In a rare battle with the Reds at this level, Reo Griffiths kept his cool to give us the lead shortly before half-time, with a brace from Rodel Richards putting us 3-0 up inside an hour.
The Reds, who haven’t lost a domestic game this season, are top of the northern section of the league table and also won their group in the UEFA Youth League, did cause us a couple of scares either side of Griffiths’ opener with Adam Lewis hitting the bar and Yasser Larouci somehow turning over the top with the goal gaping.
But, in a battle of sides coached by ex-England midfielders in Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard, it was our players who put themselves in the limelight with an excellent team performance, capped off when Dilan Markanday bagged a fourth goal on the 90-minute mark.
There was a lot at stake in this quarter-final clash in the inaugural Under-18 Premier League Cup – and right from the off we were on the front foot and looking to control the play, even though shooting chances were initially rare.
Griffiths and Rhys Williams were off-target at either end but with Oliver Skipp, in the side after his red card in last week’s Premier League 2 defeat at Leicester was rescinded, dominating the middle of the park, his precise passing caused Liverpool problems.
One such through ball saw left-back Jamie Reynolds get in behind with Brooklyn Lyons-Foster’s eventual shot caught by Vitezslav Jaros and, after Lewis’ set-piece hit the top of the bar on its way behind for the visitors, it was another firm Skipp pass that played Griffiths through to clip home from the right side of the area and open the scoring on 43 minutes.
Above: Phoenix Patterson.
The Reds should have equalised virtually straight away when Lewis found Larouci unmarked at the back post, but the right-back took the shot on first time and skewed it over the bar with the net beckoning. Jonathan De Bie also dived low to his right to deny Curtis Jones in first half stoppage time.
Crucially, we started the second half well and despite Rayan Clarke missing his kick in front of goal and Richards firing just wide from 18 yards, it was soon 2-0 as the latter closed down Jaros and when the keeper tried to clear, the ball ricocheted back into the net off Richards on 54 minutes.
Six minutes later it was three as Richards burst onto Tariq Hinds’ pass down the right and, after seeing his initial effort blocked by Williams, he reacted quickest to drill inside the near post with his left foot on the rebound.
Liverpool weren’t giving up and had a spell of pressure, but our defenders were often first to the ball and showed bravery in playing out from the back, with some good footwork from substitute Paris Maghoma carrying us further up the pitch.
Jones drilled across goal but hit the far post in the Reds’ best chance of the half on 74 minutes but after Phoenix Patterson could only scoop over the bar following another fast-paced attack from us, we rounded off a good day’s work in the 90th minute when Jneil Bennett released Hinds down the right and his low ball across found Markanday, who took a touch before drilling into the net with his left foot.
COACH SCOTT PARKER SAID
“It’s a great result. Following on from a bit of a disappointing one with the 4-4 draw against Leicester after dominating so much and being 3-0 up on Saturday, it was a massive game for us. Liverpool are unbeaten in the league and we set the boys some tasks in terms of digging in, getting a clean sheet, their mentality and they ticked all the boxes today, so I’m really proud of them to be fair – we did really well. In the quarter-finals of the League Cup, it was a big stage for these boys but I couldn’t have asked for any more from them today because the way we controlled the game was superb.
“It was strange (to be coaching against Steven Gerrard) and I said to Stevie beforehand that it was very different for us. I remember when we were kicking each other in midfield and now we’re on the sidelines! Your life changes but Stevie is obviously a student of the game and he obviously wants to go about things the right way, trying to learn as much as he can, similar to myself. When you think of someone who has had the career he’s had, it’s compliments to him that he wants to do it this way, so fair play to him. He’s got some good players.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie (c), Hinds, Reynolds, Skipp, Lyons-Foster, Eyoma, Markanday, Patterson (Dinzeyi 88), Griffiths, Richards (Bennett 79), Clarke (P Maghoma 55). Substitutes (not used): Oluwayemi, Bowden.
The big games keep coming as we head to the Vitality Stadium to face AFC Bournemouth in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup next Tuesday evening (16 January). Kick-off is at 7pm.