Starting with the slightly better result, a battling 2-2 draw for the Everton Under 18s at a breezy and cold USM Finch Farm on Saturday against Arsenal in the Premier League Cup. Paul Tait’s men actually needed a win to keep hopes of progressing from the Group stage alive but at least there was plenty of spirit on display having gone 2 goals down.
They were actually down within 9 minutes and again a few minutes later, both following breaks down the Blues right hand side. It is to their credit that the Blues didn’t fold at this stage and after Charlie Whitaker, playing for the U18s rather than in Friday’s U23 game, produced an acrobatic effort they did get a goal back before half time as the impressive Martin Sherif curled a shot into the top corner of the goal
Shortly after the break, that man Sherif again scored emphatically at the near post having capitalised on a defensive mistake by Arsenal. With 2 goals under his belt, the powerful Sherif almost got a third for himself and a win for the Blues when a deflection almost fell to him to bag the winner but inches away. The first of a few small margins to affect the Blues’ team results this weekend. Maybe we will be hearing more of Sherif, a young centre forward who originates from the Netherlands?
As for the Under 23s, after a few very encouraging results came up against a Tottenham Hotspurs side that had scored four goals in their last outing. At a chilly Stevenage ground the young Blues faced high flying Spurs minus three of the line up from last Monday’s game. Ellis Simms and Jarrad Branthwaite who each played the first half that night and also Lewis Dobbin have been training with the first team this week in anticipation of involvement at the Premier League game on Sunday against Brentford.
In addition Charlie Whitaker who has been a regular was fielded in the Under 18s game mentioned above. They were still able to call on players such as Tyler Onyango and Ryan Astley who had also been involved with Rafa Benitez’s first team group but the omission of Messrs Simms, Branthwaite and Dobbin was certain to weaken the squad.
The Blues got off to an awful start conceding an even earlier goal than the Under 18s, inside 27 seconds of the start of the game. After a few decent first half chances which twice saw centre back Ryan Astley fail to beat the goalkeeper with headers from Rhys Hughes’ corner kicks. Spurs took control of the game in the second half although there was an element of good fortune for their second goal as a deflection fell kindly and for the third a shot went in off the woodwork.
No doubting Spurs deserved the win but sometimes small margins are involved. The closest David Unsworth’s men came to scoring was very late on with the game already lost. On that occasion Tom Cannon crashed a shot against the upright. There will be better days ahead for the young Blues.