By Scott Taylor

Harry Wilson and Will Marsh were on target for Liverpool U18s as they beat Stoke City 2-0 at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday morning.

Liverpool usually start games brightly, but Stoke made sure that this did not happen. The opening 30 minutes of the game where fairly even, as both sides attempted to control possession. The Reds did have two golden chances to break the deadlock just after the half-hour mark though.

Ryan Kent’s individual skill and through ball allowed goalscorer Wilson to get in between the Soke defenders for an opportunity in front of goal. However, after beating the defence, Wilson couldn’t beat the goalkeeper as his effort was blocked by the Stoke City shot stopper, before falling into a vacant penalty area.

Kent was first to react to the loose ball, and he gave it to Marsh, who’s shot from a toight angle when wide of the mark as he looked to be in the goals again after a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Blackburn last month.

Neil Critchley’s side seemed to have recovered from the earlier midfield battle and started to grow into the game as Wilson had two chances in quick succession. His first effort was fired over the crossbar after getting first to a cross from Kent on the right wing. Then he did test the goalkeeper as Marsh presented him an opportunity from a similar range, but it was too close to the ‘keeper, who comfortably saved.

Liverpool ended the first half on top, but with no goals to take away from their hard work, the game was still all to play for for both sides. The Reds certainly took their chances at the start of the second half with what could be the goal of the season.

The dangerous Kent, Marsh and Wilson all linked with each other with short, one touch passing, before the latter created room for himself to evade the Stoke defenders and poke it home into an empty net to open the scoring.

It was all Liverpool by this moment, and the Stoke City goalkeeper was again in inspired form to keep the score at just 1-0 when he brilliantly saved from Marsh and then seconds later from Spaniard Sergi Canos on the rebound.

The young ‘keeper may have left the best until last in terms of his saves, when he acrobatically stopped Ryan Kent’s effort at the far post, when it looked easier for the England Under 18 international to score.

However, there is only so much a goalkeeper can do without his defence contributing and with seven minutes left, the Liverpool attackers eventually beat him and Marsh finally got the goal he had deserved. Kent was again involved as he set up his team-mate, who curled from away from the reach of the visiting number one, who could do nothing but watch it fly in.

U18s team: Firth, Travis, Hart, Whelan, Polgar, Brimmer, Canos, Chirivella, Marsh (Maxwell), Wilson, Kent.

Unused substitutes: Wheeler, Nicholas, Lewis, Johnson.

For more Academy updates, follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottTaylorUK

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