By Scott Taylor
Okera Simmonds scored his first goal for Liverpool U18s as they narrowly beat Merseyside rivals Everton and Finch Farm on Saturday afternoon.The attacking midfielder, 17, made his breakthrough to the U18s this season and put his side ahead after half-hour, sweeping in Rafa Camacho’s pull-back.
Everton thought they had sealed a point when Fraser Hornby scored from the penalty spot in the 80th minute after he was fouled by Adam Lewis.
However, just like Adam Phillips did in the same fixture in December 2015, Yan Dhanda stole the show with the winner as Neil Critchley’s side made it 12 games unbeaten in all competitions.
In their first competitive fixture of 2017, the Reds Head Coach made four changes from the side that beat Crystal Palace in the FA Youth Cup.
Liam Coyle, Curtis Jones, Bobby Adekanye and Glen McAuley all made way with Michel Parker, Simmonds, Camacho all returning to the side.
Liam Millar made his first start for Liverpool on his return from injury after almost five months out.
Both sides came into the game in form, with Liverpool 11 games without defeat whilst their neighbours had gone 13 games unbeaten in all competitions.
After a sparring battle, the game sparked into life after 30 minutes when Simmonds put the visitors ahead at Finch Farm, with the midfielder curling his effort into the bottom corner.
The youngster almost turned provider shortly before the interval in a game of few chances, but Millar fired over on his return to the side.
The midfield battled continued in the second half, with Everton creating the better of the opportunities, even though they were few and far between.
The closest either team came to scoring was Jack Kiersey saw his knock-on retrieved by Kamil Grabara.
However, Everton grabbed an equaliser with ten minutes remaining when Danny Bramall was brought down by Lewis, and Hornby slotted home the resulting spot-kick.
Just as it looked like the game was heading for a draw, substitue Glen McAuley and Rhian Brewster combined to set up Dhanda, and the forward blasted home the winner with five minutes left.
The win extends Liverpool’s unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions, with their last defeat coming against Everton in late September.
The Reds remain in third in the U18 Premier League, seven points adrift of Manchester City at the top.
Critchley’s side next turn their attention to the FA Youth Cup, when they travel to the unbeaten league leaders City in the fourth round on Wednesday evening.
Liverpool U18s: Grabara; Lattie (Owens 78′), Parker, Johnston, Lewis; Masterson; Camacho, Brewster, Simmonds (McAuley 74′); Dhanda, Millar.