Late Penalty Denies Win For Everton Under-18s

Everton Under-18s earned a 1-1 draw against Wolves Under-18s at Finch Farm on Tuesday night.

Jacob Beaumont-Clark’s first-half solo effort opened the scoring for the Blues, but this was cancelled out by Wolves' 90th-minute penalty, scored by Josh Esen. 

Although a disappointing result after leading for so long, the draw extends Everton's unbeaten run in the league. Leighton Baines' team have not tasted league defeat since late October.

However, when speaking to after the game, assistant coach Kieran Driscoll discussed the need to start converting their draws into wins.

He explained: “Winning games, at this stage, isn’t the most important thing, but these lads are working towards having careers in the professional game, and we want to create that winning mentality.

“The unbeaten run isn’t something we speak about all the time, but we’d obviously like to convert some of those draws into wins,” added Driscoll.

On the game itself, Driscoll was pleased with the first-half performance. He said: “I thought we executed the game plan really well in the first half. We looked comfortable in our shape and took a deserved 1-0 lead into half-time.

“It was disappointing not to carry that into the second half and to allow Wolves back into the game. Obviously, the overriding disappointment is to concede so late on.

“It’s a game of fine margins, and I felt we created enough in the first half to put the game to bed. That’s football sometimes. You get punished for not being clinical,” he added.

The Toffees enjoyed a strong first half and were close to finding the back of the net after just 10 minutes. Isaac Heath, who threatened throughout in an advanced midfield role, produced a cultured pass to switch the play. Jacob Beaumont-Clark chopped and turned on the right-wing before digging out an accurate ball to Joel Catesby, whose effort was volleyed just wide.

After coming close on several occasions, Everton finally found the lead after 33 minutes, when Beaumont-Clark brilliantly opened the scoring.

After a Wolves attack, Everton picked up the ball near the halfway line. With so many Wolves players further up the pitch, the young Blues were left with a numerical advantage as they kick-started a lethal counter-attack. Beaumont-Clark drove with the ball through the Wolves half, before rounding the keeper and calmly slotting into an empty net.

Despite Everton having the edge in the first 45 minutes, Wolves came close as the half reached its conclusion. A collective cheer by the Blues’ defence after defending an off target shot gave an insight into the togetherness and mentality of Leighton Baines’ team.

The second half began much like the first had finished, with Everton having the slight edge in a fast-paced and close encounter.

There was more of a focus on defensive work for Everton as the game edged towards the final whistle, however the young Blues showed great organisation to limit Wolves’ chances to the occasional long-range effort.

However, as the game approached stoppage time, the visitors were awarded a penalty after Esen was brought down in the box. The Wolves attacker stepped up and converted to equalise and in doing so, providing a crushing blow for the Blues.

The game finished at 1-1 and Everton will be disappointed after being the better side and providing a resolute defensive display in the second 45 minutes following the moments of attacking quality in the first half.