Callum Roberts

By Dan King - Newcastle United Digital Editor
At Anfield

Liverpool Under-21s 5 (Dunn 2, Peterson 2, Paez)
Newcastle United Under-21s 2 (Roberts, Aarons)

Callum Roberts scored a dream first goal for Newcastle United's under-21s in front of the Kop end at Anfield - but the Magpies were edged out in a thrilling clash with Liverpool.

It wasn't quite as incident-packed as the famous 4-3 encounter between the two sides which remains arguably the greatest Premier League game of all time, but this was a match with plenty of twists and turns throughout.

The Reds knew that three points would take them to the top of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League and started with the bit between their teeth. Jamie Sterry made a vital goal-saving tackle on Ryan Kent before Remie Streete produced an important block to deny the same player.

Yet it was Newcastle, coached by former Anfield favourite Peter Beardsley, who went in front when teenage forward Roberts cut into the box and bent the ball past Yusuf Mersin, who spent a work experience spell with United's Academy earlier this season.

The lead was short lived, however, as Jack Dunn quickly levelled and then in the 14th minute, Kristoffer Peterson bundled home for the Merseysiders.

In-form Rolando Aarons equalised, though, as Alex Gilliead's direct run and cross broke for the Jamaican winger, who jinked past a challenge and cooly slotted into the net. It was his third goal in three games at this level - form which earned him a call-up for Alan Pardew's first-team squad at Fulham six days previously.

A Gael Bigirimana free kick flew over after Aarons was fouled, then Roberts shot just too high as United looked to take the lead again.

But Liverpool stepped up the tempo; Dunn teed up Jordan Rossiter, whose effort was held by Jak Alnwick who then thwarted Kent with ease and frustrated Dunn with a sprawling stop.

Alas the United keeper could do nothing in the 36th minute when Rafael Paez headed Liverpool in front from a corner.

Lubo Satka made a fine challenge to prevent a fourth for the home side but on the stroke of half time, Roberts found Gilliead whose goalbound shot was blocked.

At the beginning ot the second half, Alnwick did well to turn Peterson's shot on the turn, then he fielded Lloyd Jones' header from the resulting corner.

But with 67 minutes played, Michael Richardson should have scored as left-back Callum Williams won possession and released Roberts, who reached the byline and cut the ball back only for Richardson, normally so reliable in front of goal, to stab wide.

Dunn could have wrapped it up with 14 minutes left as he failed to connect with Brad Smith's cross, then Smith scuffed wide after darting into the box before substitute Vilyan Bijev sent a free header wide.

Next, Cameron Brannaghan saw a fine strike clip the bar but in the 85th minute, Peterson made it 4-2 with his second of the night.

United thought they'd pulled one back in the final minute of normal time as Roberts' shot bounced back off a post before the ball was forced over the line by Sterry, but the flag was up against the full-back.

Instead, it was Liverpool who added another as substitute Kevin Mbabu was outpaced on the right in his first appearance of 2014 and Dunn was able to drill the ball beyond Alnwick.

Liverpool Under-21s: Yusuf Mersin, Connor Randall, Joe Maguire, Rafael Paez, Lloyd Jones (c), Jordan Rossiter, Brad Smith, Cameron Brannaghan, Kristoffer Peterson, Jack Dunn, Ryan Kent (Vilyan Bijev 73)

Subs not used: Yalany Baio, Ryan Fulton, Daniel Trickett-Smith

Newcastle United Under-21s: Jak Alnwick, Jamie Sterry, Remie Streete (Kevin Mbabu 84), Lubo Satka, Callum Williams, Michael Richardson, Gael Bigirimana, Olivier Kemen (Liam Smith 73), Rolando Aarons, Callum Roberts, Alex Gilliead (Greg Olley 77)

Subs not used: Jonathan Mitchell, Jonathyn Quinn