Liverpool U23s kicked off their Premier League Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw at Charlton Athletic on Friday night.
In the opening game of Group G, Terrique Anderson put the home team ahead but Harry Wilson’s sixth goal of the season – the simplest tap-in he will get in 2017-18 – restored parity before the interval.
Danny Ings twice went close in the second half but neither side could produce a winner and therefore take a point apiece to begin the tournament.
Neil Critchley deployed a 3-4-2-1 formation for the tie, with Bobby Adekanye and Yan Dhanda providing the width while Ovie Ejaria and Wilson sought to create from central positions behind Ings.
The away side started the brighter too, moving possession crisply with intent, and only a fine clearance by Ryan Blumberg prevented a Liverpool player from converting Adekanye’s fierce cross from the left after the No.11 was picked out by Cameron Brannagan.
But it was the hosts who struck first instead.
Anderson got clear in behind the back three on 16 minutes and took full advantage of the space available to run through and dispatch a finish past Caoimhin Kelleher for 1-0.
The response from Critchley’s charges was good and Ings came agonisingly close to levelling midway through the half with a fine piece of solo play.
From Dhanda’s delivery into the area, the senior striker deceived his marker with a first touch that opened up a chance to shoot across goal – but the effort was booted off the line by Aaron Barnes.
The equaliser arrived before half-time, however, and it was a familiar name on the scoresheet.
Matty Virtue forced his way along the left flank and sent in a cross that Charlton goalkeeper Jordan Beeney failed to collect at the near post, leaving Wilson with a gift two yards out.
Ings had a rare sight of goal as soon as the second half kicked off and his nicely-struck drive from 20 yards whistled just wide.
The 25-year-old’s frustration in front of goal was compounded in the 58th minute, when he met Brannagan’s superb curling cross into the box with a header that bounced the wrong side of the right post.
Liverpool continued to probe for the deciding goal but it did not materialise at the Valley, so Critchley’s side start the Premier League Cup with a point.
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher, Parker (Masterson, 74), Whelan, Jones, Virtue, Brannagan, Dhanda (Kane, 80), Ejaria, Ings, Wilson, Adekanye (Juanma, 74). Unused substitutes: Phillips, Firth.