Alan Stubbs admitted he was delighted to see his Everton Reserves keep a clean sheet at Sunderland on Thursday night.
Jose Baxter’s well-taken second-half goal secured a 1-0 win but the shutout was what pleased the former centre-half the most.
The second string has been short of defenders this term with many players out on loan.
Stubbs has compensated by top-loading his side with forwards, making for goals aplenty but not so many clean sheets.
Again in the North East the backline had a youthful look to it – with the notable exception of 41-year-old David Weir! As lining up alongside the veteran coach were Academy lads Ibou Touray, Eric Dier and Tyias Browning.
Stubbs told evertonfc.com: “The clean sheet was the most pleasing thing for me. The hardest thing for young lads at the back is knowing when to make the right decisions defensively and unfortunately when you're young you're going to have to make mistakes and more often than not they'll get punished.
“But we defended well and it gave the lads a platform to go on and win the game. The lads at the back kept us in the game in the first half.”
Indeed it was a much-improved second-half display from the Blues that ultimately proved telling.
Stubbs added: “First half, I've got to admit, I don't think we were at it the way I would've liked them to have been. We got them in at half time, told them a couple of things that we weren't doing well enough and that we could improve on and the second half was like night and day - they were very good second half.
“They passed the ball around well, they kept the ball well at times when we needed to and I thought they were worthy winners in the end.
Jose’s goal was very good to be fair,” he continued. “He took it really well. At the time when we needed a little bit of quality in his finish, he produced it. It was a great bit of build-up play and a great goal to cap it off. But not just that, second half I thought Jose took control of the game and showed his experience and his quality.”
The win takes Everton up to fourth place in the Premier Reserve League North, with 23 points from 15 games.