David Unsworth is already counting the days until pre-season after a tender-in-years Everton Under-23 team blew away Southampton for their “best moment of the season”.
Charlie Whitaker and Stanley Mills, both 17, were joined on the scoresheet at St Mary’s Stadium by the 18-year-old pair of Sean McAllister and Tom Cannon.
The more experienced Nathan Broadhead got the ball rolling on two minutes, fastening onto a pass from fellow Welshman Rhys Hughes to ram home his 11th goal in as many games.
Southampton, featuring a handful of first-team players, had no answer to Unsworth’s irresistible side, who will finish their Premier League 2 campaign against the same opponents at Southport on Friday.
“It was our best performance all season, in all departments, and the credit goes to the players for the way they applied themselves,” manager Unsworth told evertonfc.com.
“They were absolutely outstanding to a man and lethal in the final third.
“I am so proud of the team and so proud of the young players.
“Everything clicked and when you are coach of a team that clicks and scores goals like that it is fantastic to watch.
“If that is a sign of the future with our young boys, it is fantastic.
“I am so looking forward to pre-season, now, getting these boys together, getting them a proper pre-season, post-COVID, with no restrictions.
“Going out in the afternoon [for second sessions] and having more time in the gym.
“These boys have been on a reduced training programme all season, and with the injuries we’ve had and how we’re stretched, as an Everton coach, I was very proud of that group of players.”
The older head in the team, Broadhead, continued his stunning form in front of goal, comprehensively defeating Southampton keeper Harry Lewis to open the floodgates.
Broadhead added an assist, too, ushering in McAllister to net Everton’s fourth on 68 minutes.
“Nathan has been superb, he didn’t get a loan move in January and has been training with the First Team,” said Unsworth.
“He has been on fire for us.
“It was an outstanding individual goal and performance, the way he linked up with Charlie Whitaker.
“We had five or six first years playing today, a really young team, and they were well led by three or four of our normal Under-23s.”
Northern Irishman McAllister, who went on after 64 minutes, began Everton Under-18s' victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
The same was true of Cannon, another goalscoring substitute, the teenager clinically finishing with 10 minutes remaining as Everton kept their foot to the floor.
Midfielder Whitaker (pictured) had doubled Everton’s advantage on 23 minutes and he was the player on the receiving end of the two challenges that resulted in a red card for Southampton defender Allan Tchaptchet 12 minutes before half-time.
Mills struck to put Everton three up at the break, when Unsworth implored his side to both add to their tally and frustrate the hosts at the other end.
“I was keen to emphasise we were not going to sit back,” said Unsworth.
“Every time we went forward, we looked so good and like we were going to score.
“I was delighted we continued scoring the goals.
“With young players, there can be a tendency to think it is too easy. It is not.
“We concentrated on our own performance, not what the opposition was doing.
“We had some amazing performances; Nathan and and Charlie were superb up front.
“Harry Tyrer in goal, [centre-backs] Joe Anderson, and Con Ouzounidis, the spine of the team was so good.
“Defenders are there to defend and keeping clean sheets gives you the basis of any structure to go and win a football game.”
Unsworth continued: “You must take full advantage of opportunities to play on surfaces and grounds like this, it is a rarity.
“And today was our best moment of the season.
“It was a great day and I enjoyed watching us.”