Liverpool U23s 3-0 Huddersfield Town U23s
Premier League Cup, Prenton Park
November 5 2016
Goals: Lennon 26′, Wilson 77′ (pen), Brannagan 90′
This was the Reds’ second game in the group stage of this competition, having beaten Ipswich Town in the opening fixture thanks to a hat-trick from Danny Ings.
With Ings out of action after suffering another long term knee injury, a gap has emerged in the U23 side which one of the club’s younger players will be looking to take advantage of.
American forward Brooks Lennon might have been the obvious replacement up top, but for this game U23 coach Michael Beale started with Lennon on the left, and Portuguese youth striker Toni Gomes up front.
It was clear from the off that the side were replicating the fluid 4-3-3 system used by the senior team, and the young Reds were knocking the ball about with confidence.
They dominated much of the first half as a wintry breeze drifted around a sparsely populated Prenton Park.
A surging run through midfield from Jordan Williams resulted in an early chance for Gomes. His shot was blocked, but it wasn’t long before Beale’s side opened the scoring.
Harry Wilson‘s cross-field pass sent the unmarked Lennon through on goal, and the 19-year-old made no mistake with a cool finish underneath Huddersfield keeper Luke Coddington.
Huddersfield had a couple of chances on the break in this opening period, but lacked the quality in the final third to take advantage.
Wilson and Lennon regularly drifted from their wings into central positions, and combined again early in the second half but Wilson’s fierce half-volley from outside the area was tipped over the bar.
By this time the formation had changed to a 4-4-2 diamond with Wilson as the attacking midfielder, and Gomes and Lennon playing as wide forwards up top.
This system was less effective when it came to keeping possession, but the experienced defensive duo of Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori managed to keep the visitors at bay.
They were assisted by 17-year-old Polish keeper Kamil Grabara, who saved well from a Luca Colville strike, and also claimed a couple of crosses.
Sakho’s name was regularly heard being shouted by the young fans in attendance, but Ilori was the more composed of the two central defenders on show today. He and Spanish left back Juanma look like they could do a job if ever called upon by Jurgen Klopp.
The result was settled when Wilson dispatched his penalty kick, awarded for a foul on Corey Whelan who had sprinted forward from right back. Cameron Brannagan added a third with a thunderous strike from outside the area in the dying minutes.
TIA Man of the Match: Harry Wilson
Liverpool (4-3-3): Grabara; Whelan, Ilori, Sakho, Juanma; Williams (M Gomes 61′), Virtue (Dhanda 74′), Brannagan; Wilson, T Gomes (Alves 68′), Lennon.
Subs not used: Maguire, Firth
Next U23s’ Match: Reading (H) – Sunday 20th November, 1pm.