Toni Gomes scored a hat-trick as Liverpool U23s prepared for their Lancashire Senior Cup final with a 4-1 thrashing of Mansfield Town in a friendly at the Kirkby Academy on Thursday afternoon.
Lloyd Jones and Cameron Brannagan returned from their loan spells at Swindon Town and Fleetwood Town respectively, and they combined to set up Jones’ opener.
Brannagan then smashed a free-kick against the crossbar in a game where he deserved a goal for his performance before Gomes scored from the rebound.
The Portguese youth international then stole the limelight by sealing his hat-trick with a header despire Mansfield getting back into the game with an earlier penalty. The win was the last friendly of the 2016/17 season, and the penultimate game in charge of the U23s for interim coach Mike Garrity, who will be replaced by Neil Critchley next season.
Rhian Brewster was again absent from the game as he helped fire England U17s to the final of the European Championships after a 2-1 win against Turkey on Tuesday. The striker had scored three goals in the four games leading up to the semi-final, but failed to get on the scoresheet for the Young Lions, who will now face Spain for the title on Friday.
Elsewhere, the U18s ended their 2016/17 season with a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday afternoon at the Academy Stadium. Tom Dele-Bashiru scored the vital goal shortly after the half-hour mark for the hosts, who finished third in the final play-off stage.
The defeat sees Liverpool finish bottom of the table with just one win from their seven matches and ending up 13 points behind the Champions Chelsea. It would have been a disappointing end to Critchley’s reign as U18s Head Coach after three-and-a-half years, although most of the side consisted of players who started the season in the U16s.
Liverpool U18s: Kelleher; N Williams, Masterson, Johnston, Glennon (R Williams 53’); Coyle, Jones, Sharif (Camacho 80’), Kane (Longstaff 63’); Simmonds, Millar.
One player who will not be at the club next season is Australian midfielder Jake Brimmer after his contract with Liverpool wasn’t renewed.
Brimmer, 19, joined the Reds in 2014 after impressing whilst playing in his homeland for Nunawading City FC and was subsequently spotted by Liverpool scout Barry Hunter. Brimmer progressed to the U23s this season, but after a frustrating season with a lack of game time in the midfield, the club decided that the Australia U20s star was surplus to requirements at Kirkby.
Finally, in transfer news, some sources have reported that Harry Wilson is a loan target for Championship side Burton Albion. Nigel Clough helped Burton secure Championship status in their first season in charge, and he is swooping for a deal to sign 20-year-old Wilson on a season-long loan.
The Liverpool U23s captain has had a tremendous season, notching 28 goals and multiple assists before making the step up to the first-team against Plymouth in the FA Cup.
Should Wilson leave, the U23s will be looking for a new captain, with a whole host of candidates available and good enough to take the armband off the Welshman.
Written by Scott Taylor.