Our youth team reporter, ´alan ball´ reports on Everton U18´s 2-2 draw with Stoke.

Everton U18s threw away a 2 goal half time lead in very windy conditions. A wind assisted goal gave Everton the lead on 26 minutes before Anton Forrester added to put the blues 2 up just before the break only for the Potters to score 2 goals in 3 minutes early in the second half.

It was bonfire night when these last met as Everton were 2-1 winners with goals from Chris Long and Anton Forrester at Clayton Wood.

Both teams are involved in the FA youth cup next week as Everton travel to play QPR and Stoke have home advantage on the same night against Brentford.

Both teams observed a minutes silence for the ex Blues defender Gary Ablett who passed away last weekend at a very cold and windy Finch Farm.

Everton got the game underway and produced the first shot from distance when Conor Grant tried his luck but not enough to trouble Eve in the visitors goal.

Ryan Higgins mad a run for Everton on the right and his cross was cleared by Parry the Stoke centre back with a headed clearance as Everton surged forward.

Everton were certainly taking advantage of the wind in the first half but this was not giving both teams the opportunity to demonstrate the football they can play.

Everton had to make a change on 20 minutes as Jordan Barrow got injured and had to leave the field on a “golf buggy” as Eric Dier entered the pitch to replace him.

Dier got the blues in front on 26 minutes as Everton mounted pressure with a Dier deflection that came off a Higgins shot which caught Eve in the Stoke goal by surprise as the ball seemed to hang in the air then drop down into the net and put the hosts ahead.

Everton were by far the better side although Stoke tried in vain to catch their opponents on the counter but another goal gave Everton some breathing space as the lively Higgins played Forrester through to hit with his left foot and increase the lead.

Grant and Thomas had efforts on goal as the first half came to a close but Everton were full value for their two goal half time lead.

HALF TIME EVERTON U18’S 2 STOKE CITY U18’S 0

Everton seemed to cope with conditions better second half than Stoke did in the first 45.

As they did in the first half Everton were getting forward in the early stages and looking threatening as Thomas tested the keeper who dealt well with and an effort from Hope who won a corner for the blues.

Stoke managed to get on the scoresheet as they were awarded a penalty for what seemed to be a pulling of shirts from Dier as a Stoke forward entered the box and referee Mr Corlett had no hesitation in pointing to the spot as Jordan Richardson put his effort beyond Fitzgibbon and give the Potters a lifeline.

Everton were hit with an equalising blow as poor defending from a corner saw substitute Ryan Brunt who has recently been on loan at Luton Town head without a challenge passed Fitzgibbon to level the contest.

The wind was the only winner in this game as neither side troubled the keepers as the game was nearing the end, although Hope did have a snap shot on the 70 minute mark.

Everton did try and change things making a couple of substitutions with Higgins and Forrester being replaced by Touray and Long respectively but a point apiece was probably a fair result in the end.

Man of the match contenders were Higgins, Hennegan, Hope and Dier but the award this week goes to Ben Heneghan.

FULL TIME EVERTON U18’S 2 STOKE CITY U18’S 2

Everton: Fitzgibbon, Browning, Johns, Heneghan (c ), Hammar, Barrow (Dier 20), Higgins(Touray 75), Thomas, Hope, Forrester (Long 60) , Grant. Subs Taudul (GK,) Waring

Coached by Kevin Sheedy

Stoke City: Eve, Hall, Clarkson, Dawson( C), Parry, O’Reilly (Roberts-Nurse), Hall (Nardiello)l, Richardson(King), Rossi(Brunt), Scott, Musungu. Subs Nardiello, Agbaje

Coached by Dave Kevan

Match Officials Mr M Corlett assisted by Mr A Jackson and Mr P Shacklady

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