Mills Hits Double As Everton Seal Youth Cup Progress

Manager Paul Tait hailed an impressive collective Everton performance after the young Blues came from behind to beat Fulham 3-2 in an entertaining third-round FA Youth Cup tie on Friday night.

Stanley Mills netted a brace and Francis Okoronkwo was also on target as Everton wrapped up a deserved victory under the lights at Goodison Park.

Olly Sanderson gave the away side the advantage against the run of play midway through the first half but the Blues rallied after the break to get the goals their performance merited.

Mills’ cool finish levelled the score just before the hour mark – and his deflected effort seven minutes later put the Toffees in front.

Everton substitute Okoronkwo capitalised on a defensive error to make it 3-1 late in the piece, meaning Fulham midfielder Matt Dibley-Dias’s stunning free-kick deep into stoppage time was merely a consolation.

The Blues will have another home tie in the fourth round and will lock horns with either Sheffield United or Millwall.

In his post-match interview with evertontv, Tait said: "I thought we thoroughly deserved the victory and bossed the game from start to finish.

"We were really unfortunate to be a goal down at half-time with all the good play we had – we created a couple of good chances that we should have taken.

"It was just a case of getting the next goal and then we thought we would go on and win the game. 

"Stan [Mills] did well, getting the two goals, so he’ll grab the headlines, but I thought every single player worked really hard in and out of possession.

"Frankie [Okoronkwo] came on and made an impact, too. He worked very hard as a number nine."

Everton started the match on top, with Mills utilising his pace to get round the outside of Fulham left-back Luc De Fougerolles twice in the opening five minutes. 

The impressive Mills was the creator of the Blues’ first genuine chance when he skipped clear and laid the ball off to Isaac Price just outside the Fulham box, however the number 10’s strike was smartly saved at the near post by Alex Borto.

Tait's team dominated the opening period but it was Fulham who took the lead on 21 minutes. Luke Harris found some space to get a shot off just outside the Toffees box – his effort was parried by Everton keeper Patrick Nash, but Sanderson was there first to tap the ball into an empty net. 

Everton were on the hunt for the equaliser, and their best chance to get it came just before half-time. Charlie Whitaker pulled off a wonderful turn after the ball was fired into him from Price inside the Fulham area but, under pressure from Fulham captain Devan Tanton, he put his shot wide. 

Everton got their deserved equaliser in the 59th minute. Whitaker drifted inside with the ball from the left wing and played a brilliantly-timed pass to Mills in behind the away team’s defence. Mills timed his run to perfection and calmly slipped the ball past Borto to make it 1-1. 

Mills turned the game on its head soon after when his powerful left-footed strike from just inside the area found the back of the net via a deflection off substitute Fulham defender Stefan Parkes. 

Mills was causing mayhem and nearly helped his side get another on 70 minutes. After running clear again, his cutback found substitute Okoronkwo, whose well-hit effort was well saved by Borto. 

The Toffees did eventually get their third in the 85th minute after a mistake at the back by Parkes – his attempted pass back wrong-footed the Fulham keeper, and Okoronkwo raced through to shoot into an open net.  

There was still time for some late drama, with Everton defender Matty Mallon and Fulham’s Harris red-carded following a melee involving several players.

Dibley-Dias found the top corner with a splendid free-kick deep into stoppage time, but it was too little, too late, for the away team.

Everton boss Tait added: "It was a big game for our players, with some of them playing at Goodison for the first time.

"I thought they started the game well and there were no nerves in terms of their football. In the second half, playing in this stadium and on this pitch, it does inspire them. 

"We’ll look forward to the next round now against Sheffield United or Millwall and hopefully we can get that game back here at Goodison, too."