Match reportU23s win at Preston to advance in Lancashire Senior Cup
Liverpool U23s secured a place in the semi-finals of the Lancashire Senior Cup with a 3-0 win away at Preston North End on Tuesday afternoon.
First-half goals from Fidel O’Rourke and Tom Clayton put the Reds on their way, before Jack Bearne ended the game as a contest early in the second period.
It was a solid display from Barry Lewtas’ side with Rhys Williams and Jarell Quansah anchoring the defence, while Conor Bradley and James Norris raided dangerously down the sides.
It was the home side – playing with a strong wind at their backs – who created the first opportunity, Mikey O’Neill volleying into the side-netting when he should probably have fired across the goalkeeper.
The Reds hit straight back. Leighton Clarkson’s ball was looking for Bearne but when goalkeeper Connor Ripley rushed out to head clear, O’Rourke’s return effort dropped wide.
Bradley was a threat on the right and another fine Clarkson pass picked him out at the back post after a quarter of an hour, his volley forcing Ripley into a fine stop.
It was only a temporary reprieve and Liverpool took the lead on 26 minutes with a goal created and scored by O’Rourke.
The striker was brought down near the box for a free-kick, which Clarkson delivered expertly to the back post, where the 20-year-old turned it home.
Preston’s best chance of the half came 10 minutes before the break, Josh Murphy latching on to a clever pass and hitting the outside of the post with just Marcelo Pitaluga to beat.
The home side were made to pay for that miss on 39 minutes when the visitors grabbed a second.
Good work from Norris saw him fire a ball across goal which eventually reached Bradley on the right. He returned a lovely cross into the box, where Clayton dispatched his header with a minimum of fuss for a two-goal advantage.
The Reds continued to dominate the ball in the second half and had a third within six minutes of the restart.
Bradley had already fired powerfully at Ripley after a nice back-heeled pass from Bearne when a high press helped deliver the third goal. Dominic Corness won the ball and threaded a perfect pass through to Bearne, who finished high into the net for a comfortable advantage that never looked like being wiped out.
Indeed, Williams will feel he should have grabbed a fourth for the Reds, heading wide from a well-delivered Clarkson corner with 65 minutes on the clock.
Clarkson almost rounded off a lovely team move with a placed shot that went just the wrong side of the post, while Pitaluga had just the one shot to save, coming out well to deny Jacob Slater a consolation late on.
Liverpool U23s: Pitaluga, Bradley (Wilson, 83), Norris, Quansah, Williams, Clarkson, Corness, Clayton (Dixon-Bonner, 76), Bearne, Musialowski, O’Rourke (Woltman, 69)
Unused substitutes: Kelly, Koumetio.