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Everton Under 23s earn point in good battle with Leeds

Goalless encounter but entertaining good football from both sides

Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion: Premier League 2
Ryan Astley of Everton takes a throw
Photo by Emma Simpson - Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a game being played on a Monday evening on a cold night in December would have been a drab affair. In truth it probably needed just one goal from either side to ignite the game which was actually quite entertaining.

Leeds United, playing 25 miles away from their home city in neighbouring York had failed to win a Premier League 2 match since September, not that you would know it from their confident and accurate passing around the pitch. Everton too started the game brightly and the first half especially was real end-to-end football with usually just the final pass lacking to make their play count or some fine saves by both keepers, Leeds young Dutchman Van den Heuvel and Everton’s Harry Tyrer.

Everton did not include any of their Under 23 players who have been on the verge of the first team recently, so none of Jarrad Branthwaite, Ellis Simms, Lewis Dobbin or Tyler Onyango featured.

There was plenty of good attacking play by the Toffees in the first half with Rhys Hughes twice having good shots well saved, Charlie Whitaker had a nice back-heel flick stopped on the goal-line after a fine flowing move and attacking midfielder Isaac Price also had a thunderous shot from the edge of the area well saved.

In truth, after Everton made a series of substitutions early in the second half, Leeds had the better of the play without converting their greater possession into clear goal-scoring chances. When Leeds did break through we saw heroic defending from skipper Ryan Astley, Reece Welch and Joe Anderson especially. If Leeds did get through clear on goal Harry Tyrer was faultless in the Blues goal. Man of the Match for the Blues was probably Ryan Astley who marshalled the defence well although midfield general Lewis Warrington ran him close, working tirelessly and rarely losing possession in midfield.

Everton ended the evening retaining their pre-match position of 8th in Premier League 2, a much improved position from their early season standing.