It was an exhilarating start to the season for Liverpool’s under-18s having come from a goal behind to notch a 5-3 victory over Stoke.
Liverpool U18s 5-3 Stoke U18s
U18 Premier League
14 August, 2021, Kirkby
Goals: Frauendorf 32’, Balagizi 54’, Cannonier 62’ (pen), 70’, Jonas 75’; Tezgel 2′, 81′, 89′
After a run to the FA Youth Cup final last season, there’s plenty to look forward to for Marc Bridge-Wilkinson and co. in 2021/22, but it’s a new look side for the U18s this time around.
“The first thing to mention is this is a different group this season…There will be some new boys that people won’t have seen yet or seen a little bit of last season. It’s an exciting time for everybody,” Bridge-Wilkinson explained in the build-up.
But the game did not get off to the brightest of starts as within two minutes the scoreboard read 1-0 in favour of Stoke as 15-year-old Emre Tezgel struck from close range.
The young Reds would soon assert themselves on proceedings with standout performer Melkamu Frauendorf levelling the scores after tidy work from debutant Josh Davidson and Luca Stephenson in the 32nd minute.
Liverpool would survive a late scare as Stoke rattled the post on the cusp of half-time but it was the hosts who had momentum on their side.
And they made it count not long after returning from the break, this time through James Balagizi, who will be eager to catch the eye after missing a senior pre-season experience due to injury.
The 17-year-old edged the Reds into the lead after turning home the rebound from Frauendorf and they did not look back from there, despite a late rally from Stoke.
Oakley Cannonier, whose name may be familiar for his role against Barcelona, would then net two in eight minutes to make it 4-1 at the 70-minute mark, with the first coming from the penalty spot.
Lee Jonas then got in on the act thanks to Frauendorf’s brilliant footwork to ensure that Tezgel’s late two goals to complete his hat-trick for Stoke were not enough to deny Liverpool their first three points of the season.
Liverpool: Davies; Davidson, Chambers (Roberts, 63), Bajcetic, Jonas, Miles, McConnell (Blair, 74), Stephenson (Omoruyi, 63), Cannonier, Balagizi, Frauendorf
Unused subs: Mrozek, Koumas