Opening day for the young Reds! A new season for the chance to impress, for the opportunity to climb the ranks, and follow in recent footsteps of Curtis Jones and Neco Williams. Barry Lewtas enjoyed a successful U-18 campaign last year and was given a well-earned promotion to take head of the U-23s for this upcoming season. What better way to start the season than a derby against the Bitters at the academy in Kirkby with former academy standout CuJo in attendance?
If that was not enough, the young Reds were able to find the back of the net within the first minute of play courtesy of Jake Cain; a dream start. Playing out from the back, Luis Longstaff received a ball at the halfway line that he played to the right side to Jack Bearne, who had yards of space. Bearne took a couple of touches, cut inside, and played the ball to an overlapping Conor Bradley. The pass lacked accuracy, but Bradley’s determination to win the ball allowed Ben Woodburn to collect it just inside the right edge of the penalty area. Woodburn played it across to Bradley who attempted a back heel. The pass was read by the Everton defender, but it was not properly cleared, and the ball found Cain at the top of the box. Cain took one lovely touch onto his left foot and sweetly struck it by Everton keeper Harry Tyrer.
The rest of the match was a battle of the goalkeepers, as Caoimhin Kelleher and Tyrer exchanged save after save. In the first half, LFC’s Irish keeper made an excellent save as he was forced to shift across the frame of the goal to stop a certain tap-in from Nathan Woodhead. In the second half, Kelleher thwarted Ellis Simms for a third time in the match when Simms received a great through ball in the box yet could not convert the 1-on-1. Kelleher had an absolutely stellar performance worthy of a “Man of the Match” bid.
The game itself provided some opportunities for both sides, but excellent goalkeeping allowed the Liverpool U-23s to hold on to a 1-0 result and enjoy an opening day win. Lewtas will be proud of the performance by his team but will be sure to shore up that defensive line as Everton found their way on goal a bit too easily at times. If it were not for Kelleher, we could have very well seen the Reds drop points against their rivals. However, three points is three points. The lads will enjoy the result for the night, and get back to it the next day to start preparing for the next fixture this Friday against Derby County.