By Paddy Boyland
Everton U23s moved a step closer to the Premier League 2 title with a 4-1 win over Tottenham at Goodison Park.
The table-toppers only sporadically found their rhythm in a stop-start encounter that heralded the return of Mo Besic and Brendan Galloway and a second-string outing for Ademola Lookman, but eventually saw their superior class shine through against the men from north London.
An even first-half saw both sides trade chances, before a close-range strike around the hour mark from Lookman settled nerves.
Substitute Bass Sambou doubled Everton’s lead shortly after, but the ex-Coventry man’s effort was swiftly cancelled out by a scrappy goal from the visitors. Another stunner from Kieran Dowell restored the young Blues’ two-goal lead, before Dominic Cavert-Lewin put the gloss on the scoreline late on with a tidy finish from just inside the box.
After comfortably seeing out the game, David Unsworth’s men are now five points clear of closest rivals Manchester City and within touching distance of lifting the coveted trophy in the process.
Here’s how Everton’s young guns performed at the Old Lady.
Rarely tested as Everton enjoyed the lion’s share of position- in truth, one of the first things he had to do was pick the ball out of the Park End net in the second-half. A big, imposing presence who commands his goal well, and now a regular part of first-team training. Kicking needs work, though.
Limited in his attacking influence at times- perhaps due to Spurs’ system- but strong and committed throughout. One excellent first-half cross almost helped the Blues break the deadlock and always looked comfortable against his opposite number.
Caught the wrong side of Tracey on a few occasions, but steady enough on the whole. A proper throwback defender that relies on good positioning and a sound reading of the game. Decent prospect.
A class above most of the other defenders on show. Commanding in the air and brilliant in surging forward to set up Lookman’s opener.
Another decent showing for the left-back. Great engine and rarely beaten in one-on-one situations. May well have a future at the club in the long-term.
Handed a welcome return to action following a lengthy injury, and should be happy with his evening’s work. Combative as ever before being subbed at half-time.
Technically superb and the main man in midfield for Unsworth’s men. Has definitely had better games this season, but again did enough to suggest the hype surrounding him is justified. Passes the ball extremely well off both feet.
A willing runner in a more advanced role, yet lacked the ingenuity to break through Spurs’ back three. Better shielding the back four.
On the fringes for long spells until a wonderful strike from the edge of the box. A sound technician who needs to show more in general play to force his way into senior contention.
Struggled to find his footing on a slippery pitch and didn’t seem to know an awful lot about his opener. Easy to see why he hasn’t featured more regularly for the first-team, as he lost a couple of 50-50s meekly.
Held the ball up superbly in spells and took his opportunity well when it came. Particularly good in the air against imposing opponents.
Made a big difference upon his introduction, stetching play and firing home a cracker on his weaker foot. Certainly one to watch in the coming seasons.
Stabilised the Everton midfield after coming on as a half-term replacement for Besic. Industrious out of possession and smart when breaking into the area from midfield.