West Brom U21 v Everton U21
Everton Under-21s suffered a heavy defeat at the Hawthorns on Friday afternoon.
The 5-0 reverse damaged their chances of securing an important top half finish in the Under-21 league table.
The young Toffees trailed 2-0 at half time despite dominating before enduring a torrid second 45 minutes.
The only positives for Alan Stubbs were the returns from injury of Conor Grant and Chris Long.
Everton began on the front foot and could have been ahead on five minutes when Matt Kennedy’s clever trick and teasing cross was inches away from connecting with Hallam Hope’s lunging boot.
And the Baggies immediately punished the spurned opportunity as Alex Jones raced between the Blues’ centre halves and slotted past Mateusz Taudul.
Stubbs’ men stuck to their guns and continued to patiently probe their way around the home side’s box.
Kennedy was causing problems with his wing play but often crosses failed to find a yellow shirt.
It meant Everton were left to speculative efforts, with Ben McLaughlin’s angled drive and John Lundstram’s bicycle kick prime examples just after the half hour mark.
And when Conor McAleny did manage to collect a centre from wide, the referee was unimpressed when the in-form frontman was seemingly bundled over in the box.
It made West Brom’s second goal, moments before half time, even more galling. A carbon copy of the opener in its construction, this time it was Samir Nabi who converted well when through on goal.
An Ibou Touray piledriver which was deflected over just after the resumption signalled Everton’s desire to get back in the game and that was backed up by an attacking substitution as Long replaced Grant.
But just before the hour mark it was 3-0 and the game was out of reach.
Jordan Francis danced along the byline and finished from the narrowest of angles.
Long’s left foot blast didn’t trouble the keeper moments later and then McLaughlin’s excellent volley finally forced Baggies glovesman Jack Rose into action.
Everton’s final change saw George Green on for Hope but soon it was 4-0 as Aaron Birch’s header from a corner beat Taudul on 65 minutes.
It got even worse just four minutes later when Nabi made it five from close range.
Green saw a header deflected onto the bar as the Blues sought a consolation but in the end there wasn’t much to shout about.