U23s put seven past Runcorn Town

Saturday, 22 August, 2020 21comments  |  Jump to last
Everton U23s 7 - 1 Runcorn Town
Nathan Broadhead scored five fine goals as a dominant Everton Under-23s side beat Runcorn Town 7-1 in a pre-season friendly at USM Finch Farm on Saturday afternoon.

Josh Bowler and Rhys Hughes were also on target as David Unsworth's team produced a scintillating attacking performance.

Everton piled on the pressure after the North West Counties League Premier Division side took an early lead through Kieran Holsgrove.

Bowler struck the post and Broadhead forced an acrobatic fingertip stop from Runcorn goalkeeper Adam Reid before the Blues got the equaliser their slick forward play deserved.

Everton's opening goal came on 17 minutes when a corner delivery fell at Broadhead's feet six yards from goal and the attacker lashed into the top corner.

The Wales Under-21 international scored his second on 28 minutes when he took aim from just inside the area and placed an accurate shot past Reid.

And Broadhead completed his hat-trick on the half-hour mark, rounding the Runcorn keeper and slotting into the net.

The Blues did not let up and added a fourth just before the half-time interval, the dangerous Bowler skilfully turning his marker before arrowing a low drive into the bottom corner.

Everton's fifth goal of the afternoon came 13 minutes after the break when Hughes hammered a shot in off the post from 20 yards.

Broadhead soon had his fourth and Everton's sixth, powering home from inside the area following a clever free-kick routine.

And the Welshman capped a superb individual performance by tapping in from close range three minutes from time after Bowler's shot was parried.

Report from Everton FC.com


Reader Comments (21)

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Sam Hoare
1 Posted 23/08/2020 at 09:10:08
Always liked Broadhead. He didn't set the world alight at Burton Albion last season but seems a tidy little player. It would seem too late for him now unless he pulls a Leon Osman.

Bowler too was a bit unlucky to get injured when doing okay at Hull. I imagine both players might leave on loan before leaving the club.

Alexander Lee
2 Posted 23/08/2020 at 09:36:46
He has always played on the wing before now but played this game as a centre-forward.

Surely Carlo will take a look at him with the first-team squad over the next few weeks before deciding whether to sell or not?

Robert Tressell
3 Posted 23/08/2020 at 09:56:47
Broadhead is a tidy player. After a season of proper football, he's too good for the U23s. Bowler too now. They both look like they'll find their level in the second or third tier or in Scotland. No shame in that. If they work very hard, they could conceivably make it back to the Premier League.

But these are players we should let go. Put it this way: if they weren't already on our books, there's no way we'd be interested in recruiting them. Time to focus, as we now are doing, on the 16- to 19-year-olds in the year groups below.

Steve Ferns
5 Posted 23/08/2020 at 12:16:33
Runcorn Town are not in the top 6 tiers of football. Broadhead played tier 3 football last season, with Bowler playing tier 2. Meanwhile our first team played a tier 3 side. That these two were not involved in the first team but Simms and John got minutes on the pitch tells you what the Everton management are thinking. However, has Broadhead made Carlo Ancelotti sit up and take notice?

Personally I think both are probably “Championship at best”. But you never know. Nathan Broadhead seems a good kid so I hope he does get another opportunity.

Phill Thompson
6 Posted 23/08/2020 at 12:30:23
I like Broadhead, but he's 23 later this season and I think he'll make a decent Championship player then who knows. He's now beginning his 5th season after coming out of our Academy.

1st season at U23, he played only a few games, 2nd season the same, 3rd season one of the key players in our PL2 league win including a MotM performance when we beat the RS at Mordor. 4th season loan to Burton. 5th likely sold.

Injuries and physicality play their part but I can't help but feel he wasted 1, maybe 2 years at the start of his U23s career by not getting enough games. It's why I welcome our new approach to moving up capable youngsters early so much.

Steve Ferns
7 Posted 23/08/2020 at 12:33:48
Phill, I would argue that Broadhead was the victim of moving capable youngsters up early. We've always done it, so I'm surprised you think otherwise.

Broadhead is older than Evans and it was Evans in the U23s at 17. Bowler was ahead of him too, and he's a year younger. Anthony Gordon even got ahead of him and he's 3 years younger.

