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Merseyrail Community Stadium | 17th April 2014 19:00

Everton U21s v Middlesbrough U21s

Everton Under-21s slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough in the final game of the season.

The young Blues went into the contest at the Merseyrail Community Stadium on the back of a four-game unbeaten run and having almost secured a top-half finish in the league.

But the visitors would head back to Teeside with all three points courtesy of Scott McCarthy's ninth-minute strike.

It would be the first chance of the game, as an Everton side unchanged from Monday's mini-derby showed uncharacteristic uncertainty at the back.

McCarthy was strongest in the challenge when a low centre came towards Ibou Touray in the box and the forward found the composure to finish past Mateusz Taudul.

The Polish stopper was required to deny the same man moments later after McCarthy had tricked his way into the box before firing low.

The Blues' best chance of the first half fell to Magaye Gueye. Gethin Jones escaped his marker on the right wing and centred low for the Frenchman to sidefoot inches wide.

At the other end, Jonjoe Kenny was needed to clear off the line after McCarthy had dispossessed Tyias Browning and chipped Taudul.

Striker Chris Long was a constant threat to the visitors, but he will feel he should have done better when presented with a chance inside the box on 37 minutes.

With his head bandaged following an ugly collision against Liverpool, the lively forward fired straight at Jayson Leutwiler when a second touch could have been afforded.

Alan Stubbs made changes early in the second half and adopted three centre-halves to allow his full-backs to push on in support of attack.

The alteration in system did garnish additional chances, with Long firing wide and Gueye seeing another effort saved. Middlesbrough created little in the second period, but did cause a scare in clipping the bar on 67 minutes.

Long struck the upright when his drilled low cross-cum-shot flicked off the far post before substitute Calum Dyson squandered a golden opportunity to level late on.

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