By Scott Taylor
A brace from debutant Adam Phillips and a goal from Harry Wilson wasn’t enough as Michael Beale’s Liverpool Under 21s suffered their first defeat of the season at home to Patrick Vieira’s Manchester City Under 21s. Before the game, manager Beale made three changes from the side that beat West Ham Under 21s 4-0. Firstly, there was a change in goal as Danny Ward replaced Lawrence Vigouroux. Next, there was change in midfield as 16 year old Phillips came in for Jordan Williams, who memorably made his debut for the first team in their win at home to Middlesbrough on Tuesday. The final change saw Jordan Lussey replace Daniel Trickett-Smith who drops to the bench.
The Reds continued their tradition of starting brightly in games when Kevin Stewart rose highest from Ryan Kent’s corner, but could only head it straight at the Man City goalkeeper. The Blues shot stopper was tested moments later as Phillips played through Sheyi Ojo but he missed his opportunity as a frantic opening seven minutes at the Kirkby Academy was dominated by the Reds.
But within eight minutes, the visitors were in front. Thierry Ambrose was on the end of some good skill from Brandon Barker on the left wing, as Barker’s cross found an unmarked Ambrose at the back post to tap home. One brought two seconds later, as brilliant individual skill from Sinan Bytyqi meant he tore through Liverpool’s defence with ease and that was matched with the finish as Liverpool had a mountain to climb. Liverpool did have a golden opportunity to get a goal back shortly before half-time, but Samed Yesil could only find the side-netting after rounding the ‘keeper.
When the second half did begin, Liverpool came out all guns blazing. Phillips was again involved in the game when his long range striker smashed against the crossbar. The England Under 16 midfielder did get his reward though as he finished well from a cross on the left hand flank by Joe Maguire cut back the deficit to just one goal.
Liverpool were level shortly after in almost identical fashion, when again Maguire’s cross from the left flank found Phillips in the area and the midfielder scored his second of the game with a fierce low drive. The end-to-end action continued but the Reds couldn’t complete a unlikely turnaround as Jordy Hiwula’s shot from a turn beat Danny Ward comfortably. This was after Mathias Bossaerts was first on the end of an Ashley Smith-Brown cross to head it past Ward to give some breathing space between Liverpool and Man City.
Despite Harry Wilson setting up a nervy finish when he made it 4-3 with minutes to play, Man City hung on for all three points as the Reds drop points again under the lights at Kirkby.
LFC XI: Ward; Randall, Maguire, Stewart, Jones; Phillips, Lussey; Ojo, Brannagan, Kent; Yesil.