Alan Stubbs labelled Everton Under-21s’ victory over Blackburn Rovers on Monday evening as their ‘most complete performance of the season’.
The Blues coasted to a 3-0 win at Leigh Sports Village in their first match of the Group One campaign.
As well as goals from Conor McAleny, Francisco Junior and John Lundstram, Stubbs was satisfied by his team’s success in keeping Blackburn’s forward line at bay as they returned to competitive action with a deserved shut-out.
“I thought first half we were the better team and I thought in the second half the goals helped to make it a comfortable game in the end,” Stubbs told evertontv.
“The pleasing thing is that we have kept a clean sheet, which is what we have been striving to do since the start of the season.
“Jan [Mucha] has saved a penalty which has helped us do that, but some of our play tonight was really good. It’s probably the most complete performance all season.
“John Lundstram took his goal really well and Francisco’s was a really good finish, although I’m not too sure whether he miss-hit it or not.
“The other goal [McAleny’s] was a good one as well, so I can have no complaints whatsoever.”
To qualify for the end-of-season play-offs, Everton need to top their league.
Should that be achieved, they will play the winners of Group Two, with a place in the semi-finals involving the top three teams in the Elite Group then up for grabs.
While accepting his side have got off to a superb start, Stubbs is refusing to get carried away after just one positive result.
The 41-year-old added: “All we are interested in is performances. If they put performances in they will learn and then anything is possible.
“I’m not going to set them any targets. I know it’s an old saying but we will approach each game as it comes.
“It’s a young group so to put pressure on them by setting targets would be wrong. They just need to keep developing and keep learning from their performances and the mistakes they are making in games.
“If they do that, we will all be happy.”
The Under-21s are next in action on Tuesday 22 January when they entertain Chelsea at Southport’s Merseyrail Community Stadium (7pm kick-off).