By Scott Taylor
Mamadou Sakho scored his first goal of the season as Liverpool U23s made it four games unbeaten in all competitions with a 2-0 victory against Reading at Prenton Park on Sunday afternoon. Sakho, playing in his eighth game for Michael Beale’s side, gave the hosts the lead in the 14th minute after Ovie Ejaria’s initial effort was saved. After scoring three goals on international duty, Ben Woodburn continued his form by adding a second in the closing stages as Liverpool U23s extended their run to just one defeat in nine games.
Head Coach Beale made nine changes from the 2-0 friendly victory at home to Runcorn last week, with Corey Whelan and Cameron Brannagan the only players to keep their place.
The former Chelsea manager named a strong side, with Kevin Stewart and Ovie Ejaria in the midfield whilst Trent Alexander-Arnold was away with the first-team.
Liverpool started the game brightly, and had two golden opportunities in the opening stages but both Matthew Virtue and Brannagan failed to convert their chances.
However, the Reds didn’t have to wait too long for a goal as Sakho proved he could still offer something to his side with a good finish, latching onto the loose ball when Ejaria’s shot was parried.
The hosts were dominant throughout the game, and could have had two or three by half-time, with Woodburn and the in-form Brooks Lennon going close in the opening period.
Liverpool did not have it all their own way though and in the 50th minute, Reading almost grabbed an equaliser but Kamil Grabara was alert to Tyler Frost’s shot.
Normal service was resumed in the 75th minute, when the Reds created chance after chance, but Brannagan’s stinging effort smashed the crossbar as Liverpool held a precarious lead.
However, Ben Woodburn eased any worries for the hosts as he latched onto a Madger Gomes cross to apply a simple and seal the win for his side with his first goal in eight games.
The U23s remain third in the Premier League 2 table, just three points behind the leaders Everton. They now turn their attention to the Lancashire Senior Cup on Wednesday when they host Burnley.
Liverpool U23s: Grabara; Whelan, Ilori, Sakho, Juanma; Stewart, Virtue; Woodburn, Ejaria, Brannagan (M Gomes); Lennon (T Gomes).