By Scott Taylor

Lukas Nmecha scored the only goal of the game as Liverpool U18s began their 2015/16 season with a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday. This tie has traditionally been a high-scoring game, with the Reds losing 3-2 in this very game last season. England youth international Nmecha netted a 46th minute winner as Neil Critchley’s side are still searching for their first points of the season.

Liverpool started the better of the two sides and went close on numerous occasions, but Daniel Grimshaw in the City goal was more than equal to their efforts. The goalkeeper did brilliantly to stop Trent Alexander-Arnold’s close-range effort. He was eventually beaten shortly after, but Toni Gomes’ shot smashed off the post. Despite the visitors’ dominance, City did have a few chances of their own. Ash Kigbu fired wide before Will Patching’s shot was straight at Owen Wheeler as the first half ended goalless.

The second half began in frantic style. In the 46th minute, the home side took the lead. Javairo Dilrosun found Marcus Wood out wide. The winger’s cross was met by Nmecha and the forward created space to slot the ball home beyond the reach of Wheeler. Liverpool responded immediately and were unfortunate not to have an equaliser as Charlie Oliver helped Grimshaw stop an effort from going in. From that chance, the hosts counter-attacked but Dilrosun’s shot went straight into Wheeler’s arms.

The Liverpool goalkeeper had to be at his best to stop City doubling their lead shortly after. Dilrosun was again the man involved, and his darting run ended with a powerful shot which Wheeler acrobatically tipped onto the crossbar before the Liverpool defence cleared. The home side were well on top by this stage, and Oliver felt he should have done better when his shot went comfortably over the bar as City threatened a second.

Liverpool did continue to fight until the very end and in the 94th minute, they had a great chance to equalise, but Jacob Davenport was in the right place at the right time to save the day for the home side, who started their campaign with a win and a clean sheet.

After the game, Liverpool manager Neil Critchley vowed that his side will get better and will learn from their mistakes, but admitted that they were unlucky with some of their chances. He told liverpoolfc.com:

“It was a close game with nothing much between the two sides but the goal we conceded was disappointing. We lost concentration and didn’t defend the situation well. We didn’t perform to the standards we set ourselves in pre-season and we will improve. We have a young side this season but it’s a good one with very good players and we will get better. We had opportunities. Toni Gomes was unlucky when he hit the post and to be fair their goalkeeper has made a brilliant save from Trent Alexander-Arnold.”

The Reds next face Middlesbrough at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday 22 August, a game you can see live on LFCTV.

Liverpool XI: Wheeler; Whelan, Johnston, Parker (Lewis 82’), Masterson; Phillips, Kane; Alexander-Arnold, Gomes, Ejaria (Nicholas 60’); Dhanda.

Man City XI: Grimshaw; Duhaney, Wood, Oliver, Kigbu (Bullock 80’); Davenport, Buckley (Faour 82’); Kongolo, Nmecha (Fernandes 74’), Patching; Dilrosun.

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