A Liverpool Under-21s side featuring three 16 year olds put up a valiant display as they fell to a 5-2 defeat against League One opposition in the EFL Trophy.
Blackpool 5-2 Liverpool U21s
EFL Trophy, Bloomfield Road
October 10, 2023
Goals: Morgan 45+3′, Kouassi 46′, 75′, 89′, Lyons 90+6′; Glatzel 30′, Musialowski 66′
It was an extremely young side that took to the field against Blackpool in what was always likely to be a significant test for Barry Lewtas‘ side.
The Reds’ starting 11 had an average age of 18.1 years, with Carter Pinnington, Amara Nallo and Kieran Morrison all selected at just 16 years of age.
Liverpool U21s were also coming up against their former boss Neil Critchley, who spent seven years at the club and had spells at various levels of the academy system.
The pair were the only two recognised forwards in what was otherwise a rather defensive matchday squad and the Reds were soon required to call upon those attributes.
Liverpool bravely protected their advantage until the very end of the first half, when Albie Morgan fired home to put the hosts back on terms.
That scoreline was short-lived after the break, with Kylian Kouassi making an immediate impact after replacing Karamoko Dembele at half-time and putting Blackpool in front with the first of his three goals on the evening.
It was exactly the start to the second period Lewtas and his team would have hoped to have avoided, but they were able to recover well and keep themselves in the game in the aftermath.
The young Reds subsequently levelled things up with around 25 minutes left on the clock after Morrison’s shot was parried into the grateful path of Musialowski to slot home.
Critchley’s side pushed for a response and they were forced to wait less than 10 minutes to forge another breakthrough as Kouassi headed home an accurate cross from the right-hand side to restore Blackpool’s advantage.
It was at that point that the game got away from Liverpool’s youngsters, with Kouassi completing his hat-trick by working his way through the defence and bending a shot beyond Fabian Mrozek shortly before injury time.
34-year-old Jay Spearing was among the second-half substitutes to be introduced as he continues to act as a player-coach within the side.
Andy Lyons rounded off the evening by converting from close range in the final few seconds, making the scoreline look more convincing than the Reds’ performance deserved.
Liverpool U21s: Mrozek; Davidson, Pinnington, Nallo, Miles; McConnell, Pilling (Spearing 83′), Onanuga (Jonas 75′); Musialowski (Pitt 88′), Morrison, Glatzel
Subs not used: Kelly, Pennington, Furnell-Gill
Next match: Benfica (H) – PL International Cup – Sunday, October 22, 2pm (BST)