Everton Under 23s beat their lowly Derby County counterparts 2-0 on Monday night thanks to two goals of contrasting quality from young Irish international striker Tom Cannon. The Blues lined up again in a 3-5-2 formation which they have used many times this season.
It was a competent display from the young Blues without particularly reaching the heights of recent performances. The Rams had started the game much the better of the two sides and David Unsworth’s young men had to be grateful firstly to the crossbar then goalkeeper Harry Tyrer for keeping it goalless.
The game burst into life for the Toffees in the 19th minute against the run of play. It’d been interesting to read that one of young Cannon’s footballing heroes was the Newcastle United and England great Alan Shearer and there was a strong similarity in style as he fired the Blues ahead. Controlling the ball well under pressure towards the right of the pitch young Cannon forced his way past a few challenges taking him to the left of centre of the Derby penalty area before unleashing a thunderous unstoppable left footed shot into the top right hand corner. If Alan Shearer had seen that one he’d have broken into a trademark smile in appreciation. All that was missing was the single arm celebratory salute as he wheeled away and you’d have been forgiven for thinking you’d just gone back in time 25 years.
In the 35th and 39th minute Cannon had good chances to increase the lead with two headers from excellent crosses from right wing back Sebastian Quirk. Unfortunately one was straight at the goalkeeper and the other wide of the target.
Interesting that just before the hour mark both midfielder Tyler Onyango and centre back Reece Welch - who are training daily with Frank Lampard’s senior group - were withdrawn together. No apparent injuries or tactical switches, perhaps with an eye to being ready for the forthcoming important games against Manchester City or FA Cup tie with Boreham Wood or maybe just to ensure they have competitive minutes.
Cannon did get his second in the 67th minute and if memory serves me correctly Shearer would have been equally proud of this one. That supply line from the impressive Quirk again found Everton’s opening goalscorer at the far post and in trying to smash a glorious Shearer-like right footed volley into the net from 6 yards, he missed the ball only for it to hit his standing left leg and creep over the line before the Derby keeper could retrieve it. In fairness his celebrations were very muted but if there’s a lesson to be learned then have a look back at hero Alan Shearer who scored some fantastic goals and some bobblers too. They all count Tom and Shearer lapped them all up!
His first hat trick at Under 23 level narrowly evaded him as a Derby defender headed a shot off the line with the goalkeeper beaten. In the closing minutes Cannon’s strike partner, Lewis Dobbin, saw a firm shot produce a great save after he had created some space for himself with a smart turn on the edge of the area.
In summary, the game saw some very strong performances from the lightning fast Dobbin and some fine crossing by Quirk. A mention for Kyle John too, playing at left wing back despite being predominantly right footed and later excelling at right centre back having moved across to replace the substituted Welch. He was faultless and energetic.
Last word on the performance though has to go to Tom Cannon. He is beginning to fulfill the promise that had been seen at Under 18 level, his hold up play has improved, he is finding good space in the penalty area and he is scoring goals. The second was an example of not always having to lash the ball at full pelt. Your hero would have waxed lyrical about the performance Tom, here’s to many more spectacular and bobbling goals in a blue shirt!