David Unsworth paid tribute to the “hunger” of his players after Everton Under-23s drew 1-1 with Chelsea in their first Premier League 2 game of the campaign.
Harry Charsley’s 20-yard drive slipped through Chelsea goalkeeper Marcin Bulka to put the Toffees in front with half-an-hour remaining.
But the hosts hit back 10 minutes later when midfielder Charly Musonda scored from the spot.
Everton finished the game in the ascendancy but couldn’t land a decisive blow and ultimately settled for a very good point in west London.
Unsworth insisted his industrious side could have claimed all three points but was nevertheless delighted with the young Blues' efforts at Stamford Bridge. And the manager reserved special praise for the respective contributions of seasoned trio Joe Williams, Matthew Pennington and Tyias Browning.
"I really enjoyed it, it was a very good team performance,” Unsworth told evertonfc.com.
“I'm disappointed not to get the win because for the last ten or 15 minutes we really came on strong and our fitness was unbelievable, we had opportunities to win the game and were the better team in the second-half.
"I thought Joe Williams and the two centre-halves, Matty Pennington and Tyias Browning, were immense, absolutely outstanding."
"We always know that Harry has a goal in him. He struck it well and although it was a goalkeeping mistake, we will take it."
"There's a hunger about this group of players and I think the substitutes [Dennis Adeniran, Bassala Sambou and Josh Bowler] had a positive effect on the game."
The Toffees were indebted to goalkeeper Joe Hilton in the 11th minute when he made an excellent save to deny Charlie Brown with the striker seemingly certain to score.
A Fraser Hornby header from an Antony Evans cross forced Bulka into his lone save in the opening half.
Hilton wasn’t overly extended either, although Chelsea nearly had the ball in the net just before the break when Luke McCormick drilled across the face of goal and Ike Ugbo just failed to apply a touch at the far post.
A slide-rule pass from Adeniran played Nathan Broadhead in on goal early in the second half but the winger’s effort was smothered by Bulka.
Chelsea claimed a goal not long after when Marc Guehi’s header was scrambled away by midfielder Williams with Hilton well beaten. Without the assistance of VAR, the referee dismissed the appeals.
Republic of Ireland Under-21 midfielder Charsley tried his luck from 20-yards on the hour and, although the shot was well-struck, ‘keeper Bulka made an error in allowing the ball to pass through his hands and into the net.
The Chelsea equaliser came from the penalty spot after Brendan Galloway had brought down Tariq Lamptey, albeit Musonda needed a stroke of luck to convert his kick. Hilton appeared to have saved the Belgian’s effort, only for the ball to escape the 18-year-old’s grasp.
Everton almost restored the advantage nine minutes from time when Williams crossed from the right and Pennington was desperately unlucky to see his header hit the crossbar.
Unsworth's side finished the stronger but could not force the winning goal their endeavour merited.