Being from the Wirral, I figured I might as well head along to see the U-21s against Tranmere Rovers. My Rovers’ supporting mate picked me up, along with a few of his fellow Rovers’ fans, and on we went to Prenton Park, calling in for a quick pint at the pub before heading into the fairly sparsly attended ground.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard of a few of the names in the U-21s though don’t know what most of them look like. I did recognise Ryan Ledson and David Henen and was particularly keen to see how they got on. Antonee Robinson and Matthew Pennington both began the game also following their appearances at Dundee the previous night.
Everton began fairly well and got themselves ahead on 13 minutes with a slick counter-attacking goal which saw Henen play in Donohue. His shot was saved by Davies but the lively Tom Davies had made up good ground to support the attack and poked home the rebound.
Everton were doing OK and seemed fairly comfortable with all the hallmarks of Roberto Martinez’s style of playing the ball out from the back prevalent. We even conceded following a familiarly terrible defensive mix up which presented an opportunity for Margetts which he duly despatched. This seemed to turn the tide in the match and the older, experienced Tranmere Rovers players seemed to gain ascendancy and took the lead on 41 minutes when Stockton headed in quite easily from a corner.
Our young goalkeeper Mateusz Hewelt was having a game to forget and will certainly need to work on his catching I would suggest. The young Pole contrived to try and punch everything instead and had a tough evening. The injury suffered to David Henen nine minutes from the break also rocked Everton back a little as we no longer had that pacey outlet up front when he was replaced by the much taller figure of Callum Dyson. Half-time Everton trailed 1-2, meanwhile my friend Colin’s two Rovers supporting chums had already given up and retired back to the pub.
Right at the beginning of the second half, Donohue almost levelled the game after gliding past a few players before stroking the ball just past the post, however just four minutes later Tranmere had effectively sealed the game when a good ball in found Stockton who had shown good movement to get beyond our backline. He dared Hewelt to come and greet him which he did, before Stockton squared the ball for Margetts to score his second of the night.
Everton were distinctly second best at least until Liam Walsh and Harry Charsley were introduced on 63 minutes, with Liam Walsh in particular impressing me. When we had the chance to chat with Roberto Martinez in May he spoke of a “special talent” within the ranks and I just wonder if this could be the kid he was referring to. Liam Walsh is a local boy from Huyton and I’m loathe to put pressure on a lad of only 18 years of age, but he really looked the part to me.
The players always looked to give him the ball. He has very quick feet and an eye for a pass and moves the ball very intelligently. He is slight. Perhaps has a bit more growing to do but certainly impressed me the most and it seemed to bring more out of some of the other players.
Robinson was all of a sudden galloping forward confidently whilst Jack Bainbridge also seemed competent marauding forward with the ball at the back. Alas Everton didn’t get back into the game but Walsh came close with a free kick that was tipped over the bar, and put in a lovely through ball for Conor Grant, whose low shot trickled just wide.
I could be way off course of course though only time will tell.
Players who stood out: Antonee Robinson, Tom Davies, Jack Bainbridge and of course Liam Walsh. I would like to see more of David Henen as he looked lively if unspectacular before coming off injured.