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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Alan Stubbs said Everton Reserves' performance in overcoming Arsenal was the culmination of a season's hard graft.

The Blues secured a third-place finish in their section of the Barclays Premier Reserve League with a promising 2-0 win in the capital.

And Stubbs was delighted to see how what is a youthful group of players has matured over the course of the campaign.

"It was an impressive win," the 40-year-old coach told "We've done really well recently. The players have done everything we've asked them to do and they've been great with their attitude.

"Earlier on in the season we would definitely have drawn or lost that game, which is a good sign that they are learning and starting to take things on board.

"We were patient. If you're going to go and chase Arsenal all night, you're in for a long night. And you can see that at all levels, they can make it tough for you like that.

“We spoke before the game and worked on the right times to press and the right times to sit off and let them have the ball, and that seemed to be the case last night. They chose the right moments to go and close down and when it wasn't right, we were back into a good shape and patient.

"That's one defeat in 14 games and no matter what level of football you play, to do that is really good and the players have got to take all the credit for that.”

Everton took the lead on 18 minutes when Ross Barkley neatly applied the finishing touch to a Jose Baxter throughball before the latter almost immediately doubled the advantage from the penalty spot.  

"In the first half we were very good," Stubbs added. "I'm a bit biased but I think anyone watching the game last night would probably agree with me. The football and their intelligence to play at the right times was very good and I don't think anyone could have argued with us going in 2-0 up at half time.

"Ross' goal was a really good goal from the build-up to the finish and Jose's was a penalty from a foul on Cisco (Francisco Junior). Cisco went to take a shot and the lad caught his foot. It was quite a clear decision really.

"Second half was a bit different. Like any team, you sometimes sit back on a lead and they did that a little bit, they dropped a bit deeper. But even then, they always looked in control of the situation. Overall it was a top performance."

Stubbs' side, having recorded nine wins and five draws from their 22 games played, will finish the campaign at least 13 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester United but level on points with runners-up Liverpool.

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