AcademyU18s reaction: 'A pleasing performance, the boys showed what they can do'

By Steve Hunter


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Marc Bridge-Wilkinson declared himself happy after seeing Liverpool U18s produce a superb display to seal a 4-0 win at Newcastle United on Tuesday.

Led by the inspirational James McConnell in midfield, the young Reds produced back-to-back victories in U18 Premier League North.

A McConnell corner led to Jayden Danns heading the opening goal, with Ranel Young then coming off the bench to net twice, sandwiching a brilliant effort on the turn from Afolami Onanuga.

Bridge-Wilkinson’s side are back in action on Friday evening when they host Leeds United at the Academy, with kick-off set for 7pm BST in a game supporters can watch live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO from 6.30pm.

Read on as Bridge-Wilkinson reflects on a highly satisfying start to the week for his team…

On the 4-0 win at Newcastle…

It was really pleasing and I thought our performance was really good. The boys really took on board some of the stuff we have been working on over the last couple of weeks into the game. It was nice to see them playing the game with a smile on their faces and performing at that level.

On the display of McConnell…

We have missed James when he has not been available due to injury. I thought he was really good at Newcastle. Obviously he is one of the older players in our group and he played with a mature head. He has got a lot of quality and I thought he showed that.

On the goals scored by his team…

[They were] really good. James put in a really good delivery from the corner and Jayden did so well to meet it and score. It was a really nice goal and I give credit to Taff [Neil Edwards] for this one, our goalkeeping coach. He looks after our set-plays and he mentioned it in the changing room before the game about that type of ball and that type of run, so credit where credit is due, we’ll give Taff the assist for that one!

Our second goal was a nice team move and it was Ranel’s first touch as well. It’s always great when your first touch is a goal, you have to get in the right area. A lot of the hard work was obviously done by Francis Gyimah’s pass down the line and then Lewis Koumas did so well for the assist. It was really unselfish of Lewis to pull the ball across the goal and give his teammate the goal, which was nice.

The challenge for the boys when they come off the bench is obviously to have an impact and it was nice for Ranel to score two and then set one up, so it’s really good for him and a nice positive day.

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On U16 midfielder Onanuga netting his first goal at U18 level…

It was a lovely finish from Fola. After a bit of a difficult start to the game, I thought he settled into it and then showed the type of quality we know he has got, so I was really pleased for him.

On a second successive clean sheet…

That was pleasing. It’s something we have been speaking to the boys about over the last month or two, about being collectively harder to beat and harder to break down. As you saw today, it meant a lot to the boys to get that clean sheet, and hopefully we can keep doing it.

On Friday night’s home game against Leeds…

It’s a lovely evening for it and we are really looking forward to a Friday night game at the Academy. They are special occasions for the U18s group to play under the floodlights on the main pitch, and against a club like Leeds it will be a special occasion.

On last season’s incredible 10-3 win over Leeds at the Academy…

I don’t think I’ve been involved in a game like that before and I probably won’t be involved in one like it again. It was a really unique game. This game will be different, of course, but hopefully we can take the positives from our performance at Newcastle and then improve further when we play on Friday night.

Winning does breed confidence, and it’s nice for the boys to get a bit of belief in the things that we are asking them to do and what they are trying to do. Hopefully, if they keep believing in what we are trying to do as a group, they will continue to show people they are capable of getting good results and performances.

Watch Liverpool U18s v Leeds United live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO from 6.30pm BST on Friday.



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