By Scott Taylor
Toni Gomes and Yan Dhanda were the goalscorers as Liverpool U18s started the 2015/16 season with a 2-0 win against League Of Ireland side Cork City. Gomes opened the scoring for Neil Critchley’s side in the 16th minute, getting on the end of a fine piece of individual skill from summer signing Bobby Adekanye. Yan Dhanda then rounded off the scoring in the 71st minute, latching onto a long ball from Conor Masterson before slotting in beyond Alan Smith in the City goal.
Liverpool dominated the opening part of the game, with the pace of Callum Nicholas and Adekanye threatening the Cork defence. Their pressure soon paid off when Gomes gave the Reds the lead. Adekanye took on and beat City full-back Newadi Saki and delivered a cross into the box. His ball was met by Gomes, who edged ahead of his marker Conor McCarthy to poke the ball beyond Smith to give Liverpool the advantage.
Adekayne was involved in the visitors’ next chance in the 33rd minute. After good build up play with Nicholas, the former Barcelona starlet found Ben Woodburn, but his shot was palmed away by Smith. Six minutes later, Nicholas had a great chance to double his side’s advantage. He took on a couple of Cork defenders, but his shot was well saved by Smith, who is usually Cork’s number two goalkeeper.
The hosts did put up some fight shortly before the interval. Gavan Holohan picked the ball up and run towards the Liverpool defence. After getting enough room outside the box, he shot towards goal but Reds’ goalkeeper Owen Wheeler was equal to it.
Neil Critchley made eleven changes at half-time to give his squad some valuable game time before the season starts away at Manchester City next month. Cork City made numerous changes including the introductions of George Gill and Connor Ellis, as the hosts searched for a way back into the game. The latter then set up fellow substitute Danny Morrissey who headed just wide.
Despite this, it was Liverpool who doubled their lead. Yan Dhanda got on the end of a through ball from Reds defender Masterson, and made no mistake in front of over 4,000 fans at Turner’s Cross. Morrissey had Cork’s best chance of the game before stoppage time. He rounded Liverpool debutant Caiomhin Kelleher but his shot could only go into the side netting.
Liverpool then safely controlled the game until the final whistle to ensure that they started off the season with a win and a clean sheet. They next face Galway United next Saturday. Critchley gave debuts to Adekayne and Kelleher, and also played Jamie Ahearne, who is on trial at the club from Lucan United.
Liverpool First Half XI: Wheeler; Lewis, Owens, Parker, Whelan (c); Kane, Nicholas, Woodburn, Gomes; Garton, Adekanye.
Liverpool Second Half XI: Kelleher; Coyle, Masterson, Johnston, Dobie; Alexander-Arnold, Simmonds, Watts, Ahearne; Brewster, Dhanda.
Cork City XI: Smith (O’Brian 71′); Saki (Coleman 62′), McSweeney, McCarthy, Murphy (Gill 57′); Kearney (Taylor 75′), Holohan, Beattie (O’Connell 62′), Black (Donnellan 45′), Lehane (Morrissey 35′), Mohamed (Ellis 62′).