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Southampton (A) Sat 20 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

'We Knew We Had To Improve'

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Goalscorer Jose Baxter has praised the way Everton Reserves raised their game to see off Blackburn Rovers at Finch Farm on Monday.

The second string endured a difficult and frustrating start against the Lancastrians, a vicious hailstorm giving rise to a first half lacking in quality and chances.

But the Toffees were a rejuvenated outfit after the break and deservedly took the lead when Baxter turned in from the edge of the box on 67 minutes.

Substitute Hallam Hope then emerged from the bench to add a second with 10 minutes remaining as Alan Stubbs’ side marked their final home outing of the season with a win.

"The first half was scrappy and the conditions didn't help either," Baxter told evertontv. "The lads were a bit stiff and we were making stupid mistakes, then they had the ball and were making stupid mistakes, so it was a bit of a poor game at that point to be honest.

"Then, in the second half, we got our act together, passed the ball a lot better, the conditions were better and we managed to get two goals, which was good alongside the clean sheet.

"There were words [at half-time] to tidy the passing up because we knew it had been a bit scrappy. But we knew ourselves that we needed to improve."

Baxter was undoubtedly the star of the show in the second half and deserved his fifth reserve-team goal of the campaign – even if it arrived with an element of fortune, the ball squirming underneath goalkeeper Seb Usai and in off the post. 

"It was a lucky goal but you take them,” he said. "He [the goalkeeper] should have got it to be fair. I didn't see what happened because as I hit it I got a tackle, so I was lying on the floor and the next minute the lads were around me. I’ll have to watch the replay."

There was nothing fortunate about Everton’s second however, Hope latching on to Ross Barkley’s through-ball before neatly dinking home his second goal in two reserve team games.

"He's finding his feet at this level now," said Baxter. "He's a great finisher Hallam, even just in training he looks really good at finishing. And when it's there's for him on a plate he seems to put them away, which is all you can ask of him."

View reserve-team stats for the 2011/12 campaign here.


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