Everton youngsters lose semi-final 3-2 after late Spurs rally

    Everton Under-21s’ 16-game unbeaten run came to an end as they were denied a place in the play-off final by a late Jonathan Obika goal.

    The Spurs forward netted two minutes before full-time to decide a five-goal thriller at White Hart Lane.

    It was cruel blow for Everton who had twice come from behind to get back on level terms.

    After Alex Pritchard had opened the scoring on 10 minutes, Conor McAleny’s goal in first half stoppage time ensured it was all-square at the break.

    Obika put Tottenham back in front moments after the restart before Chris Long replied to make it 2-2 almost immediately.

    Everton were the team in the ascendency throughout the majority of the second period but Obika’s second goal of the evening on 89 minutes ensured it was Tottenham who progressed through to the final where they will play Manchester United or Liverpool.

    Having beaten Newcastle United with an experienced team, Alan Stubbs named a younger side at White Hart Lane. Only four of the starting line-up – Luke GarbuttShane DuffyRoss Barkley and Jan Mucha – had sampled first team football for the Blues this season.

    Everton struggled to find their rhythm in the first half as Tottenham – cheered on by a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd – settled the quickest.

    Indeed, the hosts were ahead after just 10 minutes when winger Pritchard capitalised on John Stones’ weak header, seizing possession and curling low past Jan Mucha from just inside the area.

    The menacing Obika twice came close to doubling the lead, firstly forcing Mucha into a fine low save before later blazing over from inside the six-yard box.

    Cristian Ceballos also missed the target by the narrowest of margins as Spurs seemed well in control.

    But after defending for the majority of the first period, Everton began to grow into the game in the moments leading up to half-time.

    Barkley curled a free-kick just past the post and Duffy headed over the bar as the home side were pinned back.

    The Blues got their leveller with the last kick of the first half as McAleny made it two goals in as many games with a fierce shot that arrowed into the bottom corner.

    But no sooner was the second half underway, Everton found themselves behind for a second time when Stones was robbed of the ball on the edge of the area by Obika who finished confidently past Mucha.

    However, Everton came roaring back for a second time just two minutes later when Long netted with a superb lob.

    Stones didn’t let the earlier mistake affect his performance as he contributed with a clever pass into the winger who hooked the ball up and over Archer and into the back of the net from all of 20 yards out.

    With parity again restored, Everton sensed that a winner was there for the taking. Garbutt’s deflected effort and McAleny’s sizzling shot from distance were both saved by Archer.

    It was one-way traffic as the Blues poured forward, with Garbutt a constant outlet at left-back.

    The young defender delivered two excellent crosses which could very easily have led to a third Blues goal; Long striking the outside of the post from close-range and Barkley planting a free header inches wide from the outswinging centres.

    They were opportunities that Everton were to rue as Spurs nicked a decisive goal in the 89th minute.

    Obika found himself in the right place inside a packed penalty box, stooping to head home Ceballos’ inviting cross and score the goal which brought the curtain down on Everton Under-21s’ season.

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    1. Although I’m a Spurs supporter, I would like to wish the Blues and Alan Stubbs all the very best as you are a great club and my ‘second’ favourite premiership club.


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