Dundee United v Everton
Everton continued their 100 per cent pre-season record with a narrow 1-0 victory over Dundee United at Tannadice on Thursday evening.
Ross Barkley placed a firm header back across goal to win a drab game on 87 minutes.
Clear-cut chances had been a rarity as the teams huffed and puffed throughout a match lacking in excitement but rich in benefit to the players.
And while drama may have been in short supply, the Blues were given a thorough workout in the first outing of their mini-tour north of the border.
Established stars Tim Howard, Phil Neville and Marouane Fellaini all banked their first minutes on the pitch this summer, while the sight of Jack Rodwell and Victor Anichebe starting consecutive games augurs well ahead of the new campaign.
Boosted by a 4-1 win at Morecambe in their opening pre-season game, there were few changes for Everton.
An extra 24 hours to recover following Wednesday night’s postponement was probably a blessing in disguise for a squad still missing the vast majority of its international contingent.
One of those to return, however, was keeper Howard, who was back between the sticks after barely a few days of training.
The USA international was largely redundant for the opening 20 minutes before a razor-sharp pirouette and shot from Michael Gardyne required strong hands from the experienced stopper.
The Blues had already had plenty of good moments of their own with Seamus Coleman’s earnest running causing a few problems for the hosts and typically intelligent probing from Leon Osman pulling United about.
But midway through the first period a low shot from Jack Rodwell was all the visitors had really mustered in terms of attempts on goal.
The Tangerines, meanwhile, had enjoyed a couple of notable efforts, with Gardyne following up his own shot on goal by playing in Johnny Russell to drive a volley narrowly beyond the junction of post and bar.
With half an hour gone the Blues were getting the competitive game manager David Moyes would have hoped for, and it was the home team who had probably had the brighter moments.
Half-time came and went with Fellaini replacing Rodwell who took a well-earned rest having also completed 90 minutes at Morecambe at the weekend.
Rodwell’s midfield partner Francisco Junior, a player who has impressed so far this summer, was soon beside him on the bench but the reason which prompted his withdrawal wasn’t fatigue, rather what was an inappropriately lusty challenge for this type of encounter.
Barkley replaced him and was immediately into the action as he snaked down the flank and smashed a low cross right through a crowded penalty area.
It was an isolated moment of danger for a Blues team who were largely contained throughout the second half.
The same could be said for the hosts though with – a routine stop from Ryan Dow aside – Howard largely untroubled in goal.
But as the game appeared to be meandering to a draw, the impressive Coleman got to the byline and crossed for Barkley to head a controlled finish beyond the helpless Tangerines' keeper.