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Tony Hibbert found playing time for the U21s, putting in a classic Hibbert performance this time at centre half
Tony Hibbert found playing time for the U21s, putting in a classic Hibbert performance this time at centre half
Paul Thomas

With attendees in all sides of Goodison Park with a 6,004 capacity for the visit of Manchester United, the young Blues would have looked to extend their unbeaten run to five games and also replicate some of the famous Goodison nights that the senior team have produced in the past. However they were only able to achieve the former in a rather well-matched deadlock with the young Red Devils.

United were able to boast regular first teamers Anderson and Fabio Da Silva; as well as the less familiar Man. United twin brothers Michael and Will Keane – who have also both represented the senior team. Ben Amos, a regular League Cup starter for the Red Devils, and David Moyes’ first signing; right-back Guillermo Varela also started against the Everton youngsters. A fortnight from Everton’s late win at Ewood Park against Blackburn, Alan Stubbs made four changes with the returning Mason Springthorpe, Tyias Browning, Matthew Kennedy replacing Russell Griffiths, Jonjoe Kenny and George Green. In addition, Joe Williams made his third appearance for the U21 side coming in for Ryan Ledson.

The more experienced Manchester United side including two Brazilian internationals were taken all the way by the young Everton side and by the end of the encounter there looked only one winner. The first chance fell the way of United however, more specifically through Will Keane but Mason Springthorpe was up to the task. At the other end Hallam Hope and Ben McLaughlin were combining well to produce some excellent deliveries into the box.

Everton legend Tony Hibbert found himself in an unfamiliar situation of meeting a header in the attacking sense from a Conor Grant corner, which was caught by Amos. Hibbert was then back in his more accustomed role of blocking a shot at goal, this time from Anderson. Before that, Larnell Cole and Hope had snapshots at either end and then Tom Lawrence missed an easy chance for the visitors.

United had attempts struck narrowly away from goal through Keane and Cole – names affiliated with United past, only Roy and Andy were more successful in striking the target.

A stray pass from the returning Mason Springthorpe found Cole but unfortunately for the away side he could not convert. Springthorpe was alive however to Cole’s next effort with an excellent diving safe to his left. At the other end, Amos did well to get down to a low shot from Hallam Hope just before the break, tipping round the post with a strong left wrist. The final action of the half was again through Larnell Cole but again the United striker found the in-form Everton stopper.

The first attempt of the second half fell the way of the home side attacking the Glwadys’ Street through Matthew Kennedy after a commanding run by Grant. The Scot could only find the United keeper however. The next two shots were with Chris Long as the Toffees grew more and more into the game. Firstly, Long found the catching Amos with a free-kick curled under the wall. Then just after the hour mark, the U20 England international looked to imitate the 35yard volley Didier Drogba struck to win against the Blues a few seasons ago, this time at the opposite end of the stadium and just over the bar.

16year-old Joe Williams attempted a volley which went just wide of Amos’ goal on 70 minutes. A couple of minutes later, the Red Devils’ right-back Varela slipped and allowed Hope to almost prosper but the England youth found the United keeper’s left foot which deflected the ball onto the frame of the goal. Will Keane had the last of United’s shots in the game but he could only find Springthorpe.

Long pickpocketed Will’s twin Michael and turned and struck at goal to frustratingly find the post. Before the final whistle Hope and Grant constructed chances to win the game but the young Toffees had to settle with a share of the spoils.

The point allowed Everton to climb up to fourth; five points off leaders West Ham and next up for Alan Stubbs’ side is an away trip to Fulham U21s on November the 2nd.

Everton U21s: Springthorpe, McLaughlin, HIbbert, Browning, Touray, Lundstram, Williams (85th minute Green), Grant, Hope, Kennedy and Long.

Unused subs: Griffiths, C. Duffus, T. Duffus and Shannon.

Man. United U21s: Amos, Varela, Thorpe, M. Keane, Fabio, Ekangamene, Cole, James, W. Keane, Anderson (62nd minute Blackett) and Lawrence (75th minute Weir).

Unused subs: Barmby, Pereira and Love.