David Unsworth’s Everton Under-23s suffered a 4-2 defeat at the hands of their Brighton and Hove Albion counterparts on Friday night and there were few complaints at the end result.
A young Blues side missing the regulars Tyler Onyango, Reece Welch, Kyle John and Eli Campbell faced a Brighton team containing a few full international Ecuador players and their experience was a key factor.
Unsworth assessment at the end of the game reflected the scoreline -
“If I’m being honest, I thought they were the better team. Their senior players were a bit older than us and they performed at a good level.
“We’ve had a bit of a lesson by players who can move the ball quickly and are a bit more physical.
“They were better than us in every department, except for Lewis who was bright and sharp.”
Although Brighton controlled the majority of the first half, Everton spurned two good early chances, firstly Stanley Mills fired straight at the Brighton keeper having been set up by Lewis Dobbin and one minute later it was Tom Cannon’s turn to nod wide from a good Sebastian Quirk cross.
After an early wobble in the defence by Blues keeper Billy Crellin, a rash clearance by Blues centre back Sebastian Kristensen saw midfielder Isaac Price unable to get out of the way and the ball flew into the top corner of the net for an unfortunate own goal to put Brighton ahead.
Dobbin, who was one of the few players to emerge with credit on the night, pulled a goal back after 35 minutes, curling home his shot nicely from just inside the penalty area. 1-1 at the interval.
Disappointingly, just four minutes into the 2nd half, Moises Caicedo, one of the Ecuador internationals, found himself beyond Blues defender Kristensen and skipper Ryan Astley sent him crashing to the ground for a penalty. Although Unsworth thought the decision was harsh, Spong converted the spot kick coolly. 2-1 to Brighton.
Effectively killing the contest four minutes later, Spong once again showed his dead ball expertise curling a left footed direct free-kick from fully 25 yards into the top right corner with his left boot. Making absolutely sure, that man Spong again played the ball down field for Brighton substitute Miller to beat Blues keeper Crellin to the loose ball and roll the ball into an empty net for Albion’s fourth of the night. Game over at 4-1.
Dobbin did get his second of the night with five minutes remaining with another fine finish. He had set off in typically pacey fashion from the halfway line slotting past the keeper from just inside the penalty area. 4-2.
A miserable night in shockingly bad weather conditions on the south coast for the Blues was summed up a few minutes from the final whistle when a reckless challenge from Astley saw a red card produced.