Reigning Premier League 2 champions Everton punished Brighton in the final minutes of stoppage time to steal all three points away at the Amex last Friday (September 20).
Antony Evans, the former Liverpool academy player, sold two Brighton defenders a dummy, got his head up and whipped an audacious curling effort into the far corner past Hugo Keto in the Brighton goal to seal a 2-1 win for the Toffees.
In this fixture last season Simon Rusk’s Brighton suffered the exact same fate - losing 2-1 at home to Everton - and eventually missed out on the opportunity to be crowned league champions. This was a chance to get revenge on David Unsworth’s Everton.
However, it was Unsworth’s men who went ahead in the second minute through Anthony Gordon after the combative Benny Banigime won back possession on the edge of the Everton box and played a route one ball up to Gordon. The striker shifted the ball on to his right foot in the box and fired a low effort through the legs of Warren O’Hora and underneath a slow-to-react Keto.
Brighton were allowed to have the ball by Everton. The merseysiders sat deep in a 4-5-1 and looked to invite the young Seagulls on to them and then catch them on the break.
Few chances fell to either team in a cagey first-half although Brighton had the majority of the ball, it was Everton who fashioned the most clear-cut chances in the first half.
A lovely lofted ball from Harry Charsley for Everton dropped in between the Brighton centre-backs and bounced invitingly for goalscorer Gordon but he could only manage a weak effort straight into the hands of the relieved keeper.
Brighton started fast in the second half and continued to pin Everton back. Forwards Ryan Longman, Jordan Davies and Taylor Richards all combining well to try and pick the lock of the solid Everton set-up.
Richards came close after he cut in on his left and produced a cross-come-shot from 30 yards out which evaded everyone including the keeper’ but whistled just past the post.
An almost identical chance came again from Richards on the right wing when he won the ball back on the edge of the 18-yard box and saw his effort bounce just in front of the keeper, who spilled it. An Everton defender was on hand to clear the danger.
Everton nearly took advantage of an Albion error after Cochrane’s misplaced pass saw Charsley latched on to the loose ball and pick out Gordon in the box who took a touch, swivelled and fired a low effort into the hands of Keto.
The Toffees came again, pouncing on another Brighton mistake. This time Lewis Freestone played a poor ball past Haydon Roberts and striker Gordon was quickest to react, he squared the ball to Evans but a brave Keto was there to smother the ball at the playmaker’s feet.
Brighton kept pressing for the equaliser and it came after a half-chance saw Richards’ effort take a looping deflection that forced Everton keeper’ Harry Tryer into tipping the ball over his bar for a corner.
The resulting corner saw Peter Gwargis’ left footed in-swinger hit the back post and met by the Irish defender Warren O’Hora whose headed effort down into the ground was initially saved by Tryer, but O’Hora was quickest to react and fortunately squeezed the ball past the cluster of pink shirts on the Everton goal line.
The Albion looked like they had rescued a point after a battling and patient performance. They just had to keep it tight after their equaliser in the final two minutes of regular time.
The fourth official raised the board for four minutes stoppage time - mainly due to consistent time wasting from Everton which the referee, Ryan Atkin, had to address throughout the game.
And in what was nearly the last kick of the game Antony Evans, the young lad from Kirkby, three days before his 21st birthday, produced a sublime finish from 25 yards out to inflict Brighton’s fourth defeat in six games this season.
Brighton U23’s play Tottenham U23’s tomorrow (Friday) at 7pm at the Amex.