Everton Under-23s Edged By Gunners

Everton Under-23s lost 1-0 against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday afternoon.

The Blues were undone by an early strike from Emile Smith-Rowe and couldn’t fashion a way back into the game despite the 62nd-minute dismissal of home striker Folarin Balogun.

Arsenal took the lead with a breakaway goal 10 minutes into the game.

Ben Cottrell won the ball in midfield and, in plenty of space, carried it forward before sliding it into the path of midfielder Smith-Rowe, who finished neatly past Harry Tyrer.

Everton’s response was decent but they didn't manage to threaten Arsenal keeper Matt Macey until the closing stages of the opening period.

Nathan Broadhead’s half-volley was firm enough but straight at the keeper and then the young Welshman fired an angled effort narrowly wide of the target.

At the other end, the Blues were grateful for the intervention of Matthew Pennington when his desperate challenge stopped Smith-Rowe from doubling the advantage.

The Gunners were reduced to 10 men just after the hour when Balogun was sent-off after being cautioned for dissent and then simulation in quick succession.

The Blues couldn’t capitalise on their numerical advantage though. All too often, promising attacking positions were squandered and Macey wasn’t tested as regularly as David Unsworth would have liked.

Top scorer Ellis Simms didn’t get a sight of goal until the 78th minute when he was picked out by Broadhead but saw his shot blocked.

Then Simms spun cleverly inside the box but pulled his effort wide before Einar Iversen whipped a delightful ball into the Arsenal box where a slight touch off defender William Saliba deceived the keeper but flashed wide for a corner.

Substitute Rhys Hughes had a great chance in added time but he placed his shot straight at Macey after being teed up by Beni Baningime.

Everton had enough possession to earn something from the game but couldn't make their share of the ball count in the final third.

Boss Unsworth said: "I’m really disappointed. We didn’t start the game right and we gave them a goal start. 

"It took the sending-off to see a reaction, an urgency and an intensity about us but we never really got a foothold in the game.

"We were poor in the final third in terms of the opportunities that we got. I was never convinced we were going to take them, and the supply lacked quality, too. 

"It’s disappointing because it comes on the back of one of our best performances against Chelsea a couple of weeks ago. 

"We’re an inconsistent group and the team changes game to game but it wasn’t good enough today."

On the positives, Unsworth added: "Ryan Astley was the best player on the pitch, his game was immense.

"That’s the one comfort I can take from the game. Harry’s (Tyrer) not had a save to make so in that respect there was nothing in the game, but we can’t come off the gas. When we are 10 or 20 per cent below our normal level, we haven't got enough to see us through games, so we have to be at our best."