Preston North End rounded off their pre-season fixture programme at Goodison Park, with Everton the victors by two goals to nil.
In an entertaining encounter, Alex Neil’s men gave a very good account of themselves and but for the exploits of young goalkeeper Harry Tyrer would have no doubt have taken something from the game.
It was a fully different starting XI to the one that drew 2-2 with Sheffield United 24 hours previous, with Ethan Walker getting his first senior start down the right-hand side of the front three.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues started brightly, with Connor Ripley making a brilliant reaction save from Gylfi Sigurdsson after 90 seconds, his shot deflecting off Jordan Storey and almost looping over the ’keeper, but for his excellent reflexes.
But the hosts were in front on seven minutes – Ryan Ledson’s best friend, Jonjoe Kenny sliding home from just outside the six yard box, toe ending the ball past Ripley when Theo Walcott’s attempted pass ricocheted off Storey and allowed the midfielder to break through.
However, the second part of the opening period was all North End. The loss of Mason Holgate at the back for the Toffeemen made a difference as Jayden Stockley began to dominate up front.
On 25 minutes a free kick from skipper Paul Gallagher, from the right of penalty area, after foul on Ethan Walker, saw a Paul Huntington header seemingly come off Anthony Gordon and go wide, but a corner was not given by referee Rob Jones.
Before the half hour mark a great chance to level came as Josh Harrop did well, held the ball up for Brad Potts to run through, he slid ball through to run of Stockley, who was in on goal, but his powerful shot was straight at Tyrer.
Eight minutes before the interval Stockley was karate kicked by Kenny near his throat – and he would have received a red card in a league game, but escaped with a yellow. Gallagher’s resulting 20-yard free kick was inches wide of the left-hand post with Tyrer beaten.
Chances continued and a good move saw Stockley hold up the ball, finding Potts, who fed Darnell Fisher – making his return from injury. The No.2’s cross found Stockley, but his bullet header flashed wide.
But the best chance was two minutes before half-time and it took a superb save from Tyrer to deny Walker, who charged down the right from Stockley’s flick on. It was a great run and shot from the 18-year-old, arrowed towards the bottom left-hand corner, but somehow the stopper got down to turn the ball just around the post.
North End had the ball in the back of the net on 62 minutes, Bayliss firing home after some superb build-up play, Stockley finding the run of Harrop, who squared for Bayliss to fire home, but assistant Darren Cann adjudged Harrop to have been offside when he received the ball, despite it looking very tight.
But it was 2-0 shortly after as a superb touch from Walcott allowed Bernard to break through with pace, feeding the ball out to Richarlison on the left, who drilled an early ball across to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, whose initial effort was brilliantly stopped by Ripley, but it came back off the keeper and into the empty net, very unlucky for the man between the sticks.
Another great save from Tyrer kept the lead to two on 76 minutes. This time Harrop delivered a quality free kick from the right and Jordan Storey rose highest to power a header from 15 yards out that somehow the young stopper tipped onto the bar and Calvert-Lewin completed the clearance and the game ended 2-0.
Everton line-up: Tyrer, (Hansen, 90) Holgate (John, 31), Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin (Simms, 82), Sigurdsson (c), Walcott (Bolasie, 67), Nkounkou, Bernard (Adeniran, 88), Gordon (Baningime, 78), Kenny, Gibson.
PNE line-up: Ripley, Fisher (Rafferty, 73), Earl, Bayliss, Storey, Huntington, Walker (O’Reilly, 73), Gallagher (c) (Johnson, 73), Stockley, Potts (Baxter, 88), Harrop. Subs not used: Hudson, Pearson, Bauer, Davies, Hughes, Ledson, Barkhuizen, Bodin, Baxter.
Referee: Mr R Jones