KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2020: Liverpool's Dominic Corness 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)

Joe Hardy nets brace and 17-year-old duo debut in Liverpool U23s win

Liverpool youngsters Dominic Corness and Max Woltman made their under-23s debuts as a depleted side visited Southampton, with Joe Hardy scoring twice in a 2-1 win.

Southampton U23s 1-2 Liverpool U23s

Premier League 2, Snows Stadium
March 21, 2021

Goals: Pearce 15′; Hardy 5′ 39′

With a clutch of his regulars training with the first team at Kirkby, Barry Lewtas was forced to make eight changes to his U23s side for their trip to the south coast.

Jakub Ojrzynski, Owen Beck, Conor Bradley, Billy Koumetio, Tyler Morton, Jake Cain, Ben Woodburn and the injured Layton Stewart all dropped out as a more workmanlike group took to the field at Snows Stadium.

The absence of Cain and Morton, along with Leighton Clarkson, handed Corness an opportunity to step up from the under-18s, however, with the 17-year-old – the academy’s top assist-maker this season – making his U23s debut.

Leading the line was Hardy, and the 22-year-old got the young Reds off to the perfect start as he fired in an opener within five minutes.

Southampton fought back into the game with a goal for Luke Pearce, and looked to take control as they used home advantage to limit chances for Liverpool.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 30, 2021: Liverpool's substitute Joe Hardy during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Manchester United FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. Manchester United won 6-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hardy had grabbed another before the break, however, notching his brace against the run of play to set Lewtas’ side on their way to a first win in three games.

Though the young Reds were required to hold onto a slim lead until full-time, Lewtas was still able to give Woltman his debut off the bench late into a productive afternoon.

Job done for the U23s, then, with familiar faces set to return after the international break, likely buoyed by their experiences with the senior squad.

Liverpool U23s: Hughes; Walls, Boyes, Savage, Gallacher; Clayton, Corness, Sharif; Dixon-Bonner, O’Rourke (Woltman 89′), Hardy (Ritaccio 90+4′)

Subs not used: Mrozek, Stephenson

Next match: Brighton (H) – Premier League 2 – Sunday, April 4, 12pm (BST)