Under-23s still unbeaten after Everton stalemate
Everton 0-0 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Mon 19 October 2020, 20:45|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s remain unbeaten in Premier League 2, and arguably deserved more as it ended goalless against Everton at Southport's Pure Stadium on Monday evening.
Joao Virginia produced two saves out of the top drawer to deny Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Elliot Thorpe as we dominated the first half. Further chances came and went in that opening period, although Rhys Hughes almost broke the deadlock for Everton as he planted a free-kick onto the crossbar.
Where we started brightly in the first half, Everton got on the front foot in the second half and forced three fine saves from Brandon Austin, the pick a one-on-one to deny Ellis Simms. We got back on top and kept searching for a winner until the end of a high-octane encounter and almost grabbed the points late on when Dilan Markanday's cross fell to substitute J'Neil Bennett, who lashed just wide.
Anthony Georgiou drove us forward from the first whistle, his early darts down the left leading to chances for Kion Etete and Markanday and then Rodel Richards, who was denied a goal by Con Ouzoundis' block. We continued to dominate as shots from Richards and Harvey White were deflected wide and then Lyons-Foster met White's corner six yards out, only to see Virginia keep it out.
Everton's first effort of note arrived on 31 minutes as Simms placed a shot just wide. Einar Iversen dipped a volley over and Hughes rattled the crossbar from a free-kick, but play switched back to Everton's goal as Markanday's 30-yarder zipped just over and, in added time, Thorpe's low drive was deflected and destined for the bottom corner until Virginia got down to touch wide.
Roles were reversed at the start of the second half as the home team flew out of the traps. Iversen struck a low shot from the edge of the box saved by Austin on 47 minutes and two minutes later, Austin stood firm to block with his legs as Simms charged into the box.
Virginia had to palm away Marcel Lavinier's cross and Austin matched it with a full-length tip away after Matthew Pennington burst the length of the pitch before letting fly from the edge of the box.
We wrestled back the initiative in the final quarter. Etete couldn't quite get enough power on White's cross to trouble Virginia, and after Dennis Cirkin produced a great block to deny Simms, we pinned Everton in late on.
Jubril Okedina met White's corner with a firm header on 82 minutes but couldn't keep his effort on target and as we continued to push, the final chance fell to substitute Bennett, who collected Markanday's cross at the far post but lashed wide.
Wayne's verdict from Southport
Under-23s Coach Wayne Burnett was pleased with the team's display - and suggested the players were disappointed not to take maximum points. "I thought we played well and had some really good spells in the game. Certainly in the first half, we had some really good chances, and their goalkeeper produced two fantastic saves, one from Brooklyn, one from Elliot," he said.
"It's always difficult here against a tough, tough Everton team, but we feel a little disappointed tonight that we haven't come away with all three points and that gives us an indication that the team is growing. The players are disappointed we haven't won, which is good.
"I just felt at times we got into some brilliant areas, put some great crosses in, but we maybe lacked a tiny bit of conviction, that little bit of aggression, and that can make the difference. We're learning and we'll get better.
"I just sense that we're growing, there is a seriousness about them, a togetherness about them and at times, we played some really good football against a decent Everton team. We're showing more maturity, more discipline at times and we were unfortunate not to come away with a win."
Everton 0-0 Spurs (Premier League 2)
Everton: Virginia, Pennington, Anderson (Small 67), Baningime (c), Ouzoundis, Astley, Hunt (Jagne 46), Onyango, Simms, Iversen, Hughes (Quirk 80). Substitutes (not used): Tyrer, Cannon.
Spurs: Austin, Lavinier, Cirkin, White, Okedina (c), Lyons-Foster, Markanday, Thorpe (Omole 74), Etete, Richards (Bennett 80), Georgiou. Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Pochettino, Mukendi.
Yellow cards: Everton - Anderson 14, Hunt 23, Jagne 60, Onyango 63, Baningime 85; Spurs - Lyons-Foster 21.
Referee: Thomas Parsons.
Venue: The Pure Stadium, Southport FC.
Weather: Raining at kick-off, 10 degrees.