Fleetwood Town's Under-18s battled throughout their FA Youth Cup Third Round tie on Tuesday evening against Premier League giants Liverpool, but narrowly lost out with seconds to go.
It was a performance that everyone watching, from the coaches from the Reds to the spectators in the stadium, said was worth more in the game, but our Young Cods fell prey to the reality of cup football and the added time winner from Jayden Danns meant they would exit this year's competition after losing 2-1 on the night.
The game had a fast pace from the start. Still, chances were at a premium in the opening 30 minutes, with the best one falling to Jack Doherty, who took up a more defensive role in the midfield on the night, as he picked up the ball from deep, drove towards the goals. Still, it ended up being an easy save for Kornel Misciur in the Liverpool goal.
A spark of urgency came into the clash just after the half-hour mark as there would be three key chances in as many minutes for both sides. The visitors started the spell as Trey Nyoni fired high and wide from the edge of the Town area before good play from Bosembo Namputu and Hermann Daha saw Mikey Lane through, but his effort flew over the bar.
This is where Liverpool came into their own, showing the quality they had at their disposal as everyone was bemused as to how they weren't a goal up 35 minutes in as Danns' quick turn and strike from close range rattled the underside of Ollie Bellizia's crossbar and, somehow, didn't cross the line.
They did, however, take the lead right on the stroke of half-time through that same forward, Danns, who would end up with a brace on the night and hit the crossbar on two other occasions, proving that he can be a dangerous poacher in front of goal.
With plenty of faces from the first-team in the crowd on the night, our Young Cods battled on to try and find a way back into the tie and Namputu thought he had found that crucial soon after the restart, but his effort was swiftly saved by Misciur, meaning the hunt would continue.
Two more chances showed themselves at the hour mark as Lane cleverly dummied a pass to Dom Richmond on the edge of the Liverpool area, who fired high and wide, but this didn't slow the Young Cods down as Lane had a chance of his own soon after, which was saved and parried into the path of Hermann Daha, who tapped home to level things up.
For the first time in the game since the opening goal, Town had the momentum to go and grab the winner and it almost came three minutes from time as Under-16 full-back Leo Thompson played a perfect free-kick to Theo Butterworth inside the area, but the defender couldn't quite guide the set-piece into the near post from five-yards.
Heartbreak ensued after this though as, from a Fleetwood throw in deep into added time at the end, Liverpool started a counter attack through their number 11 on the night, Lewis Koumas, and after a brilliant save from Bellizia, it was Danns who was waiting at the back post to tap home and win the tie for the travelling Reds.
Everyone at Fleetwood Town is extremely proud of Mark Yeates' side and staff for their effort and determination shown throughout the evening and would like to say, keep your heads up, there's plenty still to play for the season - go well, Cods!
Town XI: Bellizia (GK), Cirino, Thompson, Jack Doherty, Butterworth, Haughey, Richmond (Elmore 85'), Namputu, Lane (C), Morrison, Daha.
Unused subs: Woodward (GK), Slater, Smith, Ruocco, Currie, Animasaun.