Southport steal late win over Everton U23s

Saturday, 15 August, 2020 22comments  |  Jump to last
Everton U23s 1 - 2 Southport
Southport scored late to secure the win in a Finch Farm friendly against David Unsworth's Under-23s on Saturday afternoon.

Ellis Simms opened the scoring with a sharp finish after 31 minutes and Everton had several opportunities to go further ahead.

Unsworth's team played with speed and purpose throughout the first hour, and Rhys Hughes twice forced splendid stops from the away side's goalkeeper. The Southport keeper also made a smart save from the dangerous Simms.

Both sides made a host of changes during the second half and Southport gradually began to assert pressure.

The visitors levelled when Mo Ali applied the finishing touch following a slick free-kick move and snatched victory when Marcus Carver slotted home in stoppage time.

No explanation has been forthcoming as to why the much-heralded new signing, Niels Nkounkou failed to even make the matchday squad.

Everton U23s: Tyrer (46' Hansen), John, Ouzounidis, Astley, Anderson, Hunt, Iversen, Onyango, Hughes, Dobbin, Simms.
Subs: Quirk, Cannon, McAllister, Small, Higgins, Kouyate


Reader Comments (22)

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Robert Tressell
1 Posted 15/08/2020 at 21:08:01
Good to see Simms open his account. Having made the bench on the final day, he'll presumably be hoping for first-team opportunities (or more realistically a loan) at some point.

If he can keep scoring and improving his all-round play, then the chance should come.

Steve Ferns
2 Posted 15/08/2020 at 22:52:18
I think the key thing to note is that this was a very young side. Hopefully it's the shape of things to come. Most are no more than 12 months past eligibility for the U18s and a load are still eligible even now (ie, Dobbin and Onyango).

But one name is a big surprise: 16-year-old Katia Kouyate. He made the bench for this one and clearly is in reach of Unsworth's team. Fingers crossed, but there's loads raving about this kid. He just needs to focus and work hard. He's reportedly big, strong, fast and skillful.

Phill Thompson
3 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:06:19
That looks like our strongest starting team without Branthwaite and Nkounkou, and a really young average age with two 16 year olds on the bench, Small and Kouyate. I'd expect today's starters to be the core of this season's team.

I was surprised that Small was our only defender, no centre-backs on the bench; it's a good marker that he's impressed someone, he's a bit like Kyle Walker-Peters who recently went from Spurs to Southampton.

A good shout for Kouyate too to be selected, but oddly we only have 5 out and out attackers across the U18s & U23s so he and Cannon will be busy this season.

I checked out the Southport twitter of the game and there was a photo of Brands, Carlo and Big Dunc all watching, good to see. From the remarks, we were the better team in the first half, it didn't say much about the 2nd half, not even who the subs were.

Random fact alert. They mentioned George Newell playing for Southport, he was in our youth set up 5 or 6 years ago but released at 18. He's the son of our ex-striker Mike Newell.

Brent Stephens
4 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:15:22
Well that’s a very differently constituted U23s compared with a couple of months ago. A clear change of strategy re youth! And who is behind this?!
Phill Thompson
5 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:16:21
Re Nkounkou not playing despite training with the U23s, I wonder if he’s earmarked for 1st team training next week so they can have a good look at him preseason and see if he’s potential cover for Digne. He could still fit back into the U23s to get game time.
Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 16/08/2020 at 09:27:12
Obviously Brands, Brent, and even though it hasn't been plain-sailing for the Dutchman (have we ever had a decent cloggy?) hopefully this new direction will benefit the whole club long-term.

When building a team, most managers start from the back, so if we are rebuilding the structure of the club, then it makes sense to start at the bottom.

A thankless task at Everton (even for a king's ransom) but with players going nowhere because of that same kings ransom, then it's all about that dreaded word “patience”.

Not for the first team-obviously, but when Michael K, asked on another thread why Everton pulled out of the EFL Trophy that offers proper competitive footy against lower league clubs, maybe it's down to this restructure?

Steve Ferns
7 Posted 16/08/2020 at 09:58:59
Brent, I’m sure brands has had a hand in the transition, but is this not just Everton as normal and Unsworth as normal. We’ve a history of being ruthless and clearing the way for very talented youngsters. Like him or loathe him, but Tom Davies was a very talented youngster and once it appeared he was going to make it, we cleared players out of his path. This included England under 21 international Ryan Ledson, who in turn had had John Lundstram ousted from his way.

