KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2020: Liverpool's substitute Isaac Mabaya during the Under-18 Premier League match between Liverpool FC Under-18's and Manchester City FC Under-18's at the Liverpool Academy. Manchester City won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool U18s seal ninth win in 12 to end year with a bang

The Liverpool U18s capped off a brilliant start to the 2020/21 campaign with their ninth win in 12 games in the U18 Premier League, battling to a 3-1 victory at Derby.

Derby U18s 1-3 Liverpool U18s

U18 Premier League, Moor Farm
December 19, 2020

Goals: Cybulski 42′; Norris pen 25′, Blair 48′, Mabaya 54′

It has been a fine season so far for the U18s under new management in Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, and this continued on Saturday with a win that lifted the young Reds to second in the table.

Bridge-Wilkinson started three players from his under-16s squad from last season in Terence Miles, Isaac Mabaya and Harvey Blair, while two players who are regulars in first-team training, Marcelo Pitaluga and Billy Koumetio, also took places in the side.

Without the likes of Layton Stewart, Tyler Morton, James Balagizi and Melkamu Frauendorf, it was a tough test for a mixed U18s side, but they emerged with a strong victory as a result.

James Norris opened the scoring with his second in as many games from the penalty spot, only for lofty striker Bartosz Cybulski to level for Derby before the break, as an attritional clash played out at Moor Farm.

Derby U18s 1-1 Liverpool U18s

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 7, 2020: Liverpool's James Norris during the Under-18 FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC Under-18's and Liverpool FC Under-18's at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground. Wolverhampton Wanderers won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The second half began in impressive fashion for Liverpool, and Blair continued his impressive run following a return from injury with, as with Norris, his second goal in his last two games.

Mabaya then wrapped up the victory with one of his own six minutes later, with Bridge-Wilkinson telling the club’s official website after the game that he was “pleased with the way the boys dug out the win.”

Without a slew of key players, the occasion handed Charlie Hayes-Green the chance to make his U18s debut, while young forwards James McConnell and Ethan Ennis were given further experience from the bench.

It is likely that they will feature more prominently in the second half of the season, as many of those to make up Bridge-Wilkinson’s first-choice side step up to the under-23s, with Liverpool tasked with sustaining their excellent form.

A four-week break is now afforded to the young Reds, with league leaders Man United up next when they visit Kirkby on January 16.

Liverpool U18s: Pitaluga; Quansah, Koumetio, Miles; Wilson (Ennis 83′), Corness, Mabaya, Norris; Woltman, Musialowski (McConnell 77′), Blair (Hayes-Green 75′)

Subs not used: Davies

Next Match: Man United (H) – U18 Premier League – Saturday, January 16, 11am (GMT)