It’s a rarity that Everton meet Arsenal and Manchester United teams three times in three days regardless of the level and come away with three wins but that’s exactly what happened in the last few days.
Unless you’ve been on a different planet the last 24 hours you will already know all about the great result against Arsenal first team on Monday night but at youth level the Under 23s made it a hat trick of wins for the club against quality opposition. They faced Arsenal Under 23s while the Under 18s had faced Manchester United on Saturday morning.
Firstly, whilst major conversations about the club’s future were taking place in the darkened corridors of Finch Farm over the weekend over the possible future of the club, the Under 18s took to the pitch there on Saturday and produced an outstanding display to demolish their United counterparts 3-0.
It was perhaps somewhat ironic that one of the goalscorers was one of Marcel Brands’ last recruitment deals. Frankie Okoronkwo had been on the club’s wish-list for sometime and a deal was finally announced in September. Mysteriously, all had gone quiet about Okoronkwo until the last week or so.
Paul Tait, the head coach, clarified his situation “Frankie has been injured since joining the Club and we’re just starting to get him up to match speed now.”
The match itself burst into life just before the interval with an outstanding strike from Emilio Lawrence after United had not properly cleared a corner. He absolutely smashed his shot into the top corner of the net.
Okoronkwo then scored his first goal for the club within minutes of his introduction as a second half substitute. The tall striker who had chosen to sign full time terms for Everton over his hometown club found space at the far post and headed neatly home following a right wing corner. He is building his fitness levels following his unfortunate injury and along with the likes of Lawrence and someone I have mentioned before, Martin Sherif, the Under 18s are boasting an array of goalscoring talent.
It was indeed that man Sherif who yet again scored, sealing the victory for the young Blues in the 73rd minute after United’s build up out of defence had been caught by Everton’s press. The ball fell kindly to the young Dutchman a few yards from goal and he made no mistake. Again we’re left to wonder about the role that the now departed Director of Football Marcel Brands had in recruiting his young compatriot who had played for Almere City youth teams in the Netherlands.
On Monday night while the first team secured three much needed points at Goodison Park, the Blues Under 23s swept to a convincing 2-0 win against Arsenal at a very blustery Pure Stadium in Southport. Tom Cannon in the 79th minute and substitute Katia Kouyate with a very late second goal made sure of the win and David Unsworth was typically upbeat following the victory not only in Southport but at all levels:
“It’s been a great weekend for the Academy, with the Under-16s and Under-18s both beating Manchester United and us (the Under-23s) following it up with a great win over Arsenal. It shows you we’re doing well and I’m very happy with how all the teams are performing.”