Clearly, Unsworth thought there were better players and Broadhead, from what I've seen at least, is a late developer.

Phill Thompson
8 Posted 23/08/2020 at 13:30:23
Steve, we have differing views on this! But factually Gordon never played ahead of Broadhead. Two seasons ago, Broadhead played the most games when we won PL 2, so more games than Bowler, Evans and Gordon got very few games; last season, Broadhead was on loan.

But my point is about his first two seasons after U18s when he got few games and was kept out of the side by older players like Callum Dyson, Courtney Duffus and Connor Grant who never got close to the first team and I doubt if many even remember them now.

So Broadhead wasn't really playing U23s until he was 20 or 21 years old which, in my view, is too old to be getting his chance. What we'll never know of course is if he is just a late developer, but he played through all the Wales youth age groups so he was clearly demonstrating a degree of talent when young. So that bit can't be proved – it's just differing views, but there is a clearer pathway now for our youngsters than there's been for a long time.

Harry Wallace
9 Posted 23/08/2020 at 13:48:49
Let's sell for a million or so. Give the lad an opportunity to start a career and put money back into our academy.
Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 23/08/2020 at 13:54:57
Broadhead always reminded me of Kevin Richardson, a player who could come in and do a good steady competent professional job. A team player, never flashy or who would do the unexpected, but kept the game moving without giving the ball away and came up with a few goals.

I'd keep hold of him, is his contract up at the end of the coming season? If it is, I'd give him the option of another season.

Michael Kenrick
11 Posted 23/08/2020 at 13:55:33
We often talk of the Teamsheet and yesterday, a tweet from Phil Kirkbride showed the 'real' teamsheet for the Blackpool game... Sometimes people on Twitter get to snap a shot of them for the U23 and U18 games. But getting to see them for these Academy friendlies seems nigh-on impossible.

I'm curious: do you guys know if these are just provided for information or does a copy get sent to the Premier League, the FA, or whoever oversees these games from an administrative perspective? In this day and age, you would expect them to be sent electronically as a PDF. Would I be able to get my hands on them?


Dave Abrahams
12 Posted 23/08/2020 at 14:06:05
Michael (11), you are not backward in coming forward, are you? No. So just ask Everton if they could, please, supply you with any programmes, of whatever nature, that you need. Explain who you are and how you help hundreds, thousands even, of Evertonians with your website and I'm sure you will get what you ask for.

ps: I'm not charging you for this advice.

Phill Thompson
13 Posted 23/08/2020 at 14:28:26
Michael, I can’t say I’ve ever thought about it but my assumption has been that all official games, League and cups, require team sheet submission for eligibility checking. You often see in youth, semi-pro leagues points being deducted for fielding ineligible players. Friendlies wouldn’t require the same scrutiny

For whatever reason we seem reluctant to give out much team information on these friendlies, there was an u18s game taking place as well yesterday away to Man City but no news whatsoever on that. That’s a great idea from Dave though!

Michael Kenrick
14 Posted 23/08/2020 at 14:36:31
Yea, that would seem the obvious course, perhaps, Dave.

I wonder if you remember Steve Milne? A lifelong Blue and massive programme collector, he used to write up fantastic reports on the U23 and U18 games (more likely U19 and U17 back then!) The club had granted him access to Finch Farm as an observer or internet reporter... maybe even as far back as Bellefield.

Anyway, at some point, it all went very sour. I'm not sure quite what happened, but Steve was no longer allowed access to watch these games. And his reports abruptly dried up. And my source of excellent information on the youngsters also dried up.

I may be conflating this, but there was also the fear expressed by the club that too much information was being disseminated about Everton's young stars and this was being used by other clubs to poach them. Maybe it was around the time of Fulham stealing Sean Doherty? No, it can't have been — that was 20 years ago. My gawd... it's all a blur to me now!

Anyway, fear of rejection: I wouldn't take it well if the answer was No.

