By Scott Taylor
Jerome Sinclair and Harry Wilson both scored twice as Liverpool Under 18s comfortably beat Derby County 5-2 at Chester’s Deva Stadium. It was the second time that the Reds have netted five against Derby this season, following a dramatic 5-5 draw in November. Also amongst the scorers was Sergi Canos, as Neil Critchley’s men sealed their place in the fifth round to set up a tie against Birmingham City.
Liverpool Under 18s recovered from their sluggish starts to recent games to take an early lead. Wilson was unlucky not to score from his free-kick as it smashed the post, but Sinclair was in the right place at the right time to poke home the re-bound.
A touch of complacency set in for the young Reds as Derby responded in brilliant fashion. Another defensive error saw Charles Vernam retain possession and flash an effort past Andy Firth in the Liverpool goal to bring the scores level in bitterly cold conditions in the north of England.
Another lapse of concentration at the back resulted in a great opportunity to complete the turnaround. Precise one-touch football from the Rams resulted in midfielder Mo Adams squaring the ball to Vernam with the goal gaping. However, Reds midfielder Pedro Chirivella flung his body in front of the shot to block the effort on the line, a major confidence booster for the Reds.
Despite this confidence, Derby were still on the front foot, and this pressure eventally paid off. Adams was adjudged to have been brought down by an advancing Andy Firth in the Liverpool goal, but showed maturity to recover and palm away Vernam’s spot-kick. A major turning point in this tie.
Liverpool soon found themselves ahead again, with Sinclair again being involved. Ojo had been dominantly down the flanks and his cross, mixed with good awareness from the forward, allowed Sinclair to peel away from his marker and chest the ball into the back of the net.
Just like the first goal, it seemed like Critchley’s chargers eased off, and Derby were soon to be on the offensive yet again. This time, Tom Mellors had an effort cleared off the line, with defender Sam Hart being the saviour. Attack was the best form of defence and that was now the aim for the Under 18s.
Wilson then produced a moment of brilliance to put his side 3-1 up. After being fouled on the edge of the box, the Welshman picked himself up to curl a free-kick over the wall and into the back of the net. A free-kick that Steven Gerrard would be proud of.
The Reds have now seemed to weather the Derby storm, and were 4-1 ahead moments later. Sinclair burst through the Rams and instead of going for a hat-trick, he found the in-form Sergi Canos to fire home his 16th goal of the season.
Liverpool continued to be ruthless going forward, but with the tie all but sealed, they wanted more goals, and they got their fifth two minutes before time. Another piece of pace and trickery from Wilson saw the winger brought down in the penalty box. Unlike Kevin Mirallas on Monday night, Wilson looked confident from 12 yards and made no mistake.
A third penalty of the night was awarded in injury time, but in favour of the hosts. Sinclair brought down Vernam, and the Derby number nine made up for his earlier error to beat Firth for the second time in the match. It wasn’t enough for the Rams, as Liverpool’s quest for cup glory continues.
Liverpool XI (3-4-3): Firth; Whelan, Brewitt, Hart; Canos, Ejaria, Chirivella, Wilson; Ojo, Phillips; Sinclair.
Derby XI (4-4-2): Behrens; Dryden, Lowe, Guy, Wassell; Moulton, Adams, Babos, Mellors; Gordon, Vernam.