Everton Under-21s coach Alan Stubbs couldn't fault his side's resilience after watching them dig out a 2-1 win over West Brom on Sunday.
Despite being some way off their best, goals either side of the break from Matthew Kennedy and Hallam Hope were still enough to see the young Blues leapfrog their opponents and go fifth in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League National Group 1.
The result keeps Stubbs’ charges in the hunt for qualification to the Elite Group of the competition with just four games remaining in what is proving an unpredictable opening phase to the campaign.
The second phase, in which teams will be split into either the Elite Group or two lower-ranked groups, will begin in the New Year.
"We did okay but I thought West Brom had the lion's share of the possession," Stubbs told evertonfc.com. "At times our lads at the back defended their 18-yard line really well and got some vital blocks in but performance-wise we've been better.
"They stuck at it and they got a result and it's good if you can do that. They understand that when they're not playing well they have to stay in the game."
Stubbs was particularly impressed by 18-year-old Kennedy, who swung the contest with what he admitted were two rare moments of quality.
"Matthew scored a great first goal and he had a massive part in the second goal and they were probably the two bright points in the game," said Stubbs. "He's done well since he's come in. We want to keep his feet firmly on the ground but we've been happy with what he's done and we're hoping that he keeps progressing in the way that we hope he can."
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