Rovers’ Development side kicked off their Premier League Cup campaign with a defeat in their opening Group B game of the competition against Everton U23s at Southport.
John Schofield’s young squad lost 3-0 to the Premier League 2 side, though the final score line wasn’t a true reflection on what was a battling performance from Rovers.
Schofield’s men almost had the perfect start inside the opening minute of the game, with good work down the left seeing Jacob Fletcher open up space to shoot from the corner of the penalty area, only to find Mateusz Hewelt at full stretch to tip the ball behind.
The young Toffees also started the game brightly, with Bassala Sambou breaking through before finding Antony Evans, however he was unable to guide his effort into the corner.
Nathan Broadhead would be the next to try his luck for Everton, with Matthew Foulds putting in a superb ball across for his teammate who was able to chest the ball down and shoot, only to see Lewis Landers in the Rovers goal block his shot.
Broadhead tried his luck once again just a minute later after cutting right through the middle of the Rovers midfield, however his curler from the edge of the box went just over the crossbar.
Everton would go even closer as the first-half reached the half way point, with Broadhead’s corner evading everyone bar Morgan Feeney six-yards out from goal, however the defender’s connection was poor as he saw his shot sail over the bar.
It wouldn’t go all Everton’s way in the first-half, with Rovers having good chances to put themselves ahead as the opening 45 minutes went on.
Rieves Boocock was the first to try and get the opener after good work between himself and James Morris, however the Rovers forward’s low effort was claimed by Hewelt.
Fletcher, buoyed by his chance in the opening minute, then stepped up to take a dangerous looking free-kick on the edge of the Toffee’s penalty area, but Hewelt again prevented the midfielder from getting on the scoresheet.
Everton would be down to 10-men however with five minutes left of the opening half, with Foulds diving in two-footed on Elliott Walker, leaving the referee with no option but to brandish the red card.
The dismissal wouldn’t hinder the Toffees’ efforts, and it would be a substitute who would get the opening goal right on the stroke of half time.
Kyle John, brought onto the field following Foulds’ dismissal, was first to react to Evans’ low ball into the area and he guided the ball into the far corner to hand the hosts the lead.
After the interval, the game struggled to reach the intensity of the opening 45 minutes, with both teams restricting the amount of chances to get the next goal, with Evans closest for Everton with a free kick from 25 yards out whistling over the bar.
Boocock and Morris would link up once again for Rovers’ best chance to get themselves level, with Boocock cutting the ball back for Morris to shoot, but once again Hewelt got down well to deny Rovers a goal.
Two goals in the final minute would see the young Toffees move out of sight with the Premier League 2 side showcasing their experience to full effect.
Evans’ good work down the right saw him pull the ball back to Broadhead who would finally get his goal by guiding the ball into the far corner, despite the best efforts of Landers to get to the ball.
Broadhead would then be involved in the final piece of action in the game, getting to the ball ahead of Shane Blaney before back-heeling the ball into the path of Nathangelo Markelo who smashed the ball into the roof of the net to seal the Toffees first three points in Group B.
The 3-0 score line was a harsh reflection on the game in truth, but Schofield will be able to take a lot of positives from his side’s performance, as well as the fact Rovers finished with seven scholars on the pitch who will have gained a valuable experience against tough opposition.