Seamus Coleman made his return from injury and completed a 45-minute runout as Everton Under-21s secured a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers in their first Premier League 2 fixture of the season.
Tom Cannon and Sean McAllister struck the decisive blows either side of the break to get Paul Tait’s team off the mark in the campaign at a sun-soaked Haig Avenue in Southport.
Everton manager Frank Lampard confirmed in his press conference on Thursday that skipper Coleman would feature in tonight’s opener after a small operation in pre-season - and the Republic of Ireland defender certainly didn’t disappoint.
Despite not playing a single minute of action since June, the 33-year-old was his combative self and showed his undoubted commitment to the cause throughout his time on the pitch - most notably putting in a solid challenge on Jake Garrett inside the area which received a loud cheer from the Evertonians watching on.
“I needed some minutes and tonight was perfect for that. It was good to get the realistic football back in.”— Everton (@Everton) August 5, 2022
🗨️ Seamus Coleman on his return to action... pic.twitter.com/yYRopt6A9M
Blackburn started the brighter of the two sides and forced Zan-Luk Leban into action twice in the opening 11 minutes, with the Slovenia stopper saving well Dan Butterworth and then Sam Burns.
The Toffees grew into the contest and began to assert their authority when Cannon struck the post after Isaac Price caught Rovers napping in the middle of the park.
Cannon then went close again on 24 minutes but was denied by the feet Aidan Dowling from close range.
However, the Everton striker wasn’t to be denied a third time - and clinically finished on 41 minutes to give Tait’s men the lead.
Sebastian Quirk did extremely well to feed the ball into Cannon’s path from the halfway line, and the striker showed great composure to round Dowling before sliding home.
Everton started the second 45 as they finished the first, and quickly took full control of the fixture when McAllister added a second.
The Northern Irish youngster cut inside from the left and unleashed a venomous drive past a helpless Dowling.
From there, the Blues had a plethora of chances to tie the game up but were thwarted by Rovers’ steely determination to hang on.
The visitors fought their way back into the game, but Everton remained resilient to see the game out and claim three points and a clean sheet in their first test of the 2022/23 campaign.