Liverpool under-18s fell to a rare defeat on Saturday, losing 3-1 at Derby County.
Derby County U18s 3-1 Liverpool U18s
U18 Premier League, Derby County Training Centre
March 9, 2019
Goals: Knight 9′, Whittaker 77′, 79′; Duncan 48′
Barry Lewtas’ young side headed into the top of the table clash three points clear at the summit ahead of the Rams, with the Reds having played a game more.
Liverpool headed into the fixture brimming with confidence off the back of two consecutive convincing victories, having secured 7-2 and 5-1 wins over Blackburn and Bury in the U18 Premier League and FA Youth Cup respectively.
Four changes were made to the team that secured their passage into the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday.
Dan Atherton, Neco Williams, Matteo Ritaccio and Fidel O’Rourke were brought back into the side in place of Vitezslav Jaros, Jack Walls, Jack Cain and Paul Glatzel.
- Four changes were made to the side; captain Glatzel starting from the bench
- Lewtas’ side fell behind early through Knight
- Duncan levels the scores with his 26th goal of the season
- Second-half double from Whittaker gives Derby insurmountable lead
- Young Reds drop to second in league after first defeat in 11 games
The Reds were quickly put on the back foot at Derby having failed to head a warning in the opening exchanges as Jason Knight found space in the penalty box to find the back of the net for the home side with just nine minutes on the clock.
Liverpool’s Fidel O’Rourke had the opportunity for a quick response only for his chipped effort to be blocked by Derby’s stopper.
It proved to be a sign of things to come for the Reds as a stubborn home defence, who have conceded just 21 goals in the league thus far, made Liverpool’s attack work for their chances on goal.
The hosts opening scorer was gifted an opening to double their lead following a scrappy clearance from Liverpool, but his miss paved the way for a bout of pressure from the visitors late in the first term.
Abdi Sharif and Leighton Clarkson both had long-range efforts denied by the Derby keeper and despite heading into the interval with the lead, but Liverpool’s late flurry of chances on goal gave the home side something to think about.
Liverpool came out from the break with renewed intent and found themselves level merely three minutes after play resumed.
An exquisite pass from Sharif found Neco Williams in space on the right, with his similarly stunning cross landing in front of the lethal Bobby Duncan who notched his 26th goal of the campaign.
The goal ensured the Reds pushed to secure all three points as the battle at the top of the table intensified.
Elijah Dixon-Bonner’s came closest to turning the game in the Reds’ favour only for his thumping effort into the top corner to be thwarted once more by Derby’s stopper.
Paul Glatzel was then called from the bench just after the hour mark to help complete the turnaround, however two free-kicks to the hosts put the game beyond doubt.
A failure to clear from a set-piece saw Whittaker grab his first of the afternoon before his dead-ball effort from the edge of the area merely two minutes later ensured Liverpool were to be left empty handed.
The rare defeat sees Liverpool drop to second in the U18 table on goal difference, with Derby gaining the advantage with a game in hand.
Liverpool U18s: Atherton, N. Williams (Walls, 69), Larouci, R. Williams, Boyes, Ritaccio (Longstaff, 76′), Sharif, Clarkson, O’Rourke (Glatzel, 64′), Duncan, Dixon-Bonner
Subs not used: Jaros, Cain
Next match: Man City (A) – U18 Premier League – Sunday, March 17, 11am (GMT)