Rhian Brewster and Ben Woodburn are the two Liverpool academy youngsters that continue to be talked about in another hectic week at the Kirkby Academy.
Both featured in the latest Liverpool U23s fixture, where Matty Virtue scored an injury-time winner as the young Reds edged out Manchester City 3-2 in a five-goal thriller.
Paolo Fernandes’ 19th minute penalty gave City an early lead, before a brace from Welshman Woodburn completed the turnaround for Mike Garrity’s side.
Isaac Buckley-Ricketts thought he had snatched a late equaliser, but Virtue won it for Liverpool late on to end Manchester City’s Premier League 2 title hopes.
The win moves Liverpool to within two points of Man City, and with just one game left of the 2016/17 season, there is still all to play for as far as the U23s are concerned.
Ovie Ejaria made his competitive return from a long-term injury, whilst there was an opportunity for U18s midfielder Yan Dhanda to get some more minutes at this level.
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, N Phillips, Randall; Grujic, Ejaria (Virtue), Woodburn; Wilson, Brewster (Dhanda), Ojo (J Williams).
Dhanda was then in the goals for the U23s as they convincingly qualified for the final of the Lancashire FA Senior Cup with a 6-0 thrashing against Rochdale at the Academy.
Dhanda opened the scoring before he turned provider for both Tom Brewitt and Toni Gomes in a frantic action-packed first half.
The entertainment didn’t stop there, as Gomes netted his second of the game, before Dhanda secured his brace with the Reds’ fifth in the second period.
After coming off the bench in the previous game, Virtue continued his form in front of goal by starting and consequently netting a sixth to seal Liverpool’s fate in comfortable circumstances.
Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; Lewis, Masterson, Whelan (McAuley 75’), Brewitt, Hart; Williams, Virtue; M Gomes (Adekanye 66’), T Gomes, Dhanda.
Apart from a busy week on the pitch, it has been a significant week off it, with a change in management being announced.
Neil Critchley will take over as Liverpool U23s’ Head Coach at the start of next season, replacing interim coach Mike Garrity, who has been in charge since Michael Beale left the club in January.
Garrity will still remain part of the coaching setup as he takes over the reigns as the U23s assistant coach.
With Neil Critchley making the step up and therefore leaving his role as the U18s Head Coach, there has been some major news into who will replace him at the start of the 2017/18 season.
After holding a floating role since returning to Liverpool in a coaching role in January, the club have confirmed that former great Steven Gerrard will become the Head Coach of the U18s.
Following talks with Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe and first-team manager Jurgen Klopp, the pair have decided that Gerrard needs more responsibility for a team as he continues his coaching career with his boyhood club.
Despite the positive news of next season, it has seemed that the current season has whimpered out for the U18s after back-to-back defeats in the U18 Premier League play-offs.
Firstly, Adam Lewis was on target but Liverpool suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat at Arsenal, in a game where four out of the five goals were penalties.
Arsenal opened the scoring from the spot after George Johnston was penalised before Lewis levelled with Liverpool’s own spot-kick, but Arsenal were back in front with the third spot-kick of the half.
Liverpool pushed for an equaliser in the second half, but a flowing counter-attacking move put Arsenal 3-1 ahead before another penalty rounded off a bizarre game in North London.
Liverpool U18s: Kelleher; N Williams (Longstaff 72’), Glennon, R Williams, Johnston; Coyle (Simmonds 72’), Sharif; Adekanye (McAuley 72’), Millar, Lewis, Jones.
It was a less entertaining second fixture for the Liverpool U18s, as Tariq Uwakwe scored the only goal of the game as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at the Kirkby Academy.
The U18s will look to end their competitive season on a high when they travel to Manchester City on 13 May, and they will be looking to replicate the form they showed in their last outing, when they ended City’s 20-game unbeaten domestic run.
Liverpool U18s: Grabara; Sharif, Masterson, Johnston, Glennon; Coyle, Lewis; Adekanye (Camacho 74’), Simmonds (Longstaff 77’), Jones; Millar (McAuley 82’).
Written by Scott Taylor.