A pair of interesting games in the capital over the last weekend as Paul Tait’s Everton Under-21 team won 4-3 away from home against league leaders Crystal Palace while Leighton Baines’ Under-18s could not hang on to an early lead and fell to a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea.
On Sunday afternoon the U21s got off to a flyer in the 2nd minute as a marauding run by right back Matthew Mallon ended with him pulling the ball back neatly for the onrushing run of Charlie Whitaker who hungrily put the ball into the back of the net, getting himself in front of a Palace defender skilfully. 1-0 to the Toffees.
That lead was doubled in the 11th minute as Stan Mills climbed high to meet a nice left footed cross from Seb Quirk and his header arched into the net, quite a rare type of goal from Mills to make it 2-0, but the versatile youngster seems to consistently keep finding ways to find the net.
Palace did pull a goal back seven minutes later when, in a packed Everton goalmouth, Mooney hit a low shot into the bottom corner to beat the diving Zan-Luk Leban. Still ahead at 2-1.
On the stroke of half time, the Blues seemed to make sure of the result with another sharp piece of thinking by Quirk as the Toffees’ high press allowed him to intercept a casual pass from the Palace keeper and force the ball to Tom Cannon who did the rest despite a late lunge by a Palace defender. 3-1 to the Blues and half-time. The half had seen three yellow cards (Mallon, Whitaker and defender Joe Anderson) for the Blues in a highly competitive contest and one of those cards was to later prove almost costly.
45' Right on the stroke of half-time!— Everton Academy (@EvertonAcademy) October 9, 2022
In the 65th minute the Blues extended their lead to a seemingly unassailable 4-1 as Mills fought to regain possession in the right corner area, fed Isaac Price and his low pass across the penalty area saw Sean McAllister hit a low measured shot that took a nasty change of trajectory off a Palace boot and over the helpless keeper.
Having seemed all over as a contest, Palace to their credit came back at the Blues strongly and after Anderson, under pressure, could not direct his header away, it fell kindly for Palace midfielder Phillips to scramble home, 4-2.
This eventful match took another turn as centre back Anderson was sent off for two bookable offences in the 86th minute and two minutes later Palace were awarded a penalty after Palace defender Grehan went over dramatically in the Everton area after he was approached by Price, not sure there was contact. The telling contact came as Akinwale dispatched the resultant spot kick to Leban’s right, 4-3 to the Blues and two minutes of normal time to see out.
The action was not over as Palace were generously awarded a second penalty after Whitaker in the right back position seemed to put the ball out for a corner and yet the Palace attacker fell over his legs theatrically. Fortunately for the Blues, Leban won the re-match from the spot kick, diving low to his left to push the ball away. A thoroughly deserved win for Tait’s young men.
FT. Ten-man Blues come out on top in a seven-goal thriller, with Žan-Luk Leban saving a stoppage-time penalty! #PL2 pic.twitter.com/b6CAHCQMxi— Everton Academy (@EvertonAcademy) October 9, 2022
Meanwhile, Leighton Baines’ Under 18s suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in the Premier League Cup. Like the U21s they got off to a great start when Matthew Apter’s shot squirmed from the grasp of the Chelsea keeper to creep over the goal-line. Although the shot was fortunate, the tackle made by Apter to firstly win the ball in the middle of the park was fantastic, crunching but clean and he raced forward to receive the return from Isaac Heath so he deserved that luck.
A brace for the home team by Tyrique George settled the contest however, disappointing goals to concede where goalkeeper Dylan Graham could have done better for the first and full back Roman Dixon slipped for the second, allowing Chelsea to seize possession following a short goalkick and the ball was fired home. 2-1 to Chelsea.
The players at both levels will learn from their mistakes but there’s an awful lot of positives that we’re witnessing right now in our Youth teams.
Everton U21s next face Hartlepool United in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday October 18th whereas Everton U18s return to Premier League (North) action next Saturday October 15th when they travel to Stoke City.