By Scott Taylor

Wade Maxwell’s seventh minute header saw Liverpool U18s beat Sunderland 1-0 at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday afternoon. The win moves Liverpool up to sixth in the Under 18 Premier League, leapfrogging Sunderland, who drop to seventh. The youngster took his chance as he nooded it from a free-kick to give Neil Critchley’s side all three points. Despite a second half onslaught from the visitors, the Reds held on for an impressive win after a strong defensive performance.

Liverpool started off in their usual bright manner, retaining possession in both their half and the Sunderland half. Madger Gomes was pulling the strings in midfield with accurate and crisp passing with both his right and left foot. Liverpool made their early dominance count when they took the lead as early as the seventh minute. A free-kick from creative midfielder Adam Phillips was floated towards the back box, and Wade Maxwell rose highest to head it into the roof of the net.

Despite going a goal down, Sunderland’s confidence was not hampered. Jordan Blinco produced a fine run down the right hand side, before firing a low cross towards goal. Lewis Travis was on hand to superbly deny the ball reaching the attackers with a brave block. A Liverpool Under-18s clash always features action from Sergi Canos. This was no different in the 40th minute when he fired towards. However, after being played in by Maxwell, but it wasn’t powerful enough to trouble the Sunderland ‘keeper.

The Spanish forward, who has been in the goals as of late, had an even better chance to double Liverpool’s lead in the second half. He created room in the penalty area and a corner fell straight to an unmarked Canos, who glanced his header just wide.

Liverpool were well on top, and a second goal almost came from an unlikely source. Travis had his cross blocked, but it fell to fellow defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, but the England Under-16 international could only fire his vollet wide.

The visiting Black Cats threw all the dice at an equaliser for the remaining 15 minutes of the game. However, Critchley’s young chargers held on for the victory, and that is just what they needed ahead of a crucial derby with neighbours Everton next Saturday.

Liverpool XI: Firth; Travis, Hart, Brewitt, Masterson; Whelan, Maxwell, Madger Gomes, Canos; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips.