The bid by Albion under-23s to take their title race to the final day of the season ended in cruel fashion as Everton clinched top spot.

A 1-0 defeat for Simon Rusk's youngsters at Goodison Park tonight sealed first place for the Merseysiders.

Albion needed to draw or win to keep their hopes alive.

They had a chance to equalise in the 81st minute when Max Sanders was fouled inside the area by Lewis Gibson.

Viktor Gyokeres slipped taking the penalty and the ball went over the bar.

Josh Bowler struck the only goal of the game for Everton from 20 yards midway through the first half.

Bojan Radulovic went close for Albion soon after with a header from a corner cleared off the line.

Jayson Molumby also poked wide midway through the second half from Alex Cochrane's cross in the quest for parity.

The result leaves Albion six points behind Everton ahead of their remaining fixture at home to Chelsea at the end of the month.

Albion (4-3-3): Sanchez; A.Davies, Ostigard, O'Hora, Cochrane; Collar, Molumby, Sanders; J. Davies (Ahannach 37), Radulovic (Alzate 66), Gyokeres.

Subs: Collings, Moore, Hall.