It was a strange game on Wednesday when at 8pm local time in the sweltering 31 degree humidity of Mumbai, a young Everton team kicked off against a vastly more experienced and physical Wolves team in a game that was only 70 minutes long (2 x 35 minute halves).
Everton had a strong midfield with Luke Butterfield, Jensen Metcalfe and captain Matthew Apter fighting for every ball but were a little more inexperienced and lightweight in defence and attack and that showed as early as the 5th minute. A right wing corner was played at pace into the Everton penalty area and the greater height and physicality of the Wolves team saw them react first to a bounce in the area and Fraser headed powerfully in past a helpless Seb Jensen guarding the Blues goal. 0-1.
The young Toffees saw out the rest of the first half, after a few good saves from Jensen, but never really creating anything other than half-chances despite the best efforts of danger man Coby Ebere.
The second half got under way and in the 43rd minute (that’s 8 minutes after the restart) Wolves got their second through a Pond header from a free kick played deep into Everton’s area. On this occasion the superior power of the Wolves’ boys was a telling factor although Jensen was disappointed to be beaten low down at his near post. 0-2.
The third goal conceded was unfortunately of the Blues’ own making as Ed Jones was caught in possession by a high and aggressive Wolves’ press just outside the Blues area. After a slick pass inside Wolves scored again through Fraser, nothing Jensen could do about that. 0-3.
As the second half wore on it was Everton who looked progressively more tired and sloppy in possession and after a few close calls to the Blues’ goal, it was an outstanding run by Wolves’ Barnett in the 59th minute that did the next damage. He powered past the Toffees midfield and faced with a tiring backline, he unleashed a fine left footed effort low past Jensen from the edge of the area. 0-4 and that’s how it stayed.
The Blues youngsters will be bitterly disappointed but, in fairness, I saw 2 members of this Wolves team, Tyler Roberts and Owen Farmer, run Everton Under 21s ragged a few weeks ago so they should not be too downhearted.
Blues coach Kieran Driscoll was honest but philosophical after the game:
“The goals were avoidable, so we’re not happy with that. Obviously, it’s a different environment for the players to acclimatise to, but we didn’t start well enough.
“We struggled later on, but I felt we kept our shape well in the first half and reduced their amount of chances. On reflection, it was a good experience overall – playing against a more senior Wolves side. They’re a really strong team, so it was a good opportunity for our lads to play against them.
“We’ll recover tomorrow and the preparations will begin for the next game. We’ll keep the boys motivated, take the positives, and show them the areas where we could’ve done better. We’ve got another came coming up, so we can change the mood very quickly.”
Next up in the competition, Everton take on RF Young Champs on Saturday (11.30am BST).