Roberto Martinez and his backroom staff watched on as Everton FC under-21s cruised to victory over Southampton.
The Blues boss will have been impressed with the stylish manner in which David Unsworth’s side dealt with a team that kicked-off the game in second place in the Premier League.
And at the heart of Everton’s classy display was centre-half Brendan Galloway who scored in a man-of-the-match performance.
On-loan Belgium teenager David Henen opened the scoring after just three minutes and laid on the assist for skipper Jonjo Kenny to then head in the Blues second.
Galloway made it 3-0 before the half hour mark as Everton made the most of their dominance over Saints at Southport FC’s Merseyrail Community Stadium tonight.
Southampton pulled a goal back after the break through Bevis Mugabi to deny Unsworth’s side a clean sheet but it could not mask what had been a largely excellent showing from his players.
Galloway’s performance will have thrilled the watching Martinez but a goal and assist for Henen, together with the displays of Kenny, Ryan Ledson and Courtney Duffus in particular, will also have encouraged the manager about the talent coming through Everton’s Academy.
The Blues second string put themselves on course for their sixth league win of the season after a opening 45 minute display full of intent and threat.
Henen took just three minutes to break the deadlock when he punished Mugabi’s wayward header by sprinting clear of the defence and calmly slotting past Will Britt.
The young Blues were playing with plenty of confidence and the visitors required Jason McCarthy to clear off the line from Joe Williams to prevent a second after just 12 minutes.
But his efforts were ultimately in vain as Everton doubled their lead just two minutes later as Henen turned provider, picking out captain Kenny at the back who headed home from close range.
The second goal stirred Saints into life but a decent spell in possession mounted to little as Russell Griffiths enjoyed a trouble-free 45 minutes.
Griffiths would have been called into action, however, if it wasn’t for a superb last-ditch tackle from the game’s best player, Galloway, on Ryan Seager.
It would be the only sight of goal Southampton enjoyed in the entire half and before the half hour mark, Everton extended their lead.
A goal-saving tackle at one was swiftly followed up by a goal-scoring touch at the other as Galloway got the faintest of touches to Ledson’s wicked cross to make it 3-0.
Everton started the second-half looking to build on their impressive lead and Duffus would force Britt into a couple of good saves.
Southampton, to their credit, showed fight and they made changes to try and find a way back into the game.
And the visitors found their reward with just under 20 minutes to go when Mugabi fired home from close range after Everton failed to deal with a corner.
But it the goal was mere consolation as the Blues saw the game out and moved to within two points of Southampton.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Griffiths, Jones, Kenny, Galloway, Connolly, Ledson, Williams (Dyson 83), Dowell (Walsh 67), Junior, Henen, Duffus (Charlesly 75). Subs: Hewlet, Langton.
Goals: Henen (3), Kenny (14), Galloway (27).
Yellow cards: Ledson
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