West Ham United 0 – 3 Liverpool (Kent 12’, Ojo 27’, 92’, Yesil 38’)
A brace from Sheyi Ojo, a goal from Ryan Kent and another from the returning Samed Yesil ensured that Micheal Beale’s Liverpool Under 21s continued their unbeaten start to the season with a comfortable 4-0 win over West Ham, who themselves are still searching for their first win of the season.
Before the game, Under 21 manager Michael made 6 changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Manchester United last month. Firstly, there was a change in goal as Danny Ward was replaced by Lawrence Vigouroux. The thinking behind this is that Vigouroux cannot play in the UEFA Youth League fixture against Ludogorets on Tuesday hence he featured. The next change sees the injured Ryan McLaughlin drop out and be replaced by Connor Randall. The other change sees goal-scorer Jordan Lussey replaced by Joe Maguire, with Jordan Williams shifting into the holding midfielder role leaving Maguire to slot in at left back. Harry Wilson is replaced by Ryan Kent on the wing and Jordan Rossiter trained with the first team and is replaced by Daniel Trickett-Smith. The final change saw the departed Kristoffer Peterson replaced by Samed Yesil. Elsewhere for West Ham, 15 year old centre back Reece Oxford started at the heart of the Hammers defence, having already made a substitute appearance for the first team this season.
The game started off in frantic fashion, with the visitors Liverpool almost conceding in the opening minute. Lawrence Vigouroux rolled it out to former Spurs team-mate Kevin Stewart, who himself returned the pass to the Chilean goalkeeper. He was then put under immense pressure by Elliot Lee and as a result could only clear to the on-rushing West Ham winger Seb Lletget. He then hit the crossbar with his effort before it rebound to Lee, who was only denied a goal because of a brilliant recovery from Vigouroux who saved with his outstretched leg.
The Reds soon recovered and could have had a goal of their own, but Ryan Kent’s effort was well saved by Raphael Spiegel after being played in by 17 year old Sheyi Ojo. Moments later, the Reds found themselves in another attacking position, but Cameron Brannagan’s long range effort could only fly high and wide of the Swiss ‘keeper’s goal.
There wasn’t even 10 minutes on the clock before Liverpool scuppered another chance in front of goal. This time, the play was created on the right flank when Connor Randall’s burst run and pass found Samed Yesil, who took it away from the West Ham defender and beat Spiegel, only to see his effort smash off the crossbar and go out for a goal kick.
Two minutes later though, Michael Beale’s side got their well deserved goal through 17 year old Ryan Kent. The move started with fellow 17 year old Ojo, who collected in on the right hand side and burst towards the left wing. His through ball to Kent was inch perfect to Kent and the England Under 18 international made no mistake this time and calmly slotted it past Spiegel. West Ham picked themselves up and did threaten Vigouroux’s goal, but both Lee and Kieran Sadlier’s efforts did not trouble the former Spurs man as another chance was created in a lively first half at the Boleyn Ground. Liverpool then punished the Hammers and it was that man Ojo again as his individual brilliance doubled the Reds lead. Ojo originally had a shot that was blocked, after some comfortable build-up play the ball was at Lloyd Jones’ feet and the Welshman’s firm pass found Ojo. The England Under 17 international then cut inside from the left flank and curled a 20 yard effort past Spiegel, who could only watch the ball curl into the back of his net as Liverpool went 2-0 up with 27 minutes on the clock.
Nick Haycock’s West Ham soon had another glorious opportunity to find a way back into the game. Sadlier’s drew play out wide to right-back Sam Westley. The full-back, on his return from injury played a ball across the box but Lletget’s flick hit and post and fell into Vigouroux’s arms as West Ham searched for that goal they badly needed. A bit of controversy followed when a Liverpool corner wasn’t cleared properly and Brannagan’s header put the ball back into the scramble inside the penalty box before it eventually fell to Samed Yesil, and the German had no problem making it 3-0 after 38 minutes. An eventful half ended West Ham 0-3 Liverpool.
Unlike in the first half, it took Liverpool just under 15 minutes to create any real chances. Firstly, Yesil forced Spiegel to make a tidy save only to be given offside. Then, goalscorer Ojo’s effort was less than impressive but was still another shot on target for the visitors. Shortly after, Beale made his first substitutions of the night. Firstly, Samed Yesil was replaced by 18 year old Alex O’Hanlon who made his Under 21s debut before Connor Randall limped off with a suspected groin injury and was replaced by Dan Cleary, who like O’Hanlon became the 2nd Irishman to make his Under 21s debut.
Despite being 3-0 down, West Ham continued to threaten Liverpool’s goal and almost made it 3-1 after 68 minutes when Danny Whitehead’s cross was well reached by a back-tracking Lee, who generated enough power to force Vigouroux to tip it over the bar. That was the end of the action for Whitehead, who was replaced by Sean Maguire, who himself is returning to West Ham after being on loan with League of Ireland side Sligo Rovers.
Liverpool soon made their third and final change as Daniel Trickett-Smith recovered from an earlier injury scare but was replaced by Spaniard Sergi Canos. West Ham remained stern in attack and Lee was determined to find a way past Vigouroux, but the Chilean shot-stopper was even more determined to keep a clean sheet. From that save, he was again tested as Hammers captain Steven Bywater forced him to tip a curling effort around the post. With 85 minutes played and the game all but over, West Ham made their second change of the night when 15 year old Reece Oxford was replaced by 16 year old Josh Pask, in order to give the latter an experience of playing Under 21s football. As the game entered its final stages, Liverpool made it 4-0 when Kevin Stewart’s pass found Ojo, who could do no wrong as he slotted it right into the corner of Speigel’s goal to confirm Liverpool’s victory.
LFC XI: Vigouroux; Randall, Jones, Stewart, Maguire; Williams, Brannagan, Ojo; Trickett-Smith, Kent, Yesil.
Liverpool Under 21s next play Ludogorets in the opening game of the UEFA Youth League on Tuesday 16th September, a game that will be at Langtree Park and will be live on LFCTV with a 2pm kick-off time. Elsewhere, West Ham will be looking to secure their first win of the season when they travel to Motspur Park on Friday 19th September where they play Fulham.