Everton twice came from behind to clinch a point against U21 Premier League middlers Fulham on a cold Monday evening at the Merseyrail Community Stadium.
The young Toffees had a torrid start as goals from Adam Taggart and Freddy-Ange Plumain put them in a hole inside 20 minutes.
But the home side responded thanks to a brilliant David Henen strike, and a Joe Williams header just before half time.
Fulham retook the lead in the second half as Buomesca Tue Na Bangna steered the ball past Mateusz Hewelt, but Everton pulled back level through Jonjoe Kenny.
Manager David Unsworth had named two changes to the side that defeated West Ham United in the last game, as Brendan Galloway and goalscorer Williams came in to replace Tyias Browning and Conor McAleny –both of whom travelled with the senior team to their training camp in Qatar.
The young Blues started off well, creating the first chance of the game as Henen’s tricky run ended up with Fulham goalkeeper Magnus Norman pushing the ball out for a corner.
But the tide soon turned and it wasn’t long before they found themselves behind. Fulham broke from an Everton corner and the ball found its way to Taggart, who made little mistake in dispatching the opener.
Fulham could easily have had their second just minutes later, as two Hewelt miskicks almost presented Fulham with clear sights at goal, but the Everton defence was alert on both occasions to get rid of the danger.
But the visitors kept knocking at the door and took advantage of some more farcical defending from the home side to double their advantage.
Midfielder Tom Richards received the ball in the centre of the park and took it forward before finding Plumain alone and unmarked on the left who slotted the ball past the goalkeeper for his fourth in three games.
With the momentum solely with Fulham, Everton needed something big to help them find a route back into the match, and they received just that courtesy of a fantastic 30-yard strike from on-loan Belgian Henen, whose effort gave the ‘keeper no chance as it whistled into the top corner.
He then almost pulled his side back level, but he just missed Matthew Kennedy’s low cross with his outstretched boot as it flashed across the face of goal.
Everton, visibly buoyed by Henen’s goal continued to endeavour for the equaliser, and finally got it on the stroke of half time as Joe Williams’ looping header from another Kennedy cross found its way into the Fulham goal.
Everton emerged for the second half with Ryan Ledson replacing Conor Grant, and the young midfielder soon found himself at the centre of the action.
With Jonathan Buatu on the ball, Ledson steamed in with a tough challenge which left the Fulham player screaming in pain. The Everton player appeared to win the ball, but Buatu was taken off after receiving medical attention from the team doctors.
Everton continued to push for a winner, but they were unable to turn a succession of corners into a goal as the Fulham defence managed to scramble clear.
The second 45 minutes was mostly dominated by the home side, but they would be undone by more poor defending, as Plumain was allowed to patrol the left wing before finding Mesca, who neatly curled the ball around Hewelt in the Everton goal to give the visitors back the lead.
But not to be outdone, Everton struck back just five minutes after Kenny steered substitute Kieran Dowell’s across the line.
There was still time for late heroics but Everton’s third substitute of the evening, George Green, saw his shot from the corner of the area whizz just past the post and out for a goal kick.
The draw helps Everton move into fifth keep pace with Tottenham Hotspur at the Barclays U21 Premier League’s summit, while Fulham hop above Norwich and Leicester’s under-21 teams into seventh.
Everton U21: Hewelt (GK), Jones, Connolly, Junior (Dowell, 80’), Galloway, Jenny, Williams, Grant (Ledson, 46’), Duffus, Henen, Kennedy (Green, 66’) Subs: Hunt (GK), Ledson, Dowell, Green, Langton
Fulham U21: Norman, Baba, Evans, Sambou, Buatu (Della Verde, 55’), Passley, Mesca, Richards, Taggart (Edun, 75’), Williams, Plumain Subs: Barnes (GK), Della Verde, Edun, Redford, Humphrys
Man of the Match: David Henen
Referee: S Lucas