Tino Anjorin's brace saw the Blues come from behind and take the lead in Southport but we were stung by a late penalty and eventually took a deserved point back to Cobham.
Chelsea fell victim to a goal from a set-piece by a physical Everton side who led at the break but Anjorin took matters into his own hands and levelled the scores 11 seconds into the second half. Anjorin was on target again after an hour when he converted from the spot to give the Blues the lead - but a penalty was our undoing, as Everton were gifted the chance to equalise from 12 yards and Antony Evans did just that, meaning a point each was the end result.
Andy Myers named Armando Broja and Levi Colwill from the start in attack and defence respectively, while Anjorin was available for selection again after overcoming a minor injury. The midfielder was on the scoresheet in his last outing which was for Ed Brand’s Under-18s side against Aston Villa last weekend - that team was captained by Xavier Simons, who made the bench.
The fixture was originally scheduled for last year but heavy rainfall in Southport had the game in doubt from the night before. There was no such doubt this evening though as there were clear skies in the chilly North West.
Weather conditions were perfect but the pitch was one that the Blues weren’t used to and may have warranted a change in approach as the uneven surface meant Broja was made to run the channels in the early stages.
Nathan Markelo registered Everton’s first attempt on goal after robbing possession in midfield but the eventual shot fell victim to the conditions as the ball ran wide, Karlo Ziger was there to gather any danger.
Ziger was called into action again moments later, Sebastian Quirk and Matthew Fouls were both denied by the keeper who got his body in the way of two close range efforts which came after the Blues failed to clear their lines from a corner-kick. There was a fair share of possession for Chelsea in an even opening quarter.
As we approached the hour mark, Chelsea saw their first chance pass by. Jon Russell sent a long ball forward and the willing runner, Broja, was in behind the defence and through on goal. Joao Virginia was quick off his line though and closed down the angle well, making the save from the forward who should have put us ahead.
We had to remain alert at the back though, Ellis Simms found a pocket of space and fired at Ziger’s net. Our keeper made a confident start to the evening.
Everton took the lead shortly after the half hour mark however and it was from a home corner-kick. Marcel Lavinier thought he cleared the danger when he blocked a shot on the line from Markelo but the clearance was only as far as Quirk who reacted quickly and steered the rebound into the net.
We were made to do more defensive work before the break but went in trailing by a single goal at half-time.
Myers’ team talk seemed to do the trick as Chelsea got off to the perfect start pulling a goal back within 11 seconds of the restart. Anjorin blocked a clearance from Lewis Gibson, he won the ball and raced into the box before firing low into the bottom corner. The Blues were back in the game, 1-1.
We made a quick start to the half but found it difficult to build on our goal until Tariq Uwakwe was fouled in the box and awarded a penalty. Anjorin had the chance to double his evening’s and season’s tally and did just that in the calmest fashion, stroking the ball into the corner of the net to take the lead. 1-2 Chelsea.
Everton were hunting for a response to falling behind and made Ziger work to pull off another excellent save from close range – but the hosts were gifted the opportunity to level the scores when George McEachran was adjudged to have committed a foul in the area.
Ziger got a hand to Evans’ spot kick but it wasn’t strong enough as the ball found the back of the net. Our lead was short-lived, 2-2 with 68 minutes on the clock.
Anjorin was our main threat going forward and sent an arrowing shot inches wide of the target towards the end of the game as he looked to seal a hat-trick but it wasn’t to be as the points were shared at Haig Avenue.
The development squad remain unbeaten at the top of PL2 and are next in action on Friday against Leicester City at Aldershot Town.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Karlo Ziger; Marcel Lavinier, Jack Wakely, Levi Colwill, Henry Lawrence; George McEachran (c), Jon Russell (Xavier Simons 89); Tino Livramento (Charlie Brown 69), Tino Anjorin, Tariq Uwakwe, Armando Broja
Unused subs Nicolas Tie, Thierno Ballo, Dynel Simeu
Scorers Anjorin 46 & 62
Everton Joao Virginia, Kyle John, Matthew Foulda, Nathangelo MArkelo, Morgan Feeney (c), Lewis Gibson, Antony Evans, Beni Baningime, Ellis Simms (Manasse Mampala 78) , Sebastian Quirk, Dennis Adeniran
Unused subs Con Ouzounidis, Harry Tyrer, Jarrad Branthwaite,
Scorers Quirk 33 Evans 68
- In other Academy news, should the Under-18s beat Wolverhampton Wanderers in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup they will host the winners of the tie between Millwall and AFC Bournemouth