Simms Strikes But Everton Under-23s Edged In Pre-Season Opener

Everton Under-23s delivered an impressive performance against Southport FC in their opening pre-season friendly fixture on Saturday but a stoppage-time strike saw the National League North side emerge 2-1 winners.

A typically ruthless Ellis Simms finish gave the Toffees a deserved lead midway through the first half at USM Finch Farm.

Everton had chances to extend their advantage but Southport finished the game strongly and struck an equaliser 14 minutes from time through defender Mo Ali.

And Marcus Carver was on target at the death to secure victory for the away team.

Southport created the first chance of the afternoon, with striker Jack Sampson shooting wide from 18 yards.

The Blues were quick to respond and a well-timed through pass from Mackenzie Hunt gave Lewis Dobbin a chance to test Southport goalkeeper Dan Hanford, but the talented striker put his effort just past the post.

A teasing cross from Dobbin was headed inches clear of his own bar by Anson midway through the half.

From the resulting corner, the ball fell to Simms on the half-volley but he was agonisingly over with his rising shot.

The prolific frontman made no mistake on 31 minutes – racing in on goal before showcasing impressive composure to drill his shot into far corner.

Everton continued to play on the front foot after breaking the deadlock and Simms had an opportunity to make 2-0 but fired his effort straight down Hanford’s throat.

Rhys Hughes then forced a fine save from the Stockport keeper with a sweetly-struck free-kick from the edge of the box.

The Blues did not let up after the break and the lively Hughes went close again on 53 minutes, cutting inside and sending a curling shot inches over the bar.

After a raft of changes from both sides, Southport began to gain a foothold in the game.

Everton swapped goalkeepers at half-time – Nico Hansen replacing Harry Tyrer – and the Denmark youth international made a fine save from a Southport trialist 70 minutes in to preserve the Toffees’ lead.

Southport were applying increased pressure at this stage and six minutes later they found a leveller - Ali turning home after a well-worked free-kick routine.

The game looked to be heading for a draw but Carver’s fine turn and finish in time added on saw Southport emerge victorious.

Picture: Julia Urwin