A young Everton Under-18s side bowed out of the Lancashire Senior Cup at the quarter-final stage with a 3-0 defeat to a vastly more experienced Barrow team on Tuesday afternoon.
Collectively, the hosts starting eleven had amassed more than 2,000 professional appearances, but Leighton Baines’ teenagers gave a spirited account of themselves despite falling short.
Indeed, it was 24 minutes before the League Two side broke the deadlock – Richie Bennett curling a low shot past Seb Jensen.
It would be the only goal of the first period and Jensen deserves a lot of credit for that. The young Blues keeper made a string of excellent saves – with one flying tip over the bar even prompting applause from the Barrow fans.
There was no shortage of backing for the Cumbrians after they invited more than 600 local schoolchildren into the match.
Barrow had by far the best of the first-half possession, but they were indebted to their own keeper Josh Lillis when he parried an angled drive from Jenson Metcalfe around the post after a clever Everton short-corner routine.
Seb Jensen was at it again after the break making a couple of fine stops before Bennett headed his and Barrow’s second goal just after the hour mark.
To their huge credit, Everton didn’t allow the contest to completely run away from them and they played some decent football in the second period. Barrow had far more physicality and know-how but the young Toffees certainly weren’t found wanting and stood up gamely to the task.
Barrow substitute Ged Garner headed the third goal in the 73rd minute and shortly after Everton came close to a consolation when Jacob Beaumont-Clark curled a lovely free-kick over the home wall and was unfortunate to see the ball strike the crossbar.