On Monday night in Kidderminster, Paul Tait’s Everton Under 21s were taken apart in a calamitous first half which saw Wolves’ Owen Farmer score a hat-trick. On a night when nothing really went right in football terms, the Blues also lost full back Kyle John in the second half to a serious-looking injury. The score ended 5-0 but it could have been far worse.
Just as a reminder, Everton hammered this same team just 10 days ago in the reverse fixture at Finch Farm with just one change in personnel this time around, Luke Butterfield making way for Einar Iversen in midfield.
| Here's how #EFCU21 line up tonight at @WolvesAcademy (7pm KO).#EFC #PL2— Everton Academy (@EvertonAcademy) April 10, 2023
There was no early sign of what was to come as, in the 2nd minute, Everton’s flying winger Stan Mills put on the afterburners to leave two Wolves defenders in his wake before cutting inside to fire a trademark left footed shot. That took a deflection which took the sting off the effort, maybe things could have been different had that gone in.
The real sign of what was to come happened just 7 minutes later following a corner. Slack marking allowed a Wolves player to get a free header on target low to Zan-Luk Leban’s left. The Blues ‘keeper made an outstanding stop but was not helped by his defenders who were slow to react and Farmer scored his first from the rebound. 0-1.
After another alarming free header by Wolves was not converted, we saw one of the Blues’ few flowing moves of quality when Iversen made an outstanding run to the by-line and his cross was neatly dummied by Frankie Okoronkwo allowing Sean McAllister to fire a low drive unfortunately too close to the goalkeeper.
In the 27th minute, Farmer grabbed his second of the night when, following a clever Wolves move, he made himself a yard of space leaving Kyle John flat-footed. He arrowed a shot that Leban got a finger to but not strongly enough to prevent it nestling just inside the post. 0-2.
In the 39th minute a speedy counter attack down the Wolves’ right flank saw a low cross into the box which was uncomfortably parried by Leban straight to Farmer. He easily avoided the attention of John and Reece Welch to score. 0-3.
If the half-time talk was to get the Blues back on course it did not show as, 9 minutes into the second half, Wolves’ Josh Esen was allowed to get a shot away. A hint of fortune this time as the ball went through Mackenzie Hunt’s legs before finding its way past Leban. 0-4
There was actually a very telling moment just after the hour mark when there was a planned water break and the buoyant players wearing old gold flocked to their bench to receive further instruction. In contrast, just Mills and Iversen braved the journey towards a stoney-faced Everton bench, it said it all really on a night to forget.
It was almost 5 to Wolves after 77 minutes when Welch was far too casual in clearing the ball away on the edge of his own area and the challenge from a Wolves player saw the ball fly back towards the Blues’ goal and crash back off the bar with Leban beaten.
There was not long to wait however as the self-destruct button was pressed again. Substitute Halid Djankpata’s pass towards Welch was a little short and, as a Wolves attacker went past the out-of-sorts centre back into the area, he clumsily brought him down. Owen Hesketh slotted home the penalty. 0-5.
There was still time in the 81st minute for the rampant Wolves side to get a humiliating 6th goal but on this occasion Leban pulled off a fine save.
Last attempt of the night bizarrely fell Everton’s way as Hunt’s looping header rebounded off the right hand post but it stayed 0-5.
It was difficult to pinpoint why it went so badly wrong for the Toffees on this occasion. Sure, the Wolves team were clinical and clearly fired up. In fairness, Iversen, Eli Campbell, Hunt and substitute Jenson Metcalfe showed glimpses of their true form but too many were simply not at the races.
Next up is the “derby” against Liverpool on Sunday 16th April at home (Southport’s ground). I’m sure all the players will be fired up for that one!