Everton Under-19s suffered a 3-0 defeat to West Ham United in their final outing of the Premier League’s Next Gen Cup on Thursday evening.
Played at Mumbai’s Reliance Corporate Park, the game was a third-place playoff match, after both sides finished as runners-up in their respective groups.
Following a strong first-half display, Everton faded towards the end of the game. West Ham’s Gideon Kodua scored twice, while Oli Scarles also found the back of the net.
Kodua was then denied his hat-trick after Seb Jensen produced a terrific penalty save to stop the forward from 12 yards.
Reflecting on the defeat, Blues’ coach Kieran Driscoll praised his team’s quality in the first half, but admitted they struggled as the game reached the latter stages.
“It’s a disappointing result to finish the competition with,” Driscoll admitted. “I was actually really pleased with our performance in the first half. Everything we’d asked the lads before the game, I felt they executed really well.
“I thought it was an even game in the first half, and the early parts of the second half too. However, the first goal of the game was crucial, and I was disappointed with how we reacted to that.
“Having said that, we’ve had some really positive experiences during the competition and I’m sure the players will take a lot from it. That’ll be crucial for their long-term development.”
Despite the match being played at a local time of 8pm, there was still an intense 31-degree heat for the players to endure throughout the game.
Kieran Driscoll made five changes to the starting 11 that overcame RF Young Champs in their previous matchup. Jensen, Roman Dixon, Callum Bates, Isaac Heath and Jacob Beaumont-Clark all came into the team.
After overcoming an early onslaught from the Hammers, Bates and Beaumont-Clark combined to create a terrific attempt, however, they were denied by a strong save from Mason Terry.
Shortly after, Coby Ebere received a fantastic over-the-top through ball to which he showcased terrific skill and pace to beat his man, but then put the ball just over the crossbar.
West Ham came close before the end of the half, but had a goal disallowed from a corner in the 35th minute. Kaelen Casey’s leaping header put the ball in the net, however, an Everton player had been fouled in the box.
As the second half began, Ebere highlighted his threat as he dribbled past opposition defenders but was unable to get the shot off.
After a blistering halfway-line run from Dixon, in which he beat two West Ham defenders, he passed it to Beaumont-Clark, whose shot was deflected over the bar.
Despite the Blues threat, West Ham took the lead in the 62nd minute. A pass across the six-yard box from Scarles found Kodua, who struck it well to fire his side in front.
Their advantaged was then doubled after Scarles converted a composed left-footed attempt from inside the box.
Kodua then got his second goal of the match after his towering header nodded the ball in from a corner.
In the dying embers of the game, Jensen gave away a penalty when trying to retrieve the ball, however he stepped up and denied Kodua’s hat-trick, leaping towards his left to make a strong save.