Michael Donohue scored the decisive goal with 14 minutes remaining but, while the breakthrough undoubtedly came during Everton’s best spell of the game, we could and should have been ahead much earlier but for a lack of cutting edge going forward.
The lads controlled the possession for large parts of the game but it was the hosts who booked their place in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League play-off final against northern division winners Manchester City after making the most of one of few clear-cut chances they were afforded.
In general, the centre-back pairing of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Christian Maghoma were magnificent and their defensive endeavours warranted a clean sheet.
We started on the front foot with Shayon Harrison flicking the ball wide and then Filip Lesniak drilling just past the post after great work down the left flank by Nathan Oduwa on seven minutes.
Will Miller exhibited great close control as he worked his way in behind the Everton defence and squared for Emmanuel Sonupe two minutes later – but the right-sided attacker’s shot-on-the-turn cleared the crossbar.
Everton did get forward themselves on occasion but they were blocked off at every turn by the bravery and physicality of Carter-Vickers. He found himself up against Joe Williams and Courtney Duffus on two separate occasions but matched both for pace, got his body in the way and timed each tackle to perfection when required.
Miller wriggled free behind the defence on 32 minutes but his low shot crept the wrong side of the back post in one of our best chances of the half while Gethin Jones’ right-sided cross for Everton was swept over the bar by Calum Dyson arriving at the back post.
Harrison produced two saves from Toffees goalkeeper Russell Griffiths within three minutes as we continued to press, while it was only a well-timed covering tackle from Maghoma that prevented Harry Charsley from pulling the trigger with the entire goal to aim at as the first period drew to a close.
Jones’ crosses from the right flank were proving hard for our defence to repel and one nearly paid dividends three minutes into the second half when Dyson collected the ball in space, but a good save from goalkeeper Harry Voss kept the home side at bay.
Sonupe’s cross at the other end was just behind Harrison and as such the attacker couldn’t get a clean connection on the ball when he rose to head it, while keeper Griffiths made a low save amid a crowded penalty area after Kyle Walker-Peters worked himself into a shooting position inside the box.
You sensed the home side was growing in confidence with every chance we spurned and, on 61 minutes, they nearly made their belief count. Voss saved a Duffus header from another Jones cross at point-blank range before a combination of the keeper’s fists and his left-hand post kept out Callum Connolly’s free header from George Green’s free-kick.
We saw another opportunity go begging in the 71st minute when Harrison sprung Walker-Peters in behind the back four. Instead of shooting from a tight angle the right-back elected to play it square to Oduwa, but Everton read the situation early and cleared their lines before Oduwa could get involved.
The home side looked increasingly dangerous going forward and they finally broke the deadlock on 76 minutes. A quick break down the right ended when Donohue rolled the ball beyond advancing keeper Voss and into the far corner of the net.
It was all hands to the pump from there on in as we sought a leveller, with our best two chances in the closing stages falling to substitute Anton Walkes.
First the midfielder let fly from 25 yards, Griffiths spilling the shot but gathering at the second attempt, before curling a left-footed shot just over the top after Walker-Peters’ cut-back was deflected out to him on the edge of the 18-yard box.
Everton defended professionally, though, seeing out three minutes of stoppage time to consign us to defeat.
Spurs: Voss, Walker-Peters, Ogilvie, Lesniak, Carter-Vickers, Maghoma, Sonupe (Georgiou 72), Winks (Walkes 79), Harrison (Akindayini 79), Miller, Oduwa. Substitutes (not used): Goddard, Priestley (GK).