Jake Cain was the star performer for Liverpool’s under-18s as they secured a deserved 3-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Liverpool U18s 3-0 Middlesbrough U18s
U18 Premier League, Kirkby
September 20, 2019
Goals: Hill 49′, Norris 78′, O’Rourke 90+3′
Barry Lewtas’ side returned to a sun-drenched and windswept Kirkby off the back of their 5-2 defeat at the hands of Man City last time out, where a chance to return to second and close the gap to two points behind league leaders City awaited.
The impressive Leighton Clarkson was a notable absentee as he linked up with the first team at Melwood, while Matteo Ritaccio was a forced omission after sustaining a knee injury which is expected to keep him on the sidelines for a prolonged period of time.
It paved the way for both Fidel O’Rourke and Owen Beck to start from the off alongside a handful of young Reds who made an appearance in the mid-week UEFA Youth League clash with Napoli – which ended 1-1.
An open and fast-paced start to the affair saw Liverpool handed a number of opportunities to edge themselves in front, with Jake Cain proving to be the key instigator.
A brilliant first-time ball into the box from Cain found Tom Hill who had expertly worked himself behind the defensive line, but a slightly heavy touch took him closer to Oliver Swann in the Boro goal, where he saw his effort snuffed out.
It was Layton Stewart who then found himself on the end of Cain’s delivery which set him away to run into the box unmarked from the left flank, only for Swann to read his attempts to cut his strike across goal.
Middlesbrough, meanwhile, proved threatening in their own right having targeted Liverpool’s right-hand side through Joe Gibson, who forced Jakub Ojrzynski into making a number of excellent saves in his second game for the young Reds.
Similarly, Liverpool’s central partnership of Remi Savage and Billy Koumetio impressed with their poise on and off the ball throughout the opening term, ensuring both teams headed into the break without a goal to their name.
The Reds wasted little time in stamping their dominance, however, when they returned from the interval.
Four minutes after the break Hill latched on to a sumptuous delivery from Cain, where he delicately steered his header beyond the ‘keepers outstretched arm to notch his fourth goal of the season.
The opening goal provided further impetus for Liverpool to push on, but Boro were similarly intent on clawing their way back, first with a headed attempt of their own at the back post before Savage played Boro onside and forced Ojrzynski to come off his line and make a solid save.
But with 78 minutes on the clock, Cain once again was the man of the moment as he finished his drive through the middle of the park with a perfectly weighted ball which found an awaiting James Norris, who emphatically dispatched the ball into the net to double Liverpool’s lead.
The afternoon ended in perfect fashion as O’Rourke converted from the spot after Conor Bradley was impeded in stoppage time, ensuring Lewtas’ side returned to winning ways with their first clean sheet of the season.
TIA Man of the Match: Jake Cain
Liverpool U18s: Ojrzynski; Walls, Savage, Koumetio, Beck (Morton 85′); Cain; Hill, Brookwell, Norris; Stewart (Bradley 88′), O’Rourke
Subs not used: Winterbottom, Quansah, Corness
Next Match: Swansea (A) – Premier League U18 Cup – Saturday, September 28, 11am (BST)