We gathered for the cup match and picked the team for tonight but when the official version came through no one had got it right. Eight changes from Arsenal left us wondering if making so many changes would have us playing like strangers or if they could click and push for places on Sunday. The walk up was cheerful enough with the fan zone looking like a medieval encampment as we made our way up Spellow Lane. The fat van was in full swing and by the queues assembled not many are taking much notice of WHO food advice. Over 31,000 of us assembled ready to sing about going to Wem-ber-lee but from the off and for a quarter of an hour it was hard to tell if we had turned up let alone gain a sight of the new arch.
We started slowly and sloppily with Stones slow to react in his own area and Gibson giving the ball away that led to a corner which when swung in it was headed wide but that was a good chance for Norwich. It was mostly all Norwich as we gave the ball away on a regular basis and by the quarter hour we were a tad lucky to still be 0-0. We did have a break and Funes Mori burst forward but instead of laying the ball off he chose to shoot from about 35yds and managed to propel the ball some 35yds over the bar; the reaction it brought from the crowd was a sort of half laugh. You don’t see that often.
In the second quarter hour we had a spell of inventing new ways to give the ball away and allow Norwich to counter. It was hard to understand why we could not do the simple thing of shortening the pass and make sure the man you were passing to was wearing the same colour shirt as yourself. You could sense the crowd getting a bit frustrated. Those first 30-odd minutes certainly belonged to Norwich and many of us wondered if it was the eight changes that had caused this yet they all train together so they should have a better understanding than was being displayed.
At last Browning pinched one and put Lukaku in but he dallied on the ball and that was enough for Norwich to pinch it back. Browning got it again and tried a through ball to our captain for the night Osman but he put far too much pace on it and the ball left Osman behind and shot out for a goal kick to more groans. We had started to put a few attacking moves together thanks to Osman calming things down and getting the ball to intended targets; now if we could get Gibson up and finding his range we might be getting somewhere.
With Osman directing things better now and having a run forward himself forced a hand ball out of Hoolahan, from the kick Gibson at last got his range and a great ball found McCarthy who put in a great cross and with Lukaku racing in ‘Goal’ was in our throats but he just could not make it and slid into the post instead.
Into the final quarter hour of the half and we now looking far better and playing some good joined up stuff in patches but Mirallas is doing himself no favours with his petulance and poor pass choice he was more of an hindrance than a help, you could see why he is not a first pick at the moment, it is like he needs to get his head straight and concentrate. I am sure he has the talent but has his mentality gone? He sort of proved it as he just let his man go allowing Norwich to get into our box and were passing it between them searching for an opening when Funes Mori relieved the pressure by winning a tackle giving away a corner which we cleared. We were passing a bit better now near the end of the half and still a little laboured but we gained a free kick which was swung in and the athletic Mori almost connected. Just one minute added and Norwich attacked and went for it but the move broke down when Osman and Mori intervened as the whistle went.
H/T and the chat was not complimentary. Norwich had most of the pressure and our passing at times was atrocious but at least Osman and Gibson had belatedly improved. Most suggested that Mirallas be subbed for Deulofeu.
Second half and no changes and not our greatest start as once again a ball delivered into our box would undo us. It was a corner that came across and Funes Mori got a defensive header that did not go too far and Osman tried an overhead clearing kick which he mistimed allowing a Norwich man to slide Bassong in and he netted. Another goal from a set piece cross and only six mins in. From the restart we are looking shell shocked and Kone and Mirallas were guilty of poor passing and testing the patience of those assembled and a little booing is heard as yet another pass goes astray.
The hour mark was reached and Barkley and Deulofeu replaced Browning and Kone I think Ossie thought he was coming off as I noticed he taken his captain's armband off and looking who to give it to. After the change it was clear we had gone three at the back with Stones and Funes Mori flanking Gibson. We were looking better now and Deulofeu certainly didn’t want three poor performances on the trot as his application was urgent from the off. We attacked better and spent more time in their box but we still can’t get that end bit just right.
