Liverpool Under 18s 0 – 1 (Priestly 57’) Tottenham Hotspur Under 18s
After 3 consecutive defeats, Neil Critchley’s Liverpool Under 18s looked to get back to winning ways when they hosted Spurs Under 18s at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday morning. The opposition currently lie 3rd of the South Group in the Under 18s league table whilst the Reds lie 3rd in the North Group, 14 points behind leaders Manchester City and rivals Everton. This game is a must win for Critchley’s boys if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the next stage of the league, but qualification looks very unlikely. The Under 18s made 5 changes from the defeat to Manchester City Under 18s last Saturday. Firstly, there is a change in goal as Owen Wheeler makes his debut to replace Andy Firth. Another debutant Yan Dhanda comes in for Daniel Trickett-Smith. David Roberts and Dharius Waldron drop to the bench in place of the returning Ryan Kent and Connor Randall. Finally Nathan Burke returns to the side after a good spell at Bolton Wanderers to replace Adam Phillips, who is injured as the Reds went into the game missing at least 6 key players.
It was a historic day in Liverpool as the Reds’ number 10 Yan Dhanda is the first ever player of Indian origin to represent Liverpool Football Club.
Liverpool started the brighter of the two sides and created their first opportunity within 5 minutes when Tom Brewitt’s glancing header went inches wide of Liam Priestly’s goal. Alex O’Hanlon went close in the 11th minute as he intercepted the ball off of Lloyd Ross before curling his effort inches wide. Debutant Owen Wheeler was forced into action in the 17th minute when Cameron Carter-Vickers’ cross turned shot was turned around the post for a corner.
Liverpool were left concerned when Sam Hart went down injured in the 30th minute of the match when he collided heads with the Spurs defender Maghoma.
After that, Liverpool created their next chance when Ryan Kent’s long ball fell directly to Alex O’Hanlon, but the Ireland Under 19 international hit his effort straight at Priestly.
Liverpool’s best chance of the first half fell to arguably their best player for the half when Ryan Kent’s shot from inside the box was well charged down by Priestly as the half ended all square with the Reds slightly on top of this game, looking more dangerous to open the scoring.
As the second half began, Spurs made their first change of the game when Anthony Georgiou replaced Lloyd Ross in the number 10 role as Spurs looked to find an opening to this stalemate. It was the visitors who went closest to scoring with just 35 seconds on the clock as Joe Pritchard’s attempted to lob Wheeler but it went inches over the Liverpool goalkeeper’s crossbar.
Liverpool were then forced into their first change when Alex O’Hanlon limped off and was replaced by David Roberts. O’Hanlon joins the ever growing injury list of Trickett-Smith, Phillips, Sinclair and Jordan Williams. This meant a whole new structure of the Reds side as Roberts dropped in at left-back, moving Sam Hart forward to the left-wing. Ryan Kent was then forced to play in the false number 9 role whilst Sheyi Ojo moved out onto the right wing.
Spurs then took the lead when Kyle Walker-Peters crossed fell to the back post where an unmarked Joe Pritchard slotted past a helpless Wheeler to give Spurs the lead.
More frustration for the Reds came just past the hour mark when Matty Virtue was booked for a foul just inside the Liverpool half as Spurs looked to cause trouble.
Yan Dhanda’s day was over moments later when he was replaced by right-back Dharius Waldron as the Reds tried to find a balance of trying to find an equaliser whilst not conceding another.
Tottenham made their second change of the game in the 68th minute when goalscorer Pritchard was replaced by Channing Campbell-Young. Walker-Porters continued to cause problems for Roberts on the left wing and his cross had to be turned around the post yet again by Wheeler to avoid another goal being scored in this match.
Liverpool needed a goal out of somewhere so brought on Liam Griffin, who almost scored in last week’s defeat to Man City in place of the cautioned Virtue.
Nathan Burke had Liverpool’s best chance in the 82nd minute when his unbalanced volley flew high and wide of Priestly’s goal as the Reds continued to look for an equaliser. Shortly after, the visitors made their third and final change as Japanese youth international Cy Goddard was replaced by Armani Daly. Tottenham could’ve killed of the game in the 89th minute when substitute Georgiou was through on goal but an excellent save from Wheeler denied him doubling their advantage.
Liverpool went up the other end and went inches close to levelling when captain Connor Randall’s curling effort went just wide as Liverpool slumped to their 4th straight defeat in all competitions.
Before the final whistle, Liam Griffin was stretchered off with a suspected ankle injury.
LFC XI: Wheeler; Randall, Cleary, Brewitt, Hart; Burke, Virtue; Kent, Dhanda, O’Hanlon; Ojo.
THFC XI: Priestly; Walker-Peters, Maghoma, Carter-Vickers, Vincent-Young; Lesniak, Walkes; Goddard, Ross, Pritchard; Akindayini.
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