Everton Under-18s began their league campaign with a narrow defeat, as Nottingham Forest edged a topsy-turvy contest 3-2 at the Impact Arena in Alfreton.
Forest took the lead through a first-half own goal, before the young Blues hit back after the interval and turned the game around with goals from Francis Okoronkwo and Coby Ebere.
But the hosts dug deep to regain their lead via Jack Nadin and Joe Gardner strikes, condemning the Toffees to defeat on the opening-day of the campaign.
A wicked deflection from defender Jack Tierney resulted in an own goal and Everton trailing inside 12 minutes.
However, in spite of the early setback, Everton's responded well and came close to providing an instant response when Ebere unleashed a low shot inside the penalty area that forced the goalkeeper into a save at full stretch.
Blues goalkeeper Dylan Graham was then called into action at the other end, applying a smart stop to keep out Forest captain Kyle McAdam.
The game exploded into life after the half-time interval, with Everton beginning in the ascendancy.
Okoronkwo notched an equaliser with a neat finish into the far corner, with the second period less than two minutes old.
The goal was made by Owen Barker, whose persistent pressing was rewarded by winning possession in the Forest penalty area before squaring the ball into the path of Okoronkwo.
Eight minutes later, Everton took the lead.
Okoronkwo drove at the Forest defence and picked out a great cross, which was met by Ebere's perfectly-placed header.
Everton’s intensity showed no signs of relenting, but it would be Forest who would strike next.
Nadin levelled proceedings on the hour mark, sweeping home a rebound after Graham had done well to keep out his initial effort.
The hosts then landed the game's decisive blow with just eight minutes remaining – and it came in fortuitous fashion.
Graham was again on hand to keep out Nadin's wickedly-deflected shot, but the ball fell to Gardner, who converted from close range to seal victory for Forest.