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Ben Woodburn makes surprise appearance as Liverpool U23s lose to Derby

Liverpool U23s lost 3-2 to Derby County U23s on Sunday afternoon, with Ben Woodburn a shock starter at the academy in Kirkby.

Liverpool U23s 2-3 Derby County U23s

Premier League 2, Kirkby Academy
October 21, 2018

Goals: Virtue 17′, Christie-Davies 77′; MacDonald 53′, Butterfield 70′, Sibley 85′

Having lost 1-0 to West Brom in the Premier League Cup in their last outing, Neil Critchley‘s side were looking to bounce back.

The biggest surprise saw Ben Woodburn start for Liverpool, with the 19-year-old returning from Sheffield United for some much-needed playing time.

Woodburn’s loan spell at Bramall Lane has not been terminated, however.

The manager made three changes to the team that was beaten at the Hawthorns, as they looked to improve on their nine-place position in Premier League 2.

Caoimhin Kelleher, Rafa Camacho and Woodburn came in for Shamal George, Curtis Jones and Lazar Markovic.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 21, 2018: Liverpool's captain Matty Virtue (R) celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mate Adam Lewis (L) during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC and Derby County at The Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Woodburn makes surprise start for U23s; three changes in total
  • Virtue opens the scoring after good work by Lewis & Woodburn
  • MacDonald levels with free header; Butterfield fires visitors in front
  • Christie-Davies’ first Reds goal makes it 2-2; Sibley wins it for Rams
  • Only two Premier League 2 wins out of eight for Critchley’s youngsters

Woodburn was involved almost immediately from kick-off, colliding with Joe Bateman in the air, which forced the Derby youngster off the pitch with a serious-looking shoulder injury.

The game struggled to get into any kind of rhythm after that early incident, with chances few and far between for both sides.

Liverpool were ahead in the 17th minute, though, and Woodburn played his part in the goal.

Adam Lewis played a neat one-two with the Welshman, with the former’s precise cross allowing Matty Virtue to find the net from close-range.

Critchley’s team were the better side in the first-half, with Lewis a particularly eye-catching figure, following the news that he may be promoted to Andy Robertson’s back-up next season.

It was a feisty encounter, with George Johnston booked after lunging in recklessly on Louie Sibley, but he then made a fantastic block to deny what looked like a certain equaliser, after Neco Williams scuffed his attempted clearance.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 21, 2018: Liverpool's Isaac Christie-Davies during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC and Derby County at The Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Isaac Christie-Davies saw an effort cleared off the line after strong physical play by Liam Millar, in what would have been the midfielder’s first Reds goal.

Virtue then had a chance to score his second of the afternoon, as Liverpool flew out of the traps after the break. His shot was on the tame side, after more good work by the lively Millar.

The scores were level seven minutes into the second-half, very much against the run of play, with Calum MacDonald heading home completely unmarked from a corner.

The goal seemed to knock Liverpool for six, with an experienced Derby outfit getting control of the game and Jayden Mitchell-Lawson missing a big chance to put them ahead.

Woodburn was replaced in the 64th minute having done well on the whole, looking a bright spark out on the left-hand side.

Derby went in front with 20 minutes remaining, with Jacob Butterfield, 28 years of age and with bags of experience, scoring.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 21, 2018: Liverpool's Adam Lewis (L) and Derby County's Jayden Mitchell-Lawson during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC and Derby County at The Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lewis was desperately unlucky not to make it 2-2, with his free-kick hitting post, in what was an effort Harry Wilson would have been proud off.

The scores were level in the 77th minute, however, with Christie-Davies curling home a sublime effort, bending the ball into the far corner.

Kelleher made a big save late in the day, thwarting another experienced presence in George Thorne, but defeat was still cruelly inflicted on the hosts.

Sibley was in the right place to prod home with the goal gaping, after a ricochet worked in his favour.

It proved to be another disappointing day at the office for Liverpool’s U23s, who have now only recorded two wins in eight Premier League 2 matches this season.

TIA Man of the Match: Adam Lewis

Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; N.Williams, Johnston, Juanma, Lewis; Chirivella, Virtue, Christie-Davies; Camacho, Woodburn (McAuley 64′), Millar

Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Gallacher, Tagseth

Next Match: Blackburn (A) – Premier League 2 – Monday, Oct 29, 7pm

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