Bournemouth 3 - 3 Everton
A trip to a very windy seaside resort to see the Blues take on a bottom three side and on receiving news of the team confidence abounded amongst fans. Apart from being able to buy a crystal ball on the seafront nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to receive.
From the off there was no doubt the strong gusts of wind would make it difficult for both sets of players. The hosts had the first shot on target which was gathered by Howard. The first 15 minutes was a settling-in period as both teams attacked but in most cases half-heartedly. King did find himself unmarked and hit one on target for our keeper to block away and Stones to complete the clearance then on the fifteen minute mark we did put some football together and forced our first corner which came to nought but from that moment until the twenty fifth we battered them.
We had goal line blocks, keeper’s spectacular saves and quite a few corners. From one of these the keeper got injured and needed treatment but recovered to limp on as we took another corner but instead of testing that limp we played it short and away from goal but we did recycle things via the half way line and attack and force yet another corner on our left. This time the ball was delivered in true corner kick fashion and there leaping above other defenders was our man Mori to meet it and score. The breakthrough at last and the fans celebrated. Did I hear a Mori song or chant?
Anyway, I wondered did scoring from a set piece resonate with our present manager. One up and going well with McCarthy covering every blade of grass. Deulofeu was overplaying a bit and consequently not as dangerous as in previous games as he lost the ball carelessly on a few occasions causing groans from the faithful but then with ten minutes to go to the break he took the ball in his stride and looked up and sent a trade mark laser guided passes that allows Lukaku to run across his man one touch, one stride and, hey-ho, 2-0 up and Rom's song fills the air. That move and the finish was worth the admission money.
Teams are always venerable just after scoring and we almost proved the point as the hosts came at us and the move ended in a cross that Howard charged into a ruck of players with no chance of getting near to it and the ball was propelled toward to empty goal but Stones had sensed this and had got back to hook away. Perhaps after scoring from a set piece at last our present manager can pay some attention to defending them. From then until the break we knocked the ball about a lot at the back as we definitely playing on the break by inviting them on and looking for that quick counter and but for the gusty wind we could well have been in on two occasions. As it was we easily passed out the three minutes of added time and went in two to the good.
H/T chat suggested that most were in good spirits but concerns were raised regarding Barkley and Kone’s contribution as both seemed sluggish and guilty of giving the ball away to easily, still I said we have enough on the bench for manoeuvre. Famous last words and all that as the second half started with no changes and almost immediately we were under the cosh as the hosts went for it as a team with little to lose does and they were causing some consternation. I thought we need to be concentrating and get some order in the ranks as we were being bombed from all quarters. McCarthy was putting fires out across our back line and a good job too.
The hour mark passed and still we seemed happy to draw them on which might have been OK if we had been breaking at a fast pace and all out for that killer third but, as it was, we didn’t seem that bothered about such things. To a spectator's eye, though, one slip and the lead would be halved and the opponent on the front foot.
Barkley was either anonymous or holding onto the ball too long and losing it thus setting our hosts on another attack, Kone had faded from the scene and I thought sure we may see Mirallas and Naismith but no-one appeared. We did pick up a bit after the hour mark and Coleman raided and his cross looked a certain tap in for Lukaku but the ball just eluded him. Was it the wind? Anyhow we should have been doing more of that sort of stuff. This second half was turning into the displays of last season.
Just before 70 minutes we suffered a cruel blow as the hosts got a corner which was cleared but as the players streamed out a Blue shirt was left lying on the turf. McCarthy got up after treatment and resumed without looking like he wanted to. He had been our outstanding player and to lose him was in my opinion a disaster as it was his work rate and effort in breaking up moves that was keeping us in front. He only lasted long enough for Cleverly to be readied and off he went. Hell, I hope that isn’t too bad of an injury.
They then had their man Arter go off holding his hammy and no wonder really as this game was a great fitness test – howling gale and break-neck pace started me wondering if our present manager might consider Osman for Barkley as Ossie can get his foot on the ball and pass to the same colour of shirt that he is wearing. But, no, that idea was down the pan.
As time ticked on you just sense that Bournemouth were up for one last hurrah and with no McCarthy hunting them down our back five was being tested more than is healthy. Coleman saved our bacon with one last ditch tackle with McCarthy gone and our defence tested no one seemed to take charge and stop the playing about at the back and inviting them on and looking for a quick pass to counter attack as it plainly wasn’t working.
Still we were two nil up with just ten to go and the faithful bellying out songs and chants to spur them on but in that moment, wouldn’t you know, we finally concede. From a half-cleared corner the ball went to the unmarked Smith who let fly and the ball hit the net via a post. Cue ‘Silence of the Fans’ with nerves in shreds, memories of those games where we have surrendered two goals come from somewhere deep in the brain with unnerving clarity.
Then with five minutes to go we got a sub on but it was Lennon for Deulofeu and it coincided with Kone giving the ball away yet again. You just have to wonder, don’t you?. Then with two minutes to go they get a free kick, take it quickly, we are switched off as King beats Galloway down the right and the pull back is well converted by Stanislas’.
It wasn’t all silence after that there were some well-chosen words and then a mighty ROAR of EVERTON-EVERTON-EVERTON for one last go for it push. We got it with about two minutes to play when probably our two most disappointing players combined – Kone won the ball in a melee and Barkley hit home. The scenes were of the winning goal in a cup final as some entered the pitch in pure joy, relief, and any other euphoric sense you care to think of. Eventually order was restored and I noted Gibson had replaced Kone with one minute plus crowd invasion to go so easy isn’t it.
Get the ball pronto from the kick off keep it, go down injured, take a yellow for the team and there you are on the bus home beaming. Simples. Well it is in the mind but on the pitch this is Everton. We allow them to come on and from my seat I was horrified to see at least three players unmarked. One of these, Daniels, had all the time he needed to put a cross across goal and Stanislas had all the time he needed to powerfully head home. After the euphoria came the depression all in the space of a minute. It left me with a deep ache in the pit of the stomach plus a fried brain as I tried to make any sense of it all.
If I hear anyone else say ‘It was a great game for the neutral’ I will not be accountable for my actions. I am an Evertonian and they want their backsides kicked along with the manager for allowing that second half to progress without correcting the personnel to the change in the game.
MotM – McCarthy
A big disappointment today for me as it wasn’t so much the score as the lack of nous from players and manager for being unable to respond to the game plan of the home team in the second half. This also suggests we are not yet ready for Champions League. It’s the hope that kills...
Cup action next and a time to meet quite a few of our players we have not seen for a while—OR—will he go full wellie. That is quickly followed by MNF when we entertain our bogey team. Let’s hope we are quick learners and McCarthy is fit.
Still it’s a funny old game maybe it will turn out to be a good point away from home today. Well no good giving in, eh?
UP THE BLUES