Everton U21s v Arsenal U21s
Everton Under-21s' unbeaten streak ended with a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at Finch Farm on Monday afternoon.
Alan Stubbs' side had recorded three successive victories on the back of last month's 1-1 draw with Reading, but they found their good run of form halted by a brace from Thomas Eisfeld.
It was always going to be a competitive outing as soon as the sides were announced, with Stubbs utilising the maximum quota of overage players.
Thomas Hitzlsperger was an unused substitute for David Moyes' team on Sunday at QPR, but started against the Gunners as he bids to win a long-term deal on Merseyside.
Arsenal, meanwhile, used the fixture to aid the much anticipated returns of three first-team players.
Jack Wilshere continued his rehabilitation from an ankle injury that has blighted the midfielder's last 18 months, while experienced full-back Bacary Sagna looked for fitness after a five-month absence.
Emmanuel Frimpong also took to the field as he aimed to recover the form he displayed before injury curtailed his loan spell at Wolves last term.
And so to the action, which was predictably as frantic as it was pleasing to the eye. The experience and ability in the respective personnel showed and it took a mistake at the back to create the first real opening.
Arsenal defender Ignasi Miquel took too much time on the ball on the edge of his own area and Apostolos Vellios was on hand to catch him off guard, seize possession and calmly slot past Emiliano Martinez after just four minutes.
Six minutes later however, the visitors were level.
Full-back Jernade Meade beat Hibbert to the byline and cut back for Eisfeld to finish with ease.
Chances came and went soon after, with Hitzlsperger firing a trademark left-footed rocket narrowly over, while Meade also went close after receiving a perfect cross-field pass.
On 34 minutes, the Gunners took what would turn out to be an unassailable lead.
Good work from Wilshere saw the midfielder cut inside and deliver a pass to the feet of Eisfeld. The German made no mistake with a drilled effort to make it 2-1.
Tyias Browning replaced Sam Kelly at half-time and forced a reshuffle down both flanks. Hibbert switched to left-back, with Oviedo pushed ahead and Matthew Kennedy transferred to the right-wing.Johan Hammar almost restored parity soon after the interval, but his glancing header evaded the goal and the far-post following good work down the Blues' left.
Eisfeld went agonisingly close to completing his hat-trick, but was denied by the woodwork. His long-range drive cannoned back off the crossbar and away to safety.
The game developed into even more of a midfield battle, with Francisco Junior, John Lundstram and Hitzlsperger chaperoning the lively Wilshere and Frimpong.
The final whistle signalled a 2-1 defeat for the Blues, who now face a trip to face West Ham on Friday 26 October.