The Liverpool under-18s sealed a dramatic comeback at Stoke on Saturday afternoon, with new stars emerging within Barry Lewtas‘ young squad.
Stoke U18s 1-2 Liverpool U18s
U18 Premier League, Clayton Wood
January 11, 2020
Goals: Goderinne 1′; Stewart 45+1′, Bradley 86′
The young Reds travelled to Stoke-on-Trent for an early kickoff that saw goalkeeper Jakub Ojrzynski return after nine weeks out with an ankle injury, and Lewtas contends with a reshuffled squad.
His starting lineup included four players who featured for the under-23s in midweek, including the impressive Tom Hill and Jack Bearne, with the latter leading the line alongside Layton Stewart in a 4-4-2 diamond formation.
It was a disappointing start for Ojrzynski, however, with the Pole beaten within the first minute as Andre Goderinne opened the scoring for a strong home side from a set-piece.
Liverpool grew into the game, though, with Tyler Morton excelling at the tip of the diamond as he fills the void left by Jake Cain, who is set for a more regular role with the U23s.
Morton laid on the first-half equaliser for Stewart, with the striker breaking through and chipping Nathan Broome to level the scores at the break.
HT: Stoke U18s 1-1 Liverpool U18s
Lewtas’ side were significantly improved after half-time as they battled for a breakthrough, with Owen Back and James Norris particularly strong as they combined on the left flank.
Stoke continued to press forward on the break, and put pressure on James Balagizi at the base of the midfield as the 16-year-old struggled at times, adapting to a change in role from his more familiar attacking outlook.
Stewart seemed to have met his match in the towering French centre-back Mohamed Akandji, and Lewtas provided his striker with a new foil, replacing Bearne with summer signing Conor Bradley and later introducing Max Woltman up front.
Bradley was energetic and direct from his first contribution, and after the young Reds won a free-kick on the right flank, was on hand to head home from Morton’s delivery and make it 2-1.
It was enough to seal the victory, with Liverpool edging closer to Man City at the top of the U18 Premier League.
TIA Man of the Match: Tyler Morton
Liverpool U18s: Ojrzynski; Walls, Quansah, Savage, Beck; Balagizi (Wilson 90+2′), Hill (Woltman 85′), Norris, Morton; Bearne (Bradley 76′), Stewart
Subs not used: Davies, Rodriques
Next Match: Man United (A) – U18 Premier League – Saturday, Jan 18, 11am (GMT)