In the thirteenth round of matches from the 2017/2018 PL2 Division One campaign, Terry Westley’s Development Squad make the tricky trip North to face off with David Unsworth’s Everton in what is set to be an intriguing matchup.
The young Hammers go into the tie off the back of exiting the Checkatrade Trophy at the hands of Luton Town and having their League clash with Tottenham Hotspur postponed the week after, while, the Toffees are fresh from a home Premier League International Cup draw with Dinamo Zagreb.
The encounter will take place tonight (Monday 18 December 2017) with a kick-off time of 7:00 PM and no Television Coverage available for viewing in the United Kingdom.
As is custom with Development Squad clashes, there will also be no live Radio Commentary to listen to, however, you can be sure to head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter to find live build-up, action and reaction from Merseyside throughout the tie.
After a change of venue that was announced by both clubs on Friday afternoon, the Blues’ Training Ground of USM Finch Farm will play host to the visit of Westley’s boys.
The game was due to be played at the home of National League Southport, Haig Avenue, but will now take place on a training pitch, which is the occasional home of Everton’s Academy Teams, the Irons have visited the site, situated in Halewood, numerous times in the past.
Unsworth has the liberty of one of the brightest young Squads in English Football to choose from ahead of the League match, including bright starlet Morgan Feeney who has just signed a new three-year deal with the Toffees.
He could also be boosted by having first-teamers James McCarthy and Yannick Bolasie at his disposal as they return from lengthy injury absences, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Sam Allardyce’s first-team are also in action tonight, hosting Swansea City at Goodison Park.
Meanwhile, Westley has a few notable injury concerns to worry about, the bulk of them long-term with defender Noha Sylvestre still out with an ankle injury and his biggest miss Nathan Holland remaining sidelined.
After, losing Skipper Declan Rice to David Moyes’ first-team on a permeant basis, his vice-Captain Moses Makasi also featured in the first-team Squad at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday along with Sead Haksabanovic, star striker Antonio Martinez may feature.
The Development Squads of Everton and West Ham United have met scarcely since the restructure of Football at that level, which brought with it the formation of the Premier League 2.
In the last five years, there have been only six playing’s of this particular fixture, the record since then makes for pleasant viewing for any member of the Claret & Blue Army.
In that time, the Toffees have only managed to come away with three points twice, there has been one draw, and the East Londoners have reigning supreme three occasions.
The last time that the two sides met, coming in August of this year in the League, the score would finish 0-0 at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, a game that will be remembered for the inclusion of first-teamer Michail Antonio for the hosts as he returned from a lay-off for the start of the campaign.
Everton’s Academy and Reserves have earned a reputation in recent years for bringing through English talent of the highest class, whilst tasting success after success with their various Youth outlets.
The U23s are current PL2 Division One reigning Champions, after lifting last season’s title, also picking up a countless number of Lancashire Senior Cup and Liverpool Senior Cup Trophies over the decades.
In the past, players such as Wayne Rooney, Ross Barkley and John Stones have been notable products of their Academy, nicknamed “the School of Science”, while the latest crop is rich with the likes of England U21 stars Jonjoe Kenny, Kieran Dowell, Tom Davies, Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all hugely exciting prospects.
Nowadays, under the Management of David Unsworth, a man who recently spent over a month as Caretaker Manager of Everton’s first-team, the Premier League Two side sit fourth, chasing a second Title on the spin.
So, now that the Finch Farm scene has been well and truly set for an exciting evening of Development Squad action, can the hosts claim a first win in four in the behind closed doors matchup?
Or, will Westley’s visitors stop the rot of five defeats in the spin in all Competitions with an admirable triumph on the road? Think you know? Head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter to join the pre-match discussion and cast your last-minute score predictions.