By Scott Taylor

John Rooney netted a hat-trick and set up the other goal as Liverpool U21s suffered a 4-0 defeat to National League side Chester FC at the Lookers Stadium on Wednesday evening. The Reds were rumoured to have played first-team fringe players in order to get match fitness, but those rumours were discarded when no first-teamers played. Rooney, brother of Manchester United and England forward Wayne, netted three minutes before half-time and then two goals in seven minutes to complete the scoring and his hat-trick with Sam Hughes scoring the other goal for the Blues.

Despite the scoreline, Liverpool U21s did have plenty of chances in the game. Wales International Harry Wilson’s shot was well saved by John Worsnop in the Chester goal before his set piece went narrowly wide. In the 35th minute, Ryan Kent, who recently returned from the first-team tour of Australia and the Far East, went even closer as his shot smashed off the crossbar with Worsnop left stranded.

The hosts did have half chances of their own with both Ross Hannah and Craig Hobson firing wide. However, the National League side took the lead with the first major chance of the game. In the 42nd minute, Jordan Chapell received the ball on the right flank before finding Rooney in the box and the forward made no mistake as he fired it beyond the reach of Ryan Fulton.

Chester hammered the nail in the coffin in the second half, and almost made it 2-0, but Kane Richards’ header smashed the post and cleared by the Liverpool defence before he had a penalty appeal turned down. Despite this, the hosts doubled their lead in the 72nd minute when Rooney’s free-kick fell to Sam Hughes, who signed his first professional contract with the club, and he fired home.

Rooney then extended the Blues’ lead in the closing stages, when he decided to go direct from a free-kick, and he curled into around the wall and into the bottom corner before another long range effort in injury time rounded off the scoring.

Michael Beale’s side next face Morecambe in another pre-season friendly at the Globe Arena on Saturday 1 August.

Liverpool XI: Fulton; Randall (McLaughlin 60’), Cleary (Polgar 60’), Paez (O’Hanlon 60’), Whelan (Hart 45’); Rossiter (Gomes 60’), Chirivella (Marsh 60’); Kent (Brannagan 60’), Ojo, Wilson; Sinclair.

Chester XI: Worsnop (Forth 80’); Higgins (Tonge 45’), Heneghan (Kay 45’), Sharps, Hunt; George (Hughes 60’), Rooney, Shaw (Mahon 45’), Chapell (Richards 45’); Hannah (Thomson 60’), Hobson (Peers 69’).

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