Match reportLiverpool U21s lose to Port Vale in Papa John's Trophy
Liverpool U21s’ Papa John’s Trophy campaign ended with a 5-0 defeat at Port Vale.
The young Reds acquitted themselves well in their final Group D fixture but were ultimately undone by two first-half goals and three after the break as the experience and physical superiority of Vale - who sit second in League Two and have now won seven consecutive home matches - showed.
Kaide Gordon was Liverpool’s chief attacking threat throughout the first half and the 17-year-old was responsible for the game’s first attempt early on.
Mateusz Musialowski spun into space neatly before spreading the play to Gordon, who cut inside onto his left foot and unleashed a powerful hit that Vale goalkeeper Aidan Stone parried away. Gordon collected the loose ball himself and struck at goal again, with Stone turning wide this time.
A superb reaction save by Marcelo Pitaluga then thwarted Dennis Politic but, after Gordon had lofted a 40-yard shot wide following a loose kick by Stone, Vale took the lead with a quarter of an hour gone.
Barry Lewtas’ team tried to play out from the back and were caught, with George Lloyd duly heading in Politic’s cross at the back post.
It was 2-0 midway through the first half when Politic latched onto a throughball and eventually squeezed a finish beneath Pitaluga, but Liverpool stuck to their task and Jarell Quansah’s speculative long-ranger had to be tipped over by Stone.
However, Vale’s advantage would increase further when Mal Benning’s effort deflected in during the opening minutes of the second period, with Aaron Martin adding a fourth by converting the rebound after Pitaluga had made a fine stop from Leon Legge’s header.
And the home side would go on to make it five late on as Jake Taylor dispossessed Dominic Corness and blasted a shot high past Pitaluga.
Liverpool U21s: Pitaluga, Bajcetic, Quansah, Gallacher, Norris, Corness, Bearne, Woltman, Clark (Pilling, 80), Gordon (Cannonier, 76), Musialowski.
Unused substitutes: Kelly, Mrozek.