Unsworth Grateful To Runcorn As Young Blues Gain Valuable Momentum

David Unsworth commended his side's "first-class" attitude as they ran out 7-1 winners in Saturday's friendly against Runcorn Town.

The Blues welcomed the North West Counties League Premier Division side to USM Finch Farm at short notice after a planned game against Wigan Athletic Under-23s had to be cancelled.

Unsworth was eager to extend his thanks to Runcorn for stepping in and said the contest afforded his team valuable game time as they build their preparations for the 2020/21 campaign.

Everton had initially thought they would be unable to replace the fixture.

MATCH REPORT: EVERTON UNDER-23s 7-1 RUNCORN TOWN

Nathan Broadhead was the star of the show hitting five of Everton's goals but the outing also allowed Unsworth to experiment tactically with some of the younger players in his squad.

Broadhead, who made 22 appearances on loan at League One Burton Albion last season, was joined on the scoresheet by Josh Bowler and Rhys Hughes as the hosts recovered emphatically from falling behind to Kieran Holsgrove's early strike.

"Nathan is a top young player and he showed that today," said Unsworth.

"I’d like to thank Runcorn for coming to play us. We had a fixture cancellation last week, so to get a fixture is not easy, so we thank them immensely for coming today.

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02:14 Mon 24 Aug 2020

HIGHLIGHTS: UNDER-23S 7-1 RUNCORN TOWN

Broadhead hits FIVE in pre-season victory at USM Finch Farm.

 

"It’s better than a training session because it gives people minutes.

"Some of the players have not played for months, so to play in a match is always better than a training session.

"I saw lots of good things. We need to get them back playing so we can instil the principles we are looking for for the start of the season.

"We were looking for Lewis Dobbin and Rhys Hughes to play in areas they maybe haven’t played in before, so it was good for them to get more experience in those principles we’re looking for.

"We spoke about it at half-time – getting into good habits and principles of doing the right thing. If it does get a little bit easy, to play with limited touches. I thought the attitude was first-class.

"Those young lads who are new to this level, like Lewis and Rhys, we want to give them as much game time as possible. That’s important and their performances were very, very good."

Saturday's performance only served to bolster Unsworth's good mood after Friday saw League One Sunderland confirm the signing of former Everton Under-23s captain Morgan Feeney.

Unsworth admitted earlier this summer that telling a group of players including Feeney that they would be leaving the Club was "heartbreaking".

 

However, the 1995 FA Cup winning defender believes boyhood Blue Feeney has landed a fantastic opportunity with the Black Cats, whose average attendance in the third tier last term exceeded 30,000.

It says much for Unsworth's relationship with his players that he was among the first people Feeney contacted with his good news.

"He phoned me [on Friday] night and we had a lovely conversation," said Unsworth. "I’m thrilled, because I spoke to [Sunderland manager] Phil Parkinson a week or two ago and he asked me about him and I couldn’t have sung his praises any more. It was like I was his agent!

"I’m glad Phil has decided to take him because he’s not just a wonderful player, he’s a wonderful man. He’s been a wonderful player and skipper for me over the past couple of years.

"I’m sure, given the right opportunities, Morgan will do very well there. Sunderland are getting a top player, a top professional, and they’re getting a leader.

"It’s a wonderful club, wonderful history, great fanbase. A proper club. I’ll be a Sunderland fan this year!"