We planned on getting to the pub at around 1pm. “Do you not want to get there earlier to catch the United vs the Shite game?” enquired Dan. “No”, was my general reply. I seldom watch Liverpool as they just wind me up, and I couldn’t abide the idea of watching them win at Old Trafford so I was happy enough to miss a bit of it. As we arrived through the Mersey tunnel, Ste checked his phone and said “United are winning 2-0”. That cheered us up somewhat and we couldn’t wait to get to the pub and catch a bit of it, Manchester United seeing the game out successfully, and with an attacking team named, we weren’t quite skipping to Goodison Park but walked with smiles rather than frowns.
With a full house crowd and Brighton selling out their entire allocation, the atmosphere was bubbling nicely as we got to kick off, and Everton began very impressively, really forcing Brighton onto the back foot in the opening 20 minutes. I’d almost go as far as to say that the first 20 minutes were as good as we have played all season. Given the season we’ve had, this isn’t the boldest statement I know, but we did play very well in that period. It was clear from early on that Yannick Bolasie had the beating of Argentine right back Ezequiel Schelotto and though end product was sometimes frustrating he was causing problems from the off and probably came closest to scoring during that period when he flashed a leg at a deep Gylfi Sigurdsson corner kick only to see it stab into the side netting. I think some of the crowd in the Main Stand and Top Balcony area thought it was a goal for a second or two, cue ironic cheers from the travelling crowd. Phil Jagielka also got a header on target from another corner kick but it fell safely into the arms of Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Seamus Coleman also flashed an effort across goal and wide of the far post with a good opportunity.
Everton were dominant, but hadn’t scored and on about 25 minutes when Brighton had finally settled, Glen Murray found a little space and hit an effort from distance which Jordan Pickford saved pretty comfortably. All that play though, and Brighton have one effort and almost scored. That’s what can happen if you don’t score when you’re on top. The remainder of the half was played out a lot more evenly, with Everton probably disappointed not to have made their early dominance count.
Andrei Kanchelskis made an appearance on the pitch at the break to warm applause throughout the stadium. We got under way and whatever Chris Hughton had said to his team at the break seemed to have worked and they pinned us back early on, though failed to convert their pressure into something meaningful. Nevertheless, this unnerved Everton somewhat and we lost our way a bit. The crowd were starting to get restless and it took a moment of inspiration from Bolasie to cut inside and put a good ball into the far post towards Theo Walcott. Thankfully Brighton’s defending was awful, or at least Gaetan Bong’s was as he contrived to prod into his own goal to put Everton ahead. We hadn’t realised at the time and thought Theo had scored. I thought it was poor defending anyway to let Theo get the wrong side of him like that, but hadn’t realised it was even worse and that Bong had in fact put into his own net. The goal was met with huge relief throughout as things were not going great on the pitch at that point.
The goal helped the players relax and they exerted themselves well on the game in the final half hour. 15 minutes later it was 2-0 when Leighton Baines picked up the ball and darted on with it, played a lovely one-two with Cenk Tosun who took a touch and rifled home. He probably could have been closed down quicker, and against better teams he’d probably have needed to take it first time as wouldn’t have been afforded the touch, but the hapless Bong could only do enough to have it skim off his backside on the way through. It was, regardless, a marvellous finish from Cenk and it’s great to see him firing with two goals in two games. Excellent work from Leighton also. We’ve certainly missed that quality from the left, well from both flanks really. Hopefully Leighton and Seamus can stay fit and maintain that quality for the remainder of the campaign and into pre-season.
Brighton were pretty much done as Everton became a bit relentless and they really didn’t need Anthony Knockaert to get himself sent off with an unforgivably poor challenge on Leighton Baines. Prior to the challenge, Knockaert got a ball in the face from Baines and maybe the red mist descended which caused him to fly in like that. Good on both our full backs for their reaction. First from Baines for not rolling around and making a meal of it; and then from Coleman for giving Knockaert an earful on the way off. Seamus knows, of course, better than anyone what it is like to be on the receiving end of a bad tackle and having just come back from a long injury, Leighton is lucky not to have been hurt with that challenge.
2-0 should have become 3-0 when Dominic Calvert-Lewin went down easily in the penalty area and Roger East pointed to the spot. Wayne Rooney, who had played defensive midfield with aplomb and so was deep on the pitch, got excited and ran pretty quickly up the pitch to make sure he got the ball and get on the scoresheet, but he was prevented by an excellent save by Mat Ryan. He’s missed three this season now Wayne, albeit two of them he put in the rebound, and Sam Allardyce is right when he says Wayne shouldn’t take the next one, especially with Baines and Sigurdsson on the pitch.
Thankfully it didn’t matter of course, though when substitute Mason Holgate gave the ball away carelessly, Brighton were almost in but Pickford did well to save their effort on goal. It was nice to keep a clean sheet as a late Brighton goal would have been a shame.
After a torrid season on the sidelines it was nice to see Davy Klaassen get some time on the pitch as Everton saw the game out, and overall we were good value for what was an important win in making sure we weren’t going to get sucked into the relegation battle this season.
