A superb display from 16-year-old Elijah Gift marked the mini-Merseyside derby, but the Liverpool under-18s fell late to draw 2-2 with Everton.
Liverpool U18s 2-2 Everton U18s
U18 Premier League, AXA Training Centre
January 14, 2023
Goals: Ahmed 5′, Gift 59′; Sherif 40′ 90′
After the mid-season reshuffle, it is a very young U18s squad available to Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, and in Saturday’s mini-derby that saw the majority of his side aged 17 or under.
That transition has led to a run of difficult results, and heading into the weekend they had lost five in a row in the league, but were buoyed by back-to-back FA Youth Cup wins.
The occasion brought more quality to the fore, and Liverpool were a goal up within five minutes after brilliant work from Gift and a confident finish from 15-year-old Kareem Ahmed.
Liverpool were dominant for much of the first half, with the combination of Gift and captain Josh Davidson on the right-hand side allowing them to keep control.
But a costly mixup between centre-back Lucas Pitt and midfielder Fola Onanuga, the latter receiving a pass he would not have wanted, allowed Everton to equalise just before half-time through Martin Sherif.
HT: Liverpool U18s 1-1 Everton U18s
With the scores even, it was a more even affair in the second half as both sides took tentative approaches towards opposite penalty areas.
Liverpool’s opening came on the break, and with deep-lying midfielder Cody Pennington playing an excellent pass out to Gift on the right-hand side, the No. 7 cut inside and scored a stunning goal with his left.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 14, 2023
The final half-hour brought the return of Trent Kone-Doherty from injury, while Bridge-Wilkinson took a vocal approach in coaching Pennington as the young Reds looked to see the victory out.
His encouragement did little, though, as the defence fell apart and a through ball allowed Sherif to finish beyond Fabian Mrozek and ensure a share of the points.
A gilt-edged chance fell to Kone-Doherty in stoppage time, but the winger wasn’t alert enough and failed to convert after Davidson’s cross came back off the post.
TIA Man of the Match: Elijah Gift
Liverpool U18s: Mrozek; Davidson, Pitt, Lucky (Hayes-Green 46′), Gyimah; Pennington, Onanuga, Morrison; Gift, Young (Kone-Doherty 62′), Ahmed
Subs not used: Hewitson, Giblin, Roberts