Garcia Strikes But Everton Under-23s Beaten In Mini Derby

Everton Under-23s fell to a 3-1 Merseyside derby defeat in a Premier League 2 clash at Southport FC on Monday night.

Rafael Garcia’s goal just after the hour mark gave the Blues hope after Liverpool had struck either side of half-time – but Max Woltman's 78th-minute effort put the game out of reach.

After a typically derby-style, cagey opening period Liverpool gradually started to enjoy more possession – but Everton’s well organised and disciplined set-up prevented them from creating any clear chances in the opening half-hour.

On 32 minutes, Rhys Williams headed a Jake Cain cross narrowly wide after Isaac Price had earned himself a yellow card for a foul on Kaide Gordon.

Liverpool thought they’d broken the deadlock a few minutes later when Owen Beck rifled a goal-bound shot past Zan-Luk Leban in the Everton goal, only for Ryan Astley to produce an incredible clearance.

Liverpool took the lead in the 40th minute, however, when Sheyi Ojo was played through on goal and calmly finished past Leban.

The Blues responded positively and before the break Stanley Mills had the ball in the net, but his effort was ruled out for a marginal offside.

But Liverpool took just nine minutes of the second half to double their lead, when Gordon fired in from 20 yards.

From that point, Everton significantly improved.

Manager David Unsworth shook things up with the introduction of substitutes Garcia and Lewis Dobbin – and it was the two newcomers who combined beautifully to craft an Everton goal.

Dobbin played a perfectly-weighted pass behind the Liverpool defence and Garcia kept his composure to score his first Under-23s goal for the Club.

Everton’s increased self-belief made for an entertaining final half-hour but, while the Blues pressed for a leveller, Liverpool continued to a carry a threat.

On 66 minutes, a clearance from Mills smashed into Cain and the ball looped inches over the Everton bar. Then Woltman showed fine technique to volley just over before the same player pulled a timid effort wide.

Woltman wouldn’t be denied, though, and when he was offered a third opening he made no mistake from close range to restore Liverpool's two-goal advantage.

Everton substitute Liam Higgins almost scored a wonder goal with 10 minutes left. He cracked a superb half-volley goalwards and Liverpool goalkeeper Liam Hughes did very well to dive full-length and tip the ball onto the crossbar.

Higgins had a much better opening in the closing few minutes but shot over the bar when well positioned – and that was to be the Blues’ final chance of the game.