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Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05

2

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Merseyrail Community Stadium | 10th February 2014 19:00

Everton U21s v Sunderland U21s

Harry Charsley's brace was cancelled out by another double from Adam Mitchell as Sunderland fought back from two goals down to earn a point at a rain-sodden Southport.

The Blues were dominant in the first half and deservedly boasted a 2-0 lead, courtesy of the youngster's well-taken finishes.

But Alan Stubbs' side paid the price for their wastefulness in front of goal as the Black Cats grabbed a draw following a resurgent showing in the second period.

Everton had started with intent and took just five minutes to take the lead through Charsley.

And even with so little time played, few could argue against it being a deserved advantage given the way the home side flew out of the traps.

Hallam Hope and Charsley had both seen shots drift wide of the target before the young winger made no mistake with his second effort of the game, cooly poking the ball into the top corner after collecting a precise pass on the edge of the box from Joe Williams.

It set the tone for the first half which was completely bossed by Stubbs' enterprising team.

Indeed, Everton should have been out of sight after 30 minutes with the oportunities they created, but on a number of occasions they lacked the neccesary composure in front of goal.

After assisting with the opener, Williams then went close with two efforts, both of which were narrowly off-target.

Apostolos Vellios, making just his second appearance of the season for the Under-21s, also prodded over the bar, while right-back Ben McLaughlin advanced forward and rattled the stanchion with a long-range effort.

When Sunderland stopper Joel Dixon was made to work, he saved well to deny Gethin Jones from a tight angle.

Everton finally got their second of the evening on 40 minutes, with Charsley again the scorer.

Hope, who impressed all evening with his work-rate, cut back a low cross from the left channel and the 17-year-old smashed home at the far post.

But Sunderland hit back instantly with what was their first chance of the game.

Striker George Honeyman's shot on the edge of the area was deflected into the path of Mitchell who squeezed a finish past Mason Springthorpe.

The Blues came out for the second half with the same purpose as they did in the first.

Twice inside the space of 60 seconds Hope was inches away from restoring Everton's two-goal advantage, on both occasions cutting in from the left and bending his finish just past the far post.

But instead of extending their lead, Everton found themselves back level at 2-2 on 63 minutes as the visitors continued their revival.

Mitchell was again the scorer, this time converting with a controlled side-foot volley at the far post following substitute Martin Smith's diagonal ball from left to right.

With the rain pouring down, the pitch cutting up and tackles flying in it made for an interesting last quarter.

Sunderland were now the team in the ascendency and the Black Cats thought they had turned the game on its head 17 minutes before the end when Connor Oliver burst forward and hit a low drive that squirmed under Springthorpe's grasp and into the bottom corner.

The away players and coaching staff celebrated - but their joy was cut short as referee Simeon Lucas, following discussions with his assistant, disallowed the goal after adjudging that the ball had gone out for a throw-in during the build-up.

Sunderland didn't let that frustration affect their play however and they were the team closest to netting a winner in the latter stages.

After Everton substitute Conor McAleny - making his second appearance since returning from a broken leg - had been crowded out inside the box in a promising position, the visitors nearly nicked it with virtually the last kick of the match.

Mitchell was denied a hat-trick by the woodwork when his long-range thunderbolt cannoned back off the post and out to safety.

2-2 it finished in what Stubbs later described as a classic game of two halves.

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