Liverpool made it a perfect weekend by earning an entertaining Premier League 2 win against Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Reds’ under-23s twice came from behind to claim a 3-2 success at the Academy in Kirkby on Sunday afternoon.

Evan Ferguson, a 16-year-old Republic of Ireland forward signed by Brighton in January, capitalised on a Remi Savage error to put the visitors ahead on eight minutes.

Joe Hardy equalised two minutes into the second half, only for Ferguson to notch his second with a neat finish 10 minutes later.

Liverpool fought back with right-back Tony Gallacher levelling on 72 minutes from an Owen Beck cross before returning the favour seven minutes later for Beck to smash in the winner.

Brighton twice hit the woodwork with Liverpool’s Tom Clayton also striking the bar during an incident-packed match.

The win for Barry Lewtas’s side – which moves them up to fourth in Premier League 2 – completed a full house for Liverpool with the first team, the U18s and the women’s team also triumphing this weekend.

Full-backs follow Klopp path

The importance of full-backs to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool has long been established.

And the desire for uniformity throughout the Academy ranks means it is no different for the U23s.

With James Norris and Conor Bradley enjoying breakthrough seasons at Kirkby, the Reds have plenty of options in the wide defensive positions.

But here against Brighton it was the turn of Beck and Gallacher to make a positive difference.

Beck, a Wales U21 international whose great uncle is Liverpool legend Ian Rush, has been one of the most consistent performers under Lewtas this season despite being only 18.

He had his hands full defensively with raiding Brighton right-back Ayo Taninomo, who was later joined by substitute Romaric Yapi down the left for the visitors.

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It was going forward, though, where Beck excelled, having been encouraged in recent weeks to make more of his forays.

After his attacking leanings helped tee up Hardy’s equaliser, the Welsh youngster then did even better in working a position inside the left-hand side of the area before crossing low for right-back Gallacher to score.

And the highlight came with his winner, plucking a deep Gallacher cross out of the sky with his first touch and then thumping home a right-footed finish.

Gallacher, a left-back by trade, had featured at centre-back in the recent win at Southampton and demonstrated his versatility with an impressive stint on the right.

Clarkson returns as Cain remains able

This has been a season of highs and lows for Leighton Clarkson.

The 19-year-old took a significant step in his career when impressing on his senior debut in the Champions League dead rubber at FC Midtjylland in December.

However, his progress was hampered earlier in the season by a red card at Manchester United for the U23s and, more recently, injury that sidelined him from the last four Premier League 2 games.

Joe Hardy (left) of Liverpool scores Liverpool's first goal
Joe Hardy (left) of Liverpool scores Liverpool’s first goal

Clarkson will therefore have benefited from a 45-minute run-out before being replaced at half-time by Jake Cain, who made an instant impact with a ball into the box that prompted the leveller.

Cain gave Liverpool’s midfield extra tempo and impetus, with the 19-year-old demonstrating good discipline while operating in a more defensive role than usual.

Liverpool U23s are next in Premier League 2 action on Friday at Manchester City (kick-off 7pm).

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Hughes; Gallacher, Boyes, Savage, Beck; Dixon-Bonner, Clayton, Clarkson (Cain 46); Longstaff (O’Rourke 62), Hardy (Sharif 90+2), Woodburn. Subs: Mrozek, Walls.

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