Everton Under-21s 2 (McAleny 25, 77)
Stoke City Under-21s 0
THE DEVELOPMENT SQUAD’S hopes of recording their first league victory since the beginning of February were dashed on Monday evening as they slipped to a 2-0 loss at the hands of Everton.
A brace from forward Conor McAleny was enough to condemn the Under-21s to defeat at Southport’s Merseyrail Community Stadium.
City, who fielded four second-year scholars in their starting line-up, were undone by two moments of brilliance on the night by a far more experienced Everton side which included two senior forwards.
It was one of those attackers who almost gave the Blues an early lead in the 10th minute when City could only half clear to the edge-of-the-area, but Magaye Gueye fired just wide of Daniel Bachmann’s left-hand post.
The Toffees continue to apply the pressure and almost took the lead through McAleny after a fine passage of play but Bachmann was quick off his line to thwart the forward at his feet, however he wasn’t to be denied moments later.
After picking the ball up out on the left wing, the former Brentford loanee was allowed time to move towards the corner of the box before curling a scrumptious effort into the top corner of the net.
The goal seemed to spark the visitors into life and after Eddy Lecygne tried to catch the ‘keeper off guard with an audacious free-kick from 50 yards, the French midfielder clipped the outside of the post minutes later when 20 yards closer to goal.
City continued their search for an equaliser before the interval and for better finishing they may have gone in level as winger Joel Taylor screwed over after the ball had found its way to him at the far post, before Charlie Ward lashed wide from distance after good approach play by the Potters midfield.
However, Glyn Hodges’ side were unable to carry their momentum into the second period and it was Everton who were quickest out of the blocks as John Lundstram went close but the midfielder couldn’t quite rise high enough to head home Luke Garbutt’s right-wing corner.
Seconds later McAleny could have doubled his side’s advantage but he was denied by an excellent stop from Bachmann, before Stoke went back in search of a leveller and were a challenge away from doing so.
A good passage of play allowed Taylor to play the ball into Derice Richards but as the forward was about to fire towards goal, Matthew Pennington was on hand for the Blues with a superb last-ditch challenge to deny the forward.
City’s hopes of getting back into the game were worsened with 13 minutes remaining though as John Lundstram played a defence splitting ball through to McAleny who grabbed his second of the evening with a cool finish over Bachmann from 10 yards.
Hodges threw on Mason Watkins in place of Richards up front to try and breathe new life into the Potters attack and his introduction almost reaped instant dividends as he got on the end of Taylor’s left wing cross, but he was unable to get enough power on the header to trouble Mateusz Taudul
City pressed to try and pull a goal back in the remaining minutes but their efforts were in vain as Everton saw out the match and claimed the three points.
Everton: Taudul, Touray, Garbutt, Lundstram, Browning, Pennington, Kennedy, Williams, Vellios, McAleny, Gueye.
Stoke City: Bachmann, Wheeler, Meling, Ward, Grant, Gomez, Thomas, Lecygne, Coban (Adeloye 69), Richards (Watkins 80), Taylor.