By Scott Taylor
Ovie Ejaria scored his third goal in all competitions but Liverpool U18s saw their 14-game unbeaten run ended with a 3-1 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday morning. Former Arsenal midfielder Ovie Ejaria opened the scoring for Neil Critchley’s side before goals from Oliver Long, Lewis Suddick and Louis Johnson sealed the win for the hosts. The defeat means Liverpool end 2015 with a loss, but it was their first since 29 August, when they lost 4-0 to Blackburn.
Liverpool made plenty of changes for the clash, with Corey Whelan, Shamal George and Herbie Kane all absent and the in-form Toni Gomes and Yan Dhanda starting on the bench. Despite this, Liverpool started strongly. Brooks Lennon, who was making his first start for the U18s since joining from Real Salt Lake, had a good opportunity but couldn’t convert. Ejaria did what Lennon couldn’t when he volleyed home from 10 yards to give Liverpool the lead.
However, just a minute later, Newcastle were level. Johnson played in Long and the forward clinically chipped in over Caoimhin Kelleher, who was deputising for George in the Reds goal. Long then had a great opportunity to score his and Newcastle’s second, but his shot was straight at Kelleher when he could have done better.
Liverpool recovered after the interval and had two chances to go back in front. Paulo Alves and Lennon were the men who were both denied by Newcastle goalkeeper Paul Woolston, and the Reds may have started to regret not playing a recognised striker.
That was further evident when Newcastle completed their turnaround in the 66th minute when Johnson was again the provider, this time for Suddick, who fired past the outstretched arms of Kelleher. Johnson then get a well-deserved goal thanks to a slice of luck to complete the scoring with his fourth goal of the season in all competitions. Newcastle head into the new year with three points and avenge their 4-1 defeat earlier in the season.
After the game, Critchley was frustrated that his side wasted opportunities, but was full of praise for his youngsters after going that run. He told “It was a disappointing day for us and very frustrating because we created a lot of chances but just weren’t clinical enough. In the second half we had two great chances but didn’t take them and them conceded from another mistake. The lads gave it everything and I can’t fault their attitude but we must learn from our mistakes from this game. The boys deserve great credit for the run we have been on, and now we get ready for Christmas, go again and pick ourselves up and try to start another good run.”
Liverpool U18s: Kelleher; Lewis, Masterson, Parker, Johnston; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Brimmer; Lennon (Gomes 62’), Alves (Dhanda 70’), Ejaria (Owens 45’).
Newcastle U18s: Woolston, Aziakonou, Bailey, David, Kitchen; Suddick (Smith 76′), Donaghey, Charman, Long; Lowther (Spooner 67′), Johnson.