Everton Under-18s v Sunderland Under-18s
Everton Under-18s succumbed to a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Sunderland on Tuesday afternoon.
A first-half brace from Black Cats forward Lynden Gooch and a strike from Ethan Robson ensured the visitors left Finch Farm with all three points.
A second-half George Green penalty was quickly cancelled out by a goal from Robson on the hour mark, but the young Blues may feel aggrieved to come away from the game empty handed after another dominant display.
The visitors' bright start was rewarded after seven minutes when Gooch slotted past Russell Griffiths in the Everton goal. Uncharacteristic sloppy play in the Blues' midfield was quickly seized upon by Martin Smith, who released Gooch to slide the ball past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Everton created chances of their own and came closest to an equaliser when an inviting Green corner was diverted narrowly over the crossbar by Kieran Dowell from eight yards.
However, despite spending large periods of the opening period on the back foot, Sunderland doubled their lead with another goal from Gooch on the stroke of half-time.
A slide-rule ball sent through the heart of Everton's defence was picked up by Gooch 25-yards from goal. He beat a defender and slotted home to double his tally for the afternoon, via the inside of the post.
A rejuvenated Everton side fired out of the blocks in the opening exchanges of the second half and their assertiveness was rewarded ten minutes after the restart when they were awarded a penalty after a dazzling run from Arlen Birch down the right. George Green converted the spot-kick confidently, giving Sunderland stopper Peter Burke no chance, despite guessing the right way.
Kevin Sheedy's side looked to be in the ascendency, but were dealt another hammer blow when Robson restored Sunderland's two-goal cushion just three minutes later. The young midfielder found himself in space in the penalty area and made no mistake in dispatching past Griffiths to ultimately seal the win for the visitors.
Everton continued to knock at the Sunderland door and came closest when a stunning reverse pass from Green sent Tyrone Duffus through on goal. The midfielder could not find a way past Burke, who stood tall as Duffus looked set to get Everton back into the contest from five yards out.
After the game, manager Kevin Sheedy reflected on the disappointing defeat.
"We didn't do so well in the first half - we had the majority of the possession without creating any real chances," he told evertonfc.com
"It's disappointing to concede two sloppy goals. We got caught in possession twice and they've hit us on the counter attack both times. So, from totally dominating the first half, we found ourselves 2-0 down.
"We rallied in the second half and put the pressure on them, it was good to get the goal with plenty of time to go. But, again a lack of concentration meant a third goal from another counter attack.
"It just wasn't our day today.
"I can't fault the lads’ efforts and determination to try and get back into the game and we played the right way with our passing. We'll dust ourselves down and learn from it."
Sheedy's team now face a trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday before a festive break in their schedule.