Everton U21s v Wolves U21s
Everton bowed out of the Under-21 Premier League Cup with a 3-2 defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday.
The young Blues had been looking to end 2013 on a high by progressing to the quarter-finals in what is the competition's first year.
And they looked well positioned to do so at half-time after striker Chris Long had struck either side of a goal from Wolverhampton's Eusebio Bancessi.
But the visitors came out strongly after the break and capitalised on two defensive errors to turn the last-16 tie on its head.
Everton made a positive opening and Long may have grabbed his third goal of the competition even before racing through and confidently lifting the ball past Jonathan Flatt in the Wolves goal.
Skipper Tyias Browning then preserved the Blues' lead with a fine goal-line clearance from Robbie Parry, only to see Bancessi plant home Dominic Iorfa's cross with the visitors' very next meaningful attack.
The pace of an intriguing end-to-end tie refused to ease, and it was Long who found himself in the perfect place 11 minutes before the break to meet Matthew Kennedy's right-wing cut back and coolly guide a shot into Flatt's bottom left-hand corner.
That's the way it stayed until the interval, but Wolves were level just four minutes after the restart - and it was all of Everton's own doing.
Twice Toffees defenders failed to clear the danger in and around the six-yard box and Ismail Zeli took full advantage to poke past goalkeeper Mason Springthorpe from a matter of yards.
Coach Alan Stubbs reacted to the equaliser by replacing winger Kennedy with Under-18s star Harry Charsley and the midfielder immediately delivered a dangerous right-wing centre that Jonjoe Kenny headed just inches off target.
Courtney Duffus and Hallam Hope then missed back-to-back chances to restore Everton's advantage, before a poor clearance led to Kristian Kostrna thumping the ball back past Springthorpe from 25 yards.
Long, who had netted twice in the previous round against Middlesbrough, saw his best attempt at a hat-trick palmed over the crossbar by Flatt soon after and the youngster's tally for the competition will now have to remain on four.
There was a late chance for Hope, whose effort on the stretch whistled frustratingly wide of the upright, but it was Wolves who almost stole another on the break in injury-time and Wolves who move on to the quarter-finals.