'A fantastic night for us' - Barry Lewtas on U23s' cup success

Academy'A fantastic night for us' - Barry Lewtas on U23s' cup success

Published 5th May 2022
By Steve Hunter

Barry Lewtas was delighted after Liverpool U23s brought their 2021-22 season to a close with silverware in the Lancashire FA Senior Cup.

It was a 13th triumph in the competition for the Reds and a fitting end to an encouraging season of Academy football.

After an inconsistent first part to the campaign, Lewtas’ charges began to find their feet as they finished the year on an 11-match unbeaten run.

Scouser James Norris scored the only goal of Wednesday night’s cup final against Burnley with a thunderbolt strike off his trusty left foot at the Lancashire FA County Ground.

The scenes at the final whistle saw captain Tom Clayton perform the latest ‘Hendo shuffle’, lifting the trophy alongside his proud teammates.

U23s highlights: Burnley 0-1 Liverpool

Read on for full reaction from U23s boss Lewtas after a successful night in Leyland…

On a special way to end the season for the U23s…

We finished extremely well in Premier League 2, and this was a different test in terms of the conditions, but I thought we adapted really well. We rolled our sleeves up, it was a professional performance and it’s great to win. I knew eventually we would get more time on the ball and that did happen. We got into their penalty box quite often, but Burnley were a threat on the counter-attack. We knew we were in a game.

On the impressive match-winning strike from Norris…

Fantastic! The goal was maybe not befitting of many parts of the game, to be fair, although I’m not knocking how we played because that was what we had to do. But when the ball dropped and Chuck hit it, it was a fantastic goal - a great finish. It deserved to win any cup final.

On the rock-solid displays of Rhys Williams and Jarell Quansah in defence…

They were superb. They knew exactly what game they were going to be coming into. I said to Rhys it was like his Kidderminster days, because they headed clear, they blocked, made tackles, did all the things that defenders need to do on a night like that. In fairness, when the pitch allowed it, we played some good stuff in spells and Rhys and Jarell were a big part in that, as well as Tom Clayton who put in a real captain’s performance.

On the performance of Marcelo Pitaluga in goal…

Marcelo was excellent. When we reflect on the course of the season and how well we have done since Christmas, he has been a big part of that. His kicking has improved, as has his ability to come for crosses under pressure. In our last two games, for example, he made a big save against United and another one tonight at 0-0, so he has been a big part of what we have done.

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On seeing the players celebrate with the trophy…

It’s great. We played under pressure out there and it was tough. We knew what we were going to be up against, it was a style that we are not used to playing against, but the lads did so well. When you add up those things plus the responsibility to win, I think we managed to combine all of that tonight.

On how pleased he has been with the players this season…

Since Christmas the lads have been fantastic. They have trained ever so well and it has been a real joy, to be fair. The work we have done in training, we’ve put into the games. You know what it’s like when you get momentum, there is a feel-good factor in the place. The first team are flying as well and there is a real feel-good factor on how things are going.

Published 5th May 2022