By Scott Taylor
Liverpool U18s suffered a 4-0 defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday afternoon. Having beaten Middlesbrough 4-3 last weekend, the Reds were looking for back-to-back wins against a Blackburn side who had not won before today’s tie. However, a hat-trick from Lewis Mansell earned Blackburn their first win of the season.
The game started disastrously for Neil Critchley’s side as Blackburn were given a penalty in the fourth minute of the game when Reds captain Trent Alexander-Arnold fould Tre Pemberton in the box. Lewis Hardcastle then made no mistake from 12 yards, slotting it past Shamal George in the Liverpool goal.
Liverpool had two lifelines from going further behind, as young centre-back Conor Masterson flew his body in the way of some shots which looked likely to go in. Pemberton and Hardcastle then had two more efforts on goal, but Pemberton’s strike hit the side-nettinf before Hardcastle fired just wide. However, just before half-time, it as third time lucky for Billy Barr’s side as Mansell doubled Rovers’ lead with a close-range finish.
The Reds recovered from 2-0 down last weekend to win thanks to a Toni Gomes hat-trick but Liverpool, without the injured Gomes couldn’t repeat history when Mansell headed home a Joe Grayson corner in the 55th minute to make it 3-0. Critchley’s side will be without midfielder Gomes for six weeks after his hamstring injury and they certainly needed someone who was clinical in front of goal.
The hosts’ first real chance came in the 70th minute when Yan Dhanda linked up well with Ovie Ejaria, but the latter fired his shot over the crossbar. That was the closest Liverpool came to scoring, as Blackburn rounded off the scoring with Mansell getting his hat-trick with another close range finish.
The young Reds will be looking to bounce back next Saturday when they visit West Bromwich Albion.
Liverpool XI: George; Whelan, Johnston, Masterson, Coyle; Alexander-Arnold, Woodburn; Owens, Ejaria, Kane; Dhanda.
Blackburn XI: Fisher; Travis, Askew, Platt, Doyle; Hardcastle (Rankin-Costello 83′), Mols, Grayson (Curran 80′), Pemberton (Fawns 80′); Howarth, Mansell.

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