Notts County vs Everton U21

Words: Gav Squires
Wednesday 16 August 2017
reading time: min, words

With Everton U21s in town, our Gav headed off to Meadow Lane to check out the Checkatrade Trophy match and to get some opinions on whether these youth teams should be in the competition at all.


On the pitch, Notts County's experience told as they ran out 2-1 victors over Everton U21. This was especially true of the second goal, where a short corner routine exposed Everton's naivety as Haydn Hollis scored. That added to Jonathan Forte's opener, which had followed two decent saves from Louis Gray in the opening exchanges. Half-time sub Anton Donkor pulled one back for the visitors in the second half and then it became a proper ding-dong, end-to-end game with Everton pushing for an equaliser and Notts hitting on the break. Both teams could have scored with Everton hitting the bar and debutant Branisalav Pindroch making an excellent save from the rebound but County were able to hold on for the victory.


Afterwards, I really wanted to get some thoughts of some Notts County fans about the whole idea of allowing Premier League sides youth teams to play in the Football League Trophy. Sitting around in the Trent Navigation after the game, I was surprised that the County fans that I spoke with were actually very positive about the whole idea. They thought that it was a chance for young players to get some experience against some older professionals and it also gave County to have a look at some of the youngsters. This echoed manager Kevin Nolan's comments before the game, where he spoke about having a face-to-face conversation about the possibility of taking some of the Everton youngsters on loan.


However, these are the thoughts of people who had been to the match - it's possibly much more relevant just how many people stayed away. The Kop and the Haydn Green Family stands were completely closed and the official attendance was 1,409 (including 88 Everton fans in the Jimmy Sirrel stand) One fan that I spoke to also pointed out how ridiculous it would be if two U21 teams got to the final at Wembley, thus invalidating the whole reason for the competition in the first place, which was to give lower league teams the opportunity to play at the national stadium.


As an Everton fan, I'm a bit on the fence. On one hand, it's a great experience for our young centre backs to be playing against someone as strong and powerful as Jonathan Forte and all of the players can learn from Alan Smith's attitude - he played a Checkatrade Trophy game against Everton U21s in front of 1,400 people as if it were a Champions League game. On the other hand, if this year is anything like last year, the players will only be playing three games - I'd much rather see those players that are ready go out on loan and get 20-30 games experience instead.


Notts County's Checkatrade Trophy campaign continues against Mansfield Town on the 24th of October.


Notts County website

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