MATCH CENTRE

Impressive Young Blues Progress In FA Youth Cup

Everton Under-18s progressed to the FA Youth Cup fifth round with a 2-1 win over Sheffield United at Goodison Park on Friday night.

Francis Okoronkwo's superb solo effort two minutes before the half-time interval gave the young Blues a deserved lead.

That advantage was doubled just after the hour mark as Okoronkwo turned provider, setting up midfielder Stanley Mills to convert from close range for his fifth goal in his past five outings.

Blades defender Sai Sachdev pulled one back with a late header - but Paul Tait's side defended well in the closing stages to see out the result.

The Toffees, who had defeated Fulham in the previous round of the competition, now await details of their next opponents, with all fifth round matches set to be played by 5 February.

Everton missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring inside 12 minutes when Okoronkwo was hauled down inside the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot.

Isaac Price, who scored for the Under-23s in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace earlier this week, failed to convert, though, with goalkeeper Callum Hiddleston guessing the right way and applying a strong right hand to keep out the effort.

The visitors were restricted in an attacking sense for large periods of the tie but Blues midfielder Luke Butterfield had to be alert and pull off an excellent block to keep out Josh Smith's goal-bound strike following a sweeping counter-attack midway through the first half.

Butterfield was contributing at the other end of the pitch, too.

Five minutes before the interval, his inch-perfect lofted pass was met with a clinical first-time finish from Mills - but celebrations were cut short as the offside flag was raised.

Everton eventually broke the deadlock on 43 minutes.

It came from the Blues' danger man on the night, as Okoronkwo - operating as a left forward - picked up possession on the corner of the penalty area before beating two markers with a clever piece of skill and finding the bottom corner with a precise side-footed finish.

It was no more than the hosts deserved.

Okoronkwo then provided the assist as the youngsters doubled their lead on 63 minutes.

After a powerful run into the penalty area, the 17-year-old saw his prodded effort saved by Hiddleston but then showed composure to square the ball for Mills to smash home from inside the six-yard box.

United right-back Sachdev headed home from a corner with two minutes remaining to set up a nervy finish - but Everton stood strong to seal a satisfying night for manager Tait.

The full game was broadcast live on our Official YouTube channel - watch it below or click here now.

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