David Unsworth said Everton Under-23s’ 1-0 defeat against Swindon Town’s first team in their opening pre-season clash on Thursday will provide an important learning experience for his young players.
The Toffees delivered an impressive performance against considerably more experienced opponents, matching the Robins throughout in sweltering conditions in La Manga.
An 88th-minute goal from Ellis Iandolo settled the game in Swindon’s favour, however, the midfielder planting a header past Toffees stopper Nico Hansen after an inviting corner delivery.
In a fiercely competitive game, clear sights of goal were few and far between. Ellis Simms came closest for Everton, forcing a splendid save from Luke McCormick after being played through by livewire forward Anthony Gordon.
Unsworth praised the desire and application his side showed during the match but admitted his frustration that his team did not get the result their display merited.
“It was a great game and one that was spot on in terms of what we want for this time of year,” he said.
“The fitness work was very good, the defensive shape was excellent and the effort the lads gave was fantastic.
“It was a really competitive game and a good test against a first team.
“I thought it was going to be a fantastic performance and result but we were disappointed to concede from a set-piece in the last two minutes. A lapse in concentration cost us."
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BEHIND THE SCENES WITH UNDER-23S IN LA MANGA
Several of Unsworth's 2018/19 double-winning side are with Marco Silva’s first-team squad. The Under-23s boss, then, has taken a youthful group to La Manga, with a number of players making the step up from the Blues' Under-18 side.
The Everton Giant says it is vital his young charges learn valuable lessons from the Swindon clash – and hopes the game will have reinforced the importance of remaining focussed from first minute to last.
“We’ve got such high standards," he explained. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, when you pull on the shirt of Everton you’re expected to perform and win.
“Against Swindon, we got the performance but didn’t get the result because of a lapse of concentration.
“It’s a learning curve for them and we hope they will learn quickly."