A sunny trip out to Swansea, when most normal people were still in bed, for a 12.45pm kick off. It gave us time to reflect on the manager’s pre-match press conference and, after going through some of his thoughts on comings and goings were concerned we were really none the wiser. We will have to wait and sweat that we are able to do something meaningful that gives both players and fans something exciting to anticipate.
The game started with both teams feeling each other out and not a lot of action either way until the 13th minute when Howard made a superb save from Gomis by diving and stretching to reach the ball and pushing the ball away for a corner. That was some save.
Swansea were pushing now and gained a couple of corners and they seemed to have the height and strength to win the balls and yet we put no one on the post. If one of these headers were won and planted wide of Howard then a goal would be a formality. I have mentioned this previously so I am now convinced that we will not see that whilst this manager is here.
We got a free kick some 30yds out and Baines curled it beautifully toward far post but it just eluded an Everton head. Swansea attacked and kept us on the back foot for some time and on the half hour after an almighty scramble Baines defended well and put the ball out and gained yards. At this point Osman was withdrawn in favour of Pienaar for what could only be an injury of some sort. Right away Baines and Pienaar started to click and the ball was worked to Barkley but although he took the ball well and looked for the opening his shot was no more than a back pass.
Swansea were on top and quickly went down our end and after some tidy interplay Shelvey hit a screamer into the net but the whistle had gone for a foul on Baines so the Welsh cheers merely petered away. Just after the half hour mark we had our first shot on target and in anger and it was Coleman who got onto a ball from a move that featured the classy Barry who was starting to augment his excellent defensive work with some good stuff from the front foot. Coleman hit it hard but keeper did well to hang on.
Slowly but surely Everton were getting the upper hand with Barry and the returning Pienaar prominent. In fact it was showing how much we have missed the South African this term. Barkley was responding better now we were playing more and effective joined up stuff and our reward came on 40 minutes when a short forward ball by Barkley after he twisted three ways at once bamboozled the home defence and started a move that ended with Pienaar to McCarthy who crossed for Lennon to hit home. Even from a distance that looked good stuff and the travelling faithful found full throttle in celebration and, yes, the home fans were reminded that we only sing when we’re winning.
As the half was winding down it was Everton on top and if anything half time would be an unwelcome occurrence. We did have one good move that saw Stones stride out and find Lennon who moved it on to Kone who fed Pienaar who unfortunately hit a tame one at the keeper. Allez- Allez- O and other well-known ditties saw us to half time.
We are one up after a scrappy start but the back five plus the experience of Barry had given us a platform to take to the second half well on top with Barry influential in attacking mode now. We had to make a sub (I hope Ossie is not too bad) but his bad luck was good news for Pienaar and the team and us as he now has tasted three quarters of a match and doing fine. Just need to be consistent and go for the second goal.
The second half started with both teams trying to get forward but Swansea were showing the more urgency as you might expect from a team a goal behind. We did put a great move together 10 minutes in when we gained a corner well played in by Baines and Barry got amongst them but his header from out of a crowd of defenders sadly had the pace taken off it. Then Kone who had not been having one of his better games shall we say went into a very rash-looking tackle and, considering he had been previously booked, owed a great debt to referee Oliver for only giving a free kick. A lucky boy.
Sad to report that Swansea seemed to want it more than us and attacked with regularity. Barry, Stones, Jags and Baines were prominent in trying to stem the tide but we did get a comical moment when Ki tricked Baines got to the by-line near the near post and with Swansea attackers in the box scooped it high over the bar from an impossible angle. A most odd decision.
We always looked to have the better team but with going deep and starting that maddening messing about at the back which invariably ends with a panic clearance usually from the keeper the players seemed to have decided they had the measure of their opponent yet from my seat we were purely inviting trouble.
On 65 minutes it was trouble we got when Emnes went down the left, Coleman had the legs of him and got in front of him in the area and tried to shield the ball out. Both players went down, both seemed to claim a foul and the ref agreed with the Swansea man and pointed to the spot. Howard got booked for trying to waste time to put the taker off. It was a wasted yellow as Shelvey hammered home with Howard going the wrong way. Talk about the architects of your own downfall. Why the hell players who find themselves in the position Coleman did don’t just find a space for the ball in row Z I will never know.
Back to square one and the game was up for grabs as both teams renewed the battle. It was feisty now and Jags and Shelvey had a set-to but the ref took no action. We continued with the messing about at the back and the faithful got jittery and colourfully reminded the players in Kiev mode that we don’t like it. It started to sink in and we started to do our own pressing with Barry feeding Barkley on a few occasions and the young man was looking a little more composed today and did find some astute passes but where, oh where, had he left his shooting boots as his every effort was either over the bar or a back pass.
Kone who had not been to great today was on thin ice as his tackling was getting no better so rather than going down to ten men the manager took him off and sent Naismith on for the last 15 minutes or so. We did get forward and the all-action McCarthy swoaped passes and found himself in with a great view of the goal but inexplicably decided to pass sideways to a team-mate instead of putting his laces through it.
As the clock ticked it became end to end again and with both teams going for it and the effort that had been put in producing tired legs yellow cards were being waved like flags at a Royal wedding. Before the ninety we did have a scare when we fouled near the 18yd line which was taken by their free kick specialist Sigurdsson and his vicious swerving thunderbolt was brilliantly turned away by ‘The Hamish’ He had not a lot to do today but two world class saves were one hell of a help.
