U18s match reportLiverpool 3-1 Blackburn Rovers
A dominant first half proved the key for Liverpool U18s as they ran out 3-1 winners over Blackburn Rovers in the sunshine at Kirkby on Saturday.
The contest pitted the second-placed Reds against their third-placed rivals but the result rarely looked in doubt from five minutes in.
An early penalty from Luke Chambers sent them on their way, before goals from Harvey Blair and Tommy Pilling gave them a comfortable three-goal lead at the break.
The visitors reduced the deficit with a spot-kick of their own early in the second half, though they never seriously looked like getting anything more out of the U18 Premier League North contest.
Blackburn started early with a high press but it was the Reds who created the chances.
A good cross from James McConnell almost delivered an early goal for Blair but the winger just couldn’t find the right finish at the back post.
The Reds didn’t have to wait long, however, for the first goal to arrive.
A corner from the right was delivered into the box, where centre-back Terence Miles was wrestled to the ground. Chambers stepped up to send Aidan Dowling the wrong way from the penalty spot with five minutes on the clock.
Just four minutes later, the lead was doubled in simple fashion. Striker Oakley Cannonier turned provider with a fine ball across goal for Blair to turn it home with the minimum of fuss.
The Reds were dominating the ball and goalkeeper Harvey Davies was a spectator for lengthy periods as his team controlled play in the middle of the park.
A lovely team move just prior to the half-hour mark ended with Cannonier hammering a fine shot into the net, though the flag was up to deny him.
Ten minutes from the break, the hosts’ dominance was rewarded with a third goal, Pilling drilling home a fine low effort from 25 yards out that had Dowling scrambling helplessly across his goal.
Rovers finally stirred, Adam Caddick curling an effort on goal that Davies was well behind.
Instead, it was the Reds who should have stretched their lead before the break.
First, Blair found Cannonier in front of goal and his backheel was only narrowly wide in what would have been a lovely finish.
The final minute of the half saw Cannonier brilliantly win possession and instantly send Blair through on goal, but he dragged his effort just past the post with just Dowling to beat.
Blackburn looked a different team in the second period, with Ashley Phillips bringing a good early save from Davies.
Liverpool lost McConnell to injury and the visitors grabbed a possible route back into the game on 53 minutes when Isaac Mabaya brought down Phillips in front of goal. Dominik Biniek fired his penalty straight down the middle to beat Davies.
Liverpool went into game management after that as they looked to keep their improved opponents at bay.
Melkamu Frauendorf brought a save from Dowling after a good high press won the ball and he tried to beat the ’keeper low at his near post.
Captain Luca Stephenson, who moved to centre-back in the second half, brought the final real save of the game with five minutes left, working a position from a short corner and delivering a curling effort on goal that Dowling tipped over.
Liverpool U18s: Davies, Mabaya (Koumas, 73), Scanlon, Miles, Chambers, Stephenson, Frauendorf, Pilling, Cannonier, McConnell (Roberts, 48), Blair.
Unused substitutes: Hewitson, Gyimah, Pennington.