Kieran Kinsella
15 Posted 23/08/2020 at 15:45:55
The U23s aren't going to compete in the Johnston Paint trophy, or whatever it's called these days, with the League One and League Two teams. I wonder if that's because they plan to use younger kids and worry about them up against hard-nosed veterans? I can't see another logical reason to boycott a competition that provides good experience.
Dave Abrahams
16 Posted 23/08/2020 at 16:11:21
Michael (14), No, I don't recall Steve Milne, I hadn't heard of ToffeeWeb then, glad I did find it about seven or eight years ago, so I understand your reluctance to try the route I suggested.

Going back a good few years ago I know Bellefield was a bit more free and easy, in allowing fans to watch games there, saw quite a few on Saturday mornings.

Finch Farm, I took a young boy there two or three times, for training (him not me) and the security was stricter than Bellefield.

U18 and U23 games at Goodison are okay, no problem if you are quick, they usually have a few programmes handed out as you go in or if they are handed out late, I know a couple of stewards who will save on for me.

I'd still ask them, Michael, they can only say no, they can't hit you.

Michael Kenrick
17 Posted 23/08/2020 at 18:45:55
Okay, Dave, maybe I'll put on my best grovelling mask. But I don't have any club emails on the admin side to ask.

Kieran @15, I was somewhat irked about this but the explanation provided goes like this:

● Covid-19
● Compressed 2020-21 season
● Limited dates for EFL Trophy games
● Dates clash with internationals
● New philosophy of ditching mature U21s/U23s
● Plenty of the remaining players will be called up
● Only very young boys left to play for the EFL Trophy
● And the games would be a step too far for them
● Against the rough and brutish FL men.

So there you have it. Can't argue with that. After all, the emphasis (we are told) must now be on pushing players through — not winning meaningless trophies.

And there was me thinking we were a Football Club...

Phill Thompson
18 Posted 24/08/2020 at 11:44:03
Michael, I was disappointed we didn’t enter the EFL Trophy as it’s usually another chance to catch the youngsters. I read the Brands & Unsworth explanation and thought “fair enough” so I don’t share your irk. I see the positive side of a joined-up approach between Brands and Unsworth and I guess Paul Tait too.

If they are in international breaks, that’s likely 7 gone from U23s and Tait would lose probably at least 4 of his best U18s so they can’t move up and play. It will also likely allow Unsworth to do more coaching of the players not away on those dates. I can live with this if that’s their decision made in the best interests of our young players.

You also seem irked in the U18s thread and above by the move to younger players. TW doesn’t dictate policy to the club; I and others are reporting what we saw happening at U18 this time last year and at U23s from January. I’m puzzled as to how you see this as a criticism of Unsworth as you said. Unsworth is part of this process and he’s bought into it, with enthusiasm I’d say.

You see the pain he’d felt when he writen about letting people like Morgan Feeney go, but he was never going to progress to our current first team.

In the past, Feeney would likely have been given a 2-year contract and sent on loan to a League 1 club. Not long ago, Unsworth got a call from the Sunderland manager asking about Feeney, such is Unsworth’s regard in the game that Feeney got a contract with them a week later and Unsworth is delighted. I would love it if Feeney progresses up the divisions, he’s now got that opportunity.

I also loved Unsworth’s comments on Saturday’s match, a very easy fixture for us. After his usual support of Broadhead, top player etc, some general comments, it was “But let me tell you about Lewis Dobbin and Rhys Hughes.” He had them playing in areas they hadn’t played before, giving them experience, taking them out of their comfort zone in a relatively easy game.

For me, that’s great coaching of promising 17- and 18-year-olds which often goes unnoticed on weekends when the first team play. You could detect his enthusiasm for working with “young lads who are new to this level”, he’s fully bought into this.

If someone says “We’ll likely lose more games this season”, I don’t see that as a criticism of Unsworth, I see it as saying don’t get on his back if we lose games, he’s working with a very young team, though that doesn’t mean we can’t do both, win and have a young team. I see only positives here for Unsworth and the club.

Michael Kenrick
19 Posted 24/08/2020 at 12:43:09
Yea, you're right, Phill, once I read the explanation, my irk subsided a little. The explanation was reasonable. I'd much rather have them playing than not but, if you've culled the aging players from the Academy, then you will be short in those circumstances.

There were definitely some ridiculous long-stay examples on the fringes. But the claim was made (months ago) that Unsworth was holding on to such aging players so that he could win trophies. That's the bit I dispute.

