AcademyBen Doak strike gives Liverpool U21s win over West Ham
A moment of quality from Ben Doak proved decisive as Liverpool U21s defeated West Ham United 1-0 in Premier League 2.
The 17-year-old latched on to a ball from the back in first-half injury time and drifted past several defenders before slotting home what proved to be a superb winning goal in Saturday’s clash at the Academy.
It was a special intervention in a game otherwise dominated by defences and with neither goalkeeper really called into action.
The teams cancelled each other out but with the young Reds happy to play smart football in the second period and keep the ball when they could.
The first half was a disjointed affair with neither side able to create too many clear-cut chances and a lengthy delay required following an injury to a West Ham player.
It was the visitors who worked the goalkeeper first, Harvey Davies needing to make a decent low save from striker Divin Mubama with nine minutes on the clock.
The resulting corner brought another warning with a header placed narrowly wide, before Archie Woods fired a speculative effort from distance just over the bar for West Ham.
Typically it was Doak, operating on the right wing, who helped get Liverpool going in an attacking sense. The Scottish winger fired a shot too close to goalkeeper Krisztian Hegyi after half an hour but could not be denied as the encounter entered first-half injury time, delivering a consummate finish that had the Kirkby crowd purring.
A long aerial ball from deep almost landed on Doak’s back but he was quick to bring it under control, float past a couple of defenders and easily beat Hegyi for a goal worthy of winning any match.
The second period saw the Reds start well with a lovely one-two between Melkamu Frauendorf and James Norris almost bringing a rare sight of goal, but Hegyi was out quickly to gather.
A lovely team move started by a backheel from Luca Stephenson to release Doak saw the ball worked across goal before arriving back with the winger, who just failed to connect properly with his shot at the back post.
Rhys Williams and Billy Koumetio were rock-solid at the back and it was a surprise when a loose ball allowed Mubama to move towards the box and unleash a strike that went just over.
West Ham enjoyed several corners but all were dealt with quite comfortably by Barry Lewtas’ side and Davies did not have a save to make until injury time, with 1-0 sufficient to secure the points.
Liverpool U21s: Davies, Stephenson, Beck, Williams, Koumetio, Corness, Doak (Hill, 90), Norris, Woltman (Blair, 85), Clark, Frauendorf (Stewart, 74).
Unused subs: Olufunwa, Hughes.