So it fell to Leighton Baines’ young Under-18s team to try to deliver some good news and in snatching a draw 4 minutes from time at home to Nottingham Forest, it must have felt almost like a victory. Yet again there was no switching off or folding, this Blues team believe they can score and get a result whatever the period of the game.
It started well enough at Finch Farm as, in the 25th minute Roman Dixon’s raking crossfield pass found the confident and tricky Troy Smikle-James on the left wing. He superbly cut inside and laid the ball off into the path of midfielder Callum Bates and he finished neatly.
Unfortunately, the lead lasted barely 3 minutes as Forest’s Joe Gardner showed neat footwork to evade a challenge 25 yards out before carrying the ball a little further and driving home low past Blues keeper Jensen. 1-1.
What could have been a crushing blow came a minute before half-time when Perry successfully dispatched his spot kick to give the visitors the lead. 1-2.
The resilience of this particular group of players was plain to be seen in the 86th minute as a left wing corner was played deep across the Forest area and the ball hit defender Hanks and after a goalmouth melee the ball fell to Everton’s young in-form Dutch striker to notch yet another late goal.
On this occasion the Sherif of Nottingham was definitely wearing a Blue shirt! Everton Under-18s assistant coach, Kieran Driscoll was realistic after the game:
“I think the result was probably a fair reflection of the game.
“We made a bright opening and started on the front foot. We created plenty of chances and managed to open the scoring.
“After conceding twice, we showed good character and a strong reaction after half-time to come back.
“We were wasteful at times in the second half, despite being the better side. The equaliser was deserved.”
The 2-2 final result extended a 6 match unbeaten run stretching across 4 months so the boys can be proud of their achievements and never-say-die spirit. Next up is a visit to Manchester City on Saturday morning and they will be hoping for better fortunes than their elder age group!