In reality, most of them were on long contracts and outside loans. Some – Garbutt (7), Connolly (7), Pennington (6), Dowell (4), – have been on multiple loans. There's another strongly held belief on here that loans for young players are good, after all look at Osman, Coleman, Barkley,... critical to their development, we are told. But the vast majority we have loaned out have subsequently been released, or at best sold on for a small fee.

I'm not a great fan of the loan business because I'm not convinced it really helps. Maybe it's more of a "trial by fire" thing? But no two cases are the same: I would like to hear that the Everton Academy bent over backward to understand the specific needs of each individual player, regardless of age.

The talk now is about developing young players – but isn't this exactly what we've been trying to do? We can only deal with examples but look at Matty Foulds, identified at Bury and snapped up at 17 after 1 senior appearance for them. Just released from the Everton Academy at 22.

Five years in the Academy, no loans out, a stellar record for Unsworth (two PL2 medals!) but obviously not quite good enough to make it. Is the new regime that you, Sam and others have identified gong to make any difference in cases like that? How and Why? The only thing that's been offered: is stop winning trophies and kick out the old 'uns.

Why won't these decisions simply make the Academy weaker and less successful than it was? There won't' be the depth in terms of age and experience, they (apparently) won't win as many games, won't win any trophies (coz that's now seen as bad!).

They'll probably know they have one, maybe two years at most, to make it now, instead of four or five... but this will make it a better environment for them to develop at such a critical moment in their careers? Sorry, I'm just not convinced.

Kevin Prytherch
20 Posted 24/08/2020 at 12:57:45
A couple of observations on the current setup...

It seems to regularly happen that a young player making their debut often outperforms the more senior players on the pitch. Is that just a young thing, or is it that they have more of a winning mentality installed in them from the U23’s. If it is the latter, then we need to find a balance between progression and results because a winning mentality can only be a good thing.

Secondly, Although we have held on to a couple of players for too long, at times it can be beneficial. When Gibson and Feeney we’re making the step up to U23 level, they had to be better than the people in front of them to get regular games. 2 of the people in front of them at the time were Browning and Galloway. Surely the challenge of competing with far more senior experienced players and ultimately replacing them will be better than simply progressing with little competition? After all, once you hit the first team you have to do the exact same - outperform the players in front of you.

Phill Thompson
21 Posted 25/08/2020 at 09:55:54
Michael, yeah I remember us signing Matty Foulds to specifically address the fact we needed a left-sided centre-back who would hopefully play alongside Feeney. Mind you, we recently bought a 17-year-old left-sided centre-back from a lower club in Branthwaite, quite a difference. And that's the reality, no system can turn a Foulds into Branthwaite – it can only offer up the opportunity, it's dependent on good players at the start.

I agree with you, getting experience and leadership in the team is important and was saying in another thread last week I wouldn't be unhappy with Adeniran remaining as Captain. In the 1st game against Southport Kyle John wore the armband when he was on, then featured alongside Branthwaite, Nkounkou, Simms for the first team. Perhaps we see these youngsters playing for the U23s giving leadership to the younger players along with Astley, who's captained Wales numerous times, and Hughes, last season's U18s captain.

Rhys Hughes has come on so much the past 12 months, he's a better, cleaner striker of the ball than Dobbin and will score goals from outside the box, free-kicks and penalties. Remember the grainy City of Liverpool match video you found, he was the deepest lying midfielder hitting 40-yard balls from the back. Unsworth had him with an 11 on his back against Runcorn and playing further forward. I love that he is challenging his players, getting them to play different positions.

But this is not about different opinions now, we've actually done this. David Unsworth has moved on older players and is now working with a much younger group. No ifs, but, opinions that's the reality. You've got reservations and are not convinced, fair enough there's no guaranteed success here, you may be right. I'm also believing that this is driven by having an exciting group of youngsters 16 to 19 coming though and having clear goals and a pathway for them. I'm totally behind Unsworth on this, and yes I find it exciting and progressive. But I'm an Evertonian, it's the hope that kills you!

Phill Thompson
23 Posted 25/08/2020 at 22:36:30
Oops, missed out 18-year-old Nico Hansen, the starting goalkeeper.

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