Under-23s Beaten Despite Dominant Display

by Peter Lennox
@Everton

Everton fell to a 2-1 defeat against Sunderland on Sunday in a game the young Blues largely dominated.

Two superb finishes by Sunderland midfielder Luke Molyneux proved the difference at the Stadium of Light, with David Henen hitting back for Everton.
 
Unsworth made four changes to the starting XI which beat Swansea at Goodison Park on Monday night. Sixteen-year-old centre-back Ryan Astley made his debut for the Under-23s, with Michael Collins, Henen and Alex Denny also coming in for Ramiro Funes Mori, Davy Klaassen, Beni Baningime and Con Ouzounidis.

The Blues started the game brightly, the pace of Josh Bowler and guile of Antony Evans causing the Black Cats backline problems.
 
It was Bowler who almost fashioned an opener for Everton. His wicked corner delivery found the impressive Astley who headed inches over the bar on 15 minutes. The Blues continued to attack, and it was Henen who next went close – the Belgian’s shot from just outside the area sailing over.

Everton were then hit with a sucker punch just after the half-hour mark. After a rare foray into Blues’ final third, the ball fell to Black Cats midfielder Molyneux on the edge of the box who curled his shot into the top corner and beyond Mateusz Hewelt.

The goal buoyed Sunderland who started to attack with more purpose – but it was the Blues who still looked the more threatening going forward.

And they almost had their equaliser five minutes before the break. Henen made a driving run into the box, his low cross almost finding Bassala Sambou who would have had a tap-in.

Despite Everton starting the second half the stronger, it was Sunderland who doubled their lead on 52 minutes. That man Molyneux found space on the edge of the box and fired past Hewelt.

Unsworth then showed his intent, bringing on Danny Bramall and Shayne Lavery for Michael Collins and Nathangelo Markelo.

And Everton soon started to pepper the Sunderland goal, with Sambou first going close with a low drive before Lavery had his well-hit shot saved by Sunderland keeper Talbot.

It took until the 82nd minute for the Blues to make the breakthrough though. Henen wriggling free on the edge of the box before finding the bottom corner with a precise effort.

Unsworth’s men continued to press for an equaliser but couldn’t fashion a clear-cut chance as Sunderland escaped with all three points.


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