Manchester City Under-18s striker Luca Fletcher scored a brace to help beat Liverpool 2-1 in the Under-18s Premier League North on Merseyside.

Luca Fletcher, who came in for Matty Warhurst, opened the scoring on 37 minutes, as he slotted in from inside the penalty area after he jumped onto a loose pass by the hosts.

City started the second-half fast, and Fletcher tapped in from close range from a Farid Alfa-Ruprecht cross to score his second of the match.

Liverpool pulled a goal back with 15 minutes remaining, as Kareem Ahmed finished from Kyle Kelly’s cut back.

However, Ben Wilkinson’s young side held on to record our fifth straight win in all competitions.

WHAT HAPPENED

It was third versus second in the Under-18s Premier League North, as City looked to do the double over Liverpool and secure the three points that would keep us close to Manchester United at the top of the table.

And it was City who caused problems early on.

Liverpool left back, Emanuel Airoboma, committed a foul on Farid Alfa-Ruprecht from just outside the penalty area, after the winger attempted to wriggle his way towards goal from the right.

A free-kick was fired towards goal and it forced the first save of the match from Kornel Misciur.

Nice patient build up play on the left resulted in Christian Dunbar-McDonald being allowed space to pull the trigger from the edge of the penalty area, but his shot was tame and rolled into the palms of the Liverpool keeper.

It was Liverpool’s turn to go close from a free-kick as Liverpool’s top goalscorer and captain, Kieran Morrison, searched for the top left corner, but Spike Brits was there to match the shot and clawed the ball away before gathering at the second attempt.

After a battling first 20 minutes, the pattern of play saw Liverpool allowing City to have the ball and pick up on lose passes with counter attacks.

Neat combination play between Seb Naylor and Dunbar-McDonald saw the left back have the ball with his back to goal in the penalty area, he turned and his snapshot produced a low, one-handed save from Misciur and the ball ended up with the keeper.

Just as half-time was approaching, Liverpool gave the ball away and it set Luca Fletcher free, who drove into the heart of the Liverpool penalty area before rifling a shot into the back of the net to put City ahead after a competitive first half.

The Merseysider’s opened up after Fletcher’s opener with a ball being flashed across the face of goal from the right, but nobody in red was there to head in a potential equaliser and moments later, it was nearly two for City.

After we lost the ball deep in Liverpool’s half, Alex Batty intercepted a pass in the 18-yard box to regain possession and slipped in Farid Alfa-Ruprecht who made an underlapping run.

The winger was free to run through on goal and his ferocious shot was matched with a reaction stop by Misciur to deny us doubling our advantage.

City flew out of the traps at the start of the second-half and Dunbar-McDonald struck the post, after the ball ricocheted back out to him, which left the winger with his head in his hands in disbelief.

But a second was in our future.

A goal which began in defence, as Kian Noble picked out Alfa-Ruprecht who made a clever run down the right, he was unselfish as he squared the ball to Fletcher, who was able to tap in his second of the match and his fourth of the season.

The young striker, who came in to replace top goalscorer Matty Warhurst, was on a hat-trick.

The hosts showed they were not out of this contest, as Kaiden Braithwaite slipped Kyle Kelly was through on goal, but a fine save by Brits denied Liverpool, who began to apply the pressure in the dying embers.

Soon after, Kelly found space on the left and cut back to Kareem Ahmed who from close range tapped the ball through Brits’ legs and gave the young Reds a lifeline.

However, City held on to win on Merseyside and secure three points at our third placed rivals.

HOW WE LINED UP

Spike Brits played between the posts, and he was protected by a back four of Seb Naylor, Kaiden Braithwaite, Kian Noble and Dante Headley.

Femi Fapetu shielded the defence in a holding midfield role, with Divine Mukasa and Dan Batty playing further forward in a midfield three.

Luca Fletcher led the line up front, with Christian Dunbar-McDonald and Farid Alfa-Ruprecht supplying support on the wings.

Liverpool Under-18s

XI | Misciur, Airoboma, Gyimah, Enahoro-Marcus, Evers, Kelly, Morrison (C), Pennington, Figueroa, Sonni-Lambie, Ahmed

SUBS | Onanuga, Morana, Cowley, Lonmeni, Martin

Manchester City Under-18s

XI | Brits, Naylor, Braithwaite, Noble (C), Headley, Mukasa, Fapetu, Batty, Dunbar-McDonald, Fletcher, Alfa-Ruprecht

SUBS | Muir, Whatmuff, Heskey, Nfonkeu, Algala

WHAT IT MEANS

Victory on Merseyside sees us remain in second place on 31 points. City have played two matches less than league leaders Manchester United who have a 15 point lead.

Premier League u18
1 Manchester United FC Manchester United Man United 22 19 2 1 74 24 50 59 LWWWW
2 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 19 14 1 4 58 21 37 43 WWWLW
3 Derby County Derby 20 9 4 7 47 42 5 31 WWLDW
Last updated: 17 April 2024

WHAT’S NEXT

It’s a quick turnaround for Ben Wilkinson and his young side, as we play host to Newcastle in the Under-18s Premier League in midweek.

Kick-off is scheduled for Wednesday 21 February at 13:00 (UK).

The game will also be made available to watch live on CITY+.

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