Everton Start Pre-Season With Swiss Win

Everton picked up a victory in their opening pre-season encounter on Friday evening, beating FC Stade Nyonnais 2-1 in Switzerland.

Katia Kouyate’s second-half strike powered the Blues into a 1-0 lead, and Neal Maupay scored from the spot shortly after.

The home side reduced the deficit late on, Dylan Dugourd’s volley flying into the top corner, but the Swiss opposition failed to find a second and the Blues secured a well-deserved victory to open their pre-season campaign after arriving in Lake Geneva for a training camp on Monday.

Substitutes aplenty for both teams, Dyche's line-up featured a mix of experienced players, alongside young prospects. 

After impressing on loan at Preston North End in the second half of last season, Tom Cannon was given a chance to catch manager Sean Dyche’s eye with a start in a two-man attack alongside Neal Maupay as part of a 4-4-2 formation.

It was the Academy graduate who had the contest’s first chance on nine minutes when he was played clean through by Nathan Patterson’s incisive pass, only to move into the area and drag a finish just wide of the far post.

Cannon was back in the action moments later, exchanging passes with Maupay which ended with Dwight McNeil rounding Nyonnais keeper Edin Omeragic and squeezing a shot inches wide as he was crowded out by home defenders.

McNeil went close again just before the half-hour mark. Alex Iwobi’s quick thinking allowed Maupay acres of space to move in from the right channel and slide a teasing pass across goal that the winger was inches away from tucking home.

It was so nearly 1-0 to the Blues a minute later as McNeil breezed through the middle, twisted and jinked his way past three opponents and lifted his finish over the bar from 12 yards as he looked to cap off a fine solo run.

Nyonnais were limited to a few long-range efforts that failed to trouble Joao Virginia as the half ended with another missed opportunity for Everton to take a deserved lead.

Maupay found more space in the area, passed across to McNeil who teed up Cannon, with the 20-year-old smashing his shot over the bar when well placed.

Dyche made five changes for the start of the second half. Kouyate, Adoulaye Doucoure, Mackenzie Hunt, Francis Okoronkwo and Tyler Onyango all made their way on to the field.

Virginia was called into action immediately, having to quickly react to a long ball through the Everton defence. The young shot-stopper produced a strong save to keep the score level.

Minutes after coming on, Doucoure came close to opening the scoring. Okoronkwo’s pass was cleverly dummied by Maupay and the ball fell to the Blues’ Malian midfielder, who struck first time to force a save from Omeragic.

The home side enjoyed some possession after a busy start to the half, but the Toffees were yet to be troubled.

Threatening again, Michael Keane crept up the field, ambitiously unleashing a powerful effort just before the hour mark. However, the ball fired past the left post.

Not long after, the Blues took the lead in the 61st minute through Kouyate. A lovely first touch from Iwobi brought the ball down on the right side, and he drifted towards the central edge of the penalty area and then threaded a ball to Kouyate.

The exciting Under-21s’ winger took a touch, before powering the ball past the keeper at the near post.  

An acrobatic celebration followed from the 19-year-old, somersaulting his way to the corner flag, as the travelling supporters cheered the impressive opener.

As they had done earlier in the half, Nyonnais responded resiliently with a strong showing of possession, but, 10 minutes after scoring the first, Everton found the back of the net again – this time from the penalty spot.

Involved once more, Iwobi played a through ball to Okoronkwo, who turned in the penalty area, being fouled by the pressuring defender as he did so.

Maupay stepped up to take the spot-kick, and the Frenchman calmly slotted the ball straight down the middle to double the Everton lead.

Six minutes later, Hunt, a versatile left-sided player from the Under-21s, produced a long-range strike that forced a save from Omeragic.

That was one of the few chances for either side as the game slowed somewhat, and the dip in intensity following Everton’s second goal, was punished by Nyonnais in the 81st minute.

A low cross from the right wing was deflected off Hunt and the ball flicked up in the air. Striking first time, Dugourd volleyed the ball into the top corner to half the deficit.

Any threat of a comeback was soon nullified as the game edged towards its conclusion, with neither side threatening to change the scoreline.

Kouyate's charge down the left-wing, showing trickery and work-rate, typified his performance, as he carried the Blues up the pitch, before winning a free-kick. 

The final whistle blew seconds later to signal the end of the game; a winning start to pre-season for Dyche and his team.