By Scott Taylor
Adam Phillips and Will Marsh scored for Liverpool U21s as they beat Sligo Rovers 2-1 at the Showgrounds Stadium on Wednesday evening. Phillips, who followed up his goal in the FA Youth Cup, opened the scoring in the 32nd minute before Jimmy Keohane levelled from the penalty spot.
Due to the recent fixtures involving both the U21s and the first team, Michael Beale was able to call upon some U18 players such as Ovie Ejaria and Brooks Lennon for the clash. In front of big crowd in the Showgrounds, it was the hosts who had the first chance of the game, with Mikey Place going close with a deflected cross that looped over the crossbar.
Despite this, it was Liverpool who took the lead shortly after the half-hour mark with their first notable attack, with Phillips firing beyond Michael Schlingermann. Normal service was resumed moments later, when Kieran Sadlier fired over and showing good individual skill to beat Kristof Polgar.
The League Of Ireland side finished the half on top, with former Liverpool youngster Craig Roddan setting up Liam Martin, who again fired over. Beale brought on Madger Gomes at half-time as he stepped up his return from injury, and Toni Gomes replaced the ineffective Jerome Sinclair.
Madger Gomes creativity helped the Reds grow into the game, with Sam Hart going close in the 58th minute. However, just three minutes later, Liverpool conceded a penalty as Joe Maguire was penalised for handball. Former Exeter City midfielder Keohane then stepped up and beat Firth to level the tie.
In the 67th minute, Beale gave valuable minutes to the returning Ryan McLaughlin, as well as Will Marsh and Paulo Alves. Two minutes later, Marsh, who recently returned from his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, restored Liverpool’s lead, reacting well to a loose ball in the box to poke it beyond Cairan Nugent.
Liverpool gave a quick cameo to Ryan Kent in the final ten minutes, as they responded from their 3-0 defeat to Manchester City to pick up all three points.
Liverpool U21s: Firth; Polgar, Brewitt, Maguire, Hart (Kent 80’); Virtue (McLaughlin 67’), Phillips; Lennon (Marsh 67’), O’Hanlon (M Gomes 45’), Ejaria (Alves 67’); Sinclair (T Gomes 45’).
Sligo Rovers: Schlingermann; Rowling, Donelon, Leahy, Clancy; Place, Martin; Roddan, Richards, Keohane; Sadlier.