Post by Everton News. on Oct 31, 2018 16:36:42 GMT
David Unsworth said the young Blues' Checkatrade Trophy clash with Oldham Athletic will have provided “a great lesson” for his players after they were edged out 3-2 at Boundary Park.
A superb low drive from Nathangelo Markelo and a well-worked goal from Shayne Lavery put the Toffees 2-0 up at the break but the League Two outfit hit back in the second half.
Former Everton player Peter Clarke got the Latics’ first, before Ishmael Miller levelled things up.
Jonathan Benteke, younger brother of Crystal Palace striker Christian, then completed the turnaround late in the piece.
Boss Unsworth admitted his frustration his side could not convert their half-time advantage into a victory but believes the experience of facing hardened senior professionals will prove invaluable for the Blues' emerging talents.
“The game was a prime example of why I champion young players playing senior football,” he said.
“First-half we were a threat, we played some good football and created good chances. We played between the lines very well, every time we came forward we looked like we were going to score. We got ourselves a cushion in the game - and deservedly so.
“But then we had to stand up to that pressure from the opposition – we knew there would be an onslaught – and we didn’t deal with it. I am disappointed with the second-half performance.
“It was about sticking to the gameplan and dealing with the physicality from a different type of football [than we are used to]. That’s the biggest thing they have to learn from.
“That’s why we play in this competition, because it churns out these type of situations, that maybe we don’t come across every week. It’s a great lesson for our players.”
Unsworth fielded a side with an average age of just 19.8 – compared to the hosts’ 25.2 – and the Premier League 2 leaders got after their more experienced opponents straight from the first whistle.
The young Blues started the game on the front foot and took just six minutes to make the breakthrough – Markelo firing into the bottom corner after a loose ball fell to him on the edge of the box.
The Toffees almost doubled their lead just four minutes later, Nathan Broadhead’s sumptuous curling effort hitting the underside of the bar with Oldham stopper Daniel Iversen beaten all ends up.
The Latics pressed for an equaliser but Everton continued to look a threat on the break. And, on 23 minutes, Unsworth’s side had their second of the night.
Markelo was the architect this time, his teasing cross from the right-hand side was begging to be tapped home and Northern Ireland international Lavery duly obliged.
Oldham went agonisingly close to halving the deficit just before the half-hour mark – Miller’s daisy-cutter hitting the inside of the post.
And the woodwork came to Everton’s rescue again on 36 minutes, when Latics skipper Clarke headed against the upright.
The game was end-to-end at this point and back came the young Blues, Dennis Adeniran scampered into the penalty box before forcing a fine save from Iversen.
The Toffees went into half-time two goals to the good and wasted no time in showcasing their ambition after the break, with Iversen at full-stretch to keep out Broadhead’s long-range effort.
But it was the home side who were to strike next, Clarke bundling home from substitute Dan Gardner’s free-kick delivery on 53 minutes.
And the Latics levelled things up three minutes later. Miller worked some space in the area before finishing low into the bottom corner.
Buoyed by the equaliser, Oldham put together a spell of pressure, with Clarke and Gardner going close.
But the young Blues were in no mood to be rolled over. Josh Bowler, who had come on as a substitute for goalscorer Lavery, drove at the Oldham backline and shot low and hard at the Latics goal – but Iversen was again able to save the home side.
As it was, Oldham were to snatch the winner. Benteke coolly took the ball round Mateusz Hewelt before slotting home from a tight angle on 79 minutes.
The Toffees pressed for an equaliser, with Bowler and Morgan Feeney both testing Iversen, but it was not to be for Unsworth’s men.
“The lads didn’t let their heads go down, which they never do, because they’re a good group,” the manager added. “And when they went 3-2 up we had a few chances, so that was encouraging.
“But we had to manage the game better [when we were ahead].
“It was a great learning game for them. That’s exactly why I love this competition and why I am massive advocate of young players playing against senior teams.”