Liverpool under-18s saw their title hopes officially end as a 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest confirmed Man City as champions, with Bobby Clark forced off with injury. After a 3-1 loss at City earlier in the month, the odds were against Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s U18s as they chased the title, despite that being only their second defeat of 2022. They followed up disappointment at the Academy Stadium with victories over Wolves and Sunderland, with Forest the visitors on Tuesday as they looked to keep up the pace.
It ended with one of the most frustrating results of the season, as the young Reds struggled for fluency throughout and fell to an early Kyle McAdam goal. Bridge-Wilkinson had called upon the likes of James Balagizi and Mateusz Musialowski in recent weeks, but was back with a more youthful side at Kirkby, with Terence Miles, Tommy Pilling and Harvey Blair brought in.
Daniel Agger was watching on from the sidelines after a guest appearance in Anfield hospitality for the Merseyside derby, but Liverpool struggled to get going. Blair was bright as he probed from the right wing, while Oakley Cannonier showed typical endeavour as he looked to add to his 41 goals for the campaign. But the afternoon was compounded as Clark was forced off midway through the second half with a worrying injury, the 17-year-old requiring assistance in leaving the field.
Defeat guaranteed the title for City, who are seven points clear of Liverpool at the top having played a game fewer – the young Reds still have two left to play, but can no longer catch up. However, it has been an excellent campaign for Bridge-Wilkinson and his players so far, and they can look to end it on a high with their remaining clashes against third-placed Blackburn and bottom-dwellers Newcastle.
Subs not used: Hewitson, Gymiah, Giblin, Pennington
Next match: Blackburn (H) – U18 Premier League – Saturday, April 30, 11am (BST)