Everton Under-23s boss David Unsworth hailed his team’s excellent first-half display after the young Blues beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 on Monday night to record a second successive Premier League 2 victory.
Unsworth also paid tribute to “outstanding” duo Jarrad Branthwaite and Ellis Simms, who stepped down from the Toffees’ First-Team squad to play the opening 45 minutes of the Goodison Park clash.
Everton performed with purpose, authority and attacking intent throughout the first half of the contest, with well-taken goals from Lewis Dobbin and Reece Welch giving the Blues a deserved 2-0 advantage.
Brighton gained a foothold in the game after the break and halved the deficit through Evan Ferguson 11 minutes from time, but Unsworth’s team held on to secure a valuable three points. Everton move up to eighth in the Premier League 2 table.
“I thought we played some great stuff in the first half,” Unsworth told evertonfc.com.
“Brighton are a really good team – one of the best in the league, I believe – but we played the way I want us to play and scored two great goals. We could and should have had a couple more, too.
“Brighton threw a bit of caution to the wind in the second half and just went for it. We couldn’t really get hold of the ball when Ellis came off and link up like we did in the first half.
“But in terms of attitude, desire and a willingness to put bodies on the line, it was fantastic.
“And even in the second half, Tom Cannon could’ve had a hat-trick. We had our chances.
“It was a great exercise all-round and it was terrific to be back at Goodison. It’s brilliant for the young players to have that experience.”
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HIGHLIGHTS: EVERTON U23S 2-1 BRIGHTON U23S
Simms and Branthwaite impressed as they completed the first half of the match, and Unsworth believes the pair will benefit from competitive minutes on the pitch after periods out through injury this season.
The Under-23s boss also saluted the duo’s approach to the game – highlighting their focus, application and work-rate.
“They were outstanding,” he said.
“It’s not just their performances, but their attitude to stepping down to the Under-23s.
“They’re now First-Team players, which is brilliant. They’ve had their time with us and they’ve been a pleasure to work with.
“Their attitude was outstanding and that’s all you can ask when the First-Team boys step down. All credit to them.”