"Shit, it's busy!" observed Ste as we drove along our usual parking street. We instead had to settle for a place around the corner. It was busy everywhere on the streets and on the roads around Goodison Park, yet the pub was strangely quiet as Gary, Sue, Ste and myself made some tentative travel arrangements for Manchester City on Wednesday evening.
We were all reasonably happy with the team news, though surprised to see Phil Jagielka not at least named amongst the substitutes.
We all rushed off from the pub pretty quickly and looking at my watch I was wondering what the rush was for... until I realised my watch had stopped. As it turned out we weren't far from missing kick off. Just a smattering of supporters making the trip for Swansea City in a decent Goodison Park crowd.
Swansea got into the game much quicker than we did and were in amongst us from the off. I got the impression they had done their homework on us and their players seemed to have a good understanding of ours. We struggled to get to grips with them early on but you hoped that when Muhamed Besic surged forward from the halfway line and struck a great effort against the post, that we may begin swinging the pendulum our way. As it happened, and such is our luck, the Bosnian actually injured his hamstring striking the ball and had to be replaced by Tom Cleverley. He's now out of the Manchester City game on Wednesday and will also likely be missing for the foreseeable future.
Everything went downhill from here. We somehow got ourselves into a ridiculous muddle at the back when Gareth Barry played the ball to John Stones who hesitated before playing the ball back to Tim Howard. That hesitation proved crucial as our goalkeeper was unaware that Ayew had ran in to close him down. Howard steadied himself for the big hoof upfield but only realised Ayew was there when it was too late. He then clattered Ayew as he went to kick and Anthony Taylor had no option but to point to the penalty spot. Tim Howard, with all his experience, perhaps should have anticipated he would be put under pressure in that situation, but the hesitated pass from Stones was really poor and is more to blame for me. Regardless, Gylfi Sigurosson converted the penalty expertly and Everton fell behind early on. Anthony Taylor also played his part - failing to spot a rather clear foul on Bryan Oviedo up near the half way line in the build up to the goal but Everton made a real mess of it themselves.
You hoped this would give Everton the proverbial kick up the backside but what followed was mayhem throughout and we looked as though we'd never played with each other before. Our equaliser was thoroughly undeserved but it was a relief, albeit a temporary one, to be level. I thought Gareth Barry had flicked the ball in himself but it has gone down as an own goal from Jack Cork. Swansea will be kicking themselves for not putting a man on the post though it mattered not for them as just eight minutes later they were back ahead when Ayew's drive took a huge deflection from Stones, giving Tim Howard no chance and the ball ended up in the net. Kevin Mirallas had also been substituted amidst the madness and that's another one out of the trip to the Etihad on Wednesday. We limped to half time and the boos weren't quite as deafening as I anticipated they would be at the whistle after a turgid first half display.
Better it got and though it wasn't for lack of trying from Everton we couldn't quite find a way through, though Lucasz Fabianski was criminally untested with just two shots on target to tend all afternoon, and neither of them were especially difficult - Deulofeu's first half distance effort barely even reaching the goal. Romelu Lukaku, who doesn't quite seem up to the form he was in prior to the injury he picked up against Manchester City...I doubt he's actually fit to play at the moment in fact, tried to flick his header into the corner and couldn't make enough contact on the ball, resulting in a comfortable save from Fabianski. He probably would have gotten more luck had he have headed the ball the other side of the net - the way he was facing. It was from a Ross Barkley cross by the way, who's performance was much more akin to those from last season. Unfortunately.
Swansea survived a pretty compelling handball shout - the players reactions speak volumes and you tend to get them as the home team. Well, I imagine most teams do. We are yet to have a league penalty this season. The only team not to in fact. Swansea also survived three splendid balls across the six yard box from Deulofeu which nobody had the intelligence to gamble and throw themselves in there to get on the end of. Oh for a Tim Cahill these days... or even a Naismith.
The worst miss however, and it would have been comical if not for the situation we are in, was the outrageous miss with the last kick of the game from substitute Seamus Coleman who managed to hook the ball way over the crossbar on the volley with an open goal from what must have only been about two yards out. As bad a miss as you will witness. He'd missed a great chance earlier with mind-boggling indecision but this one was plain awful. Another one who can't be fit to play surely?
So yes, we should have grabbed at least a draw from this but it would only be papering over the cracks. Three home wins all season and only six overall wins tells it's own story. Time and time again we shoot ourselves in the foot. Time and time again we let ourselves down. We listened to the BBC Radio Merseyside phone in on the way home, and the knives are now really sharpening for Martinez now. Failure to do the business at the Etihad on Wednesday and he'll be under real pressure.
It looks bleak for our boss, it has to be said.
Howard: I apportion the blame for Swansea City's first goal to Stones rather than Howard and I felt that otherwise he made one good save and distributed well. Though I don't doubt that a new goalkeeper is required, I don't sit comfortably with the abuse our goalkeeper gets as he has served us well over the years and it's becoming a sad end to what has been a decent Everton career. 7
Baines: Worked hard to get forward and support the attack but his distribution was strangely poor. Combined well with Pienaar at times. 6
Funes Mori: Looked lost at times. It has to be Jagielka plus one of Funes Mori or Stones for me. 5
Stones: There was one period when he strolled forward nonchalantly with the ball with his arms out in a cocky "come on, move will you" action to his team mates. Whilst the movement ahead of he was precious little, it gave me the impression he was sort of asking "how am I supposed to work with you lot?". I doubt this public embarrassment towards his team mates in front of the crowd went down particularly well with any of them. Whilst talented, some of the mistakes he is making, not least today, and the hole's he digs for himself with over-doing it on the ball, suggests he needs to up his game substantially himself. He was awful today and with Jagielka now available again I would leave Stones on the bench on Wednesday. 4
Oviedo: Coped admirably on the wrong side with little protection. Probably shouldn't have been substituted either given that Coleman really didn't seem fit enough to me. 7
Barry: It's almost as if he's the adult showing the kids what to do at times. He is one of the very few who plays with intelligence and consistency. Miles better than anyone else on the park for us this afternoon and most afternoons. My man of the match. 8
Besic: Began very well and was very unfortunate to get himself injured. Will be sorely missed on Wednesday. I hope we can get James McCarthy back onto the pitch by then as we'll have a real problem in the middle if not. 6
Mirallas: Was one of the few who was at least battling to try and force us back into the game and was also unlucky to come off injured. Will also be missed on Wednesday. What a horrible season the lad is having. 7
Deulofeu: He'll be frankly annoyed that none of his team mates got on the end of any of those superb balls he flashed across the penalty area. He did pretty well in attacking areas in the second half. 7
Barkley: One of his poorer games of the season, much more like last season. Just a blip hopefully as he's had a good campaign otherwise. 5
Lukaku: I don't think he's fit. Hopefully we can get him through the Manchester City game and then give him a little rest at Carlisle United. We need him at his best if we are to stand any chance of doing anything this season. He worked quite hard but just didn't seem quite right somehow. 6
Cleverley (for Besic): Didn't contribute an awful lot. 5
Pienaar (for Baines): One of few positives. Nice to see there's life in the old dog yet and it was pleasing to see him reconvene his partnership with Leighton Baines. Would be great if he could remain fit for the rest of the season but I won't hold my breath. 7
Coleman (for Oviedo): Struggled a bit and missed the mother of all sitters. 5
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