Kieran Phillips’ penalty two minutes from time helped Everton Under-18s maintain their perfect start to the season with a 1-0 win over Stoke City.
The last-gasp victory extended Paul Tait’s winning run to five games and keeps them top of the Under-18 Premier League North table.
Coming into the game at USM Finch Farm full of confidence, the young Blues started with real intent and went close through Phillips and Ellis Simms inside the opening 10 minutes.
Everton continued to dominate as the half went on with Simms seeing an effort blocked before Nathan Broome saved well from Mackenzie Hunt after the winger had collected Bobby Carroll’s through ball.
It was testament to the hosts’ performance that goalkeeper Harry Tyrer remained untested in the opening 45 minutes.
Tait’s side continued to dominate in the second period, with Simms once again forcing Broome into a save before Carroll and Joe Anderson both fired over.
But two minutes from time the young Blues were handed a golden opportunity to claim all three points.
Carroll was fouled from behind by Ethan Stanton with referee Ed Duckworth having little hesitation in pointing to the spot.
After a delay, captain Phillips coolly converted the spot kick, sending Broome the wrong way.
“Stoke defended really well with blocks and clearances making it really difficult for us,” said Tait to evertonfc.com after the win. “We threw an extra forward on at the end to try to win the game and thankfully we have had a bit of luck with some good play and Kieran has stepped up and slotted home the penalty.
“We are full of confidence at the moment. It’s then the effort and endeavour but we have to back that up with the quality to unlock the door and thankfully we were able to do that today.”
Next up for Everton Under-18s is a trip to Manchester City next Saturday and the Blues boss believes his side can go there with a positive mindset.
“It’s a really good game for us and we go there full of confidence. They have top players and it’s a top academy. The lads are all looking forward to it and we go there with nothing to fear.”
Everton: Tyrer, John, Collins, Anderson, Astley, Warren (Zuk), Hunt (Adedoyin)Carroll, Simms, Phillips, Hughes (Iversen).
Substitutes not used: Barrett, Richards.
Stoke: Broome, Coates, Murphy, Stanton, Macari, Forrester, Jones (Sparrow), Porter, Jennings, Jarrett (O’Driscoll-Vabian), Mvovi (Malone).
Substitutes not used: Akandji, Cooper.