Five mins to go and Mirallas replaces Barkley—no idea why—but the Belgian got his first touch with one to go in the final third but it was an effort that the keeper should have saved and did.
4 minutes added and they were played out end to end but neither team looked like fashioning a winner so it’s one more point toward safety for us.
M.o.t.M. – Barry for me. Mention for Pienaar though.
I wonder if our place in the Premier League looking safe caused a topsy-turvy game today as somehow really going for it didn’t quite materialise, just bits and pieces sparked. Did some of our fans think nothing to play for as for once we did not sell our end out? It has been a poor season for us so far and probably the Man United game will be the only sell-out now but I still want to see the team entertain the fans and try to play a full ninety odd minutes with some consistency, starting against Burnley next week.
For sure they will be up for it and anything we get will have to be worked for as a team. Did you know that today was the first time the manager had put an unchanged team out this season? It will be interesting when next week's team is published who is in and out.
Bob Latchford turned up today, pity he could not be named as a sub. See you next week.
UP THE BLUES
Reader Comments (18)
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1 Posted 12/04/2015 at 02:37:58
"If in doubt, kick it out." And DON'T handle in your own area! Isn't that what they call basics? Plonker.
2 Posted 12/04/2015 at 03:07:16
3 Posted 12/04/2015 at 04:03:43
Your report with one exception is an exact summary of this latest dose of misery. That single exception is your unrelenting optimism when my own eyes tell me the opposite. I have read the idiot does not practice defensive or attacking corner kicks which probably explains why we are so useless with them. I found myself muttering, please don't lob it to the keeper yet sure enough that was exactly what we did.
After a half-dozen such corners, I began to wonder if Baines had two functioning brain cells. With a few notable exceptions the rest of them showed as much connection with the game of football as a fruit fly.
As for Martinez's media statements I gave up on them ages ago. The only words I want to hear from him is, "I resign".
4 Posted 12/04/2015 at 07:41:47
My thoughts: Barry looked decent, Lennon looked dangerous, Kone was awful.
5 Posted 12/04/2015 at 08:52:38
6 Posted 12/04/2015 at 09:36:02
As you imply, we played well but somehow didn't quite want it enough. Nagging sense of unease that under this leadership... we could nosedive at any future point.
7 Posted 12/04/2015 at 09:49:00
A lack of confidence in front of goal from our whole midfield. Coleman shoots instinctively, but when did his opposite wing back have a shot? Barkley always wants to move along the 18-yard line hoping to find half a yard for his right foot, but usually runs out of options, and none of the midfield either get up fast enough or are willing to take a punt.
Lennon is the only goal threat whilst the big man is out. It was nice to see Pienaar back, he balanced the play and brought Baines into the action.
8 Posted 12/04/2015 at 10:46:26
9 Posted 12/04/2015 at 10:54:07
Seamus, what were you thinking, son? Okay, it's a lesson I hope he's learnt.
10 Posted 12/04/2015 at 15:17:52
In addition, this is yet another game that we've dropped points from a wining position; I think that's the worse record in the Premier League, and this points to an absence of a winning mentality and/or a lack of concentration and/ or fitness, which has dogged us all season.
Sorry to sound so negative for what was an acceptable away point but, looking at the season, I think we've got a lot to be negative about.
11 Posted 12/04/2015 at 18:12:36
I would just love it if we put a stop to that Man Utd run when we meet them at Goodison. They are just buying almost anyone who can kick a ball and they are still looking to spend upwards of 𧶀 million. It is making this Premier League of ours really lop sided.
12 Posted 12/04/2015 at 22:13:03
Like Dick I watch the game each week on pay TV but I haven't been getting up in the middle of the night this season - it's not worth ruining a nights sleep.
On the upside, I watched the recording of the game last night and I thought we played better than we did in our past 3 wins. Swansea are a decent team in my view.
Marshall @ 2 - sorry mate that is one of the most deliberate hand balls I have seen in a penalty box. You do the crime and you do the time.
That's 4 games unbeaten and I suspect it has a lot to do with our skippers leadership on the field. I have a feeling he has taken the reigns and the players have responded.
My man of the match: Phil Jagielka.
13 Posted 12/04/2015 at 23:45:34
......and so did Ronnie Goodlass.
A quality combination we can only dream of, just now.
I get all maudlin when I think of those two in action, compared to what we have now. And don't get me started on the great Dave Thomas.
14 Posted 13/04/2015 at 16:40:28
Sorry for Osman but Pienaar was not someone Swansea had schemed for and was very good. Why bring on Mirallas so late in the game is my question for Martinez? I feel he could have made a huge difference if given 20 minutes to play.
15 Posted 13/04/2015 at 22:41:00
16 Posted 14/04/2015 at 09:16:58
It's a mixed bag of course but he still has credit left from last season and people I speak to expect him to be here next season and are renewing season tickets.
Never a dull moment down Goodison way.
17 Posted 14/04/2015 at 18:00:18
18 Posted 14/04/2015 at 18:07:48
Harold Matthews on another thread has made the point that McCarthy being moved forward made a big difference too and also that, for a change, we had players in the final third with proper touch. I think that's true and what a difference it would have made if we had seen it sooner this season.
Regardless of the injuries to Pienaar and Osman, our woeful touch and retention of possession in advanced positions have been key factors in our failure.
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