By Scott Taylor
LIVERPOOL U23s saw their Premier League Cup campaign come to an end after a 1-0 defeat to Norwich City in the quarter-final at the Deva Stadium on Monday evening.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Woodburn, Harry Wilson, Joe Gomez, Marko Grujic, Sheyi Ojo and Kevin Stewart were notable absentees for the Reds, who fielded a youthful side.
However, Ebou Adams scored the winner in the tenth minute of the match as the young Reds were eliminated from the tournament and miss out on the semi-finals.
Head Coach Mike Garrity made six changes from the side that beat Hull City in the last round, and were missing several players who were away with the first-team ahead of their clash with AFC Bournemouth on Wednesday.
With more than half of the line-up changing, Norwich took advantage, and created the better of the chances, with Conor McGrandles and Bernard Ashley-Seal both missing the target early on.
Norwich’s pressure in the Liverpool half soon told as Adams won the ball midway up the pitch, pushed forward and fired a 20-yard strike past Caoimhin Kelleher to put the Canaries ahead.
Ashley-Seal then forced Irishman Kelleher to parry away his shot as the one-way traffic from the visitors continued.
Liverpool’s first notable presence in the final third came on the 21st minute, but Nathaniel Phillips’ fluffed half-volley summed up the Reds threat going forward in the opening exchanges.
Normal service was resumed less than ten minutes later when Diallang Jaiyesimi smashed the post before the ball was eventually cleared with Liverpool fortunate to be only 1-0 down at the break.
The interval couldn’t have come at a better time for Liverpool, who regrouped and started the second half with a lot more intensity to their game, but defender Phillips was still Liverpool’s main threat in attack.
With so many bodies going forward looking for an equaliser, Liverpool were always prone to a counter-attack, and that was inevitable in the 66th minute when Norwich again hit the post with Ashley-Seal this time inches away from doubling their lead.
However, Liverpool could not find any meaningful chance of note in the closing stages, and despite having a young side, the hosts would have been disappointed not to test Aston Oxborough more.
With the regular U23s side being so strong, it presented an opportunity for those who needed minutes to feature, and will serve them no harm in furthering their careers.
U18s duo Yan Dhanda and Conor Masterson featured, with Madger Gomes, Toni Gomes and Corey Whelan were given valuable game time in a season where opportunity has been limited.
Liverpool return to Premier League 2 action next week when they face Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium on 10 April.
LIVERPOOL U23s: Kelleher, Whelan, Hart (Brewitt), N Phillips, Masterson, J Williams, Virtue, M Gomes, Alves (Dhanda), T Gomes, Brewster.