Match reportLFC U21s face Bristol Street Motors Trophy wait after narrow defeat at Barrow
Liverpool U21s suffered a 2-1 defeat at Barrow in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy on Tuesday evening.
Mateusz Musialowski gave Barry Lewtas’ side the lead with a brilliant first-half strike, but despite a resilient and committed defensive display from the young Reds, the League Two outfit were able to fight back for the win after the break.
Sean Etaluku levelled on 65 minutes, before Mazeed Ogungbo headed home 15 minutes from time.
Despite losing two of their three group matches, Lewtas’ team can still progress to the next stage, but to do so they will need Blackpool to beat Morecambe when they meet at Bloomfield Road on November 14.
In front of a crowd of 1,463 at the SO Legal Stadium, it was the home side who had this game’s first effort of note, Ged Garner firing wide from 25 yards after five minutes.
Liverpool, though, could have taken the lead soon after as player-coach Jay Spearing, starting in midfield, released Melkamu Frauendorf with a fine ball in behind the Barrow defence, but the winger was unable to convert on his left foot.
Kaide Gordon, making his first competitive start since February 2022 and wearing the captain’s armband for the Reds, saw an effort from outside the box saved by Josh Lillis, but the Barrow goalkeeper was beaten on 28 minutes.
Musialowski played a one-two with Frauendorf before hammering a stunning 25-yard strike into the top corner for his third goal in this season’s competition.
Marcelo Pitaluga denied Robbie Gotts soon after as the hosts looked to respond, while Lewis Koumas went close to a second goal for Liverpool after another fine pass from Spearing.
Barrow should have been level three minutes into the second half, but Jamie Proctor sent his header straight at Pitaluga from close range.
Liverpool sent on Trent Kone-Doherty, Kieran Morrison and Tommy Pilling as they sought to hold on to their lead, with Gordon playing 59 minutes in his first start for 21 months.
They needed Pitaluga at his best just after the hour mark, the Brazilian reacting superbly to deny Barrow substitute George Ray low to his left, while at the other end Koumas had two decent chances to extend the Reds’ advantage.
Barrow levelled on 65 minutes in rather fortuitous fashion, with Etaluku’s attempted cross from the left somehow finding its way inside Pitaluga’s near post.
Pitaluga denied Ben Whitfield with his feet, but the Liverpool goalkeeper was helpless 15 minutes from time as an inswinging corner from the right was met by Ogungbo, whose downward header found the far corner.
Musialowski almost snatched an equaliser late on, with Lillis pushing away his vicious 25-yard free-kick, while Morrison fired off target in stoppage time.
But Lewtas’ side must now wait and hope for a favour from Blackpool, and former Reds coach Neil Critchley, if they are to progress to the second round for the first time.
Liverpool U21s: Pitaluga, Miles, Nallo, Pinnington, Davidson, Spearing (Pilling, 59), Frauendorf (Kone-Doherty, 46), Nyoni (Onanuga, 82), Gordon (Morrison, 59), Musialowski, Koumas.
Unused subs: O. Kelly, Pitt, Pennington.
The U21s are not in action again until Tuesday November 28, when they travel to face Burnley in the Lancashire FA Senior Cup.
The game will be played at Leyland County Ground, kick-off 7pm GMT.