The Liverpool U23s vanquished Fleetwood Town in a penalty shootout on Friday night, to seal the Lancashire Senior Cup in last season’s delayed final.
The young Reds made it to the final by virtue of victories over Burnley, Bolton Wanderers and Rochdale, with the clash postponed to this term.
Taking on a Fleetwood lineup that included former Liverpool academy left-back Joe Maguire, Neil Critchley’s side faced a tough night at the County Ground.
This proved to be the case from the first whistle, as Caoimhin Kelleher was drawn into a strong save on the 17-minute mark after an interchange between Gerard Garner and Michael Donohue.
Harrison Biggins almost put the hosts 1-0 up just before half-time, firing just wide after Danny Ings, making his fourth appearance for the U23s this season, had headed over the bar from a corner.
With Paul Marsden blowing for half-time at 0-0, the U23s pushed hard for an opener after the break, but it took another 25 minutes before Liverpool found the back of the net.
It came from an unlikely source in left-back George Johnston, who fired home with a powerful effort from inside the box.
But just over 15 minutes later, Fleetwood forward Jack Sowerby had grabbed back an equaliser, and with Ings missing a golden opportunity late on, the final went to penalties.
Fortunately, all five of Critchley’s spot-kick takers beat goalkeeper Chris Neal, earning a 5-4 shootout victory and the Lancashire Senior Cup.
After a long spell out with injury, it was warming to see Harry Wilson make his comeback, with the Wales international playing 45 minutes before being replaced by Bobby Adekanye.
And the involvement of Ings, as the young Reds’ senior figure, was similarly encouraging, with the striker working his way back to full fitness.
It was Corey Whelan who lifted the trophy, however, capping a fourth consecutive win in competitive games for the U23s this season so far.
Liverpool U23s vs. Fleetwood Town: Kelleher; Whelan, Parker, Masterson, Johnston; Ejaria, Coyle (Virtue 69′), Alves; Wilson (Adekanye 45′), Dhanda, Ings
Unused subs: Firth, Phillips