By Scott Taylor
Adam Phillips and Herbie Kane were on the scoresheet as Liverpool U18s ended their 2015/16 Premier League season with a 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Friday evening.
Herbie Kane gave Neil Critchley’s side a 15th minute lead before Iko Ugbo equalised for the hosts just three minutes later. Phillips then put the young Reds back in front before Ugbo got his and Chelsea’s second after the interval as the shares were spoiled at Aldershot Town FC.
The Reds were dominant for most of the game, controlling possession with their intricate passing but couldn’t convert their chances in front of goal.
Liverpool created the first chance of the game, with Phillips volleying a tame effort just wide.
The England youth international was again involved in the next attack. Brooks Lennon’s cross found the midfielder, but his header looped onto the roof of the net.
In the 15th minute, the Liverpool pressure eventually paid off when Kane ended a wonderful team move to deservedly put the Reds in front.
Mich’el Parker released Ben Woodburn on the left wing, and the Welshman picked out Phillips. The midfielder picked out England U17 international Kane to fire home his fourth goal of the season.
However, just three minutes later, Chelsea were level. Miro Muheim’s free-kick wasn’t dealt with and an unmarked Ugbo powered his header past Caoimhin Kelleher for his 21st goal of the season.
Normal service was resumed in the 24th minute, when Phillips put Liverpool back in front. A long ball forward was held up by Brooks Lennon, and the American found Phillips on the overlap and he picked out the bottom corner.
Critchley’s side also made it 3-1 before the interval, but a goal mouth scramble in stoppage time could not find a Liverpool player and was eventually cleared by the Chelsea defence.
Liverpool started the second half just as they ended the first. Phillips was instrumental in the number 10 role, and his reverse pass found Woodburn on the overlap, but his shot was tipped over the bar by Chelsea goalkeeper Nathan Baxter.
Woodburn and Phillips both went close once again shortly after, but Liverpool could not find that decisive third goal that would put them in total control of the game.
The Reds brought on top-scorer Toni Gomes for Lennon in the 68th minute in the hope that the Portuguese striker could add to his 14 goals this season.
However, in the 74th minute, they rued their missed opportunities as Chelsea equalised against the run of play.
Liverpool’s defence looked comfortable, but then Ugbo’s long-range drive fizzed past Kelleher and into the bottom corner as the hosts again come from behind to equalise.
Ovie Ejaria was superb in central midfield, and he almost put his side ahead for the third time in the match with ten minutes to go. A fine counter-attacking move ended with Phillips feeding Ejaria, but his ambitious chip went narrowly wide.
The former Arsenal forward set up Woodburn in the final five minutes, but the striker cut inside off the left wing and curled his effort just wide.
Paulo Alves replaced Ejaria as Liverpool looked for a deserved winner, but they just couldn’t convert their chances.
Both Kane and Gomes had opportunities in the closing stages, but the game ended all square and Liverpool ended their season with a draw that they felt should have been a win.
Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Lewis, Parker, Whelan; Coyle, Kane, Ejaria (Alves 85′), Phillips; Woodburn, Lennon (Gomes 68′).