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Jake Cain strikes again but Liverpool U23s suffer first loss of the season

Barry Lewtas‘ start to life as Liverpool under-23s manager continued with a tough 2-1 defeat to Derby on Friday, with Jake Cain scoring his second goal in as many games.

Derby U23s 2-1 Liverpool U23s

Premier League 2, Loughborough University
September 18, 2020

Goals: Shonibare 24′, Stretton 32′; Cain 11′

The young Reds began the campaign with a narrow 1-0 victory over Everton, with Cain’s strike in the first minute the difference in a Merseyside derby that saw Caoimhin Kelleher star.

Kelleher was omitted from Lewtas’ side for their trip to Loughborough University on Friday evening, however, with Vitezslav Jaros standing in for the Irishman as he prepares to head to Chelsea with the first team.

Ben Woodburn wore the captain’s armband again, while Owen Beck replaced Rhys Williams at the back in the only other change to the starting lineup.

The clash got off to a bright start with Cain netting with a brilliant free-kick, with Woodburn having already come close with an early chance following great work from Liam Millar.

But Derby equalised through Josh Shonibare, before another from Jack Stretton, benefiting from a lucky bounce after Conor Bradley‘s challenge, put the Rams on their way to a 2-1 victory.

Liverpool kept pushing for a leveller, but despite efforts from the likes of Leighton Clarkson and substitutes Elijah Dixon-Bonner and Fidel O’Rourke there was no breakthrough.

The result will disappoint Lewtas, who was without a number of key names due to senior duty, with Billy Koumetio a notable absentee, along with the eligible Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, Sepp van den Berg, Harvey Elliott and Rhian Brewster.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 13, 2020: Liverpool's Under-23 coach Barry Lewtas during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Everton FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Paul Glatzel is still sidelined with a minor injury, while Herbie Kane and Yasser Larouci are not involved ahead of expected moves away this summer.

The uncertainty of a transfer window that remains open between the Premier League and Football League until October 15 ensures difficulty for Lewtas as he plans for the campaign ahead.

It is a new challenge for the incoming U23s manager, who enjoyed more consistency in his squad while in charge of the under-18s.

Next up for the young Reds is an EFL Trophy clash with League One side Wigan, and coming two days before the first team take on Lincoln in the League Cup, it remains to be seen whether a stronger squad will be available.

TIA Man of the Match: Jake Cain

Liverpool U23s: Jaros; Bradley (Sharif 81′), Savage, Clayton, Beck; Clarkson; Bearne (O’Rourke 85′), Woodburn, Cain, Millar; Longstaff (Dixon-Bonner 73′)

Subs not used: Ben Winterbottom

Next Match: Wigan (A) – EFL Trophy – Tuesday, September 22, 7.45pm (BST)

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