Bradford City 4-0 Liverpool U21: Match Report

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Liverpool Under 21s qualified for the knockout phase of the EFL Trophy (Bristol Street Motors Trophy to give it its full title for this year…) for the first time and the reward was a trip to Yorkshire to face League Two promotion hopefuls Bradford City at Valley Parade. 

Formerly a Premier League outfit, the Bantams have suffered a decline in recent years and having recently sacked Mark Hughes, the hosts are looking to rebuild their season both in the cup and league. 

For the mini Reds this competition and their action generally is more geared towards development and exposure to new environments as well as senior opposition. 

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Liverpool boss Barry Lewtas named a strong side with the surprise inclusion of Ben Doak with the Scottish winger almost a mainstay in Jurgen Klopp’s first-team squad all season to date. 

Luke Chambers and James McConnell also returned to youth action after recent first-team duties and elder statesman Jay Spearing (sorry Jay) was on the bench for the mini Reds. 

Two 16-year-olds were paired together at the back however for Liverpool, tasked with handling the likes of Jamie Walker, Tyler Smith and the prolific Andy Cook illustrating the task facing Lewtas’ side. 


The first half began in peculiar fashion when a mini remote control car brought the ball to the centre spot before Liverpool got the action underway on a crisp night in Bradford. 

Early exchanges were evenly fought with both sides winning tackles and looking to get the ball down to play. The hosts will feel they had the first meaningful chance when an effort was ruled out for offside moments before Tyler Smith gave Bradford the lead from close range. 

Facing an uphill battle, McConnell was already showing he was up the fight as he won numerous 50/50s in the middle of the park to get Liverpool on the front foot as they looked to find a way back. 


Doak was denied the opportunity to counter when he was clearly tripped and shoved to the ground, only for the referee to wave away the protests to the bewilderment of everyone, particularly Doak himself. 

Moments later the flying Scot did win his foul from Ciaran Kelly – who was subsequently booked after being late to the tackle – and indeed a free kick in a dangerous position for Chambers to striker, although his effort bounced harmlessly wide. 

Fabian Mrozek was forced into a superb one-handed save on the stretch when Cook’s header from point-blank range threatened to double the hosts’ advantage, but Liverpool stayed in the contest both in an attacking and defensive sense. 

The first time Lewtas’ side got Doak 1v1 he was able to bypass his man with ease and delivered what could have been a dangerous cross from the byline only for a defender to intervene and turn the ball behind for the first corner of the game for the visitors. 

McConnell was the next to draw a foul and a booking as he attempted to get away from Brad Halliday only to be pulled back on numerous occasions by the Bradford man.

Seconds after Doak was inches away from getting on the end of a lofted through ball, Liverpool’s challenge was made all the more difficult when Lewis Koumas was very late and very high into a challenge, seeing a straight red as a result. 

Now with Doak and the skilful Mateusz Musialowski as the outlets, the part combined to get the former in and up against the last man, finding a yard for a shot that unfortunately sailed high and wide. 

Approaching half-time it was yet another nearly moment for Doak after the teenager was slid in by McConnel he glided past his defender before his touch to set himself was swarmed upon by the onrushing goalkeeper just in the nick of time. 1-0 at the break.

BRADFORD, ENGLAND – Tuesday, December 5, 2023: Liverpool’s Ben Doak during the English Football League Trophy Round of 32 match between Bradford City AFC and Liverpool FC Under-21’s at Valley Parade. (Photo by Ed Sykes/Propaganda)

Into the second half and after Musialowski sent an effort wide of the post from the edge of the area, Cook went up the other end and found the bottom corner from a similar position to double the hosts’ advantage and take his own tally to nine for the season.

Cook could and should have added further to his personal record and the scoreline minutes later before somehow missing from a yard out with Mrozek out of the picture. 

Bradford were in full flight now and the Liverpool stopper was called into action once again, this time tipping a goalbound effort expertly wide to keep the score at 2-0.  

At the other end, Doak led the charge once more before finding the support of Trey Nyoni who wriggled his way into the area before finding room for a shot, although his attempt was blocked before it could trouble the ‘keeper. 

BRADFORD, ENGLAND – Tuesday, December 5, 2023: Bradford City’s Clarke Oduor (L) is challenged by Liverpool’s Trey Nyoni during the English Football League Trophy Round of 32 match between Bradford City AFC and Liverpool FC Under-21’s at Valley Parade. (Photo by Ed Sykes/Propaganda)

After so much fine work Mrozek’s handling let him down for the third goal when he fumbled a long-range shot right into the path of Vadaine Oliver who had the simplest of tasks to further extend the lead.

Lewtas turned to the bench for the first time in the evening when Harvey Blair and Tom Hill replaced Nyoni and Calum Scanlon, positive changes in the circumstances. 

On the 70-minute mark, Doak hobbled off with what appeared to be a bad cramp in his left calf, perhaps a sign of a lack of competitive action in recent weeks.

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Mrozek was able to shrug off his error and made a number of big saves before succumbing to a fourth late on, a harsh reflection on his night’s work and indeed the rest of the side. 

The final moments passed by without incident as both teams continued to ring the changes and a weary-looking Liverpool side having played for the majority of the encounter with a man-light, defended manfully and continued to pose their own threat despite failing to make Harry Lewis work too hard for his clean sheet.

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Ultimately a bridge too far for Lewtas’ side but the manager and the academy in general can be pleased with how the youthful outfit equipped itself against their senior opponents, particularly when down to 10 men.

Yet more invaluable experience in a testing environment facing seasoned professionals can only be a benefit to the youngsters for their own personal ambitions and those of the club in both the short and long term.



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