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  • Arsenal U18s
  • Everton U18
Report
Paul Tait saluted the link-up play between in-form strikers Ellis Simms and Kieran Phillips after the pair struck late to sink Arsenal in a dramatic Premier League Cup tie.

The young Blues were a goal down with just 10 minutes to go against the Gunners but Phillips equalised from the spot and Simms rifled home in the fourth minute of added time to complete a thrilling turnaround.

The 2-1 victory means the Under-18s qualify from the competition with a 100-per-cent record, having won three games from three in Group D.

Boss Tait with delighted with how his talented young forwards dovetailed in a second-half performance he described as “amazing”. Simms won the penalty that Phillips converted, before goalscorer turned provider for the last-gasp winner.

Between them, the pair have now racked up 39 goals for the Toffees this season.

“The first half was tough,” Tait explained. “Arsenal are a good side and they went ahead deservedly.

“The second half was completely different and the front two did really well for the goals.

"Kieran put away his penalty well, then put Ellis through one-on-one and he did what he has been doing all season. It was a fantastic end to the game.

“To be honest, we got after Ellis a little bit at half-time because we didn’t feel like he worked hard enough out of possession.

“He was much better in the second half – he actually missed one other really good chance that Kieran set up. But we always feel if we create chances for him he can score and that’s what he did.”

Tait revealed a change in approach for the second half was key to changing the course of the game.

Arsenal had dominated the opening period, with midfielder Matt Smith scoring to give them the advantage heading into the break.

“They had all the ball and we weren’t up to our normal level,” Tait said.

“But we had a chat at half-time to the boys and changed one or two things so we could get more of a press on Arsenal because they were dominating possession.

“We pressed them higher and with more numbers in the second half. We were a different team, really. We were really pleased with the reaction.”

The Under-18s now have a break from competitive action, with their next game away at Wolverhampton Wanderers on January 12.

The young Blues head into the Christmas break on a high - top of the U18 Premier League (North) table and safely through to next stages of the Premier League Cup and the FA Youth Cup.

“We’re in a really good place now,” Tait added.

“We’ve just got to keep doing the things we’ve been doing and strive to get better. Continuous improvement - that’s what we’re looking for with these young players.”