'We Let Standards Slip'
Academy boss Kevin Sheedy says side didn't start derby well.
Everton Academy boss Kevin Sheedy felt his team let their standards slip as they tasted defeat against rivals Liverpool for the first time in two years.
The young Blues found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline at the Reds' Academy, before seeing out a third of the game with 10 men.
Pointing to the hosts' pivotal strike straight after the interval, Sheedy felt his side struggled to start well in either half.
"We didn't begin very well," the long-serving coach admitted. "They had plenty of the ball. The longer the half went on, though, the more we got a grip of their system and nullified them.”
The Blues’ sluggish opening paved the way for Liverpool's first goal, but a rousing end to the half saw Blues midfielder Gethin Jones side-foot home after a neat move involving Connor Grant.
"We explained what the players needed to do at half time," said Sheedy. "We wanted them to play like the last 15 minutes of the first half. Right from the kick-off, one long ball and our centre-half has not won the header, our full-back is not in a good position and they've gone through and scored.
"That completely changed the whole nature of the game. We continued to pass the ball well and created a few good chances, but poor individual defending led to us conceding the third goal.
"Over the whole 90 minutes we didn't play as well collectively as a team as we have in recent weeks.”
John Lundstram saw red just after the hour mark in a game of tough tackles, but Sheedy had no complaints about the decision.
"It was a good competitive game," he said. "With it being a local derby, both sets of players wanted to win and you're going to get challenges.
"Unfortunately if you leave the floor, there's only one outcome in the modern game. Obviously we want players to be competitive and to challenge for the ball, but in the right way."
The hosts could have scored more but for the heroics of Connor Roberts in goal. The Welshman produced several one-on-one stops and also kept out a penalty in the final minutes.
"He made an excellent save from the penalty and some other opportunities they had," said Sheedy. "We're pleased with Connor's performance. He was unlucky to have conceded three, but apart from the goals, he had a good game."
The Under-18s face Nottingham Forest at home on March 3, and Sheedy is focused on getting his side back to winning ways.
He said: "We need to get going again. It's an important time of year for the players. The ones that are second years need to start producing. We need to dust ourselves down and regroup. I'm certainly looking for much-improved individual and team performances."