Southport FC v Everton U21s
Everton Under-21s overcame a tough pre-season obstacle with a 3-3 draw against Conference side Southport on Saturday afternoon.
An equaliser with the last kick of the game from Hallam Hope sealed a fair result, after the forward and Matthew Kennedy had earlier provided a 2-0 lead.
The young Blues had already faced a Blackburn side full of Premier League experience at Finch Farm earlier in the week - and the Sandgrounders being very much the elders promised another test of men against boys.
The game served as a gesture of courtesy, with the Merseyrail Community Stadium now home to both sides after Southport permitted a ground-share policy in January.
Mateusz Taudul made his first appearance since December following an extensive injury lay-off and the Polish goalkeeper was called into action on 12 minutes.
A well-worked Southport attack resulted in a snapshot that the 19-year-old managed to get his body behind to keep the scores level.
Eight minutes later, Everton found a breakthrough. Hope picked up Kennedy's pass, shrugged off his marker and curled an effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Chances for John Lundstram, Chris Long and Hope came before Kennedy himself poked home from close range on 29 minutes.
Steven Tames headed the hosts back into the game with seven minutes of the first half remaining, before former Everton midfielder Jamie Milligan levelled the scores after the break.
Ben McLaughlin was harshly judged to have handled inside the area when blocking a cross and the Southport skipper stepped up to net the resulting spot-kick.
Courtney Duffus, Russell Griffiths and Jonjoe Kenny entered the fray on 65 minutes - and the former almost made an immediate impact.
Leading an Everton counter-attack, young forward Duffus found Hope with a perfect low pass across the home defence, but substitute stopper David Stevenson did enough to parry the shot.
With 17 minutes left on the clock, the hosts turned the game around through Yamen Owase after his run into the box and assured finish gave Southport the lead their first lead of the afternoon.
And as the Blues looked to be heading for more pre-season action in Spain on the back of a defeat, Hope popped up to have the last say.
An Everton breakaway saw the striker twist his man before wrong-footing Stevenson and dinking the ball beyond his reach moments before the final whistle sounded.