A goal and two assists from Nathan Broadhead helped Everton Under-23s earn a 4-2 win at Leicester City as Thierry Small got on the scoresheet a day after becoming the Blues’ youngest ever First-Team player.
Broadhead got a deserved reward for his night’s efforts 12 minutes from time after latching onto a through ball by Rhys Hughes to slot home at the near post and put the seal on an ultimately comfortable Everton victory.
The win was sparked, however, by a 27th-minute strike from Small – named in David Unsworth’s XI alongside Tyler Onyango, another to make his senior Everton bow in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round win over Sheffield Wednesday.
A mistake from Seb Quirk after 10 minutes almost gifted Leicester an early lead. The defender’s clearance fell into the path of Khanya Leshabela and his shot had to be cleared off the line by Small.
Nine minutes later Leicester’s captain, Callum Wright, fired wide after he was slipped through on goal by Leshabela.
Everton responded with a low, hard-hit shot by Broadhead which was well saved low down by Leicester keeper Jakub Stolarczyk.
The opener saw Broadhead and Small combine. A quick counter-attack, led by Broadhead, prised Leicester open and allowed the Welshman to play in Small, who fired high into the top of the net at the near post. Having become Everton’s youngest player aged 16 years and 176 days, the strike will have added further gloss to an unforgettable couple of days for the left-back.
Leicester responded eight minutes later. A pass over the top of the defence was met by Jake Wakeling and he cut the ball back to Wright, who fired under Joao Virginia.
Everton, though, hit back immediately from the kick off. Winger Einar Iversen was set free down the right by Broadhead, and the Norwegian calmly slotted past Stolarczyk into the bottom left corner.
Unsworth’s side got their third on the stroke of half-time. A whipped free-kick from the right by Hughes was glanced home by centre-back Con Ouzounidis into the bottom left corner.
Leicester fought their way back into the game with 20 minutes to go. Wright’s shot on the edge of the area fell into the path of midfielder Wakeling, who made no mistake.
Defender Joe Anderson produced a heroic sliding tackle to keep Everton ahead 15 minute from time. After Virginia saved well from the hosts’ initial shot, Anderson slid in to deny Ali Reghba a tap in from close range.
And four minutes later Everton had breathing space again. A swift counter-attack saw Hughes march downfield and slide Broadhead in to score at the near post.
The win takes the Blues up to fifth place in the Premier League 2 table, four points behind leaders Tottenham Hotspur.
Unsworth’s side return to the East Midlands next Monday for a trip to Derby County. Kick off is at 7pm GMT.