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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Everton Under-21s boss Alan Stubbs had praise for two of his young defenders following Monday's 1-1 draw with Fulham.

Playing alongside the returning Tony Hibbert in a three-man backline, Shane Duffy and Tyias Browning caught the eye despite what was a fairly flat encounter against the Cottagers.

Indeed, Duffy netted Everton's only goal of the contest - his fifth of the campaign - and came close on three other occasions, while England Under-19 international Browning looked composed throughout.

"The game was all about Hibbo and getting him 60 minutes," Stubbs told evertontv. "That was the most important thing. Just by him being there is a big help to the lads playing around him. His presence allowed Tyias and Shane to play and know the right places where they should be.

"I thought that was evident in their displays because I thought they were our stand-out performers."

With chances few and far between on a bitterly cold evening at the Merseyrail Community Stadium, Stubbs admitted the outcome was just about right.

"Fulham are a tidy football team. They passed it around well and I thought overall, a draw was probably a fair result,” he said.

"With the players we had out, we went with a different system. I thought it maybe took us 10 to 15 minutes to get into it. Once we worked it out, though, we got better and had a couple of half-chances.

"However, we are disappointed to have been in the lead and then not seen it through."

Everton remain top of Group One, one point clear of Aston Villa with a game in hand.

The Under-21s are back in action on Monday 15 April away to Middlesbrough (1pm kick-off).

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