Francis Jeffers’ first game in temporary charge of Everton Under-21s ended in a narrow defeat at Lincoln City in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The young Blues lost 2-1 despite summer signing Dennis Adeniran’s first goal for the Club and ultimately paid the penalty for a sluggish first-half performance during which they conceded twice.
They got off to the worst possible start when Lincoln opened the scoring after just three minutes.
Josh Ginnelly cut in from the left and hit the post with a low shot but the ball fell kindly to Jordan Maguire-Drew, who slammed it past Mateusz Hewelt in the Toffees’ net.
Everton passed the ball about quite nicely at times, without finding the quality to harm the home defence and Lincoln looked far more dangerous during the early exchanges.
The second goal came midway through the first half. Adeniran was penalised for a foul just outside the penalty area and Maguire-Drew curled a wonderful direct free-kick over the wall and into the top corner of the net.
Both Bassala Sambou and Harry Charsley had late first-half efforts that failed to trouble the goalkeeper and that was a feature of Everton’s play on the night.
Shortly after the restart, Jeffers’ side won a corner on the right. Luke Garbutt’s kick was cleared, and when Jose Baxter chipped the ball back into the box, Antony Evans volleyed it just over.
Then the Blues should have halved the deficit when Sambou was sent clear by Nathan Broadhead but he pulled a poor finish wide of the target.
At the other end, Ollie Palmer looked certain to increase the Lincoln lead, only for Morgan Feeney to make a fine last-ditch challenge.
Everton certainly made a far better fist of things in the second half but a failure to hit the target from any of their openings proved their undoing.
Broadhead skilfully worked some space for himself inside the Lincoln box but again the final effort was wide.
Everton finally broke through in the 82nd minute. Garbutt showed great determination on the left before being tripped just outside the box, and when his free-kick reached Adeniran, the young midfielder forced the ball home.
The Toffees fought desperately for an equaliser and, in stoppage time, substitute Shane Lavery forced a smart save from goalkeeper Paul Farman.
But it just wasn’t to be, although Jeffers can look back on a vastly improved second-half display from his players against a far more experienced Lincoln side.
The result leaves Everton bottom of Checkatrade Trophy Group G with one game, away at third-place Mansfield Town, left to play.
Re-live the game as it happened via our blog here