Layton Stewart struck an impressive hat-trick and Dominic Corness scored twice directly from corners as the Liverpool under-18s sealed a 5-0 win over Stoke.
Liverpool U18s 5-0 Stoke U18s
U18 Premier League, Kirkby
September 19, 2020
Goals: Stewart 25′ pen 38′ 72′, Corness 61′ 84′
The U18s got their campaign belatedly underway on Saturday after their opener against Man United was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, and did so emphatically.
Under new management in Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, the young Reds’ starting lineup included a number of new faces promoted from the under-16s, including the industrious Luca Stephenson at the base of the midfield.
Another to make his U18s bow, Harvey Blair, was struck down with an injury in the opening stages, which gave summer signing Melkamu Frauendorf an early debut, joining Stewart in attack.
The hard work of Stephenson and the creativity of James Balagizi and Tyler Morton gave Liverpool the edge, and it was from midfield that their opener was built.
Stewart was the scorer, with a smart turn under pressure before a classy chip over the onrushing Paul Cooper to make it 1-0, while minutes later Frauendorf should have tapped Morton’s cross in at the back post.
It was all Stewart as the young Reds doubled their lead before the break, chasing down a lost cause and winning a penalty, which he duly stepped up and converted.
Liverpool kept up the intensity after the break, but their third goal came from an unlikely source, after relentless work from Stephenson to win a corner.
Corness, whose range of passing was exceptional throughout, inadvertently got his name on the scoresheet with a wind-assisted corner which evaded everyone including Cooper to find the back of the net.
Stewart then sealed his hat-trick as he played on despite a foul near the centre circle, pushing forward and producing a fine finish from outside the area to emulate Mo Salah with an opening-day treble.
Then, ridiculously, Corness scored once again directly from a corner as the blustery conditions at Kirkby continued to embarrass the Stoke goalkeeper.
Substitute Max Woltman thought he had made it six as he crashed a volley off the crossbar and onto the goalline, but after a dominant display from Liverpool, they were left with a 5-0 victory to kick off the campaign.
TIA Man of the Match: Layton Stewart
Liverpool U18s: Ojrzynski; Wilson, Quansah, Jonas, Chambers; Stephenson; Balagizi (Woltman 77′), Corness, Morton; Stewart, Blair (Frauendorf 15′)
Subs not used: Davies, Mabaya
Next Match: Man City (H) – U18 Premier League – Saturday, September 26, 11am (BST)