Barker 50mins, Celina 69mins
- Match reports
- 22 March 2014 13:22
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
City u18s launched a second half comeback to earn a deserved three points against Liverpool.
The boy Blues were the better side in the first half but trailed 1-0 at the break thanks to an Alex O'Hanlon strike. A professional team performance in the second period was rewarded with a goal apiece for Brandon Barker and Bersant Celina to keep City's place at the table's summit.
City were looking to go three points clear at the top of the U18 Premier League North Division with a win on Merseyside and make it three games unbeaten, after a convincing win over Middlesbrough and a draw with Wolves in the last two weeks.
Last time the Blues met Liverpool at this level the two sides produced one of the thrillers of the season, as City scored twice in stoppage time to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win in the most dramatic style.
Jason Wilcox and his squad were aiming for a more comfortable victory this time around, but the boss was forced to shuffle his pack for this trip down the M62.
Kean Bryan and Angelino remained two notable absentees after their exertions with the u19s against Benfica on Tuesday, but Jack Byrne and Tosin Adarabioyo returned to the starting line-up after their recent spells on the sidelines through injury.
In all, there were five changes from the team that began last week’s encounter with Wolves, with Billy O’Brien regaining his place between the posts, and Mathias Bossaerts and Denzeil Boadu returning to the starting XI.
City began the game strongly, but O’Brien was the first keeper to be tested, preventing Trickett from opening the scoring with a good stop in a central position.
But the Blues began to take a hold of the game and the Liverpool defence had to weather a significant storm. Andy Firth got down well in the Reds’ goal to prevent the ball falling to a rapidly approaching Ambrose, while he also pulled off a good stop from Barker’s powerful effort.
Keen to strike during their period of dominance, the Blues surged forward with wave after wave of attacks. Boadu smacked his effort against the woodword, while Thierry Ambrose was desperately unlucky to hit the inside of the post and see his shot rebound to safety.
Liverpool were looking to make their mark on the counter attack, but it was City who nearly profited from their rivals’ corner. Three Blue shirts powered forward, and Jorge Intima should have done better but his eventual shot was too close to Firth.
The Portuguese winger was quick to try and make up for his mistake, showing a great piece of skill to get past Tom Brewitt, but his cross was turned behind by the central defender.
City had all the possession and chances but were struck by a hammer blow minutes before the break when O’Hanlon fired the home side ahead, his finish unerring after Hart had miscued.
The Reds grew in confidence after the goal and started the second period the brighter. Trickett might have made it two after he seized on a mistake from Adarabioyo, while Griffin found Ojo in a great central position and Oseni forced him wide.
But it was City who struck the next blow through Barker, who constantly troubled the Liverpool defence on the left. The winger drove into the box and although Firth got his body in the way the shot was too powerful for him to prevent the equaliser.
The Reds refused to let their heads drop, and O’Brien was forced into three good saves from a succession of corners, the best an instinctive stop at his near post, while O’Hanlon curled a shot narrowly wide.
Both goalkeepers were in wonderful form, and Firth was forced to prove it again, somehow keeping out Ambrose from close range and watching Boadu fire the rebound over the bar.
It was going to take something special to beat the keeper a second time, and up stepped Bersant Celina with another cracker to add to his collection. The Kosovan placed the ball beautifully into the far corner with a perfectly-struck shot just outside the box which gave the despairing Firth no chance.
The two teams traded blows as each side looked to add to their tally, with Firth making a super stop from Ambrose while O’Brien somehow got a foot to the ball to prevent an almost certain equaliser.
However, the pace slowed and there were few chances for either side in the last 10 minutes as City saw out the game in a calm, professional manner to take a deserved three points back to Manchester.