Off to the Palace after the embarrassment that was West Brom on a cold and windy day made worse by no matter how you travelled hold ups were around every corner or so it seemed. Many a tale of woe was told and even those on the free bus complained.

Teams announced and the main talking point being that after Martinez had said McCarthy was fully fit and training fully with the 'Group' was left at home. What is the point of press conferences when hardly a word of truth is forthcoming?

Don't dare ask about incomings or out goings in January as that involves ten minutes of flannel. Clubs say the fans are the most important people, do you believe that? And what about those fans without season tickets who rang for Derby tickets as soon as the date arrived only to be told that non available as they had all been reserved. Then asked what does that mean if they are just on general sale today? Only to be told corporate people have reserved them for their people. So much for loyal fans who can't afford season tickets and what impact does it have on segregation and security.

We did kick off and attacked the home end and within a minute we had scored. Stones from his half advanced and played a superb through ball for Naismith to latch onto and make ground and fire hard and low across goal for the sliding Lukaku to score. It happened that quick it took quite e few seconds for the travelling faithful to get voices in gear. From the restart we had at least four minutes of absolute mayhem as the Palace attacked and we somehow or other thwarted them by means of last ditch tackles, blocks, saves and getting anything between ball and goal. Jags spectacularly cleared one from the goal line that looked for all the world it was in so thank god for goal-line technology. From one of these attacks a cross ball into our box resulted in a heading dual between Coleman and Chamakh with the Palace man coming of the worse and being stretchered off to be replaced by Jordan Mutch who had done for Mirallas when he played for QPR at our place.

We saw out the initial pressure from the hosts and did attack spasmodically. From one of these Lukaku got free in the right channel and made good ground and laid back a pass for Naismith who although in a good position had to take the chance early and skied it. Shame that. Both teams attacked and Palace more often than us and from one of these Puncheon had a good shot toward the corner of the net pushed away well by a sprawling Robles for a corner which we cleared after a couple of awkward moments. Then Robles received a back pass that he miss-hit as he slipped but no Palace player could capitalise, we were a bit lucky there.

Just after the 40-min mark we got Lukaku going down the right channel and he cut in with menace only to apply a heavy touch and the ball was away from him, a chance lost I thought. The half continued with the Palace having the most attacks but we survived them and broke when we could. 5 mins added time came up due to the earlier injury and I found myself hoping to hang on and get in all square and have a chat about how we would go about the second half. It's terrible to have to think like that but in our position points are paramount.

H/T and the chat is centred on what the manager might do second half to combat some of the set balls causing such mayhem in our box. The fear factor is deffo with the fans but they were roaring the lads on to stand firm.

Second half started with the game on a knife edge and players and fans alike having one thing in mind. "They shall not pass." This led to a right dodgy 20 odd minutes as we had to defend doggedly and on the odd occasion we did get forward the attack always seemed to peter out but I was no more than hoping that our defending would hold up and get to that 20-min mark with a clean sheet, we did that then the next goal was to manage the next 25 mins in 10-minute chunks, stay solid and collect the points. Not pretty but essential in our position.

By the 70th minute, Pardew had used all his subs and we had introduced Oviedo for Mirallas, probably to protect his hamstring for the derby, Mirallas had an in and out sort of game, if only that lad could deliver his good stuff on a consistent basis. With Pardew using all his subs it left our manager in a good position to see how they were forming and knowing that no other changes in personnel could be made would know what he was up against could get instructions on to see us through. I noticed Ledley had gone to left back in their reshuffle so I was hoping for McGeady to try him out for pace, mind you we had to get the ball to McGeady first.

75 mins came up and we still on track and with Stones and Jags heading, kicking, blocking and sliding our keeper was not seriously being troubled and what did come in at height it was nice to see the big man pull them out of the evening air. The fans were doing their bit, Allez-Allez O rang out loud and proud so a quick look at the clock told me just 15more mins plus added to see out. McGeady at last got the ball and raced passed Ledley and in on goal pulling the ball from the by-line across the face and the incoming missile that was Lukaku just failed to make contact. That was close and a second goal for us now you felt would settle it.

10 mins to go, squeaky bum time. Palace attack and get down our end wide and a high cross comes in that the yellow giant plucks from the air at a height that no attacker can reach. Then Oviedo booked, Robles warned for time wasting, they have most of the ball but we break when we can but the football being played is of the nervous kind and as the clock ticks down you get that excruciatingly tense tingly feeling with involuntary movement of legs as we kick every ball. We did have a little spell that ate up some time with a good joined up move of many passes that eventually ended when the ball ran away from Naismith and out for a goal kick.

We attacked again and won a corner, 5mins left, take your time was heard from many a pair of strong lungs, we did but the corner was only partially cleared and McGeady pounced turned inside and set off a left footer aimed at the far corner but their keeper got a hand to it and that was the end of that. We then saw Naismith and Lukaku break quickly and Naismith fed in Lukaku one on one but his shot although hit with venom lacked direction an only troubled the side netting, he should have done better.

3 mins left and Palace get a free kick in a dangerous area but they waste it much to our relief. I am kicking every ball again as tension among us Blues is at breaking point. 1 min to go and Lukaku gets in a header and Oviedo hits hard and wide. Hell 4 mins added goes up on the board — anyone got a blood pressure monitor — as amid mayhem Lukaku is replaced by Kone. They reckon this bloke can hold the ball up well and boy do we need that now and indeed he made a good job of the minutes he was on the pitch. A Palace man makes a mistake and lets in McGeady but he made a right 'cats' of whatever he was trying to do and that chance passed.

My watch says less than two mins, Fans roaring "Everton, Everton, Everton" showing encouragement in shed loads as we pass the 4-min mark. Whistles ring out now and at last it was over, three points and a clean sheet and we protected a one goal lead for 102 mins. We won with grit, fight, blood and guts so did Martinez realise we are not Barca? Do you know I think he may have done?

MotM – Stones/Jags/Barry

Not the best of games yet in many ways a thriller and to take the three points was priceless. Although we did revert to the agricultural at times some decent stuff was also played and I thought we looked better for it. The burning question now is can we kick on and what will the managers preferred style of play be. I just hope he gets it right.

Sterner tests ahead starting with the derby and on paper away banker but a Derby is never like that so best wait and see on that one. Best not to bet on those games. I am still sticking with my unscientific method of predicting where we will finish by not looking at a league table until late November and early December and this season it tells me we will be between 8th and 12th. Not wonderful but better than many are predicting. We will see come May.

See you Saturday night. Let's get Goodison rocking.

UP THE BLUES

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Reader Comments (15)

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Barry McNally
2 Posted 01/02/2015 at 15:02:40
Cheers Ken, always look forward to your reports especially when we get three points! Keep up the great work.
Dave Abrahams
3 Posted 01/02/2015 at 15:43:08
It must have been murder for you counting the minutes down to the final whistle. I went through nervous hell using the telex, but only every fifteen minutes, agony followed by sheer joy when the match was finally won.
Jay Harris
4 Posted 01/02/2015 at 15:49:09
What Barry said plus a word for Besic who I thought put a real shift in again.

Have to comment too on how poor a footballer Lukaku looks, Cant head, pass or hold the ball. Very disappointing. Good job he can score goals!

Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 01/02/2015 at 16:53:41
Great Report, Ken, and those 3 points felt like much more when the final whistle finally came.

I would have also picked the same 3 players as you when going for a MotM. I would have given it to Barry, if I had to pick one – but only after the 2,800 in the away end, of course!

Michael Kidd
7 Posted 01/02/2015 at 17:12:14
Thanks, Ken. Great report, as usual. It's worth noting that Palace had won four on the trot, so that was a good win, even outside of the context we found ourselves in.

Back five and defensive midfielders all had good games. They had to, considering how quickly the ball came back from the players in front! Lukaku was dreadful (but thanks for the goal) – I think Kone held the ball up for longer in this three or so minutes on the park than Romelu did the whole game.

Naismith works his socks off but gave the ball way more often than not. Mirallas seemed disinterested and McGeady was better than in many of his other games for us, but one doesn't have any sense of anticipation when he gets on the ball. Compared with the heart-in-mouth feeling I get when most wide players from other teams get the ball, he just seems to be somewhat toothless.

Something in the attacking part of our team is not right, despite the quality being decent overall. But let's hope this is a spark to fire up the spirit again, which is the aspect where I think we've been lacking most.

John Raftery
8 Posted 01/02/2015 at 17:25:33
Ken's report accurately captures the nervousness among the faithful. As regards wide players, possibly Christian Atsu may provide a solution after all. He has scored two goals this afternoon for Ghana. His second goal was a cracker. With McGeady we suffer from a lack of any end product plus his tendency to lose possession.
Clive Mitchell
9 Posted 01/02/2015 at 18:13:28
Great report Ken. Agree with your MotM. Also agree between 8th and 12th is what we are; it's what we've been all season.
Mark Dunford
10 Posted 01/02/2015 at 19:05:07
Have to say, I thought Besic was our best player yesterday. Really stood up to be counted in the second half, played some great forward passes, hit a wonderful shot that struck the arm of Palace defender and – most importantly – made it look as if he really cared.

Lukaku gets some stick on this site yet I think his attitude is right and he has the hardest role to play in the team. Most of the time he plays with his back to goal and is outnumbered. I recall one moment yesterday when he closed down three of their defenders to stop a pass going forward. Big effort. Shame he didn't nab a second at the end. His relationship with away support is also good.

McGeady is an enigmatic "Scottish" winger of a type we know well. From Nevin to McFadden. Drifts out of games, looks enormously talented yet his final ball or shot flatters to deceive.

I hope Atsu gets the chance his talent seems to merit. The only times I've seen him, he looked to be on completely different wavelength from everyone else but we badly need his pace.

All assumes no serious signings. Still amazed no goalkeeper and – yes – Joel played well (again) yesterday but we need a reserve as two goalies is one too many. I confess to being a doubter after the games I saw Joel play last year. He now claims crosses with real authority when last year he was punching the ball. His clearances are mostly excellent when last year he was kicking the ball out of play. Good stuff and really nice to see someone turn it round.

Tony Sullivan
11 Posted 01/02/2015 at 20:19:48
Thanks, Ken, for your, as usual, well balanced report.

But special thanks for highlighting the club's treatment of the loyal fan base regarding ticketing arrangements. It is amazing that our club which is highly respected for its community work, caves in so easily to corporate power.
Well done for telling it as it is.

Mike Childs
12 Posted 01/02/2015 at 23:13:54
"What is the point of press conferences when hardly a word of truth is spoken" as the saying goes Ken Priceless!

I love Naisy's work rate but it's detrimental to the future of the team to play him at the ten in favor of Ross.

My thought of our strongest team would be a 4-3-3 with:

Robles, Coleman, Jagielka, Stones, Baines, Besic, Barkley, McCarthy, Oviedo, Lukaku and for the present moment McGeady. Kevin to be a super sub till he leaves.

Tim Greeley
13 Posted 02/02/2015 at 02:32:39
Just love how you captured the phantom kicking (some) of us fans find ourselves involuntarily doing down the stretch of tight games. I will jump, kick, walk out of the room for a little while, punch myself in the balls.......whatever works!!

Good stuff.

David Ellis
14 Posted 02/02/2015 at 06:29:37
Great report. I agree with Jay Harris on Besic looking good. And I also thought Robles was very commanding with their numerous free kicks. I think he may take some dislodging from the team. Not a bad signing after all!

Lukaku ... His control was terrible, but he is still a constant threat. We need not worry about him leaving for a "CL" team.

Anto Byrne
15 Posted 04/02/2015 at 12:09:23
Regardless of form, the players will be up for this derby game. ItΓ‚’s a cup final of sorts. I fancy Mirallas will raise his game and we could see Barkley in for Naismith. Give Rom a decent chance and he will bury it.

With Lennon and McCarthy orchestrating things going forward, IΓ‚’m sure "I feel fine" and we will all get by "With a little help from Mr Friend" IΓ‚’m looking forward to a "Good Day Sunshine".

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