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Finch Farm | 14th December 2013 11:00

Everton U18s v Stoke City U18s

Everton Under-18s recorded their second victory in six days after a 1-0 win over Stoke City at Finch Farm.

Fresh from seeing off Brighton in the third round of the FA Youth Cup at Goodison on Monday, Kevin Sheedy's team registered three more points to stay in the mix at the top of the table.

In a game where the young Blues dominated for long spells, a powerful Courtney Duffus header just after the half-time break was enough to seal a narrow victory.

Blustery conditions made it difficult for both sides to create many clear-cut chances in the opening period, but Everton retained possession intelligently and remained patient in their build-up.

George Green picked up where he left off after a man of the match performance on Monday night, going close with a free-kick from 20-yards and forcing Stoke goalkeeper Daniel Gyollai into a smart save after a powerful strike from the edge of the area.

Everton had the ball in the back of the net after 32 minutes when Harry Charsley tapped home as Gyollai fumbled. However, the referee had already blown for a foul on the goalkeeper after pressure from Courtney Duffus.

In a half where Everton custodian Russell Griffiths was seldom called upon, he remained alert to keep out an effort from Joel Taylor just before half-time.

The deadlock was finally broken just after the break.

Typically patient build-up from the Blues' midfield released Calum Dyson on the left flank, who hung an inviting deep cross to the back post.

The elder of the two Duffus brothers was on hand to convert with a powerful header past the helpless Gyollai and give the Blues a deserved lead after 48 minutes.

Sheedy's team continued to dictate most of the play and were perhaps unfortunate not to go further ahead through a header from Charsley and long distance strikes from substitute Kieran Dowell and Tyrone Duffus.

Nevertheless, the visitors grew into the game in the closing stages as they pushed for an equaliser.

Their best opportunity came when a route one ball straight from the goalkeeper saw Taylor almost break through, but a well-timed sliding challenge from Blues defender Callum Connolly denied the Stoke winger of a one-on-one opportunity with Griffiths.

Despite somewhat of a late Stoke surge, a resolute Everton defence held on to record a clean sheet and three points for the young Blues.

After the game, Sheedy shared his assessment with evertonfc.com.

"We dominated the majority of the game, which was pleasing," he explained.

"Stoke applied a bit of pressure in the last 10 minutes as they tried to find an equaliser, but we felt in command.

"One disappointment is that we weren't clinical enough. We created numerous opportunities to get a second goal."

The goal arrived in a manner which would have again pleased first team boss Roberto Martinez.

"The goal came from playing it out from the back," explained Sheedy. "Curtis Langton played it to Jordan Thorniley who slipped in Callum Dyson. He produced a good left-wing cross and Courtney Duffus rose well.

"It's something we've been working on on the training pitch, myself and Duncan, so it was nice to see it pay off."

Sheedy's side are also in Finch Farm action next against Sunderland on Tuesday as they aim to maintain their lofty league position.

He added: "That's the challenge - as well as developing them as players, we want them to gain a winning mentality. We've got two more tough games before Christmas and we're in the next round of the Youth Cup so we're looking well."

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