2 years ago, we won PL2 without any real talent. Joao Virginia and Antony Evans were it, for me. Last year Anthony Gordon pushed beyond the u23s quickly. We were left with a load of over 18s who were never going to make it, and those who might, out on loan.

I said this last season, and I said you’ll be able to really judge Unsworth on this “trophies before youth development” accusation because here he will have a load of 17, 18, and 19 year olds who are indeed very talented. Lo and behold, Unsworth is picking them all, particularly now in pre-season and giving them every opportunity to cement starting places.

It’s sad that now that Unsworth has the tools to show he’s a good youth developer, that it’s now being suggested that this is not him, it’s all down to Brands. I’m sure the reality is that the two get on and that this is a coordinated effort.

I wish all of this team good luck, because even talented kids like Dobbin need an enormous amount of luck to make it. Imagine if James Vaughan had never had all those bad injuries, I think he’d have been a superstar with all that pace, power, strength on the ball, and ability to sniff a goal out of nothing. A bad injury to any of them and it can all start to unravel quickly, also loss of form / momentum at this age can derail a promising career (Kieran Dowell?), and I haven’t mentioned the off the field issues (Jose Baxter).

Phill Thompson
8 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:13:52
Tony, the decision to pull out of the EFL Trophy, though an odd one to most of us, was described roughly as “we decided (Brands and Unsworth) that, with potential international call-ups, we would end up exposing our younger players.”

The positive for me is that they are both working together, in previous years our U23s team at the start of the season would be filled with older players waiting for loans etc. I'm not sure how we will look after the likes of Broadhead, Connolly, Bowler etc but parking them in the U23s no longer appears to be the preferred option.

It's a tough task for Unsworth to meld talented but young and inexperienced players together but a nice challenge.

Tony Abrahams
9 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:20:01
Sad to who Steve? A good coach, is a good coach, and this restructure should be better for a path into the first-team, or the club getting more money for the kids who they wish to sell.

Ledson wanted to leave because he wanted first team football, and maybe a few kids might really improve by getting sent out on loan at a much younger age?

The path doesn’t change, producing players is the only long term plan, and hopefully this restructure helps that aim, because nothing’s changed it’s a sink or swim environment and it always will be.

Tony Abrahams
10 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:20:25
Sad to who, Steve? A good coach is a good coach, and this restructure should be better for a path into the first-team, or the club getting more money for the kids who they wish to sell.

Ledson wanted to leave because he wanted first-team football, and maybe a few kids might really improve by getting sent out on loan at a much younger age?

The path doesn't change, producing players is the only long term plan, and hopefully this restructure helps that aim, because nothing's changed – it's a sink or swim environment and it always will be.

Brian Harrison
11 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:31:10
I don't know who is responsible for deciding to give the younger players a chance to play in the Under 23 side, but it makes perfect sense to me.

When you look at the top sides, they play a lot of 16- and 17-year-olds in their Under 23 side. They tend to loan out the older players who may be on the fringe of making the first-team squad. This allows them to see these players playing in competitive leagues against seasoned professionals, and help clubs assess whether a player will make the grade of their first team. By doing this and freeing up space for youngsters to play in the Under-23 side rather than an Under-18 league will help the players progress quicker.

For me, the job of the Under-23 coach is not necessarily win trophies but to produce players to fit into the first team and challenge the established first-team players. Also to asses which players would benefit from a loan deal, and which sadly won't make it into the first team. To have an Under-23 side with 21-year-olds is not the way forward, at that age these players should be either on loan or in the first-team squad or moved on.

Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:39:10
I think it shows how much of a mess the club was in when Brands arrived, Phill. Pathways getting blocked by players on massive contracts going nowhere. These things take time, and hopefully the signs of a better pathway, with more opportunities for the young players to play.

I know Everton have been banned from signing kids into the academy but, once this restructure has started, I would then expect Everton to really start pushing again in the younger age bracket (12 to 16).

It took Chelsea years, but they have definitely reaped the benefits lately, and it wouldn't surprise me if they are also in profit, although I'm obviously not sure about this.

Robert Tressell
13 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:42:20
Is it a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3? Presume Anderson is left-back (isn't he really a centre-half?). I can't work out midfield structure or position of Dobbin.

