Everton Under 23s took the M6 northward to take on League 2 opposition Carlisle United on Tuesday night in their 2nd group match of the EFL Papa John’s Trophy. They had been buoyed of course a fortnight ago with their fine 1-0 win over League 1 opponents Morecambe.
The match opened at a blistering pace for the young Toffees with Rafa Garcia firing over the angle for the edge of the penalty area. For the first 20 minutes or so Everton continued to acquit themselves well without particularly troubling the home defence marshalled well by the very familiar face of Morgan Feeney, long time Everton under 23 captain and Goodison season ticket holder.
As the half wore on Everton found it increasingly difficult to clear their lines as some of the older heads in the Carlisle line up including the experienced and talented Zach Clough began to take control. David Unsworth’s men did create a good chance as Lewis Dobbin almost played the impressive Sean McAllister in on goal but the Carlisle keeper Jensen smothered well. Although Jack Barrett the Everton goalkeeper had made a few good saves it was a disappointment 2 minutes before half time when he was left helpless as the blues of Carlisle took a deserved lead with a neat comfortable finish by Brad Young from a right-wing cross.
The second half continued to be a disappointing one for Everton as the greater experience and physicality of their League 2 opponents became telling factors. In truth Everton surrendered a lot of possession cheaply with unforced errors and Lewis Dobbin became increasingly isolated up front. The contest effectively ended again with a cheap goal, Morgan Feeney the ex-Toffee flicked on a throw in and Young, their Aston Villa loanee grabbed his second to make it 2 for the home team.
Not many positives for the young Everton side on this dark and damp night in Cumbria though they will have learned from the experience of playing against older players and remain in a position to qualify for the knockout stage.