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by Hamish Dufton @efchamishdufton

Kevin Sheedy pulled no punches with his assessment of Everton Under-18s’ fortuitous 1-1 draw with South Africa Under-19s.
In their final game of the Durban Under-19 International Tournament, the young Blues owed their point to an inspired display of goalkeeping from Ciaran O’Loughlin.

The youngster was part of a much-changed line-up that took to the field at the Sugar Ray Xulu stadium, with all but two of the starting XI first year scholars.

But despite picking up their first point of the tournament, thanks to a well-taken George Newell equaliser, Sheedy was displeased with the football on show from those in black.

He told “I was very unhappy with that performance – it was easily our worst in a long, long time. We really got out of jail with a 1-1 draw.

“The South Africans really played well tonight. If it wasn’t for our keeper, who made some tremendous saves, we would have been beaten.

“Some of the players will need to improve their quality of play and work hard on the training ground.

“I’m not pleased with that performance. The first two were ok – the Feyenoord one was excellent – but this was a step down in the standard that we require at Everton.”

That could not be said of keeper O’Loughlin, who looked unbeatable throughout the 90 minutes – the youngster only conceding a freak goal in the 18th minute, when Jordan Thorniley’s clearance hit a South African player and crept into the corner.

It was a performance that caught the eye of Sheedy.

He added: “Ciaran was exceptional. He made some great saves and he was comfortable under pressure. We certainly didn’t help him out too many times but when he had to make saves he was outstanding.

“So the big plus from tonight would have to be Ciaran’s display.”

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