Francis Jeffers said Everton’s Under-23s will need to “take their medicine and regroup” after a disappointing mini derby defeat saw them miss the chance to go top of Premier League 2.
The Blues called on Beni Baningime, Mo Besic and Nikola Vlasic at Prenton Park but conceded twice either side of the break, despite a positive start.
Luke Garbutt saw a goalbound effort blocked in the opening exchanges, while Vlasic fired over after Josh Bowler’s initial shot had been charged down.
However, Herbie Kane steered in Harry Wilson’s cut back, before Reds skipper Corey Whelan headed home from a corner to give the hosts a 2-0 lead at the break.
England Under-17 World Cup winner Rhian Brewster added another with a side-foot volley shortly after the restart and substitute Yan Dhanda drilled past goalkeeper Louis Gray after a good run to complete the scoring 11 minutes from time.
The young Blues had been just two points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League 2 table ahead of the match but Jeffers conceded they were outworked by their rivals in Wirral.
“I’m obviously very, very disappointed,” said Jeffers, who again took charge of the side in place of David Unsworth. “We could have scored two or three in that opening 30 minutes and they could have done the same - it was open. So the first goal is important, but to talk about that would probably be wrong. We were well beaten in the end.
"Before the game, I was banging the drum, telling the players we needed to be good without the ball because Liverpool are a good side and they’re good at what they do. But, if you’re on your game, you can hurt them as well, and in the first half an hour I think that was evident.
“Then they get the first goal, we couldn’t recover and I think you could say they wanted to win more than us tonight, and that’s the disappointing thing.”
Substitute Fraser Hornby went close to pulling one back with a header at 3-0, while Besic thumped a long-range effort wide of the target.
However, the young Blues struggled to truly panic Reds goalkeeper Kamil Grabara until Liam Walsh’s audacious 35-yard chip dropped just over his crossbar in injury time.
Everton’s next game is at home against Manchester United on Monday 27 November and Jeffers says his charges need to rediscover the form that had seen them record wins in six of their previous seven league games before heading to Prenton Park.
”We have to go back to the drawing board, see where we went wrong and pick the bones out of it,” he added. “Then you do what you need to do and look ahead to the next game.
“Obviously when it’s a derby game you have to take your medicine and it takes a bit longer to get over it. But we have to regroup, get through it and get ready for Manchester United.”