Liverpool’s U18 side edged their Man United counterparts in a seven-goal thriller, winning 4-3 after a late winner despite three United equalisers.
Liverpool U18s 4-3 Man United U18s
U18 Premier League, Kirkby
August 31, 2019
Goals: Ritaccio 26′, O’Rourke 37′, Brookwell 80′, Stewart 88′; Sotona 28′, Wellens 39′ 82′
Barry Lewtas’ U18s started with their diamond midfield system in awful conditions, though rain later gave way to blazing sunshine.
Leighton Clarkson continued his good start to the season with some dangerous deliveries from wide, with one inswinging ball from the left channel almost giving Fidel O’Rourke a tap-in.
Centre-back Billy Koumetio showed his defensive prowess several times to stop attacks, while his range of passing also set the Reds in motion from deep in impressive fashion.
The early exchanges saw the teams battling for possession between both boxes, with few clear chances—giving litle hint as to what was ahead.
The breakthrough came just before the half-hour mark, as Jake Cain ran centrally and played a clever reverse pass to Matteo Ritaccio—who burst into the box, rounded the keeper and clipped home for 1-0.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as keeper Ben Winterbottom spilled a free-kick lofted into the box and Deji Sotona poked home from close range.
Undeterred, Liverpool continued their good play and re-took the lead after another brilliant through-pass from Cain, which this time ended with a sweeping, low finish from O’Rourke for his first of the season.
Once more, though, the lead was short-lived; a cross-shot from the left was met by the slightest touch from United’s Charlie Wellens and bounced inside the far post.
A lightning counter-attack almost saw the Reds score a third right before half time, but it remained 2-2 at the break.
The second half saw far fewer chances but plenty of good build-up play from the Reds, though United remained a threat on the counter.
Cain and Clarkson continued to look extremely impressive in possession for the young Reds, while Tom Hill was a good outlet from right-back.
A succession of good corners and crosses looked like the Reds’ best route toward a third lead of the day, but United stood strong in defence.
Time was fast running down though before the third came; Clarkson fired a pass wide, Hill crossed first-time and Niall Brookwell met the delivery with a neat finish into the far corner.
Yet again, though, United mounted an instant response; one shot was smashed off the bar and out, then after Winterbottom made a great block one-on-one, Wellens was in place to sweep home a third equaliser.
It looked like ending on a frustrating note—but another brilliant Clarkson delivery off a corner saw Layton Stewart bury a close-range header with just two minutes left on the clock, and this time, the Reds did hold on to the lead for a 4-3 win thanks to a fantastic one-handed save from Winterbottom.
TIA Man of the Match: Leighton Clarkson
Liverpool U18s: Winterbottom; Hill, Savage, Koumetio, Norris; Clarkson, Brookwell, Cain, Ritaccio; Stewart, O’Rourke (Beck 90′).
Subs not used: Kelly, Quansah, Corness, Balagizi.