Everton Under-18s got their Premier League Cup campaign off to the perfect start after a dramatic 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.
The competition, which is new for the 2017/18 season, sees six groups of four teams play one another in one-off games with the group winners and two best runners-up set to progress to the quarter-final stage.
Swansea City and Derby County are the two teams that have been drawn alongside Everton and West Brom in Group A.
The Blues hosted the Baggies in the first round of fixtures and it was the home side who made the better start at USM Finch Farm. But, despite dominating possession, Paul Tait’s side were restricted to few clear-cut chances in the opening half.
West Brom came back into the contest in the second period, with Everton Under-18s debutant goalkeeper Nicolas Hansen producing an excellent stop to keep the scores level.
That moment proved to be a turning point as Everton began to get back on top.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 90th minute when substitutes Einar Iversen and Ellis Simms combined to devastating effect.
Iversen, a central midfielder who has represented Norway at Under-15 level, picked up a loose ball in midfield before playing a defence-splitting pass for Simms to give chase - and the Oldham-born forward made no mistake with the finish to earn the Toffees all three points.
Speaking after the game, coach Tait told evertonfc.com: “I was delighted for Nico [Hansen] because it was a really good save at a really important time in the game. It gave us some momentum to push on. Then the two young lads have come on and done ever so well for the goal. It’s a satisfying result for us.
“The Premier League Cup is a great competition. The lads came in on Monday morning after the game talking about it and there was talk a buzz about being top of the table and wanting to keep that going.
“Having this type of competition helps us develop the winning mentality of the players. It adds an extra bit of spice alongside the league and the FA Youth Cup. It’s also the more games the merrier for us because we’ve got a decent squad now after getting a few lads back from injuries.
“The boys are in a great place. Confidence has been high in training all week because we’re on a decent little run, but it’s the old saying of, ‘Don’t get too high, don’t get too low in football.’”