Despite producing a fine display at league leaders Everton, City’s EDS side lost out to an early penalty in a hard-fought clash at Goodison Park.

Although the Blues fell behind to a third minute spot-kick converted by Bassala Sambou, City were more than a match for the hosts and created a host of chances.

But Paul Harsley’s side were unable to find the finishing touch to their fine build-up play with an Everton side, reduced to 10 men for the last 10 minutes after Mason Holgate’s red card, grateful to hear the final whistle.

What happened…

City were looking to bounce back after last weekend’s home league loss to Chelsea.

But pitted against the league leaders in a game switched to Goodison Park, Paul Harsley’s young charges knew it would be a testing assignment. And adding to Everton’s strength was a first start since January for Republic of Ireland star James McCarthy who suffered a double broken leg at the start of the year.

The Toffees also deployed England Under-21 defender Mason Holgate in what was a powerful starting eleven.

City then suffered the worst possible start, going behind after just three minutes. Cameron Humphreys was adjudged to have fouled Bassala Sambou and referee Dan Middleton awarded a penalty with Sambou drilling the spot kick home.

Everton used their physicality and experience to enjoy the better of the early exchanges and the Blues were indebted to 'keeper Curtis Anderson who produced a fine block to deny Sambou a second goal.

Gradually however, City – with Philippe Sandler producing an assured debut at the heart of our defence – grew into the match and on 23 minutes a fine move between Nathanael Ogebta and Rabbi Matondo ended with striker Nabil Touaizi’s snap shot going just wide.

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On the half hour, City powered forward once more through Ogbeta and from his dangerous cross a Taylor Richards snap-shot fizzed agonisingly wide.

Harsley’s side ended the half again on the attack with Sandler shooting over from Richards’ left-wing cross.

It was the Blues who retained the upper hand after the restart with Matondo’s left wing raids a constant source of danger to Everton.

On 51 minutes the Welsh winger again caused havoc in the hosts defence before teeing up Richards whose shot was saved by Joao Virginia.

Touaizi was inches away from meeting Jeremie Frimpong’s cross before a superb run and shot by Matondo was tipped over the Everton bar.

Everton remained a threat with Nathan Broadhead’s 75th minute free-kick curling just wide of the left-hand post but City looked the more dangerous side.

The Blues’ cause was further boosted when Holgate was sent off for a second bookable offence on 80 minutes.

Ogbeta almost opened up the home defence with a twisting run into the box only for his shot to be blocked.

Deep into injury time Matondo saw another run and shot denied by home keeper Virginia.

However, despite laying virtual siege in the Everton in the final 10 minutes, City were unable to find the goal their performance merited.

What it means

The result sees City slip down two places in the Premier League 2 table to seventh with 13 points from nine games. Everton remain top and now have 18 points to their credit.

How we lined up

The Blues were boosted by a first appearance in central defence for Sandler, who joined the Club in the summer from Dutch side PEC Zwolle.

Joining the 21-year-old Dutchman in the back four were skipper Humphreys, Frimpong and Ogbeta with Anderson in goal.

Claudio Gomes and Richards anchored the midfield with Tom Dele-Bashiru pushed further forward with Benjamin Garre and Matondo wide on either flank.

Spanish striker Touaizi carried the attacking threat for the Blues.

What’s next

Paul Harsley’s side are back on Merseyside on Tuesday night for our final Checkatrade Trophy group game against Tranmere Rovers (7pm).

City then resume Premier League 2 action next Saturday when we play host to Blackburn Rovers at the Academy Stadium, kick-off 12pm.