David Unsworth highlighted the “important impact” made by the young Blues’ substitutes after Everton Under-23s came from two goals behind to secure a point at Tottenham Hotspur.
The Toffees were 2-1 down with just four minutes left on the clock when Manasse Mampala hurtled down the left wing before crossing for fellow sub Anthony Gordon, whose clinical finish levelled the scores.
Quickfire first-half strikes from Jack Roles and Kazaiah Sterling put Spurs in a commanding position before Bassala Sambou halved the deficit just before the interval.
Unsworth praised the resilience his side displayed to claw their way back into the game. The result sees the young Blues close the gap on Premier League 2 leaders Derby County to just one point.
“Conceding two quick goals shocked us, really, it was uncharacteristic for our team to do that,” Unsworth told evertonfc.com.
“Our first goal was terrific, and scoring the second was all about plugging away and having the character to get something out of the game.
“The subs - Manasse, Anthony and Ellis Simms - had an important impact on the game.
“Manasse did really well for the equaliser and Anthony pops up with the finish, which is what we need him to do at this level.
“We felt like we needed something to stretch the game and that’s Manasse’s strength. We’ve worked a lot with him this season and he has not got as many minutes as he would have liked.
“His performance today is a real plus point and it was nice to see Ellis and Anthony also have an effect when they came on.”
Everton started the game on the front foot, taking the game to the home side and getting into several threatening positions.
It took until the 24-minute mark for the Toffees to fashion their first clear-cut chance, however. Nathan Broadhead produced a fabulous corner delivery – it was met by the head of Tyias Browning but Spurs skipper Japhet Tanganga was there to clear off the line.
Sambou then worked some space in the edge of the area before unleashing a low, driven effort that Spurs stopper Brandon Austin did well to tip around the post.
The Blues were then hit with a sucker punch just after the half-hour mark, when Roles got on the end of Tanganga’s knockdown to put the home side in front.
Two minutes later, Spurs had their second – Sterling giving Mateusz Hewelt no chance with a pinpoint finish from just inside the penalty box.
Stung by the quickfire double, Everton’s response was instant as they put Tottenham under concerted pressure.
And they got their reward when Sambou finished a magnificent team move. Einar Iversen, promoted to Unsworth’s side after a string of impressive performances for Paul Tait’s table-topping Everton Under-18s, rapped a pass into the feet of central midfielder Dennis Adeniran. The former Fulham man then found Antony Evans in the left channel, who drove forward before flashing a ball across the face of the goal, and Sambou was there to slide in and make it 2-1.
Josh Bowler almost had the young Blues level before the break – his singing effort forcing another fine save from Austin.
Everton continued to probe in the second half, with Tyias Browning heading fractions over before Bowler fired just off target with a shot from the edge of the area.
By this point, Unsworth had thrown on Mampala, Simms and Gordon as his side searched for a leveller.
Spurs continued to look a threat on the break – with Browning and Morgan Feeney making superb blocks as Everton committed men forward – but it was the Blues who were to get the goal their enterprising play deserved.
Mampala picked up the ball just inside the Tottenham half, before showcasing lightning pace and impressive composure to hare forward and pick out the advancing Gordon in the penalty box. The 17-year-old duly slotted into the bottom corner to make it 2-2.
While boss Unsworth conceded his side “can play better”, he said were a number of positives to take from the performance.
He believes Under-18s ace Iversen, making his first start at this level, will benefit significantly from the experience.
“He has been playing really well for the Under-18s but it’s a massive jump to this level,” he said.
“Einar will have learned a lot, because everyone’s a bit quicker, faster, stronger and more savvy.
“It was a great game for him in terms of his experience. In the next four or five weeks, if he continues to play for us, I’m sure he’ll get better and better.”