By Scott Taylor
Daniel Trickett-Smith scored the winner as Liverpool U21s qualified for the quarter-finals of the U21 Premier Cup with a 1-0 win over Leeds United at Tranmere’s Prenton Park on Tuesday evening. With the FA Cup replay looming large for the first team, Michael Beale was without the likes of Sheyi Ojo and Ryan Kent, but he had centre-back Steven Caulker at his disposal, who made his first start for the club since joining on-loan from QPR. Trickett-Smith won it with a fine solo effort in first-half injury time to score his second goal in three games and seal Liverpool’s progression into the last eight.
Despite not having as much of the ball as they would’ve liked, Liverpool created the first chance in the fourth minute, but Caulker’s header was straight at Leeds goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Trickett-Smith, who was playing as a central striker, went close shortly after, but he fired narrowly wide. In the 39th minute, it was the Reds who went closest to breaking the deadlock, when Harry Wilson was denied by a good save from Peacock-Farrell. However, just six minutes later, Liverpool did take the lead with a good counter-attacking move.
Leeds had a corner which was dealt with by the Liverpool defence, with the ball falling to Adam Phillips just outside his own penalty area. The midfielder, who made the step up from the U18s, then released Trickett-Smith with an exquisite pass, and the forward run from inside his own half and coolly converted to put Liverpool ahead.
Leeds responded after the interval with Ryan Fulton having to be alert to deny any chances created. Liverpool tried to defend their lead so created less opportunities in the second half, with substitute Ovie Ejaria firing wide. After bringing on Ejaria, Beale made another change in the final five minutes, when U18 striker Toni Gomes replaced Trickett-Smith to try and put the game to bed. Despite this, they couldn’t get the chance and the Reds’ defence held firm as Liverpool progress to the quarter-finals, where they will face Brighton or neighbours Everton.
Liverpool XI: Fulton; Whelan, Cleary, Caulker, Hart; Virtue, Phillips (Ejaria 72’); Lennon, O’Hanlon, Wilson; Trickett-Smith (Gomes 84’).