A goal in each half condemned Everton Under-23s to a 2-0 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League 2 on Monday evening.
The Blues were missing key players and struggled to leave an impression on the game against an impressive Blackburn side.
One of the positives from the contest was the return of Charlie Whitaker, who had been sidelined since sustaining an injury against Sheffield United in early January.
The promising midfielder, who joined the Club's Academy aged 12, was named in the starting line-up and managed 70 minutes before being replaced by Emilio Lawrence.
It was a lively start in Southport with Everton goalkeeper Harry Tyrer being called into action and producing a fine double save within the opening two minutes.
David Unsworth's side then created their first opening three minutes later as left-back Mackenzie Hunt was slipped in down the left channel and fizzed a low shot that forced Jordan Eastham into a smart save.
There were claims for a penalty for the hosts when Sean McAllister appeared to be brought down twice in quick succession in the Rovers box, but the referee signalled for play to continue.
Despite Everton's bright start, it was Blackburn who broke the deadlock eight minutes before the half-time interval.
Harrison Wood capitalised on an advantage played by the referee and drilled a low past Tyrer to give the visitors the advantage heading into the break.
Blackburn began the second period on the front foot, with a header from Jack Vale glancing over the crossbar three minutes into the second period.
Rovers then doubled their advantage on 55 minutes.
A whipped the ball into the area from a corner deflected off the head of Rhys Hughes and into the Blues net for an own goal.
Blackburn soon took full control of the game and a flurry of attacks saw Tyrer called into action at his near post, with the Toffees keeper making a handful of excellent saves.
Substitute Rafael Garcia had an opportunity to net a consolation goal, but failed to get direct his shot on target after the ball fell to him inside the penalty area.
Next up for the Under-23s is another home clash at Southport against Chelsea on Monday 18 April.