A hat-trick by Stan Mills was the highlight of a comfortable 4-0 victory for Everton Under-21s at Southport.
Mills, who caught the eye with the First Team on the recent tour of the USA, scored twice in the first half and again after the break, as well as providing the assist for Tom Cannon’s goal.
“He was outstanding,” said Under-21s Head Coach Paul Tait. “He’s been with the first team and we’ve had good reports back about him. He’s a talented lad and he’s also a conscientious worker. He’s dedicated with really good application and I knew that when he came back to us today there wouldn’t be a problem with him.”
The young Blues were full value for their victory, playing some really eye-catching football, particularly in the first-half when they moved the ball quickly and accurately and looked threatening every time they ventured forward.
“I was delighted with them,” said Tait. “I’d watched Southport in the week and they get balls into the box, which is not always a challenge we face in 21s football, so we did some work on that and the boys, especially the centre-halves, dealt with it really well.
“The early goal was really good for us. The confidence flowed from there and our play between the lines was very good and we were always a threat.”
Everton replicated the First Team's feat from the previous evening by taking a fourth-minute lead. Mills was upended inside the penalty area by former Everton youth player Jack Bainbridge and he picked himself up to convert from the spot.
Just eight minutes later, Mills turned provider when he skipped down the right wing before pulling a low cross into the box for Tom Cannon to poke home at the far post.
The non-league hosts also had their moments in the first-half.
Bainbridge and Jordan Archer both headed wide and Adam Anson shot straight at Zan-Luk Leban, but Everton always looked the more likely to increase their lead rather than concede.
Isaac Price fired high over the bar at the end of another lovely move before Mills added his second and the Blues’ third just after the half hour when he drilled home a fine shot from 15-yards.
Before the interval, Mills was close to securing his hat-trick when he hit the post from a clever low free-kick on the right by Isaac Price.
The in-form wide man didn’t have to wait too long though, running onto a flick from Cannon before smashing an unerring finish Cameron Mason in the 54th minute.
Leban was called into action on 62 minutes when he did well to push away a well-struck drive from Bainbridge before the usual plethora of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game.
Elijah Campbell came close to a fifth with a header that flashed narrowly past the post and an excellent double save from Leban late on denied Southport a consolation goal.
“We’re ready now for Blackburn Rovers next Friday,” said Tait. “We’ll start work on that and today’s win has put us in a decent place.”