost took the lead completely against the run of play.
The visitors continued to pile on the pressure by having the majority of the possession in the Liverpool half but didn’t test Andy Firth until the 15th minute of the match when England Under 18s forward Barker’s low drive was comfortably saved by Liverpool’s 17 year old goalkeeper Firth.
The Blues continued to apply pressure and came inches close when Bersant Celina set up a chance for promising youngster Denzeil Boadu, but he sliced his effort onto the post. Moments later, towering defender Tosin Adarabioyo went close with a header that rippled the net as it went inches over the Firth’s crossbar.
Man City struck the woodwork again in the 32nd minute when Celina again was provider but this time it was Thierry Ambrose who smashed the same post as Man City edged closer to an opener. Things had to get worse for Liverpool for things to get better when Adam Phillips pulled up in the 34th minute and had to be replaced by Liam Griffin in the centre of midfield.
Liverpool went forward but Man City countered through Jorge Intima but Firth again was the hero for the Reds as he did well to keep out the Man City forward’s effort as the visitors were beginning to rue their missed chances and wasted opportunities. Yet another chance went begging when Intima’s cross took a wicked deflection of Dan Cleary and it flew just wide. It was then Brandon Barker’s turn to create a chance but his left footed drive skidded past Firth’s goal in the pouring rain at Kirkby.
Against the run of play, it was the home side Liverpool who took the lead through Alex O’Hanlon. Trickett-Smith found Hart on the left wing and his miscued effort flew up into the air and it was O’Hanlon who met it on the volley to hit it past O’Brien to give the Irishman his 6th goal of the season as the Reds went into half time being the unlikely leaders although they had to weather a late storm as Firth was again tested in injury time.
Liverpool started the second half brighter and it didn’t take long for Liverpool to create a chance. Just 30 seconds into the half, a mistake from Adarabioyo was ceased upon by Daniel Trickett-Smith and his swerving effort flew just over O’Brien’s crossbar as the Reds searched for another goal.
Another goal came against the run of play when Manchester City equalised through Brandon Barker. Boadu was again involved when he lay-off was met by Barker, who cut inside Dahrius Waldron before firing it through the legs of Andy Firth to make the scores level.
After the equaliser, Liverpool looked to go in front in the match and create quick chances through Matty Virtue and then Tom Brewitt, made O’Brien and his Manchester City defenders were more than up for the task of keeping those efforts out. O’Hanlon was the next Liverpool player to create an opportunity shortly before the hour mark but his curling effort couldn’t stay down as another chance went begging for Liverpool to get a second. Trickett-Smith then went close with a free-kick before forcing O’Brien into another save in the 69th minute. Shortly before Trickett-Smith’s second chance, Man City made the first change when the cautious Adarabioyo was replaced by Cameron Humphries as Man City looked to tighten up as they prepared to weather a late Liverpool storm.
However, the visitors took the lead for the first time in the 70th minute when Bersant Celina finished off a countering attacking move for the visitors. A cross from the left hand side was cleared very weakly by David Roberts only as far as the Man City number 8 and Celina slotted home an effort that Firth could do nothing about. The visitors then made their second substitution as Jorge Intima was replaced by Manu Garcia. The substitute was immediately involved but his shot was dragged wide.
City continued to apply pressure and Firth had to be at his best to keep out Ambrose with a close range reflex save to prevent a third goal being scored. Liverpool made their first change when Matty Virtue was replaced by debutant Herbie Kane as the 15 year old played the final 13 minutes of the game. Liam Griffin was denied his first ever Liverpool goal in the 79th minute when O’Brien saved with his legs.
Liverpool continued to try and make chances but a very good stop from Firth in the 92nd minute prevented further damage as the Reds suffered their 3rd successive defeat in all competitions.
LFC XI: Firth; Waldron, Cleary, Brewitt, Roberts; Virtue, Phillips; O’Hanlon, Trickett-Smith, Hart; Ojo.
MCFC XI: O’Brien Bossaerts, Oseni, Adarabioyo, Smith Brown, Byrne, Celina, Boadu, Intima, Ambrose, Barker.
Liverpool Under 18s next play host to Tottenham Hotspur at the Kirkby Academy in a weekend of Liverpool vs Spurs double header, as the first team take on Spurs on Sunday. The game is live on LFCTV with coverage starting at 10:30am on Saturday 29th March.
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Until Next Time Reds…