Accrington Stanley v Everton
Everton thumped Accrington Stanley 4-1 to hand Roberto Martinez his first victory as Blues boss.
It was a satisfying summer night’s work for the Spaniard as the Toffees stepped up their pre-season preparations with a comfortable victory over the League Two outfit.
19 players – including new signing Antolin Alcaraz - got valuable game-time under their belt, while four well-taken goals would have been equally as pleasing for the new Everton chief.
Darron Gibson, Victor Anichebe and Kevin Mirallas had the Blues 3-1 ahead at half-time. Leon Osman’s header midway through the second period made the winning margin even more emphatic.
Everton were in control from the 11th minute when a half-cleared corner fell to the feet of Gibson on the edge of the area. The midfielder steadied himself, fired through a forest of legs and beat goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin’s desperate low dive.
Five minutes later and the Blues had their second of the evening, again through some tidy finishing.
Mirallas sent over an inch perfect centre from the left and Anichebe headed home from eight yards out in front of the travelling supporters.
It was one-way traffic for the first half an hour as the Blues passed their way around the Lancashire club.
Osman forced Dunbavin into a low save, Bryan Oviedo smashed a shot out of the ground and Steven Naismith had an effort cleared off the line.
On the stroke of half-time, magic from Mirallas saw Everton extend their advantage to three.
The Belgian winger stepped up to bend a 30-yard free-kick up and over the wall and into the bottom corner past the wrong-footed Dunbavin. It was typically brilliant execution from the former Olympiakos man.
A fine first half was spoiled slightly in stoppage time as Accrington opened up Everton and, subsequently, their account for the evening.
Former Bolton full-back Nicky Hunt escaped down the right and delivered a low centre that Peter Murphy gratefully accepted. The forward had the simple task of slotting home from under the crossbar – a moment never to forget for the boyhood Evertonian.
As expected, there was a flurry of changes for the Blues at half-time as boss Martinez made six substitutions in total, one of which was the introduction of Antolin Alcaraz who made his first appearance in a Blues shirt.
If ever there was an example of how Everton are looking to evolve under Martinez it was the build up for the team’s fourth goal of the evening.
A free-kick 35 yards out could have easily been pumped deep into the penalty box – but the Blues opted for a more patient approach. Pienaar squared to Gibson who sent the ball wide to Seamus Coleman. The Republic of Ireland international delivered for Osman who timed his run excellently and planted his header into the corner of the net.
Clear-cut chances weren’t as frequent in the second period as the Blues concentrated more on keeping hold of possession and retaining their shape.
The closest they came to netting a fifth was through Magaye Gueye who firstly stung the palms of Dunbavin with an attempt from outside the box then smashed over the bar with a wild attempt from close-range.
A worry for Evertonians would have been the sight of Steven Pienaar limping from the field late on. Still, that allowed young midfielder Connor Grant another taste of the action after his short cameo against Austria Vienna at the weekend.
The 1,600 travelling supporters were hoping to get a glimpse of new number nine Arouna Kone but the Ivory Coast frontman remained on the bench until the very end.
Nonetheless, they would have left Lancashire very encouraged with what they had seen from their new-look Blues.