On another note, this is a great opportunity for Unsworth. He's shown he can build sides, team spirit etc – that's his forte. So giving him a younger (more talented?) group might work well all round. Getting talented teenagers drilled in a team structure in readiness for the step up to a loan or the first team.

I thought the U23s was broken but I like the look of this new approach.

Paul Birmingham
14 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:54:59
I think that the coach should be improving and developing players to play in the style of the first team. Over the last few years, there's been no fluid connection between the U23s and the first team and I don't blame individual age group managers, but the DOF and the first team managers, should have laid out a clear plan.

This to me suggests that the club will need to start fresh and build up and through the ranks. No more square pegs in round holes and also loan out the better up-and-coming players so they can learn the realities and life skills of playing professional football, in the Championship or lower.

To me, after watching the U23s regularly for the last 5 years, it's not quite the same last season but that's because of not winning trophies, it's that there's not enough players being given the chance to transition to the first team, and generally not enough players making it at Everton.

The current global economic structure will mean all clubs will need to assess their internal player development structures. Time is money, and all things considered, there's the challenge of attracting top class players and the need to provide good youth talent.

In the 70s and 80s, Burnley were pretty good at doing this; not so much since. Everton are lucky to get one gem per 20 years.

Is the club dysfunctional? I'd say no. Is the club connected within in terms of football and coaching styles? At the moment, who knows... but I'd like to think Carlo Ancelotti will be able to influence this process.

For sure as Evertonians it's the hope that kills you but we live in hope eternal.

Andrew Keatley
15 Posted 16/08/2020 at 11:34:33
Brian (11) - I agree. We are behind the curve when it comes to promoting 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds into the Under 23s. Brands or Unsworth or whoever are just belatedly following the example of other more dynamic clubs.
Phill Thompson
16 Posted 16/08/2020 at 11:45:03
Robert, good question. I've only seen the team sheet, a few photos of player positions and a few bits of reports. My guess would be we started off 4-4-2, with Dobbin alongside Simms. Onyango and Hughes would be the deeper mids, and when they've played together last season Hughes was deeper, more the 6 to Onyango's 8 if that makes sense.

Though in the match report Hughes had a few shots on goal so he may have been further forward. Iversen has usually played on the left of a 4 or 3, Hunt on the right.

At this age, they need to develop further areas, not just one position, so I'm sure they switched a bit. Maybe Kouyate or Cannon coming on to the right of Simms, Dobbin on the left in a 4-3-3 system but all just guesses on my part; we continue to be poor communicators on players at this level, which is sad as a few of us are genuinely interested.

Robert Tressell
17 Posted 16/08/2020 at 12:03:05
Thanks Phill. Looking forward to seeing a few matches at this level.
Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 16/08/2020 at 13:08:12
Phill (16), yes we seem to get very little information from the club about all sections of the playing teams and the ones you get about the first team games are so embroidered that they have hardly ever played poorly.

Going on the reports of yesterday’s game we seemed to have played very well for an hour then both teams used multiple substitutions, only naming the goalkeeping one, it might have been that these subs changed the flow of the game. Anyhow it is all about getting fit at this stage of the pre season, hopefully we will turn out to be fitter than we have looked for the last few seasons.

Phill Thompson
19 Posted 16/08/2020 at 15:08:07
Dave, yeah how many seasons now have we been moaning about our poor showing of U23 & U18 games compared to other, lower down, clubs? I doubt it'll change this season.

I'm not sure if it's better fitness or a firework up the jacksy that our 1st teamers, mainly the midfield, need, Gordon apart.

Nathan Ford
20 Posted 16/08/2020 at 21:34:01
Is Lewis Gibson training with the first team along with Branthwaite and Nkounkou?

I think this could be his chance to break into the first team reckoning – maybe as back up to Digne.

Gibson and Nkounkou training with the first team can only be good for club as both of them will push each other harder to be Digne's understudy this year.

Dick Fearon
21 Posted 17/08/2020 at 03:36:42
Phil @ 20,

Your 'Firework up the Jacksy' must be an English version of the Australian Cracker up the Clacker. A year ago, to impress his Sheilla, a bloke up in Darwin did that.

Phill Thompson
22 Posted 17/08/2020 at 09:19:19
Dick, this is just the kind of totally committed player we need at the club, can he play midfield?

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