By Scott Taylor
Trent Alexander-Arnold led by example by scoring as Liverpool Under-18s drew 1-1 against Wolves at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday morning. The Reds went ahead after 12 minutes after Yan Dhanda and Alexander-Arnold linked up well. However, their lead only lasted five minutes as Brad Lindsey equalised for the visitors. In the three play-off games Liverpool have played, it has produced a mixed bag of results, one win, one draw and one defeat.
The first real opening of the game came when Alexander-Arnold slotted home. Dhanda started the move by latching onto the free ball inside the 18-yard box. The Under-16 striker then skillfully took Wolves defender Aaron Simpson out of the game before finding Alexander-Arnold on the overlap. From their, the stand-in captain made no mistake scoring his first goal for Neil Critchley’s side.
Liverpool had the momentum, but this was cut short as the visitors equalised five minutes later. Jesse Devers burst past the Liverpool full-back on the right flank before looking up and picking out Lindsey with ease. From here, the youngster slotted it through the legs of Shamal George from inside the penalty box.
Liverpool hit back shortly after. Harvey Whyte pulled the strings in midfield, and picked out Will Marsh with a lofted through-ball. Marsh composed himself before firing towards goal, but Harry Burgoyne was at his best to deny him his first Liverpool goal since returning from injury.
Alarms bell soon started to ring for Liverpool though, as Wolves again had the ball in the back of the net. Fortunately for the young Reds, Devers’ volleyed effort was ruled out for offside after he was played in by Ross Finnie.
Liverpool ended the first half strongly though. Firstly, Dhanda headed wide from a corner before Whyte fired wide from just outside the penalty area, but they couldn’t convert their chances and the half ended all square.
The hosts started the second half just as they finished the first. Ovie Ejaria was unlucky to see his shot blocked after good play between him and Dhanda before substitute Wade Maxwell shot wide from Matthew Virtue’s corner despite being on the pitch for less than two minutes.
Critchley’s side had to thank Alexander-Arnold, as he stopped his side from going 2-1 down. He cleared the ball off the line when Wolves’ Anthony Brown fired towards goal and George did well to save from Devers moments after.
The Liverpool captain almost won it for his side in injury-time. He fired a shot which beat Burgoyne, but smashed off the underside of the crossbar as Liverpool-Under 18s had to settle for a point rather than all three.
After the game, Liverpool Under-18s boss Neil Critchley was full of praise for his stand-in captain and told the Liverpool Echo: “I thought Trent’s overall performance was magnificent and it would have been brilliant for him to get the winner.He was all action, got a terrific first goal with a great piece of skill from Yan to play him in, great timing of his run and a composed finish.”
“He went over to the right and played that with great energy, up and down the pitch and it was just unfortunate he hit the bar because it was actually a good strike. A 16-year-old captaining the under 18s, it speaks volumes about what we think of him as a player going forward.”
Liverpool XI: George; Johnston, Whelan (Kane 61′), Parker, Alexander-Arnold, Virtue, Whyte, Nicholas (Owens 78′), Marsh (Maxwell 68′), Ejaria, Dhanda.