Everton Under-18s were unfortunate to fall to a 1-0 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers in Premier League (North) on Saturday after having enough chances to come away with at least a point.
Leighton Baines' side dominated possession through the contest at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground but the match was decided on the stroke of half-time when Marvin Kaleta netted for the hosts. And despite the young Blues pushing for the equaliser, they were unlucky to come up short.
Everton applied pressure from the outset, a powerful run and cross from Roman Dixon almost creating the opening goal but for smart goalkeeping from Stan Amos.
As the first half continued, Wolves grew into the game, creating a couple of half chances but nothing clear-cut. Leon Chiwome was able to get in behind the defence before keeper Seb Jensen produced a routine save down to his right.
Both sides lacked a cutting edge in attack, failing to sustain attacks and create chances, until, against the run of play, the hosts took the lead in the 45th minute after a moment of brilliance from right-back Kaleta. A driving run from the halfway line took him through the defence before finishing calmly into the bottom right corner.
The game exploded into life at the beginning of the second half with both sides creating chances. Martin Sherif’s constant pressure allowed captain Halid Djankpata to get a shot off inside the box, only to be denied by a brilliant save from Amos tipping the ball around the post. Wolves responded with a flurry of corners and free-kicks challenging the backline and goalkeeper but were unable to convert.
Sherif then ghosted in behind the defence after a swift counter-attack which saw substitute Troy Smikie-James slip the ball past the defenders for the striker to run onto, forcing Amos into action again.
Searching for an equaliser, Everton continued to dominate possession but the home defence stood strong. Captain Fil Mabete produced a terrific block on Sherif in the latter stages of the match by stopping a certain goal.
Everton Under-18s are back in action after the international break when they host Manchester City at Finch Farm on Saturday 1 October (11am GMT).