Everton beat Chelsea youngsters in thrilling match

    Chris Long netted an 83rd-minute winner as Everton Under-21s staged an astonishing comeback against Chelsea at Goodison Park.

    Trailing by two goals at the break, the Young Blues came out to attack the Gwladys Street end in the second half and levelled through Hallam Hope’s third and fourth goals of the season.

    John Lundstram was then presented with a golden opportunity to win it when goalkeeper Jamal Blackman brought down substitute Courtney Duffus in the box.

    But though the midfielder’s spot-kick was saved, Long was on hand to steer in the rebound and complete a remarkable turnaround.

    Alan Stubbs made just one change to the side which bravely battled to a 1-1 draw at Newcastle last week, replacing injured goalkeeper Mateusz Taudul with Mason Springthorpe.

    Frustratingly for the incoming glovesman, his first act was to pick the ball from his net after Ruben Loftus-Cheek had sauntered into the box on three minutes and fired home from close range.

    If that was a blow, you had to feel for Springthorpe on the quarter-hour mark as his teammates failed to close down John Swift, allowing the midfielder to take aim with a shot that swerved wickedly through his grasp from 25 yards.

    Though behind, it was not for a want of trying on Everton’s part.

    In particular, winger Matthew Kennedy was giving his all for the cause, and it was predictable when Everton’s first real glimpse of goal arrived on 24 minutes it was the Scot’s blue shirt bursting through and being denied only by a perfectly-executed last-ditch tackle.

    Three minutes later, Long properly tested Blackman for the first time, but on this occasion found the giant stopper equal to his right-foot drive from the edge of the box.

    At the other end, Stubbs’ rearguard were standing up well to more Chelsea pressure and after Islam Feruz had arrowed one past the post, Springthorpe was alert to brilliantly stop from Alex Kiwomya.

    As the interval neared, the excellent Matthew Pennington was unfortunate not to get more on a Conor Grant corner after meeting it six-yards out, before Isaiah Brown blew a similar chance at the other end, nodding over with pretty much the final touch of the half.

    The same player then went close with Chelsea’s first opportunity of the second period, but after bending his shot wide of the post saw the hosts charge up the other end and reduce the arrears.

    A free-kick was awarded for a foul by Billy Clifford, and though Pennington’s initial downward header was saved by Blackman, Hope was perfectly placed to supply the poacher’s finish from a yard out.

    In fact, it was almost one-way traffic from there on in.

    The 19-year-old Hope turned provider soon after as he fed Kennedy down the right. But though the Scot did well to jink his way into a crossing position, he overcooked his delivery and the danger passed.

    That was until the 69th minute. And the danger was all of Chelsea’s own creation.

    The otherwise impressive Blackman had a moment to forget as his hashed kick went straight to the feet of Hope 25-yards out, leaving the England youth international to roll the ball home and pull Everton level.

    On a hat-trick, Hope had to wait just seconds for the moment he craved. But after brilliantly holding off his marker down the right, he saw Blackman get down smartly to block his drilled effort across goal.

    And the chances kept on coming. So much so, substitute Courtney Duffus had already seen one shot blocked when he won the penalty from which Stubbs’ charges mustered their winner.

    The striker broke forward down the right and, charging into the box, found himself clattered to the floor by Blackman. The referee took a moment but eventually pointed to the spot, giving Lundstram his moment in the spotlight.

    Instead, Blackman made amends, diving to his right to save. But the ball fell kindly for Long and the striker made no mistake, capping the kind of night Goodison just loves to produce under the glare of its floodlights.

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