Everton Under-19s suffered a 4-0 defeat to Wolves Under-19s in both sides’ opening game of the Premier League’s Next Gen Cup.
Playing in group A of the competition, the teams faced off at the Reliance Corporate Park in Mumbai, India.
Nathan Fraser struck Wolves into an early lead, and they led by just the one goal at half-time. However, Everton faded in the second half, conceding again from Fraser, as well as from Alfie Pond's towering header and Ty Barnett's solo strike.
Under-18s assistant coach Kieran Driscoll, who is leading the squad on the trip, reacted to the defeat after the game. Although disappointed, he feels the match will have provided valuable experience for Everton's youngsters.
“The goals were avoidable, so we’re not happy with that," Driscoll admitted. "Obviously, it’s a different environment for the players to acclimatise to, but we didn’t start well enough.
"We struggled later on, but I felt we kept our shape well in the first half and reduced their amount of chances. On reflection, it was a good experience overall – playing against a more senior Wolves side. They’re a really strong team, so it was a good opportunity for our lads to play against them.
“We’ll recover tomorrow and the preparations will begin for the next game. We’ll keep the boys motivated, take the positives, and show them the areas where we could’ve done better. We’ve got another came coming up, so we can change the mood very quickly."
Playing in the 31°C heat of the Mumbai night, the unfamiliar conditions were challenging for both sides, however it was Wolves who led after just five minutes through Fraser’s early goal.
A Wolves corner from the right side was flicked on at the near post, before the ball found Fraser, who powered the header past a helpless Jensen, and into the Everton goal.
Five minutes later, Everton threatened through Coby Ebere, who chopped and turned in the Wolves penalty area. His low cross was cut out, but it wasn’t long before the young forward troubled the Wolves defence yet again.
In the 18th minute, after driving through the centre of the field, Ebere nearly found Harry Apter with a smart pass, but the but the onrushing goalkeeper Joe Young was quick to collect.
A much-needed drinks break followed a couple of minutes later, but upon the restart, Fraser came close to doubling his tally. After turning on the by-line, he cut into the Everton penalty area, but fired his shot straight at Jensen, who parried it away.
Notably slowing after the half-hour mark, the pace of the game understandably reduced as both teams began to fatigue in the heat.
The Blues' creative talents of Isaac Heath and Jacob Beaumont-Clark began to drop deeper from the frontline, and into the middle of the pitch, trying to spark Everton into engineering an opportunity.
However, their efforts were unrewarded, and the 35-minute-half came to a close, with the Toffees trailing by the single goal.
Not long after the beginning of the second period, Fraser nearly doubled the Wolves lead. Again, the striker's presence was felt from a corner-kick. His header was blocked, and the ball fell to Farmer, who swivelled and smashed his shot against the crossbar.
Sustaining their threat on Jensen’s goal, Wolves scored their second of the evening in the 44th minute.
Matthew Apter’s mistimed tackle in the middle of the Everton half was penalised and the subsequent free kick was floated in by Owen Hesketh. Alfie Pond climbed highest to nod the ball into the back of the net.
Just minutes later, Wolves scored another. Led by Harvey Griffiths, an aggressive press won possession on the edge of the Everton penalty area. Griffiths chased onto the loose ball, pulling it back at the by-line, and playing in Fraser, who slotted in his second of the game.
A superbly taken solo effort by Ty Barnett added a fourth for Wolves on the hour mark, sealing the 4-0 victory.
Everton will hope bounce back in their next outing. The young Blues take on Sudeva Delhi FC on Saturday (11.30am BST) in their second group game of the competition.