SUNDERLAND fought back from two goals down to gain an away point and extend the unbeaten run of Kevin Ball’s side to four games.
Adam Mitchell’s brace for Sunderland cancelled out Harry Charsley’s two goals and so big was the turnaround in the Black Cats display that they might even have snatched a victory in the closing stages when they were dominant.
Everton went ahead just five minutes in the game when Charsley notched and he extended their lead in the 40th minute when the Toffees hit Sunderland on the counter-attack and he profitted from a pull back from Hallam Hope.
Hope was a threat to Sunderland throughout the first half and the home team could have had more than two goals for their efforts in the opening 45 minutes.
Everton would have been happy with a two-goal lead at the half-way stage but Mitchell reduced the deficit just before the break when a George Honeyman shot deflected into the path of the midfielder, who converted at the back post.
Heavy rain at the Southport FC ground threatened to ruin the game but Sunderland hung in despite Everton starting the second half as positively as they had the first – Hope twice going close before Ethan Jones hit the woodwork with a shot from outside the box in the 52nd minute.
Sunderland rallied and Mitchell forced a save seconds later, as Sunderland worked hard and got on top.
Suddenly it was all about the visitors and they equalised in the 63rd when Smith produced a stunning crossfield pass and Mitchell volleyed home.
They might even have won the game had Connor Oliver not controversially being flagged offside after breaking from midfield in the 70th minute and slotting home.
It was all Sunderland by the end but they could not force that winner.
Coach Kevin Ball though will be pleased by the character his young players showed in coming back from two goals down to keep themselves among the points.
Everton: Springthorpe, McLaughlin (sub McEleny 52), Garbutt, Ledson, Langton, Browning, Jones, Williams, Vellios, Hope, Charsley. Subs: Griffiths, Touray, C Duffus, T Duffus.
Sunderland: Dixon, Cartwright, Ferguson, Oliver, Harrison, McNamee, Mitchell, Laing (sub Smith 52), Laidler, Honeyman, Holland. Subs: Egan, Stryjek, Lawson, Gooch.
H Newcastle United’s Under-21s lost 2-0 at home to Leicester City, after goals from Adam Dawson and Michael Cain.
Football development manager Peter Beardsley took charge of the team in the wake of reserve-team coach Willie Donachie’s resignation last week.