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Finch Farm | 31st July 2013 14:00

Everton U21s v Blackburn U21s

Everton Under-21s' pre-season preparations went up a notch on Wednesday afternoon, as a very experienced Blackburn side left Finch Farm 3-1 winners.

With the likes of Morten Gamst-Pedersen, Leon Best, Gael Givet and others in the starting line-up, Rovers brought a side possessing plenty of Premier League knowledge.

Indeed, it took goals from first-team players Markus Olsson, Pedersen and Fabio Nunes to edge out the young Blues as the rain fell heavily at their Halewood training ground.

It wasn't exactly a level playing field at Finch Farm, but that was exactly what boss Alan Stubbs had in mind for his young troops.

The conditions played their part in all three of the Lancastrians' well-taken goals, as Everton players were forced into errors on occasion.

A loss of possession on 10 minutes proved to be costly, as Olsson cut inside from the left to fire past Russell Griffiths and open the scoring.

Five minutes later, it would be 2-0. Midfielder John Lundstram found himself unable to avoid fouling 25 yards out and Norway international winger Pedersen stepped up to whip the resulting free-kick into the top corner with precision.

The Blues came into the game midway through the first half, and Hallam Hope almost found the back of the net, instead his side-footed effort from Matthew Kennedy's cross evaded the far post.

Chris Long was able to scramble one home on 24 minutes, however. The young forward was well placed in the box to turn in after fine trickery by Hope.

Chances were hard to come by under the conditions, often only occurring through mistakes or misfortune - and that could be said of Blackburn's third.

Ten minutes after the interval, Francisco Junior tumbled while on the ball, but the referee signalled play on enabling Nunes to break and finish neatly beyond Griffiths.

It proved to be a tough afternoon for Everton Under-21s, but one Stubbs believes will benefit them for the coming campaign.

He told evertonfc.com: "I've got to say, it was a great experience from our point of view.

"Blackburn had a very good team out, so I said to our lads before the game, 'Don't be worried about what we we're playing against. Eventually and hopefully, one day you'll be playing against that calibre of player for real'.

"They should have learned a lot by playing against those players and I thought they acquitted themselves really well. 

"Being honest, in the end, they were too strong for us. But I thought the lads kept trying to play football. I thought the decision-making at times could have been a bit better, but I think playing against those players probably highlighted it a bit more. 

"Overall, I'm really happy. The fact that they've got a good 90 minutes under their belts against a quality opposition - they won't face anything as strong as that this season - and for where they're at in terms of pre-season, I thought it was great."

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