Post by Everton News. on Oct 28, 2018 13:32:09 GMT
Everton Under-23s return to the top of the Premier League 2 table after beating Man City
Everton Under-23s boss David Unsworth declared his satisfaction with a “great night’s work” after the young Blues beat Manchester City 1-0 to return to the top of the Premier League 2 table.
Bassala Sambou’s fourth-minute penalty proved the difference at Goodison Park, on a night when James McCarthy played his first competitive match since suffering a double leg break in January
The Irishman completed the 90 minutes and delivered an assured performance against a gifted City outfit, impressively marshalling the Toffees midfield alongside Beni Baningime and Dennis Adeniran.
Boss Unsworth praised the professionalism and hunger his side displayed throughout – and was thrilled to see McCarthy back in action.
“It was a great win and a great clean sheet,” he said. “We applied ourselves in a fantastic way. We showed great commitment, desire and quality as well. It was a great night’s work.
“It’s great to see James back, too, I’m absolutely delighted for him. I know him very well and he’s had a hard time.
“Tonight’s performance just shows all the great work he’s done in the gym and with all the physios and fitness coaches. He got better as the game went on.”
Unsworth named a strong side against City, with McCarthy featuring alongside Kieran Dowell, Beni Baningime and Mason Holgate in his starting XI.
And the game was just four minutes old when the young Blues took the lead. After some slick interplay with McCarthy, Dowell clipped in a cross looking for Sambou.
Before the striker got the chance to get on the end of it, he was cleaned out by City defender Philippe Sandler and the referee awarded a penalty.
Sambou stepped up and after his trademark ‘Bassala Shuffle’ slotted home to give Everton the lead.
Everton continued to look the more threatening side and Sambou could have had a second on 22 minutes. Baningime was the architect – showing terrific tenacity to win the ball deep in opposition territory, before playing in the striker whose effort was superbly saved by City stopper Curtis Anderson.
City gradually began to get a foothold of the game and almost had a leveller on the half-hour mark - Taylor Richards screwing his shot just wide from the edge of the box.
While the visitors continued to enjoy some decent periods of possession, the Everton defence held firm.
And after the break, the Blues soon got back into their stride as an attacking force.
First, Adeniran made a barnstorming run down the right-hand side, but his cross was just behind striker Sambou.
Nathan Broadhead went close, too, his swerving, dipping free-kick going fractions wide.
McCarthy's influence was also beginning to tell, with the Republic of Ireland international winning challenges, recovering possession and helping lay the platform for Everton attacks with his sharp, accurate passing.
City were handed a lifeline, however, with a quarter of an hour to go. Holgate was sent off for a second bookable offence, having been deemed to have tugged back Rabbi Matondo.
And Matondo had a chance to snatch a last-gasp equaliser for the visitors, but his low, driven effort was superbly held by Toffees ‘keeper Joao Virginia as Everton secured a deserved win.
Boss Unsworth was eager to highlight the impact of his senior players in the victory, as he emphasised the importance of his team developing a winning mentality.
His side are now two points clear of Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion at the top of Premier League 2.
“The senior boys stepping down were absolutely terrific,” he added. “Not just in their performance but in their work ethic for the team.
“There is an expectation at this club of performing and winning. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing for the first team, the 23s, the 18s... you’re playing for Everton and as coaches, we want to win.
“I’m always delighted when we perform and win – and we did that tonight.”