It’s been quite the eventful string of matches for the academy across the board! The traveling U-18s started off with a 2-0 victory of Stoke that set our Cup Final weekend off to a winning start, to end last weekend with 10 goal thriller with Manchester United that ended in a 5-5 draw. Next, the U-23s progressed to the semifinals of the Lancashire Senior Cup with a 2-0 victory over Preston North End and followed up with a 7-1 thumping of Tottenham Hotspur. Without for adieu, let’s dive into some academy highlights.
Stoke City (U-18) 0 Liverpool (U-18) 2
The young Reds traveled to a near bottom Stoke side, in what would be a cagey affair under blustery conditions. The first half turned into a chess match with few opportunities for either side. The first half would end goalless. But the Reds were on the front foot from the start of the second half.
The Reds peppered the goal with shots from James McConnell pushed over the bar, and Harvey Blair had an attempt go just wide. The Reds would finally get their breakthrough in the 57th minute, when Oakley Cannonier intercepted a backward pass, drove towards the Stoke box, slid the ball to Bobby Clark. Clark “cool as you like” rolled the ball across the Stoke keeper into the back of the net.
Stoke charged back with Jack Griffiths who nearly leveled twice with shots forced wide and unluckily hitting the side net after rounding Fabian Mrozek. But, the match would get upended in the 82nd minute when Stoke’s Christy Grogan committed a heavy challenge on Clark resulting in a mass push about at the center of the pitch, and subsequently his sending off.
The Reds immediately took advantage of being a man-up, and almost doubled with Melkamu Frauendorf shooting directly at the Stoke keeper. But in the 88th minute, Frauendorf would soon turn provider as he took an Isaac Mabaya pass to the touchline, danced across the near post, and squared a ball for Harvey Blair to finish off the match in style.
Liverpool (U-18) 5 Manchester United (U-18) 5
The young Reds played out a 10 goal thriller, with the Reds unable to hold back a late Manchester United comeback. The first half was dominated by the Reds with the Reds nearly taking the lead in the opening minutes when Harvey Blair latched on to a missed guided clearance but shot directly at the Manchester United keeper.
The Reds took the lead in the 15th minute from a Lee Jonas towering header set up by a perfect Luca Stephenson cross. Harvey Blair caused multiple problems to the United defense, coming close to scoring, and nearly setting up Oakley Cannonier. Blair continued to cause trouble, shooting wide, and creating a corner, which Joan just headed over. It was then Bobby Clark’s turn to run at United, as he hit the goal post, then through a fumbled cross, set up the next goal in the 32nd minute. The United defense tried to clear the ball, only to get intercepted, passed to Blair who brilliantly finished in the top corner against his former club. At the stroke of halftime, United got a goal back, as Ethan Ennis tucked a ball into the far corner against his former club.
The second half started with both sides jostling, until Stephenson made took the ball to the mid-pitch, made a brilliant pass to Blair. Blair put a low cross in the box, which Clark latched onto, restoring a two-goal lead. In the 64th minute, Isaac Mabaya latched onto a Blair pass, provided a low cross into the box for Cannonier to put away for his 20th goal of the season, putting the Reds up to a 4-1 lead. United never tucked their heads, and in the 71st minute scored off an uncleared cross, with Willy Kambwala headed in a cross to make it 4-2. On the ensuing kickoff, Jonas was bullied off the ball by Joe Hugill, who took advantage, making it 4-3. Minutes later, in the 78th, Mabaya set up Clark with a low cross, which he finished in style, putting the Reds up 5-3. It was United who controlled the last minutes of the match, as Ennis scored again in the 82nd minute off the poorly cleared ball, and in stoppage time, Hugill was again set up to score and took his chance smartly, ending the match 5-5. The next match for the 2nd place Reds is a trip to 5th placed Derby County.
Preston North End (U-23) 0 Liverpool (U-23) 3
The Reds advanced to the next round of the Lancashire Senior Cup with a solid display against a tough PNE side. The opening of the match started off with the host unlucky to not score, as Mickey O’Neill volleyed into the side netting. The Reds returned with Leighton Clarkson putting a ball into the path of Fidel O’Rourke, to only get saved by the PNE keeper. The PNE keeper was again tested in the 15th minute, as Conor Bradley’s forced a fine save.
The score stayed level until the 26th minute. The Reds had a free-kick right outside the PNE box, which Clarkson stood over, and dropped brilliantly into O’Rouke, who tucked in for his first competitive goal for the U-23s. PNE nearly leveled in the 30th minute, as Josh Murphy hit the woodwork with just Marcelo Pitagula to beat. The Reds doubled their lead in the 39th minute, as Bradley took a pass across the face of the goal from James Norris, then crossed to the ball to Tom Clayton who calmly headed into the back of the net.
The Reds started the second half applying the same previous pressure. This proved to be fruitful. In the 51st minute, Dominic Corness intercepted a clearance, and provide the perfect through ball to Jack Bearne, who fired it into the back of the net. The Reds tried their hardest to add to the lead through a Rhys Williams header that went just wide, and a Clarkson shot that went just wide. The score would remain the same, and the Reds progress to meet Blackpool in the semifinals.
Liverpool (U-23) 7 Tottenham (U-23) 1
The rampant Reds turned out to be too much for the visitors from London. The Reds started their press from the start of the match, which almost turned into the opening goal as Tom Clayton had a close-range shot saved. But in the 16th minute, the Reds took the lead and began their romp.
Leighton Clarkson won the ball, put a pass into the right, which found Max Woltman. Woltman held up the ball and teed up Conor Bradley for the opener. Clarkson continued his fine form on the left, put a ball into the box that eventually found Woltman. Woltman bullied his way towards the goal and tucked the ball into the net to put the Reds up by two. The score only stayed for mere minutes as the Reds added onto their lead as Woltman turned provider, setting up James Norris, Norris took the pass, drove into the box and scored a fantastic goal, and put the Reds up by three. The match took a period of calm. But the Reds were not going to be denied more goals.
Seven minutes later, the Spurs conceded a penalty, as the Spurs keeper made a save off a Mateusz Musialowski shot, but fouled an incoming Jack Bearne coming in for the loose ball. Clarkson stepped up, sent the keeper the wrong way to make it four. Mateusz Musiałowski nearly made it five, if not for a brilliant save. But, the fifth goal was on the way, as Tottenham conceded another penalty in stoppage time for handling a cross. Clarkson again stepped up, put the ball into the top corner above the diving keeper, and all but killed off the match with a five-goal lead.
Spurs opened the second half with nothing to lose and played the better side. They were rewarded in the 54th minute, when Julian Bennett glided across the right side of the pitch, into the edge of the box, and let out an unstoppable curling shot to get a goal back. Spurs continued their pressure and should have got a second if not for a brilliant save from Marcelo Pitagula. But, again, the Reds were not going to be denied more goals,
In the 66th minute, Tom Clayton sent and over the top through ball to Jack Bearne, who fired a low drive and a sixth goal. The emphatic Reds took full control of the match, with all but the Spurs keeper preventing the scoreline to increase causing a Musialowski shot to go just wide, and preventing a Clarkson hat trick with a brilliant save. The Reds added their seventh in the 88th minute when Dominic Corness’s pass was eventually latched onto by Fidel O’Rourke, after bouncing off a Spurs defender. O’Rourke took a low driving shot across the keeper into the corner of the goal and finished off the match at 7-1. The next match for the Reds is to the league Manchester City.
Until next time, Up the Reds!