We forced a corner after good work from Osman which Deulofeu took and Lukaku got something on it but it was hacked off the line; so near yet so far but Osman picked up the ball again and Mirallas was fed wide. He puts in a low cross and Osman, like a robber's dog, pounces and scuffed a creeper past a wrong-footed keeper. 1-1 and our captain for the night was well made up as were his backing group, the Street End choristers.
Norwich fought back and Gibson blotted his copybook as sloppy play handed the ball to the opponent and but for some good defence by Funes Mori we somehow avoided conceding. Deulofeu was now lighting up Goodison and Gibson was giving it away again allowing Grabban to force Robles into a fine save from point blank range with a tip over for a corner which we cleared and set Deulofeu off on a run that left defenders ‘blowing for tugs’. He crossed well and both Lukaku and McCarthy just could not get the ball to sit were they wanted and from a tackle the ball went to Osman who shot over. We were playing better now than in any other part of the match as 10 minutes to go showed up. Could we avoid extra time? Well we were giving it a good go now. They get a corner which Robles cleared and we were in their box in a trice but that final ball or first touch was still thwarting us.
Just 5 minutes to go and neither team wanted extra time as both went Gung-Ho. Olsson burst forward and hit a screamer but Robles tipped over in good style . We cleared the corner and attacked again and Barkley was fouled. Mirallas swung in a beauty and their keeper tipped over but our corner came to nought. 90 minutes came up with 4 added and Norwich attacked and crossed and Grabban got in a power header but Robles made a great save as he palmed the ball away. We got one chance and from a dink over the top Lukaku won the foot race with their keeper and went around him but a Norwich covering fullback got around to clear. Extra time it was.
We started on the front foot but we are still unable to make a final ball count. Mirallas was still playing in a lackadaisical way and even when Barkley put him in one on one which used to be his forte, tonight he put it wide. The manager must have seen enough so he was subbed for Naismith. Both teams had attacks as the whistle approached and Stones was having a bit of a mare – in fact he was poor all night, especially in dealing with crosses. At the whistle still 1-1
Second half and we started strong and pressed hard but Barkley spoilt our first three attacks with poor ball control. Gibson was now back to decent passing and from one through ball he fed Lukaku who gained a corner and what a corner. Deulofeu took it and sent the ball into orbit across the front of the street end and following its trajectory it looked like 4 planets lined up. Venus, Jupiter and Mars, plus a Spanish moon. I have never seen a corner taken like that. We had another couple of corners but Stones headed one wide and the other was cleared. Norwich were attacking as often as us and it resembled a basketball game – real end to end as no one wanted pens.
In the run up to the whistle tired legs gave it a go. Naismith gained a free kick which was arced in and Funes Mori sent a power header over. Inter play between Deulofeu and Stones set Lukaku on a run on goal and even after being tugged back he managed a shot that went wide, deflected for a corner. Why the Ref didn’t give a pen for the blatant tug I don’t know, unless he was related to Clattenberg and Collina.
Norwich gained a corner and the excellent Robles punched clear. Deulofeu beat man after man and set up Barkley at the near post. He can tap in or pass to McCarthy but, no, he blasts well over. What a miss. Composure is not his middle name, so thanks, Ross pens it was.
After what seemed like an hour’s deliberation we finally got to take them at the Street end.
Deulofeu, Barkley, Lukaku and Gibson all scored.
Dorans, Whittaker, Grabban all score Robles saved Hoolahan's pen and Redmond missed.
Everton win 4-3 on Pens. If yer know yer ‘Istery was loud and proud.
MotM — Robles
A frustrating night out watching a poor Blues display but in the cup a win is a win and passage to the next round. And who knows even with a poor performance all round that win can kick start are home fortunes. Can we get fortress Goodison back? I reckon Robles should have another go on Sunday but I am not the manager so I will expect to see Howard.
After tonight I am delighted that Barry can play I thought we missed his vocal input and play tonight as we didn’t have one player showing composure and craft. He might be getting on but he will take some replacing down the line. See you Sunday for lunch and a win.
UP THE BLUES