Manager Paul Tait saluted a complete performance from his Everton Under-18s side after an excellent 3-0 victory over Manchester United at USM Finch Farm on Saturday.
Francis Okoronkwo scored his first Everton goal since joining the Club from Sunderland in September, with Emilio Lawrence and Martin Sherif also on target for the Toffees.
Lawrence’s superb top-corner finish on the stroke of half-time gave Everton a deserved lead.
Okoronkwo headed home just seven minutes after being introduced as a substitute midway through the second half to double the Blues’ advantage. The attacker was making just his second Everton appearance, having been sidelined through injury since his arrival on Merseyside.
Sherif then struck on 73 minutes to put the result beyond doubt.
The win moves Everton level on points with fourth-placed United in the U18 Premier League (North) table.
“We started the game really well and I was delighted with the work we did out of possession,” Tait explained. “We turned the ball over a lot of times and had a lot of chances in the first half, which we weren’t able to put away.
“We finally got the breakthrough with a great goal from Emilio just before half-time and going into the break at 1-0 was the least we deserved.
“In the second half, we talked about continuing to press and not letting them out – the work-rate of our players was outstanding and we got the two goals to put the game to bed.
“It was great for Frankie [Okoronkwo] to come on and score. Martin also kept up his good scoring run, which was good to see.
“We’re delighted to get the clean sheet, too. Luke Butterfield and Jenson Metcalfe were excellent again in midfield – they have been terrific for the past few weeks.
“We had a couple of the older lads back today, too, with Frankie coming on and Charlie Whitaker dropping down [from the Under-23s] to play for us. They helped to make the difference.”
Tait is confident talented forward Okoronkwo can build on his goalscoring performance as he works his way back to optimum fitness.
He also paid tribute to the positive and determined attitude the 17-year-old has displayed since signing for Everton.
“Frankie has been injured since joining the Club and we’re just starting to get him up to match speed now,” Tait explained.
“He came off the bench last week for 20 minutes [in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal] – we upped that today and he came on and got his goal.
“He’s a really bubbly lad, full of personality. He was delighted to score and the lads we’re delighted for him as well, because it’s very tough to come to a new club and then be injured.
“Hopefully that’s the first goal of many he’ll score for us.”