David Unsworth hailed his Under-23s’ second-half display against Arsenal as a “proper Everton performance” after they beat the Gunners 4-2 on Monday night.
In a game that swung backwards and forwards from start to finish, the only negative was a serious injury sustained by right-back Gethin Jones, who was rushed straight to hospital after being caught by Arsenal’s Joseph Olowu.
The young Blues went 2-1 in front just minutes after Jones had left the pitch on a stretcher, as Olowu headed a Luke Garbutt corner into his own net.
Despite Arsenal equalising from the penalty spot, goals from Antony Evans and David Henen earned victory, with Unsworth full of praise for the character of his side in an absorbing encounter.
“This team is like that,” he told evertontv. “They have a great spirit. Over a period of time players have come and gone but that spirit has remained. In the second half we were absolutely terrific – a proper Everton performance.
“Arsenal were better than us in the first half so we changed it around with a couple of substitutions, bringing on Anton Donkor and Bass Sambou. They have paid off and made all the difference. They got us going, got us up the pitch and we were more like ourselves after the break.
“It was a great win, with great goals and that is what we are all about in that second half.”
It was the introduction of Sambou and Donkor that paid instant dividends for the Toffees. Trailing to Marcus McGuane’s early opener, the pair combined just minutes after the restart to haul the Blues level.
Both have found it difficult to break into the starting XI on a regular basis so far this season but Unsworth is pleased to have a squad of players that can make an impact whenever they are on the pitch.
“There are players knocking on my door all the time asking why they aren’t playing and how they can get into the team. That’s brilliant because you want a hungry squad.
“We try and give everybody the opportunity to perform and certainly against Arsenal, the lads who came in certainly had a big impact on the game.
“We have momentum and that helps. But we are a good squad, with good young players, and that helps as well.”