WANDERERS Under-18s lost 2-1 to an in-form Everton side in their first Elite Phase Premier League match in three weeks.
But coach David Lee was pleased with the performance of his youngsters – many of whom were starting for the first time this season following the promotion of some members to the under-21 development set-up.
It was an even first half that saw the young Whites take the lead through Liam Gibson on 38 minutes when his quality cross from a free-kick eluded everyone to nestle in the back of the net.
Wanderers led at the break and could have scored again had Dylan Wolsetnholme’s fine effort from the edge of the box not come back off the post.
Kevin Sheedy’s Everton were always in the tight game, though, and arguably deserved their equaliser on 68 minutes when Chris Long collected a George Waring pass to score.
The game looked to be heading for a draw when, with two minutes to go, Long was handed a chance to net a second and he did just that.
It meant the Toffees, like their senior counterparts a week earlier in the FA Cup, went home with a 2-1 victory thanks to a late winner.
But Lee was satisfied overall and said: “The performances of the players were pleasing today.
“Many of them were starting a game for the first time this season.
“We created some good chances within the first half and the second half was an even contest.
“Everton won the game through an individual mistake on our part.
“The player in question was disappointed, though his overall performance was very good.
“Overall, the players conducted themselves well against an experienced team.
“In the bigger picture, the nucleus of the squad have moved up to the development squad and that’s what the production of players is all about.
“Zach Clough, Chris Lester and Niall Maher all started for the development squad against Man City on Friday.”
Meanwhile, the FA Youth Cup fifth round clash away at Tottenham has been confirmed for Friday, February 15 at White Hart Lane, kick off 7pm.
The winners of the tie will be away at either Nottingham Forest or Huddersfield in the quarter-finals.