Everton’s Under 21s, under the management of Paul Tait, put in a strong performance last Friday night at the Lamex stadium (home of Stevenage Borough) against a Tottenham Hotspur team that finished 7th in the league last term.
They got off to a perfect start when in the 3rd minute Tom Cannon attacked the retreating home defence down the left. He was partly stopped but Charlie Whitaker, showing great close control, seized possession and dribbled into the box before placing a cross into the path of the attacking Isaac Price. Price had to catch the ball on the stretch a little but his cross/ shot was uncomfortably bundled into his own net by Spurs’ defender Marqes Muir.
Shortly after the half hour Whitaker again won the ball in midfield before feeding young Irishman Sean McAllister on the left of the box. The hapless Muir once again gifted Everton a goal as he awkwardly upended McAllister for a clear penalty. Cannon sent the home goalkeeper the wrong way and it stayed that way score-wise until the final whistle, 2-0 to the Blues.
The young Toffees had time to give run outs to a few players off the bench including Francis Okoronkwo who actually features in the following report as he played less than 24 hours later for the Under 18s. Next up for the Under-21s is a home clash with Manchester United on Friday 19 August.
The Under 18s under Leighton Baines played in an entertaining match on Saturday at the Impact Arena (home of Alfreton Town) against Nottingham Forest.
Unlike their more senior colleagues the previous night, the young Blues got off to an unfortunate start when they went behind in the 11th minute. After goalkeeper Dylan Graham played the ball out to Blues’ centre back Jack Tierney, rather than clear his lines or get the ball properly under control the young defender got an attempted return back pass to Graham all wrong as he over-hit and mis-directed a pass straight into this own net, 0-1.
There was a similar lack of concentration 2 minutes after the 2nd half restart, this time thankfully in the Forest defence. The impressive Blues’ forward Owen Barker seized possession off a Forest defender on the edge of the penalty area then played the ball sideways with the outside of his left foot to centre forward Francis Okoronkwo. The big striker did the rest, 1-1.
Eight minutes later a sublime piece of skill by Barker as he pirouetted neatly on the ball before sending a slide rule pass with the outside fo his left boot into the path of Okoronkwo in the right wing position. His perfect cross was met by young Coby Ebere who sent a good header into the net, 2-1 to the Blues.
That lead sadly lasted only five minutes however as a good patient Forest attack against a packed Everton defence saw Nadin’s shot being first saved by the outstretched leg of Blues’ keeper Graham but Forest were first to react to the rebound, 2-2.
Unluckily for the young Blues with nine minutes left they failed to clear their lines effectively from a free kick on the edge of their area. The first shot hit Okoronkwo in the defensive wall and the follow up deflected unkindly off Blues defender Harry Wright leaving the ball to be bundled in by Joe Gardner from close range for a 3-2 win to Forest.
In both games there were reasons to be encouraged by the form of several individuals.