Everton Under-21s were forced to settle for a 1-1 home draw against Tottenham Hotspur Under-21s in the Premier League 2, as James Garner and Nathan Patterson both stepped up their respective recoveries from injury.
Paul Tait's side hit the front inside two minutes when Stanley Mills capitalised on a goalkeeping error to hand the young Blues a dream start.
But Spurs fought back and Alfie Devine’s smart header just before the half hour mark ensured the points would be shared following a hard-fought contest at Haig Avenue.
Everton manager Sean Dyche, Assistant Manager Ian Woan and First-Team Coach Steve Stone all watched on from the stands to see Garner and Patterson in action for the first time, as well as observing the Club’s youngsters.
Scotland international Patterson managed 64 minutes before being withdrawn as planned, while Garner was replaced after 71 minutes of action.
Speaking afterwards, Under-21s Head Coach, Paul Tait, said: "Tottenham had a lot of possession and created some problems for us — they’ve got some good players and have e nice way of playing. But I thought we defended really well and we were always a threat, probably not as much of a threat as we would have liked but I thought 1-1, while it maybe flatters us a little bit, credit to the lads for digging in.
"Stanley got us off to a great start. His first touch was excellent and that’s what created his chance, then he can finish, as we know he’s a goalscorer. We didn’t quite build on that like we wanted to and Tottenham reacted well. That’s something we need to look at."
On Garner and Patterson, Tait added: “The aim at the beginning of the night was to get them minutes and for them to come through unscathed and we achieved that.
“I thought they were both very professional and really helped the team on the night.”
The Toffees came flying out of the blocks and Mills netted the opener, applying a clinical finish after a poor clearance by Spurs goalkeeper Josh Keeley, who had been pressed excellently by Francis Okoronkwo.
After a positive opening, Everton continued to impress, looking comfortable in possession and pressing energetically off the ball.
Patterson’s first significant involvement came on 14 minutes, as the right-back drove an inviting ball across the face of the penalty area but Isaac Price’s effort flew over the crossbar.
Spurs, however, then began to find a foothold in the game and, on 20 minutes, Jude Soonsup-Bell’s angled shot presented a half chance to Devine, who narrowly missed the target on the rebound.
Devine made no mistake in levelling proceedings nine minutes later, glancing in a header past a helpless Zan-Luk Leban following Romaine Mundle’s inviting delivery from a free-kick.
The Spurs goalscorer nearly doubled his tally moments later, but this time Leban made a strong save to keep him out.
Everton forward Okoronkwo was presented with a chance to restore the hosts’ lead five minutes before the half-time interval after another Keeley error, but he smashed his shot wide of the target.
Leban was called into action once more as an entertaining first half drew to a close, denying Kallum Cesay with a vicious volley.
The second period was a quieter affair, with both sides struggling to find an attacking rhythm and a cutting edge in the final third.
While Spurs shaded the possession, Everton defended resolutely to restrict their opponents in front of goal, while pushing for a winner themselves with a handful of fast-paced counter-attacks.
However, both teams’ efforts to find a victory proved unsuccessful and the spoils were shared.
Everton Under-21s are back in action next weekend, when they face a trip to PL2 leaders Manchester City on Saturday 25 February.