AcademyU18s match report: Reds beat Leeds 4-0 for third win in a row
Liverpool U18s chalked up a third consecutive win and clean sheet by beating their Leeds United counterparts 4-0 at the Academy on Friday night.
Jayden Danns’ early penalty put the Reds in front and substitute Elijah Gift added to the advantage with an excellent finish before half-time.
Late goals from Lewis Koumas and Danns added gloss for Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s team, who followed up recent victories over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United in U18 Premier League North.
Before kick-off in Kirkby, players and officials paused to observe a period of silence to remember the 97 supporters who lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy, with Saturday the 34th anniversary of the disaster. The Liverpool team also wore black armbands.
The Reds made an assertive start to the contest and won a penalty on four minutes after a blistering counter-attack from a Leeds corner involving Danns, Keyrol Figueroa and finally Ranel Young, who was brought down inside the area by the goalkeeper.
A delay ensued as Young received treatment and was withdrawn as a result of that challenge, but Danns’ composure was unaffected and he rolled the spot-kick into the bottom left corner for 1-0.
Figueroa could soon have doubled that lead but hooked his finish off target when the ball came his way at close range, before Scott Godden’s deflected free-kick bounced onto the Liverpool crossbar and out.
The visitors threatened three times in quick succession around the half-hour mark, beginning with a 20-yard effort from Harvey Vincent that Fabian Mrozek was equal to.
Lleyton Brown then escaped into space down the left channel, stepped inside Lucas Pitt as he closed on goal and saw his shot diverted behind by Luca Furnell-Gill. From the corner, Jay Buchan sent a free header into Mrozek’s gloves.
Instead, Liverpool made the next mark on the scoresheet on 34 minutes, courtesy of an incisive passage of play reminiscent of the one that had earlier led to the penalty.
Figueroa completed a one-two with Afolami Onanuga and rolled a precise cross into the middle of the Leeds box, where Gift controlled and poked a low finish past the ’keeper.
Danns’ well-struck drive from distance was parried away by Darryl Ombang in the next action, and the same Red was involved in a promising situation early in the second half.
The forward’s pass through the opposition sent Gift into space along the left and the latter’s cross into the area searching for Onanuga was snuffed out by Dan Toulson.
Leeds persisted in pursuit of a way back into the game, though the Reds continued to create the clearer sights of goal – with a decent shooting chance for Onanuga forced wide at the last by a recovering defender.
James McConnell’s slide-rule pass from the centre of the park was a perfect invitation for Danns to move towards goal, but Reuben Lopata-White’s last-ditch tackle saved the away side.
But it was a temporary reprieve; lovely footwork from Danns saw him weave through the box and cut the ball back for Koumas to thump off the underside of the crossbar and in.
Liverpool needed Josh Davidson to preserve their clean sheet with a crucial block on the line when Connor Douglas found Vincent at the back post, with handball claims rejected by the referee.
Koumas dragged a low effort just wide at the end of another rapid Reds breakaway but, a minute into stoppage time, Danns’ emphatic header from Davidson’s cross made it 4-0 and the hosts’ shutout survived Oliver Pickles hitting the bar.
Liverpool U18s: Mrozek, Miles, Scanlon, Furnell-Gill (Koumas, 61), Pitt, Davidson, Young (Gift, 10), Onanuga, Figueroa (McConnell, 61), Kelly (Pennington, 79), Danns.
Unused sub: Hewitson.