Dundalk defeated an Everton XI 3-2 in tonight’s friendly encounter played at Oriel Park.
Ciaran O’Connor’s brace either side of the interval, along with a tremendous individual goal from Carlton Ubaezuono put Dundalk into the ascendency having conceded early-on following Callum Dyson’s clever finish.
Nathan Broadhead produced a stunning second for Everton ten minutes into the second-half, an exceptional left-footed drive which saw a sprawling Gabriel Sava unable to prevent it from hitting the net.
The Lilywhites closed out a very profitable exercise with relative ease though, winning the match by three goals to two.
There was an intensity to Dundalk’s early attacking play with former schoolmates, Michael O’Connor and Anton Reilly forcing corners which Everton comfortably cleared.
The Toffees didn’t appear to hold any attacking threat whatsoever, until their first meaningful venture forward in the thirteenth minute almost produced the opener.
Reilly was left ruthlessly exposed with pacey Everton winger, Anton Evans, who in turn cut in and drove an effort wide with the Lilywhites right-back left mesmerised.
The visitors did take the lead moments later through lone striker Callum Dyson.
The frontman was played through behind the helpless Eric Whelan, and Dyson calmly slotted past the advancing Gabriel Sava, 1-0 to the Merseysiders.
Darren Meenan and the lively younger O’Connor sibling, Michael had chances after the opener as Stephen Kenny began to typically pace his touchline.
The managers’ prowling seemed to force his side into gear, as they began pining the Premier League side back thereafter.
Ciaran Kilduff missed a glorious chance when played onto his left-foot, however, his weak shot was gathered by Louis Gray in the Everton goal.
The Champions of Ireland did equalise on the first half’s midpoint through Ciaran O’Connor. The ex-Derry striker had cut a lonesome figure down the left wing for the Lilywhites before he tapped home from an excellent Ciaran Kilduff ball across the six-yard box.
Belgian David Henen and Liam Walsh both had efforts prior to the interval for Everton, while Kilduff saw a header go marginally over for the Lilywhites, and the sides went into the dressing rooms level, one goal apiece.
The second period began with the home side again in the ascendency. The O’Connor brothers, now paired up front ran the channels stretching Everton and it was their industry that set substitute Carlton Ubaezuono free down the left. Although it was majestic individual play by the Lilywhites’ u19 star that led to his goal.
Ubaezuono cut along the end line having nut-megged Harry Charlsey before firing low past Gray at his front post despite seemingly showing signs of hesitation, the home side were now ahead 2-1.
Their lead was extended further within a minute when the dynamic Ubaezuono cut in from the left again before passing to Ciaran O’Connor who was free on the six-yard line and coolly struck low past Everton’s net-minder for Dundalk’s third goal.
Another concerted period of midfield tussling ensued with Jake O’Connor and Georgie Poynton strongly confronting their physically superior opponents, Nathan Broadhead, Nathan Holland and Ryan Ledson.
The O’Connor brothers, Michael in particular were showing promising signs in attack, however, against the run of play Everton registered their second goal of proceedings, and it was a goal that it will last long in the memory even if the actual match doesn’t.
Broadhead, a midfielder with stark similarities to illustrious Everton academy graduates, Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and unleashed a venomous left-footed strike which Sava was unable to prevent from nestling into the top-left hand corner.
It was a truly breath-taking strike from a centre-field operator whose technique and stocky physical complexion mirrors that of current Everton talisman, Barkley.
However, it was Ubaezuono who was lighting up the contest. The young left-flanker was giving Charlsey a torrid time as all the traffic was being directed down his flank. He was dove-tailing tremendously with skipper Shane Grimes as Dundalk continued to pressurise their struggling visitors.
Sava was forced into action as the Lilywhites’ youthful spine began to tire. Ryan Ledson and Harry Charlsey both had strong shots parried away by the Italian as Everton enjoyed a productive period either side of the hour-mark.
Ubaezuono and Michael O’Connor were constant menaces on the break for Kenny’s side.
The duo were roasting the Toffee’s defence with glimpses of technical genius and it was their play that was the highlight of the concluding minutes of what can be described as a productive run-out for Dundalk’s youth-team representitives as well as their sporadic first-teamers alike.
Dundalk FC: Gabriel Sava; Anton Reilly (James Rice 90), Eric Whelan, Trialist, Shane Grimes; Darren Meenan (Cormac Boyle 46), Jake O’Connor (Deane Watters 89), George Poynton, Ciaran O’Connor; Ciaran Kilduff (Carlton Ubaezuono 46), Michael O’Connor (Garreth Craven 87).
Subs not used: Ben Kelly (gk), Emmett Hughes, Aaron Casey, Adam Finnegan, Keith Dalton.
Everton: Louis Gray; Harry Charlsey, Marcon Feeney, Josef Yarnem (Matthew Fulps 46), James Yates; Nathan Broadhead, Nathan Holland, Liam Walsh (Ryan Ledson 46); David Henen, Callum Dyson, Anton Evans.
Subs not used: Conor Hunt
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Michael O’Connor (Dundalk).
Attendance: 600 (estimate).