Everton Under 18’s were defeated 4-2 by Manchester United at Carrington Training Centre on Saturday.
Two goals within the first 20 minutes from Sonny Aljofree and Alejandro Garnacho Ferreyra gave the home side an early cushion.
Everton managed to level the game, however, through strikes from Emilio Lawrence (pictured) and Frances Okoronkwo.
Joe Hugill’s second-half double, which included a lobbed effort from around 30 yards out, gave United all three points in a hard-fought game.
Everton manager Paul Tait would have been looking for a similar result to the reverse fixture last month, when his side impressively beat United 3-0.
The home side started brightly, though, and scored the opening goal on six minutes. A cross from Marc Jurado found its way through the Everton defence, falling to Aljofree for a tap-in from inside the six-yard box.
Everton started growing into the game, Okoronkwo progressively exerting an influence and aiming several attempts at goal.
But United doubled their lead on 20 minutes when Garnacho Ferreyra broke through the Blues’ midfield and shot from around 20-yards, finding the bottom corner and leaving goalkeeper Patrick Nash with no chance.
The young Toffees showed character and fight and halved the deficit on 41 minutes after a Martin Sherif through ball found Lawrence, who showed fabulous composure to calmly slot the ball low into the corner from just inside the box.
Everton transferred the intensity they showed at the end of the opening 45 minutes to the beginning of the second half and were rewarded with an equaliser.
Nash brilliantly found Okoronkwo with a kick from his hands and the attacker carried the ball from just inside the United half, taking on Willy Kambwala Ndengushi, before exquisitely curling the ball into the far corner to restore parity on 50 minutes.
The home team were back in front just four minutes later when Nash rushed out to clear, only for the ball to land with Hugill.
He chipped in from around 30-yards as the keeper tried to recover his ground.
Hugill netted his second of the match when a Jurado free-kick fell for the striker to convert from close range.
The young Blues kept pushing to find their way back into the game but struggled to create any clear scoring opportunities, as the home side held on for three points.
Tait will be looking for a response when Everton face Derby County in an Under-18 Premier League North game on the final weekend of January.