Friday 12 April 19:00 , The BIG HELP Stadium , Attendance:
HT: 1 - 1
  • KO
    • Yellow Card!
      Halid Djankpata
    • Goal!
      Harrison Wood
    • Goal!
      Charlie Whitaker
    • Yellow Card!
      Jenson Metcalfe
  • HT
    • Goal!
      Igor Tyjon
    • Substitution
    • Substitution
    • Yellow Card!
      Reece Welch
    • Substitution
    • Substitution
    • Substitution
    • Goal!
      Katia Kouyate
    • Substitution
    • Goal!
      Igor Tyjon
    • Substitution
  • FT

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Arnaut Danjuma made his return from injury but could not prevent Everton Under-21s from falling to a narrow 3-2 defeat against Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League 2.

Igor Tyjon’s brace made the difference on Friday night in Southport, with his second coming frustratingly close to the full-time whistle.

Harrison Wood broke the deadlock on 39 minutes, before Blues midfielder  Charlie Whittaker fired home two minutes later to level proceedings.

Tyjon then reinstated the visitors’ lead after the interval by squeezing the ball in at the near-post and Katia Kouyate made it 2-2 with a neat finish past an on-rushing goalkeeper, but Tyjon doubled his tally five minutes from time with a spectacular volley that rebounded in off the woodwork.

Danjuma played the full 90 minutes of the clash on his return from an ankle injury that has seen him sidelined since late January.

Under-21s Head Coach Paul Tait made four changes to the side that were held to a goalless draw against Crystal Palace on Monday. Fraser Barnsley started in goal, with Harrison Armstrong, Halid Djankpata and Danjuma all making the starting XI.

A positive start saw the Toffees dominate possession throughout the early stages of the game as they almost found a reward for their front-foot approach inside 14 minutes.

A moment of quick-thinking saw Jenson Metcalfe play a quick free-kick to the advancing Danjuma, who had crept beyond the visitors backline. Seemingly in on goal, the linesman eventually raised his flag after initially keeping it down.

Rovers responded four minutes later as Junior Nsangou threatened at the other end. Found inside the area, the forward set himself before firing just over the crossbar.

A great show of determination from Kouyate saw the 20-year-old beat Tom Atcheson to the ball inside the area despite the defender being closest to it. The forward pulled it back to Djankpata, whose goalbound strike was bravely blocked by Isaac Whitehall in the 20th minute.

Rory Finneran fizzed a powerful effort into the palms of Barnsley on the half-hour mark. An in-swinging corner was half-cleared, with it falling to the feet of the Irishman on the edge of the box. Finneran took a touch before blasting the ball at goal, where the shot-stopper was on hand to collect.

Blackburn took the lead on 39 minutes as Wood finished off a sweeping team move. Tyjon played a defence-splitting pass to Nsangou, who raced into the box and squared to Wood, with an empty net awaiting the midfielder.

A chaotic couple of minutes ensued as sixty seconds later, Armstrong tested Felix Goddard with a venomous strike.

Everton found an equaliser with 41 minutes on the clock as Whittaker rifled a close-range effort into the roof of the net. Tyler Onyango’s low cross from the right was met by the foot of the creative midfielder, who restored parity by netting against his former side.

Tyjon restored Rovers’ lead in the 63rd minute with a low, driven strike that squeezed between the near-post and the arms of the outstretched Barnsley.

The Toffees searched for an equaliser and were inches away via Metcalfe’s set-piece. 25-yards from goal, the midfielder released a strike that seemed destined for the top corner. Goddard leapt into action to deny the 19-year-old and tip the ball around the post, though.

Kouyate levelled the game once more with nine minutes remaining after volleying past Goddard. Metcalfe’s clever lofted through-ball found the feet of the forward who fired past the goalkeeper when faced one-on-one.

Tyjon doubled his tally in the 85th minute with a volley of his own to give his side the lead a third time. Reece Welch’s clearance dropped to the boot of the England youth international, who plucked the ball out of the air and crashed a strike against the crossbar and in.

Up next for the young blues is a trip to the capital to face Crystal Palace in the semi-final of the Premier League International Cup on Tuesday 16 April (7pm BST).

By Ross Hughes

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