Everton Under-21s maintained their impressive start to the Premier League 2 season with a 2-1 victory against West Ham United at Rush Green Training Ground.
Goals from Isaac Price and Halid Djankpata either side of West Ham’s leveller were enough to secure the points, with Paul Tait’s side rising to third in the table.
After a closely-contested start to the game, Armstrong Okoflex’s low effort brought a smart save from Everton goalkeeper Zan-Luk Leban in the first opening of any note.
Everton grew into the half and began to assert themselves – and the young Blues broke the deadlock on 36 minutes.
Francis Okoronkwo, making his first start of the season for Tait’s side, pounced on a West Ham error and unselfishly teed up Price to convert from close range.
The Toffees began knocking on the door as they searched for a second and came close to extending their lead before the break.
Mackenzie Hunt’s teasing delivery nearly caught out West Ham keeper Krisztian Hegyi, hitting the top of the bar before staying in play.
Charlie Whitaker then came close for the Blues. Kyle John’s wicked cross was met by the head of the forward who rattled the crossbar.
Just a minute into the second half, West Ham were reduced to 10 men as Divin Mubama received a straight red card for a strong tackle on Sean McAllister.
West Ham did not let their heads go down, though, and came close to an equaliser on the hour-mark. Substitute Keenan Appiah-Forson latched onto an Okoflex pass but his drilled effort was excellently saved by Leban.
The hosts did make it 1-1 on 76 minutes. A short corner saw the ball arrive at the feet of Pierre Ekwah and his left-footed drive picked out the bottom corner.
The scores did not remain level for long, though, and Everton regained their advantage in some style just two minutes later.
Substitute Djankpata picked up the ball and rifled in a superb strike to put Everton in front.
There was a late scare for Everton when West Ham had the ball in the back of the net, but the offside flag went up and the Blues saw out the remainder of the game to secure victory.