BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Thursday, December 22, 2022: Liverpool's Jayden Dannss (C) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the opening goal during the FA Youth Cup 3rd Round match between AFC Bournemouth Under-18's and Liverpool FC Under-18's at the Dean Court. (Pic by Rcihard Crease/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s teenagers star as U21s beat National League side – & Spearing with “handbags”

While Jurgen Klopp oversees the first-team’s pre-season in Germany, closer to home the club’s youngsters secured a hard-fought victory over National League side Kidderminster Harriers.

Pre-season presents opportunities aplenty at all levels and while Klopp casts an eye over a handful of exciting young talent in Europe, others are impressing on home soil.

The challenge posed to the under-21s side had them taking on senior opposition to see if their identity can withstand the pressure an experienced side can offer.

On Friday, they stood up to the task. Barry Lewtas named a young lineup at the Aggborough Stadium, which included 16-year-olds Carter Pinnington, Kareem Ahmed, Fola Onanuga Kieran Morrison and Lucas Pitt in the XI.

KIDDERMINSTER, ENGLAND - Friday, July 22, 2022: Liverpool's Luca Stephenson during a pre-season Under-21's friendly between Kidderminster Harriers FC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Aggborough Stadium. (Pic by Peter Hinkley/Propaganda)

There were more ‘experienced’ heads in Jakub Ojrzynski, Billy Koumetio, Adam Lewis, James Norris, Luca Stephenson and Paul Glatzel, but it was youthful all the same from the Reds.

Ojrzynski pulled off a number of top saves to keep the young Reds in the fight throughout the contest, and it helped set Liverpool up for a deserved victory.

Ten minutes into the second half is when the crucial moment arrived, with 17-year-old substitute Jayden Danns cutting the ball across his body and into the back of the net for 1-0.

Kidderminster felt the goal should not have stood after a strong tackle from Lewis in midfield saw the ball break to Danns, though their disappointment was still lingering after they saw a goal ruled out for offside only moments before.

Thirty-five-year-old Jay Spearing was introduced in the second half as his role as a player/coach continues into its second season, and got into what the Harriers described as a “battle of the handbags” – nice to see some things never change.

That the young Reds could take the lead and hold on to it will have delighted Lewtas.

Notable absentees, though, who are also not part of the senior squad included Luke Chambers, Tom Hill, Matteo Ritaccio, Max Woltman, Oakley Cannonier and Mateusz Musialowski.

Kaide Gordon, meanwhile, is back in full training but after 17 months out with injury, he needs to build his way back up to full fitness.

Liverpool XI: Ojrzynski; Pitt, Pinnington, Koumetio, Lewis; Stephenson, Norris, Onanuga; Morrison, Ahmed, Glatzel

Subs included: Hewitson, Danns, Gyimah, Osborne, Spearing, Davidson