Everton U21s met their match on Sunday away to high-flying Arsenal. Paul Tait’s young team have done remarkably well this season but fell to a 3-1 reverse with some uncharacteristically poor defending.
Arsenal took the lead as early as the 7th minute when Mackenzie Hunt, a left footer playing at right back for the Blues, failed to deal with a long ball that left him for dead. The Blues did have opportunities to clear the ball as it was fed from the opposite flank but, despite the best efforts of Seb Quirk to block an Arsenal shot, Cirjan fired home.
Four minutes later it looked like Paul Tait’s men had got back into the game as Stan Mills cleverly beat his man near the touchline fed the ball back and Charlie Whitaker’s accurate cross was expertly steered home with an Isaac Price diving header. More like it and back in the game at 1-1.
More sloppy defending in the 28th minute saw Arsenal right winger Cozier-Duberry get blindside of Everton left winger Francis Okoronkwo far too easily, the ball was played across the area, Bandeira’s run was not tracked and another avoidable goal was conceded. 2-1 to Arsenal.
To compound matters, the game was sealed after 52 minutes when Arsenal got down Everton’s right flank far too easily, Bandeira again got to the byline and after Reece Welch was unable to clear the ball effectively, Marquinhos fired home left footed to settle the contest. 3-1 to Arsenal.
Afterwards, Paul Tait put the result into context, his faith in his team clearly unshaken by the result.
“I was happy with the performance in terms of what we did with the ball. I felt we had more possession than them. There were large parts of the game where we dominated and there were some really good performances put in by the boys.
“It’s errors that has cost us goals but the players’ actions in the final third were good enough to get something from the game today.”
Next up for the U21s is a game which promises to be as entertaining as the other encounters in the Premier League International Cup as they take on Paris Saint Germain on Wednesday. The Blues, in the same competition, have taken on their counterparts from SC Braga (Portugal) and Hertha BSC (Germany) and have had 5-0 and 4-1 victories respectively.
It’s a real first for the club at this level too as they play the game at Walton Hall Park (where Everton Women’s team play). The little ground, for those that don’t know, is a purpose built stadium about half a mile away from Goodison Park and has the small ground atmosphere of a typical non-league or lower league club. It’s expected that there will be a good crowd to cheer on the young Blues back to winning ways against good French opposition.