Swansea City 0 - 0 Everton
A trip down the spine of Wales to play our only league game outside our own country on a summer like day and we only needed a win to complete a cracking day out. When the teams came through it showed that Coleman and Besic had not made it so youth got its chance in the shape of Browning for Coleman and Naismith kept his place.
Considering the length of our injury list and the experienced players on it and unavailable our bench looked really strong which does point to a good building operation going on, maybe not fast enough for some but this fan is quietly optimistic and pleased. Quite a few we spoke to thought a point would be a good result but my take was that if we really are to have a stab at top four or even five then we need wins at places like these against teams who are showing progress themselves.
With the sun beating down the all- Blues locked horns with the all- Whites and in the first five mins we had two scares. Firstly Montero was getting the better of Browning almost at will then Jags got flattened in the area and stayed down along with the Swansea man after what appeared to be a clash of heads and Jags head seemed more solid than the other fellows who required lengthy treatment but both players recovered and soldiered on. Then our manager became a bit agitated and could be seen waving and pointing as something was not as it should have been, nothing changed so no idea what the problem was until Montero got the ball and found three Everton players hemming him in so he must have called for a helping hand for Browning. Things then settled down and we started to put a few good moves together but were guilty of being a bit lax in final third and allowing Swansea to break on us.
Fifteen minutes gone and we had a spell of you attack we attack which saw Jags head over from a corner and then Barry made his only mistake of the afternoon and misplaced a header and let Gomis in one on one but thankfully he dragged wide, We then showed our joined up style as we cut through Swansea up the middle. Barkley got on the ball and fed Kone who in turn played it to Lukaku who moved it on to Naismith but Lukaku was a bit slow in making the pass and defenders had got back and blocked Naismith’s route to goal and the move broke down. Pity that.
Another scare on twenty-odd minutes when the elegant Stones strode out with the ball and was involved in a 50/50 from which he stayed down holding his knee. To huge relief he resumed after magic sponge treatment. As the half wore on we seemed to be getting a bit of a grip and the ever running Galloway galloped down the left and was tumbled and was awarded a free kick. Barkley found Naismith on the edge and he hit it sweetly and Lukaku. standing six yards out tried to divert it past the keeper but seemed to get little on it and the chance was gone then our second striker Kone was put in after more good work by Barkley but he booted the ball over the bar then another break instigated by Barkley saw him make good ground and feed Lukaku who looked to have a clear chance but by the time he had sorted his feet out and shot the Swans centre-back was in position to deflect it over for a corner that came to nought.
The half was now running down with both teams having bits of attacking play with the Blues shading it but the half at best had been patchy – Spells of good football – spells of nervy football and spells of promises that came to nought and as that went for both sides it made for an unspectacular half yet one I felt with a little more care we could have broken the deadlock as we did have the better attacking ideas.
Half-time: 0-0 and the chat seemed to be regarding anything but football as people discussed how they had travelled, some made a weekend of it in the Swansea bay area etc. etc. but this soon turned to cheering and singing as we were out for the second half first.
We started with some purpose and within minutes Barkley was in their box and put a low cross in that I am still trying to understand how Kone did not convert, it looked a ‘gimme’ tap in. Barkley now looks on fire as he raids again and links with the excellent Galloway swapping passes and mesmerising their defenders before playing Galloway in on goal but alas the lad shot well but missed the far post. Really excellent stuff from Barkley.
We are now on top and Barry coolly finds Stones who comes forward elegantly and feeds in Lukaku on goal with a fine pass clear on goal but the big man lifts it over the bar – what a chance. Lukaku misses a chance again in our next attack as Naismith and Barkley swop passes a couple of times and then Barkley chips in to Lukaku who can only hit a tame one, on target yes but easily cleared from the line by Williams. We seemed well on top now and a goal looked imminent as we were performing well all over the park. Browning after his shaky start was growing into the game and Montero was not as noticeable now, Galloway was showing up really well for such a young lad with just a few games under his belt if he continues in this vein Baines may well have serious competition.
Just after the hour mark Deulofeu came on for Kone and we hoped his attacking verve and twists and turns could help fashion a goal. Swansea did attack when they could and Gomis got the chance of a shot which he hit with power but straight at Howard who fisted it away but straight to another Swansea man who controlled but was met by a cruncher from Galloway, no foul said the ref but the Swansea man went up in the air and was not best pleased. Passed the seventy minute mark and as I was thinking how on earth we had not scored Deulofeu twisted and turned and got to the byline and put in one of his trademark low fast crosses and it went almost along the goal line and out toward the corner flag with no takers which bemused me even more. Barkley once again sashayed forward and played in Galloway who was now more of a forward than a full back the young man let one fly but a Swansea body deflected the ball over the bar but the resultant corner came to nought.
It’s all Everton now and the songs and chants continue to cascade down the terraces and a mighty roar of Everton-Everton – Everton rains down in a mighty effort to try and suck one in. Still we create and squander again and again. Naismith swivels in the box and fires wide, the same player is then felled in the box but the ref cocks a deaf ‘un at the appeal. A look at the clock and five to go. I keep my spirits up by recalling all the last minute goals I could think of, grasping and straws came to mind as our umpteenth free kick is cleared from their box. Into time added and Swansea nearly score in a rare raid, expletives were heard as Browning hacked away. Hell we can’t lose this now I worried.
The manager in run down the clock mode put on Mirallas for Barkley who got a great send off. Mirallas was on and tracking back made one rash challenge and saw red and was tracking back to the dressing room and all within three minutes. He will miss Reading now as he was surely a starter for that one. Swansea took the free kick for his misdemeanour but fired over the bar. Howard took the goal kick and the Ref blew up. Me and thousands more walked away thinking we threw away two points considering our second half domination which had everything except putting the ball in the net and that is rather important.
MotM — Stones, Barry, or Galloway would have got it on many an occasion but today I thought Barkley was our stand-out.
All-in-all, I think many who thought a point would be a result would have changed their minds after watching the game as we truly did create many, many chances and we could have expected at least one to be snapped up. It is no wonder that strikers who can consistently take one out of three chances go for the money they do.
Reading next and I hope Roberto puts out a team to progress as it is about time we did something in this competition. Still to wind up on a positive note despite being unable to score a goal I thought we are looking like a team that can do more than just threaten now and again and become a player near the top of the table. The ingredients are there so if we can just get a consistent mix and the youngsters keep grounded and progressing who knows.
See you soon,
UP THE BLUES