Everton Under-23s and Manchester United Under-23s played out a goalless draw in the Premier League 2 at Southport on Monday night.
After an opening six minutes that saw Bassala Sambou have three attempts on goal, the first of which was after just 30 seconds, it was a largely uninspiring contest with genuine openings very much at a premium.
Sambou was twice denied by smart saves from goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara, while his third early effort cleared the crossbar.
O’Hara was then well-placed again to safely gather a well-struck drive from Josh Bowler at the end of an excellent passing move from Everton.
Everton custodian Mateusz Hewelt, meanwhile, had to wait until midway through the first period to make his first save of the night, diving low to his right to stop a close-range effort from James Wilson.
Bowler tried his luck from 20-yards but couldn’t hit the target and at the other end, Joe Riley and Charlie Scott linked up nicely before the latter thundered an angled shot into the side-netting.
It was a frustrating first half for the young Blues. They passed the ball extremely well at times but also made too many unforced errors to the displeasure of Francis Jeffers, who once again took the managerial reins in the absence of David Unsworth.
The Toffees almost took the lead three minutes into the second half when David Henen flicked the ball into the path of Bowler, but the winger could only slide his effort inches wide of the far post.
Fraser Hornby came off the Blues bench to replace Bowler in the 56th minute and produced a lively cameo. Shortly after being introduced he created half a yard of space for himself on the edge of the box but his well-struck shot was smothered by O’Hara.
He was also denied by a block from United substitute Tyrell Warren at the end of a terrific Everton move fifteen minutes from the end.
The hosts piled the pressure on in the closing stages and a break down the right from Dennis Adeniran deserved more than the goal-mouth scramble his low cross created.
The closest the contest came to a goal came in the 87th minute when a glancing header by Morgan Feeney from a Luke Garbutt free-kick clipped the top of the crossbar.
Then deep into stoppage time, Charsley found the side-netting.
It was a strong finish from Everton, but they just couldn’t find a way through and were forced to settle for a point that leaves them third in the league table, level on points with second-place Leicester City and seven points behind current leaders Liverpool.