Everton Under-21s assistant coach Keith Southern was pleased with the effort and character shown by the young Blues despite a 4-1 defeat to a strong Manchester United side at Leigh Sports Village.
The Premier League 2 win makes it six victories in a row for the home team, who scored twice in a closely-contested second half to secure the victory.
Everton displayed great fortitude in the first half to provide a quick response after conceding twice in the space of just five minutes. Liam Higgins gave them hope when he netted to halve the deficit shortly before half-time. However, a clinical Manchester United went on to make the Blues pay for not taking their chances.
Speaking to evertonfc.com, Southern believes the result did not reflect the action on the pitch. He said: “The score was flattering towards them. Their coach said as much after the game as well.
“Our second-half performance was excellent. We dominated the game and dominated the big moments with the chances we created. We had two or three glorious opportunities to draw level.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t take them, and when that happens you leave yourselves vulnerable at the other end. They had an outstanding player in Omari Forson, who played wide left, and he scored a hat-trick.”
Discussing the young Blues, Southern added: “We were really happy in terms of the effort and application shown. They fought their way back into the game.”
Describing a ‘physically taxing’ schedule for the Under-21s, Southern said: “It’s been a difficult week with it being the third game in six days, but we showed great character and resilience. I think the only thing missing was the quality in the final third to take one of those terrific chances we had.
“If we had equalised, the staff and I were quite positive that we could’ve gone on and won the game. That’s how dominant and controlling that spell in the second half was.”
Heading into the game, Katia Kouyate returned to the Everton starting line-up following his second-half strike during their midweek win against Dinamo Zagreb.
Despite Kouyate joining the in-form Francis Okoronkwo in the attack to form a dangerous front line, it was Manchester United’s Joe Hugill who opened the scoring after 28 minutes to put the home team in front.
Omari Forson’s effort made it two goals in as many games for the 18-year-old, and in doing so, doubled the lead for United.
Conceding two goals in quick succession made it a disappointing start for the Blues. However, Everton showed courage to fight back, making it 2-1 just five minutes after conceding the second goal.
Higgins was the scorer, and his goal made sure Everton were still in the game at half-time.
Despite a second-half that showed promise for Everton, the impressive Forson scored a second after 77 minutes to send United into a comfortable 3-1 lead.
A 94th-minute penalty gave Forson a great opportunity to score a third, and the young forward converted from the spot to complete his hat-trick.
Everton battled to the final whistle, but the game finished at 4-1, sealing a sixth consecutive victory for a strong Manchester United team.
Looking ahead for the young Blues, the next game could provide a great opportunity to return to winning ways. They will be looking to bounce back when they play Tottenham Hotspur Under-21s on Friday evening at Haig Avenue (7pm GMT).