For the sake of saving a few quid I grabbed an early train to London and was at Lime Street Station in time for the 6:45am departure. "Look at them wrong 'ns there who've been out all night" sniggered some fella as he pointed in the direction of three or four lads (wearing just T-shirts and jeans) shivering with their hands cupped around a Nero Coffee each. They looked in a bad way.
The last few times I've been to a London game, I've driven down. I don't think I'll be doing that again given how easy the train can be. It was nice to relax with a coffee, some breakfast and a newspaper and let the train do the work, even arriving early and at Euston Station before 9am.
I stayed at a mate's house in Haggerston so headed there first to drop my bag off and have a cup of tea. Mindful that I had to meet quite a few others before the match also, I set off from there a little before 11am, taking the overground to Norwood Junction... more Blues were also on the train. I was certainly getting that 'away day' buzz.
I had to meet a mate David at a little pub called The Pawsons Arms and so we all congregated there. David has a good contact at Everton and I was asking him about any gossip. "None really" he said. "Though they all came back from Qatar with a tan... except for Naismith". Leslie, Gary, Sue and then eventually Ian all joined us, having made various different journeys. With plenty of time to kill, we sunk quite a few ales in what was a cracking little pub with great service. We even squeezed in another pint at the George & Dragon on-route to Selhurst Park.
Getting into the ground was a bit of a scramble with no real order and we all eventually bundled through the turnstiles. It's a very old fashioned stadium, Selhurst Park. A bit of a nostalgic throwback to the olden days.
We just about made kick off, eventually finding our seats as Everton attacked down the right flank, Naismith getting a cross in, Speroni fumbling slightly and Lukaku, almost unwittingly, bundling home. It was hard to tell what had happened at first and it took us a few seconds to realise we'd scored but what a joy that was. Everton a goal up inside two minutes and with something to hang on too.
Naturally there was a reaction from Crystal Palace, though thankfully we withstood it. We looked nervy for a while. I didn't realise at the time quite how close Gayle came to scoring when Phil Jagielka cleared off the line but having now seen it on TV it was indeed mighty close. There were a few last-ditch blocks and a decent save by Robles from a distant Puncheon drive but we grew in confidence and got through it before finally retaliating with our own attacks and forcing Crystal Palace to retreat.
We managed to asert some authority on the game after that and got through to hallf time generally untroubled. At the break I queued to get something to eat only to get to the front of the queue and find they were only selling alcohol from that kiosk so I grabbed a couple of bottles of beer, even managing to smuggle them back into the stadium so Leslie and I could drink them during the second half, which yielded more of the same on the pitch – Everton staying disciplined for once and not giving Crystal Palace much to work with.
The midfield duo of Besic and Barry didn't let them play, defensively Jagielka and Stones kept everything in front of them, and Joel Robles came and claimed anything that was loaded into the box. I was very pleased with our discipline and as Crystal Palace threw more men forward we really should have made the game safe at the other end with McGeady, Lukaku and Naismith all wasting good opportunities towards the end of the game. It wasn't pretty, but it was darned effective. I like them sort of away wins myself. Grab an early goal, stay disciplined, don't give much away and put the work in. A great three points for Everton and who knows, maybe this can be a catalyst to push on with some difficult games on the horizon.
Oh and kudos to the referee Roger East. It's great to not talk about a referee for once. He kept the game moving, a rash booking for Oviedo aside made sensible decisions and seemed to have a good handle on the match. I wish there were more referees like that in the game.
Onward to the Mersyside derby. Come on now Blues. A win in this fixture is long, long overdue.
Robles: Saved what he had to and claimed everything else. His distribution was a bit rash at times but I'm a bit torn on that. On one hand I liked that he'd try to distribute quickly to launch counter-attacks and this is great if you can get it right, though it can work against you if you get this wrong and can invite pressure...sometimes it's better to hang on to the ball and let the team get back into shape. Tough call but I do like his positivity. He has improved dramatically with games. 7
Baines: Disciplined. Not forward as much as he'd have liked but I suppose our tactics probably changed a fair bit following the early goal. 6
Jagielka: Fantastic captain's performance. Showed good leadership and kept the team disciplined. My Man of the Match. 8
Stones: Also excellent. Made some great blocks and tackles. They'll be delighted with the second clean sheet in a row. 8
Coleman: Fine defensively and pushed forward a bit more than Baines did. 7
Barry: Excellent, perhaps his best performance of the season. Kept us ticking over and was always in there to break up their play. Somehow avoided a yellow card also which is good as he'll be needed for the derby. 8
Besic: Also did very well and offered a little more creativity than Barry. 8
Mirallas: Didn't really look interested and was the obvious makeweight for Oviedo. We'll need him to be more involved next weekend. 5
McGeady: Worked hard. OK, he won't often win a tackle but at least he was in there regularly trying to tackle and getting up and down the flank. Could have scored or made a goal late on which would have given him a hell of a boost going into the derby. Still, one if his better Everton performances to date. 7
Naismith: Industry was there but he didn't make the best of his opportunities unfortunately. Always willing though. 6Lukaku: Got his goal which will help though his touch often let him down and he just couldn't quite make it stick up there. It wasn't for lack of trying though and he worked hard throughout. 6
Oviedo (for Mirallas): Disciplined. 6
Kone (for Lukaku): Did pretty well in the short time he had, almost even fashioning a chance for himself. 7
Reader Comments (7)
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1 Posted 01/02/2015 at 20:04:23
What are your views on the potential of Likely. I think he will be a star but at present our style just doesn't suit him.
2 Posted 01/02/2015 at 21:38:56
3 Posted 01/02/2015 at 21:54:46
In another thread, I was talking about the talent in the West Ham side that were relegated some years ago. It converted the name of their temperamental Italian, the one who shoved the referee, to Dr Fabio.
5 Posted 02/02/2015 at 09:18:23
6 Posted 02/02/2015 at 15:25:36
7 Posted 03/02/2015 at 00:34:55
Furthermore. No more Distin and Alcaraz on the bench. Thank you SD you have served us well but age has finally caught up. Alcaraz should be released at the end of the season. Garbutt and Browning should be regulars on the bench with the occasional start. Robles is now № 1.
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