Everton Under-18s booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup after a 4-3 win over Birmingham City at Goodison Park on Tuesday night.
Kevin Sheedy’s men wrestled their way through a frantic seven-goal thriller to a set up an away clash against either Milwall or Sheffield Wednesday in the next round.
Goals from Calum Dyson, Courtney Duffus and a brace from substitute George Green secured the victory against a resilient Birmingham outfit.
The deadlock was broken on 23 minutes, when Dyson was on hand to coolly slot the ball past an unmoved Callum Preston in the Birmigham goal after Nathaniel Kelly worked hard to block a Courtney Duffus strike.
The goal sparked Everton into life and the youngsters continued in their attempts to extend their lead.
But half chances for Duffus senior and Dyson were spurned under pressure from a determined Birmingham backline.
The visitors’ first chance came on the stroke of half-time, when an exquisite cross-field ball from Charlie Cooper released Koby Arthur down the right.
His cross fell to Liam Truslove on the edge of the area who saw his effort cannon off the crossbar and out of play for a goal kick.
Birmingham came out after the break revitalised and posed more of a threat in the opening exchanges of the second period.
Their efforts were rewarded with an equaliser on 59 minutes, when a superb 20-yard curling strike from Arthur sailed past Russell Griffiths in the Everton goal.
The two sides continued to exchange blows, but it was Everton who would take the lead again just after the hour mark when an inviting low cross from Dyson was turned in by Courtney Duffus from four yards.
The big striker managed to reach the centre at full stretch after pressure from the Birmingham defence.
Substitute Green went on to extend Everton’s lead after he was released down the left flank on 77 minutes.
After outpacing Joshua Dacres-Cogley, Green unleashed a vicious left-footed shot past a helpless Preston to make it 3-1 to the home side.
The delighted youngster was booked in the aftermath for an exuberant celebration which saw him remove his shirt.
Everton’s two-goal cushion, however, was short lived as Birmingham pulled a goal back just two minutes later. A clever back heel from Sam Deadfield set-up Kyle McFarlane who confidently side footed past Griffiths from 15-yards and bring the score to 3-2.
Sheedy’s team regained their advantage after 89 minutes with another goal from Green, which would ultimately prove decisive.
A free-kick was awarded after smart work from Ryan Ledson resulted in the midfielder being bundled over 20-yards from the Birmingham goal.
Green stepped up to curl a left-footed strike over the wall and into the top right hand corner of the goal.
Birmingham substitute George O’Neill capitalised on a costly slip on the edge of the Everton penalty area in injury time to make it 4-3 and set up a nervy last couple of minutes for the young Blues.
But, the Toffees defended valiantly to see out a pulsating game and take the youngsters one step closer to silverware.
They will face either Sheffield United or Milwall away in the fifth round.
Match report by Mike Taylor