By Scott Taylor
Yan Dhanda missed two penalties as Liverpool U18s spurned opportunities as they drew 0-0 with ten-man Wolves at the Kirkby Academy on Tuesday morning. Dhanda is currently the academy’s leading scorer with seven goals, but couldn’t add to that tally as Ryan Leak was sent off for the visitors. The result does mean that Neil Critchley’s side have now gone eight games unbeaten though, and are still full of confidence.
Bobby Adekanye made his full debut for the U18s since his summer move from Barcelona and his was in the action almost immediately. He and Toni Gomes started on the bench in the Reds’ last game, a 1-1 draw against Manchester City, but they combined to create the first chance of the game in just the third minute. Gomes headed it down to Adekanye, but he fired just wide.
Liverpool suffered a setback in the 20th minute, when captain Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kane Lewis collided, with the latter being forced off as a result, with Dhanda coming on his place.
Either side of half time, Gomes had two great opportunities to give Liverpool the lead. Before the break, he had a shot well saved by the Wolves goalkeeper Rhys Bills and after the interval his header was somehow cleared off the line in acrobat fashion by a Wolves defender.
The Reds continued to assert their dominance, and were rewarded a penalty in the 55th minute when Adekanye’s shot at the back post was handled by Leak on the line. After diving to stop the effort with his hand, the referee having no option but to send the Wolves man off. However, Dhanda’s penalty was well saved by Bills with it set to go into the bottom corner.
Critchley’s side definitely made the man advantage count, creating chance after chance. Firstly, Adam Phillips fired his volley over the crossbar before Dhanda had two efforts well saved by Bills.
In the 86th minute, Liverpool were awarded yet another penalty , after some neat play from Dhanda. The former West Brom man picked himself up and was given a chance to make amends for his miss earlier in the second half. However, Bills was the hero for Wolves as he again saved Dhanda’s effort from 12 yards to deny the Reds another league win.
Liverpool remain in third in the U18 Premier League andtravel to Blackburn on Saturday looking to make it nine games unbeaten. However, Rovers were the last side to beat Liverpool, with them thrashing the Reds 4-0 at the Kikrby Academy in August.
Liverpool U18s: George; Lewis (Dhanda 20′), Whelan, Masterson, Owens; Phillips, Alexander-Arnold, Kane; Adekanye, Gomes (Woodburn 69′), Ejaria (Alves 83′).
By Scott Taylor