By Scott Taylor
Matty Willock scored an injury-time equaliser to succumb Liverpool U23s to a 1-0 defeat to arch-rivals Manchester United at Anfield on Monday evening.
Mike Garrity was missing a whole host of key players including Jordan Williams, Connor Randall, Harry Wilson as well as Ovie Ejaria, Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Shamal George thought he had earned his side a point when he saved Sean Goss’ 76th minute penalty but Willock won it at the death for Nikcy Butt’s men.
The Liverpool Head Coach made four changes from the side that beat Barnet on 10 January, with Randall, Williams and captain all with the first-team, whilst George replaced Kamil Grabara in goal.
A predictable first-half followed as both sides did their best to replicate the first-team fixture from this season, where the game peeted out to a goalless draw.
Willock was lively in a cold night at Anfield, but Tom Brewitt showed his credentials at this level with a late block, showing Garrity his capability after the departure of Tiago Ilori.
The hosts grew into the game after the interval, with attacking duo Brooks Lennon and Jack Dunn looking to fill the goalscoring void left by 19-goal winger Wilson.
Lennon tested Manchester United goalkeeper Joel Pereira midway through the second period, but his connection from a Kane Lewis cross was tame and comfortably saved.
Per eira was again called into action twice in quick succession shortly after, first denying Dunn’s deflected effort before stand-in captain Matty Virtue stunned the palms of the keeper.
The visitors soon responded with an opportunity of their own when Callum Gribbin, who was lively in the reverse fixture, tested George with a low drive.
The Liverpool goalkeeper then produced the save of the night to claw away Goss’ penalty after Lewis was adjudged to have fouled Gribbin.
Just as it looked like the young Reds were going to extend their unbeaten run to nine matches in all competitions, Willock headed home a Goss free-kick in stoppage time to win it.
The defeat sees Liverpool remain in third in the Premier League 2 table, and they now turn their attentions to the Premier League Cup when they host Ipswich on 22 January.
Liverpool U23s: George; Whelan, Phillips, Brewitt, Hart; Williams (Brimmer), Virtue, Alves (K Lewis); M Gomes, Dunn (T Gomes), Lennon.