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v Wolfsburg

Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05

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Merseyrail Community Stadium | 31st March 2014 19:00

Everton U21s v Southampton U21s

Everton Under-21s returned to winning ways with an impressive 3-1 win against Southampton on Monday evening.

The young Blues welcomed the Saints to Southport on the back of a heavy defeat at West Brom and penalty shootout disappointment in the Liverpool Senior Cup.

But that winless streak was halted with a fine team performance, a Chris Long strike and Luke Garbutt's brace of penalties.

An end-to-end encounter was given immediate life when Ryan Seager finished a flowing Saints move inside three minutes.

Alan Stubbs' side were far from rattled by the early setback, however, and created the better chances as the half progressed.

Garbutt forced a diving save from Ted Smith before Long almost found the net among a goalmouth scramble, only to see his effort diverted wide.

The young forward then forced Smith into action from a tight angle in an impressive first start since his return from injury.

And Long's 90-minute efforts would be rewarded midway through the half.

Stealing possession, the 18-year-old crept along the byline and drilled home with little of the goal to aim at.

It would prove to be an important break for the Blues, particularly as it came just moments after the visitors had struck the crossbar.

And it took intervention from Mateusz Taudul to ensure the Saints would not breach the Everton goal for a second time.

Either side of making strong saves, the Pole was called upon to deny Jake Sinclair from the spot after Sam Gallagher had been upended.

The Southampton stopper would have less luck when faced with Garbutt's left foot from 12 yards in the second half.

No sooner had Roberto Martinez retaken his seat in attendance had Long been chopped down inside the box.

And Garbutt made no mistake with his left foot.

A clear handball on 53 minutes gave the full-back the chance to repeat his strike. Opting for the opposite corner, Smith guessed correctly but was unable to stop the ball from squirming over the line.

The two-goal lead gave Everton added confidence and it could have been more when skipper Tyias Browning headed George Green's free-kick narrowly over.

Conor Grant volleyed just wide when he met Green's centre with a crisp sidefoot and Long would see subsequent efforts for a second denied by Smith.

Three points keeps the Blues well-placed for a top-half league finish and in good form ahead of Thursday's game against Arsenal, also at Southport.

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