Report: So'ton 0-2 Under-21s

by Mike Taylor
@Everton

Everton Under-21s returned to winning ways with an impressive 2-0 away victory over Southampton on Monday evening.

The young Blues made early dominance count as David Henen’s strike earned the visitors a lead at the half-time interval.

And when Harry Charsley doubled the advantage early in the second period, the Toffees’ ensured a third consecutive league victory over their south coast opponents.

David Unsworth’s side looked typically confident in possession in the early stages, with their high tempo passing game benefitting from the pristine playing surface.

The Toffees looked dangerous with the pace and trickery of Henen and Antony Evans, in particular, causing the hosts problems as Everton created numerous half chances in the opening quarter of an hour.

Despite the early pressure, Saints found themselves presented with the first clear opening and the visitors had goalkeeper Mateusz Hewelt to thank after producing a superb reaction save to push Ryan Seager’s effort on to the post after the striker had raced through one-on-one.

Undeterred, the Blues went down the other end and had the ball in the net barely 60 seconds later.

Evans worked himself a yard of space before finding Charsley on the edge of the area - the Republic of Ireland youth international slotted home, only to be denied by an offside flag.

The passage of play only appeared to spur on the Toffees, who went on to break the deadlock just after the half hour.

Gethin Jones, operating in a relatively unfamiliar left-back role, raced down the left before being halted by a late sliding challenge by Ollie Cook.

Cook was booked for the challenge as Jones was forced off - and the Saints were made to pay further as Henen’s in-swinging free-kick evaded everybody before nestling into the bottom corner.

The lead Everton took into the break was threatened within moments of the restart as substitute Tyreke Johnson burst down the left, but Conor Grant, moved into left-back following the substitution of Jones, was on hand with a timely interception.

But from then on, the Blues went back on to the front foot and doubled their advantage eight minutes after the interval.

Skipper Jonjoe Kenny beat his marker on the right flank before charging into the area and finding Charsley, who converted under Gazzaniga to make it 2-0.

In a night full of positives, striker Courtney Duffus made his return to action from a long-term knee injury with a 20-minute cameo.

Hewelt was again alert to keep the lead two-goal lead intact late on, with the custodian getting down well to keep out Olufela Olomolo’s vicious low strike as the Saints searched for a way back into the contest.

But it would be Everton’s night as Unsworth’s troops were rewarded with a thoroughly-deserved clean sheet and all three points at Staplewood.

Next up for the Under-21s is a trip to Blackburn Rovers in the Lancashire Senior Cup next Wednesday (4 November).

Everton: Hewelt, Kenny (c), Jones (Ledson, 31), Williams, Connolly, Holgate, Charsley, Grant, Dyson, Evans (Rodriguez, 70), Henen (C. Duffus, 70).
Unused substitutes: Griffiths, Walsh.

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Mugabi, Debayo, Gape (c), Cook, Wood, Willard, Reed, Seager, Hesketh, Wilkin.
Substitutes: Isted, Little, Olomolo, Johnson, Bakary.

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