But the young Blues missed the chance to go third when they slipped to a 2-1 defeat. Bruno Ribeiro’s 75th-minute strike for the visitors was the difference in an otherwise even contest. A Hallam Hope own goal, deflected past Jan Mucha from an inswinging corner, gave Rovers a 24th-minute lead, but Francisco Junior played in Conor Grant to finish neatly on 42 minutes. There was positive news for the Blues when Garbutt replaced Ibou Touray at left-back after 61 minutes, after missing several weeks through injury, but Ribeiro twisted and turned in the penalty area to lash a strike in off the upright 15 minutes from time. Afterwards Shane Duffy tweeted:
“Gutted about today’s result. Should have won the game. Always good to play alongside Sylvain helps me a lot. Got to move on to the next one.” While Distin added:
“Feeling like 21 again after playing with the reserves. Shame about the result though.”
EVERTON UNDER-21s: Mucha, Browning, Touray (Garbutt 61), Distin, Duffy, Junior, Grant (Forrester 80), Hitzlsperger, Hope, Gueye, Jones (Kelly 85). Unused subs: Taudul, Pennington.