FRIENDLY: Wanderers 0 Everton 0

Morley Sheehan handshake

Wanderers enjoyed an impressive homecoming as they took their pre-season preparations up another level in an entertaining draw with Premier League Everton.

The Toffees played a strong, senior side for the opening 45 minutes as they build towards their top-flight campaign.

After a nervy opening opening spell Wanderers went on to match the visitors in a high-quality showing in their first appearance back at the Toughsheet Community Stadium since last season's near miss in the play-offs.

And Ian Evatt’s men then had the better of the second half against a younger line-up in a performance lacking only a goal.

Nathan Baxter save Everton

The Whites clicked into close to top gear with some of their approach play in a confidence-booster ahead of the new season in less than a fortnight’s time.

And they made sure they would go into Saturday’s last friendly against West Bromwich Albion unbeaten during pre-season thanks to a welcome clean sheet for new goalkeeper Nathan Baxter, who starred behind a defence in which captain Ricardo Almeida Santos again underlined his class.

Summer recruits Baxter and Josh Dacres-Cogley both made their first starts at the Toughsheet Community Stadium and it proved a lively opener for Baxter in front of an excellent crowd of over 13,000.

The Whites’ keeper made a couple of fine early blocks to nullify Everton’s bright start as he stood strong to block an Alex Iwobi effort and a swerving shot from Dwight McNeil.

Randell Williams shot Everton

Baxter was to make two more vital interventions to thwart McNeil as he went full stretch to grab a low cross and then dropping to his left to gather a right-footed effort at the end of a superb run from the Everton wideman.

Iwobi remained a threat on the opposite flank as the visitors utilised their pace on the break and showed their Premier League pedigree.

But it wasn’t one-way traffic as Wanderers felt their way into a lively contest and had some decent chances of their own as they grabbed the impetus before the break.

Randell Williams and Aaron Morley both had sights of goal, as did former Everton youngster Gethin Jones as he burst into the box before over-running the ball.

Dion Charles shot Everton

Victor Adeboyejo was an effective outlet when Wanderers did go long and Williams – one of the Whites’ most effective attacking options – then teed up Kyle Dempsey for a chance he fired wide.

The best openings were still to come, though, as both sides had the opportunity to grab a half-time lead.

Firstly, Baxter spread himself to deny Lewis Dobbin before Joao Virginia did likewise at the other end to thwart Dion Charles before diving to his left to keep out a long-range strike from Williams.

Everton changed all of their outfield players bar defender Michael Keane at the break - with defender Ben Godrey the one senior man coming on - while Wanderers remained unchanged and seven minutes into the second half again went close to taking the lead with a decent move down the right ending with a shot from Morley again well saved by Virginia.

Wanderers were more dominant against the younger opposition and after Charles had the ball taken off his toes as he shaped to shoot, Williams delivered another dangerous ball which Adeboyejo steered into the side netting before Evatt made his first changes by swapping the front men with an hour gone.

Victor Adeboyejo chance Everton

The Whites’ boss utilised all his outfield players, with latest signing Carlos Mendes Gomes making his bow with 20 minutes to go as Wanderers continued to try and push for a winner.

The breakthrough wouldn’t come as Will Forrester curled an excellent late effort just wide and Josh Sheehan kept probing in his most influential outing of the summer.

But the Whites made sure they would remain unbeaten in their warm-up campaign when Baxter again saved well from Ryan Astley and Ricardo Almeida Santos tidied up to cap a fine night’s work from the skipper and his team.

Wanderers: Baxter; Jones (Forrester 60), Almeida Santos, Iredale; Dacres-Cogley, Morley (Mendes Gomes 70), Sheehan, Williams (Ashworth 70); Dempsey (Thomason 60); Adeboyejo (Jerome 60), Charles (Nlundulu 60). Substitutes: Coleman.

Everton (starting XI): Virginia; Paterson, Keane, Tarkowski, Young; Iwobi, Onana, Gomes, McNeil; Dobbin, Maupay. Substitutes: Lonergan, Godfrey, Astley, Warrington, Mills, Hunt, Onyango, Welch, Higgins, Sherif, Kouyate, Dixon, Metcalfe, Okoronkwo.

Referee: Matt Donohue

Attendance: 13,242 (Everton 4,080)

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