Paul Tait urged his Everton Under-18s side to use their Generali CEE Cup final victory as a springboard after defeating Burnley 3-1 in the final of the tournament.
Following a 0-0 with Macedonian outfit Pandev Academy, the young Blues recorded back-to-back 6-0 victories against Györi, of Hungary, and FK Sarajevo, of Bosnia, to set-up a clash with the Clarets.
A goal from forward Ellis Simms, who finished the tournament’s top scorer with six strikes in total, and a well-taken brace from midfielder Tom Warren was enough to clinch pre-season silverware for Tait’s side in the Czech Republic.
“We’re delighted with the win,” Tait told evertonfc.com. “We played really well in the first half, then it was quite a tough second half because they threw balls in the box and their set pieces tested us.
“I’m really pleased with the defensive work of the team. The lads are really disappointed to concede the goal that they did in the final, but all credit to the lads for responding to it well and bouncing back by scoring the third goal to make sure of the win in the end. We were under a little bit of pressure at 2-1, so to go up the other end and score a quality goal, we were delighted with that.
“We’re delighted with what the lads have taken away from the tournament. You come away in pre-season and, obviously, you want to do well and go as far as you can while also getting the minutes under your belts. But to come here and win it, while scoring plenty and only conceding one, the lads are delighted. It’s a really good springboard to use for the season ahead.
“We’re back at the hotel now to relax, then we’ll fly home early on Thursday and be back in for training on Friday to be ready for what is to come.”
Tait also praised the goalscoring exploits of first-year scholar Simms, 16, throughout the competition.
“Ellis has done well.” he added. “He’s scored goals, been in the right place at the right time and he’s got good movement - but he has a lot to work on, too.
“He’ll be looking to improve his hold-up play, his combination play and other areas, but he’s played well and it’s been a good start for him.”