By Scott Taylor
Danny Ings scored on his first competitive game on his comeback from injury but Liverpool U23s began life in the new-look Premier League 2 with a 4-1 defeat at home to Southampton on Sunday afternoon. Josh Sims opened the scoring for the visitors in the 12th minute before Jake Hesketh doubled Southampton’s lead with a superb long-range effort which cannoned in off the underside of the crossbar. Ings reduced the deficit in the 35th minute, but two second-half goals from Olufela Olomola sealed the win for Southampton and inflicted another opening day defeat on the young Reds.
Liverpool named a mix of youth and experience with Ings leading the line alongside U18 regulars Ben Woodburn and Adam Phillips.
Michael Beale’s side started the game in a positive manner, with U23s debutant Woodburn forcing a smart save from Southampton goalkeeper Harry Lewis in the first minute of the game.
The visitors responded moments later, when Marcus Barnes tested U18s goalkeeper Kamil Grabara before Reds midfielder Phillips went close as the end-to-end action continued.
Southampton then asserted their dominance with two quick goals to control the game. Sims fired home Yan Valery’s cross before Hesketh’s unstoppable long distance strike doubled their lead.
Beale’s chargers pulled a goal back ten minutes before the interval when Ings poked home captain Harry Wilson’s cross.
Grabara did well to keep the score at 2-1 at half-time, as the Polish youngster denied Sims shot moments before the interval.
Southampton did get their third seven minutes into the second half, as Olomola pounced on a goal-mouth scramble to restore the visitors two-goal cushion at Prenton Park.
Olomola then got his second and Southampton’s fourth after getting onto a well worked move from Sims to convert into the top corner.
Liverpool brought on Brooks Lennon in place of Jordan Williams to try and get a foothold back into the game, but it wasn’t enough as Liverpool start life in Premier League 2 with a defeat.7
Liverpool U23s: Grabara; Randall, Brewitt, Maguire, Hart (Kane 76’); Williams (Lennon 64’), Virtue; Wilson, Phillips (Whelan 76’), Woodburn; Ings.
Southampton U23s: Lewis; Valery, Jones, Wood, Cook; Gape, Olomola (Willard 80’); O’Connor, Hesketh (Rowthorn 90’), Sims (Johnson 90’); Barnes.