Late Sherif Penalty Earns Under-18s A Point Against Stoke

Martin Sherif’s late penalty earned Everton Under-18s a point as they returned to Premier League (North) action with a 2-2 draw against Stoke City at USM Finch Farm.

The young Blues took a 20th-minute lead courtesy of forward Francis Okoronkwo, only for the visitors to net either side of the break to look on course for victory.

But with 15 minutes remaining, a handball in the area allowed Sherif to keep his cool from 12 yards to ensure a share of the spoils.

Paul Tait’s Everton came into their first game back after the Christmas break in fine form, unbeaten in their past three.

And the hosts nearly opened the scoring directly from a corner five minutes in after Isaac Heath’s in-swinger clipped the far post.

The young Toffees should have taken the lead 10 minutes later when Halid Djankpata’s cross from the right side of the Stoke area fell to Owen Barker, but his shot went just over the bar.

Everton eventually got their deserved lead through Okoronkwo on 20 minutes after his curled effort from just inside of the box found the far bottom corner. 

Stoke equalised against the run of play just six minutes later, though, when George Lewis’ shot from the left side of Everton’s box beat Patrick Nash at his near post.

Okoronkwo had a brilliant chance to get the Toffees’ and his second of the goal of the game right from kick-off as a loose back pass found him one-on-one with the Stoke keeper. But his shot was smartly saved by Tommy Simkim.

Djankpata nearly put his team back into the lead a minute into the second half, his curled effort from just outside the box narrowly going wide of Simkim’s left corner.

Djankpata was doing everything right but finding the net. He had another chance on the hour mark when Okoronkwo worked a cross from the right channel, Everton’s number 10 couldn’t keep his header down, however, as it went narrowly over the bar.

Stoke had a chance of their own 65 minutes in when a corner was met by defender Josh Roney whose header crashed against the bar.

The away side took the lead in the 72nd minute after a free-kick from just outside the Everton box was curled into the top corner by Ted Cargill.

But Tait’s team showed their resilience, equalising just three minutes later after being awarded a penalty for a handball in the Stoke area.

Substitute Sherif smashed his penalty into the top right-hand corner, leaving the keeper with no chance.

Despite late pressure from Everton to get the winner Stoke defended well as both teams settled for a point.

Everton Under-18s now turn their attention to Friday night’s FA Youth Cup tie against Sheffield United at Goodison Park (7pm GMT).

Fans can watch that clash for free via our official YouTube channel.