By Scott Taylor
Callum Nicholas scored an injury time winner as Liverpool Under-18s won 3-2 at Derby County at the University of Derby’s Training Centre. Toni Gomes followed up his debut goal against Brighton last week by giving the young Reds the lead. The home side responded when James Carvell and Offrande Zanzala’s second half goals completed a turnaround to go 2-1. Gomes then scored his second goal to level the tie, before Nicholas won it for Neil Critchley’s side in time added on.
Liverpool started brightly and Portugal Youth International Gomes fired the Reds ahead when he got on the end of a cross from the right hand wing wasn’t dealt with by the Derby defence. Gomes composed himself and made no mistake firing into the roof of the net from inside the penalty area. Owen Wheeler then had to do well to deny Zanzala and Charles Vernam in quick succession as Darren Wassall’s team threatened to grab an equaliser.
In the second half, they did grab that deserved leveller. Substitute Carvell latched onto a cross from the right-hand side and he wrapped his foot around the ball to fire past Wheeler and into the corner of the net. Derby had their tails up and soon went in front. Vernam played in Zanzala from the halfway line. The latter scored his 15th goal of the season, avoiding a sliding tackle and firing into the bottom left corner.
Two quicks from the Reds ruined any chance of Derby picking up points. Gomes cleverley lobbed the ball over the advancing Josh Barnes from a tight angle. History soon repeated itself as again Derby couldn’t deal with a high ball and Nicholas headed home to win it.
After suffering back-to-back 3-2 away defeats to Brighton and West Ham, Critchley joked that it’s good to win by that margin and praised his team’s desire to recover from being behind. He told Liverpoolfc.com: “It’s nice to be on the right side of a 3-2 scoreline for once. To go 2-1 down, I thought the spirit and character of the lads were superb and I’m absolutely delighted with the boys. It was great for Callum to get our winner in stoppahe time and Toni [Gomes] scored two superb goals for us.”
Liverpool XI: Wheeler; Alexander-Arnold (c), Polgar (Owens 20′), Parker, Virtue; Brimmer (Whyte 80′), Kane, Madger Gomes, Toni Gomes; Ejaria, Dhanda (Nicholas 65′).
Derby XI: Barnes; Stabana, MacDonald, Bird, Moulton; Cover (c), Bennett, Babos, Zanzala, Vernam; Gordon.