Everton Under-23s manager David Unsworth said his team’s 3-1 friendly victory at Wigan Athletic on Saturday was an ideal way to round off “a very successful pre-season”.
The young Blues took an early lead though Antony Evans, before Adam Long got the home side back on level terms before half-time.
An own goal following a goalmouth scramble saw the Toffees regain their advantage after the break and Fraser Hornby’s arrowed finish made sure of victory for Everton.
As well as hard work on the training pitches at USM Finch Farm, the Under-23s’ pre-season programme has consisted of a demanding week-long camp in La Manga, Spain and friendly clashes against Swindon Town, Morecambe, Rhyl and Chorley.
Saturday’s keenly-contested match at Wigan, then, was the young Blues’ final fixture before they begin their Premier League 2 title defence against Leicester City at Southport FC on Monday 12 August.
Manager Unsworth said the game at Wigan’s Christopher Park training ground provided excellent preparation for his team’s meeting with the Foxes.
“It was a very good workout against a good Wigan team,” he told evertonfc.com.
“It was a very valuable afternoon for us.
“We got some good game-time into the lads, including some who had been away training with the first-team.
“That will do them the world of good.
“It’s been a very successful pre-season. Now we will tone things down, work on our sharpness next week and get ready for the Leicester game.”
Everton flew out of the blocks at Wigan and hit the front with just two minutes on the clock.
Full-back Kyle John was the architect, driving forward at speed before slotting a through ball into the path of the onrushing Evans.
One-on-one with the Wigan goalkeeper, Evans was coolness personified to tuck the ball into the far corner.
The same pair linked up well again 10 minutes later, John this time finding Evans in a central position, and the attacker curling his effort just wide.
Wigan gradually began to establish a foothold in the game after the Blues’ quick start and Joe Piggott lashed into the side netting just before the half-hour mark.
The Latics got their equaliser soon enough, though, Long tapping in at the back post after a slick team move.
Stung by the leveller, Everton immediately went on the attack and Wigan stopper Aspinall was forced into action twice in quick succession to keep out efforts from Dennis Adeniran and Evans.
The Toffees fashioned another chance just before the half-time whistle, when John’s inviting cross was headed over by Ellis Simms.
Everton were back ahead two minutes before the hour-mark.
Hornby and Dennis Adeniran rose high to challenge after a devilish Evans corner delivery but the final touch of the ball appeared to come off a Wigan defender before bobbling into the net.
The young Blues continued to make all the running and Alex Denny saw a 25-yard effort cannon off the post.
Everton would put the game beyond doubt 13 minutes from time, however. Substitute Kieran Phillips won possession high up the pitch and threaded an inch-perfect pass through to Hornby.
The Scotland Under-21 international set himself before rifling his shot low and hard into the bottom corner.
Manager Unsworth says he is now relishing the prospect of the Under-23s' competitive action getting under way.
“As great as pre-season is in terms of getting the volume of work into the players, nothing replicates the buzz you get going into a league or cup game,” he added.
“It will be a real test for us against Leicester. It’s always a tough game – Steve Beaglehole’s teams are very well coached.
“We’ve had some good battles over the years and I’m sure Monday will be no different.”