Baines’ Key Takeaways From Youth Cup Contest

Everton Under-18s Head Coach Leighton Baines insists there are plenty of positives to take from the young Blues’ 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup on Sunday.

The fourth-round fixture at Walton Hall Park saw Chelsea reduced to 10 men after Kaiden Wilson’s first-half dismissal. Nevertheless, the visitors managed to take the lead shortly after.

More defensive following half-time, Chelsea were put under pressure by the Toffees throughout much of the second period, but the away team doubled their advantage just after the hour mark.

Speaking to after the game, Baines recognises a lack of ruthlessness cost his side against a strong and clinical Chelsea outfit during a contest which was tactically different because of the early red card.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing – especially playing against 10 men,” he acknowledged. “We knew the game would be a challenge, but with the sending off, it turned into a completely different challenge. We were trying to find a way through a more reserved opposition, who have still got amazing quality on the pitch, and can be clinical and ruthless in transition.

"A sending off will always change a game, but we know Chelsea are one of the best teams in the country with some of the best players in the country. They had to adapt and evolve which they did well, and likewise, we prepared for high pressure and being pressed all over the pitch, and it ended up looking very different.

“I think both teams adapted, and we looked comfortable on the ball, but lacked a cutting edge.

“I think in the end, that’s what prevailed – them being clinical in the final third, and us not having that cutting edge. We didn’t manage to find a way through a body of players in a mid to low block and probably didn’t have the quality in the final action that they showed.”

Last time out in the FA Youth Cup, Everton earned a 4-1 victory at Goodison Park against Stockport County Under-18s, and following Sunday’s competitive showing, Baines knows his promising squad will have benefitted from the experience provided across both matches.

“There are always positives when you’re in a development setting,” he added. “Some of our lads won’t have played in a venue Goodison or like [Walton Hall Park] before. Playing against 10 men as well – for some of them it’ll be the first time they’ve gone through that.

“Every game looks game different, and what they can do now is each go back and reflect on their individual performances, as well as the collective experience. There are always positives and they’ll be plenty we can focus on and look to develop.”