By Scott Taylor
Toni Gomes scored the winner as Liverpool U18s made it 14 games unbeaten with a 2-1 over Ipswich Town 2-1 in the third round of the FA Youth Cup at Langtree Park on Wednesday evening. Adam Phillips gave the Reds a third minute lead before Sam Ford equalised for the visitors just four minutes later. In the 26th minute, Gomes scored his eighth goal in all competitions this season to win it for Neil Critchley’s side, who will face a home tie with Cardiff City in the fourth round.
Liverpool started brightly, and within three minutes, they were ahead. Ovie Ejaria’s long-range diagonal ball found Ben Woodburn on the right wing. He controlled the ball, looked up and picked up Phillips, who converted from inside the penalty area to score his fourth goal of the season.
However, moments after going behind, Ipswich found themselves level. A weak header from the Liverpool defence left Ben Morris through on goal, and even though Shamal George saved his shot, he could do nothing about Ford’s rebound.
Ipswich continued to dominate after scoring, and almost completed an unlikely turnaround. Former Liverpool youngster Conor McKendry came inside of the right flank and his shot flew inches wide. The visitors went even closer moments later, when Andre Dozzell smashed the crossbar.
After missing an earlier chance, Gomes made no mistake with his next opportunity. Captain Trent Alexander-Arnold’s deflected effort hit the crossbar and fell to Kris Owens. His cross then picked out Gomes who headed home powerfully to join Yan Dhanda as the academy’s leading goalscorer with eight goals.
After an eventful first half, the tempo of the game slowed down in the second period. Brooks Lennon, who scored his first Liverpool goal last week for the U21s, replaced Gomes and almost made an instant impact. The American was set up by the creative Woodburn, but his shot was directly at Ipswich goalkeeper Nick Hayes.
Corey Whelan and Phillips had further chances to put the game beyond doubt but both could not convert. They were almost left to rue these chances as the visitors responded with two chances of their own, but George did superbly to deny both Ford and Wolfenden.
Lennon was again involved as the Reds were inches away from making it 3-1, but Herbie Kane fired just off target. Fortunately for Critchley’s side, they did not rue their missed opportunity and held on to progress to the fourth round. Next up in the FA Youth Cup, Liverpool host Cardiff City with the tie needing to be played before 16 January 2016.
Liverpool XI: George; Alexander-Arnold, Masterson, Whelan, Owens; Coyle, Kane; Ejaria, Phillips, Woodburn (Brimmer); Gomes (Lennon).