Neil Critchley felt his Liverpool U23s side were unfortunate to come away from Manchester City with nothing to show for their efforts after a 3-2 defeat in Premier League 2 on Friday night.

Playing their first fixture of 2018, Harry Wilson had given the young Reds the lead but City fought back to take a 2-1 advantage into the half-time break.

The cause wasn't helped by the sight of Rhian Brewster leaving the field on a stretcher following a heavy fall.

Critchley's charges continued to take the game to their opponents in the second half, but after missing some good opportunities, City snatched a 3-1 lead on the counter-attack.

Substitute Toni Gomes netted a superb finish in the final minute but City held on to claim the points.

Despite the defeat, Critchley admitted he couldn't be too disheartened by the overall performance.

"We are disappointed to lose the game because I thought we deserved better," he told

"I thought both teams looked like they were in need of a game after the break.

"In the first half we started reasonably well and were the better team, although we could have been a little bit more assertive both in and out of possession.

"We went 1-0 up and were in control of the game and then we made a mistake for their equaliser. It was the first time they had been near our goal, which was our own doing.

"Then we went 2-1 down and I changed the shape. We hit the post and then had a big chance to make it 2-2.

"We had some excellent chances in the second half and I think if we had made it 2-2 we had the momentum and would have gone on to win the game, but overall I thought we were excellent in the second half and the boys give everything.

"I don't think the scoreline was a reflection of the game. Kamil Grabara made two excellent saves but apart from that, that was it.

"We hit the post, Harry Wilson has missed a chance he would normally take, Bobby Adekanye had a good chance, Conor Masterson missed one from a corner, so we had plenty of good opportunities."

Second-placed Leicester City were held to a goalless draw by West Ham United on Friday night, meaning the young Reds stay top of Premier League 2 by one point. Critchley's charges also have a game in hand over the Foxes.

While he is hoping his team can stay at the summit of Premier League 2, the U23s boss is also realistic in his ambitions following the temporary departures of the likes of Corey Whelan and Matty Virtue on loan to Yeovil Town and Notts County respectively, plus the permanent move of Cameron Brannagan to Oxford United.

He added: "We are well placed but, as you saw tonight, the team was different and a few players have gone out on loan this week and I'm sure there will be more to come.

"We had a different team, a fresh look and a fresh start in many ways so it's going to be a different second half to the season.

"If we win the league then that would be fantastic, but if we don't and some of our players go out and have an opportunity to progress their careers then that will be fantastic as well.

"We will be delighted when Corey Whelan, Matty Virtue and Cameron Brannagan are playing in the Football League on Saturday hopefully."