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Mills Nets Again In Under-23s Draw

Stanley Mills continued his fine form in front of goal and Isaac Price was also on the scoresheet as Everton Under-23s drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace in the Premier League 2 on Monday night.

The young Blues stretched their unbeaten run to five games in all competitions but it could have been even more after twice conceding the lead against the Eagles at Southport’s Pure Stadium.

Mills’ fourth goal in as many games earned David Unsworth’s side a half-time lead before an Ellis Simms own goal levelled proceedings on the hour mark.

Substitute Price then made his mark by restoring the Toffees’ advantage with a deflected effort - but Jesurun Rak-Sakyi produced an almost immediate response to earn the visitors a share of the spoils.

Speaking to evertonfc.com after the game, coach Jose Baxter said: "You can’t fault the effort from the lads because it was brilliant from start to finish.

"Sometimes in football things just don’t go your way. We had an unlucky own goal tonight and that brought them a bit of momentum - but even still I didn’t think we were too threatened and always looked like we could go and score more ourselves.

"The lads are continuing to get better each game. They look more like a team, creating chances everywhere and, even though we conceded two goals tonight, pretty solid at the back as well.

"They’re a great bunch. They work so hard for each other and the understanding will get even better with time."

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MATCH CENTRE 04:35 Tue 11 Jan 2022

HIGHLIGHTS: EVERTON U23S 2-2 CRYSTAL PALACE U23S

Stanley Mills continued his fine form in front of goal and Isaac Price also netted as David Unsworth's Blues were held to a 2-2 draw in Southport.

Boss Unsworth deployed his side in a 3-5-2 formation, with Simms, who made his Premier League debut in the 1-1 draw at Chelsea last month, leading the line alongside Tom Cannon.

The Toffees dominated proceedings in the first half, with a high press and energy all over the pitch.

They were dealt an early scare, though, when Nya Kirby pounced on a fortuitous bounce to break the last line of defence, but fellow captain Ryan Astley recovered excellently to dispossess the England Under-19 international just before he could pull the trigger.

Everton fashioned their first opportunity on 15 minutes when Mills’ perfectly-weighted pass released Simms through on goal.

The towering striker will have been disappointed to see his effort flash narrowly wide of Joe Whitworth’s right-hand post.

The deadlock was broken 12 minutes before the interval when Hughes won back possession in Palace territory and, after strong hold-up play by Simms, left wing-back Mackenzie Hunt crossed for Mills to tuck home with a first-time finish.

Simms was in the thick of the action again in first half added time but, after coolly losing his marker inside the penalty area, was denied by goalkeeper Whitworth at full stretch.

After an opening period spent largely on the back foot, Palace came flying out of the blocks after the restart.

Kirby went close to levelling proceedings with the second half less than four minutes old, with Harry Tyrer producing an acrobatic save to turn a venomous 25-yard effort around the post.

The South Londoners eventually got their equaliser on 60 minutes.

Full-back Omotayo Adaramola forced a corner following a mazy solo run down the left flank and the resulting set piece was unfortunately headed into his own net by Simms.

Undeterred, Everton showed fighting spirit and regained their advantage eight minutes later.

Kyle John - a threat down the right wing throughout - provided another inviting cross that eventually fell to substitute Price to slam home from just inside the penalty area via a deflection.

But the drama continued on a chilly evening in Southport and Palace gained parity for the second time when winger Rak-Sakyi arrowed a shot into the corner of the net with 18 minutes remaining.

Both teams committed bodies forward in the closing stages of a highly-entertaining contest - and while each side had chances to win it, neither could have too many arguments with a point apiece.

The draw sees the Under-23s remain eighth in the Premier League 2 table, with a mouth-watering clash with Liverpool in the Merseyside mini derby at the Reds’ AXA Training Centre next up.

Looking ahead, Baxter added: "Nothing will change. We’ll keep trying to give the lads the information, keep trying to get them playing the same way.

"Just because it’s the Merseyside derby, which, of course, is really important, I don’t think we’ll change our tactics.

"The lads are playing really well and - the performances and results show that.

"It’s about us and we need to keep doing the right things for another big game."