We still have an opportunity to look up rather than down this season. Big Sam has spoken out a couple of times now about staying on for longer than this season and next. For me, he has an eight game job interview from now. I’d say we’ve more or less done enough to survive, and won’t get relegated from here. Based on experience of years of disappointment, this is where our team will usually down tools for the season and get the flip flops on. If, and it’s a ginormous if, we can go unbeaten in these games and win the majority of them, this gives us quite a platform and good momentum going into pre-season. This then makes it difficult to move Sam Allardyce on, as why would you move on a manager who is performing?
Over to you Sam. Have you got what it takes?
Pickford: When your goalkeeper has a quiet game you need him to be alert when the opportunities come the oppositions way, and Jordan was certainly on the ball with the few chances Brighton created. Well done. 7
Baines: Terrific to see him back and great to finally have some balance and creativity down the left hand side. Fitted in as if he’s never been away. Well done Leighton. 7
Jagielka: Also came back after, albeit a much shorter, spell on the sidelines. He swept up very well and looked after Michael Keane sufficiently. Great to have him back and it would be nice if we could keep that back line together for the rest of the season. 7
Keane: Did OK. 6
Coleman: Didn’t quite get going in attack but had quite a solid game. 6
Rooney: A shame he missed the penalty but otherwise, a late mistake which gave the ball away aside, he did ever so well from defensive midfield and had an impressive game. 7
Davies: Frustrated at times but I like that he sticks to his guns and he had a good impact on the game in the second half. 6
Bolasie: Was a constant thorn in their side and though he can frustrate us, he must have frustrated them a lot more. Had a good game and one time when he tracked back a long way to put a tackle in was also impressive. A good effort and an assist. Well done. 7
Walcott: After an under par display at Turf Moor last week, he did a lot better against Brighton and caused them problems. Gets back well and helps out his defence also. I hope his injury isn’t serious as he is one of our more important players. Well done. 7
Sigurdsson: He’s really settling into that no. 10 position now and is really making his mark. His set-piece distribution is really up to scratch now also. Had a very good impact on the game and is my man of the match. 8
Tosun: I like the look of him. He isn’t blessed with pace but does work hard and I’m looking forward to what he can offer next season when he is razor-sharp following a good pre-season. He seems a good character also, and is always encouraging his team mates and applauding their efforts and passes. Two goals in two games for Cenk, and I hope he can continue his purple patch for at least another three games. :-) 7
Calvert-Lewin (for Walcott): Got involved and did quite well. I’d like him to stop going down like this in the penalty area though as he’ll soon enough get a reputation. He’s won two penalties now with minimal contact, and was denied one at Arsenal. It would be a shame if his talent became tarred with a ‘diver’ reputation. 6
Holgate (for Bolasie): As soon as we made it 2-0, Holgate was waved over from his warm-up by Sammy Lee and was introduced to the action. He was doing OK until hew carelessly gave it away. Make that error at 1-0 against better teams, and he’ll likely be punished. You live and learn I suppose. 5
Klaassen (for Davies): Nice to see him get on the pitch after a long, long time out. Though he didn’t get on the ball much, he got involved and covered plenty of ground in his nine minutes or so. Nice to see you back involved Davy. 6
Reader Comments (21)
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1 Posted 11/03/2018 at 20:15:02
2 Posted 11/03/2018 at 20:18:30
For my money Jags was head and shoulders above everyone yesterday. Even at 35, he's still our best defender and was worthy of a MOM nomination.
I actually thought Tom Davies was poor throughout yesterday, and unlike yourself, didn't see a marked improvement in the second half?
Special mention to Cesc Tosun, it's been a really difficult period for him at the club, but he's kept his head down and worked really hard, his hold up play is brilliant and at least gives his team mates a focal point at last.
Otherwise enjoyed the report. Anyone know what's happened to Ken Buckley?
3 Posted 11/03/2018 at 20:19:27
The other match-day threads as happy as you with having the Baines, Jags, Seamus unit back on together. We looked like a TEAM for once.
Since it's down to once-a-week for the rest of the season, hopefully all three can stay healthy. Do Keane a world of good for one. And, fingers, toes, and eyes crossed, maybe do Sam's confidence a world of good, too.
4 Posted 11/03/2018 at 20:34:50
5 Posted 11/03/2018 at 20:59:02
Still a decent report, Paul, no offence.
6 Posted 11/03/2018 at 21:40:14
7 Posted 11/03/2018 at 23:58:07
Tom Davies is 19. When he has played five more seasons that's FIVE MORE SEASONS he will be approaching his peak. We are incredibly lucky to have a player as good as Tom Davies. Support him!
8 Posted 12/03/2018 at 01:59:13
My wife's comment as we woke up and discovered the score - When was the last time we could enjoy a Sunday morning with Everton winning and Liverpool losing? Probably the last time Carra spat out the window of his car!
I have asked a couple of times where Ken has gone but no answer.
9 Posted 12/03/2018 at 06:38:36
10 Posted 12/03/2018 at 08:31:47
Of course he has potential and needs supporting, but if he plays poorly it can still be highlighted. No one has been hounding him
11 Posted 12/03/2018 at 09:07:58
12 Posted 12/03/2018 at 10:56:02
13 Posted 12/03/2018 at 11:57:17
The problem of course is that Wayne is less effective shielding the ball in his own half when he is closed down. On two occasions we saw possession lost when Jags played short balls to him. Against better teams, indeed any teams away from home, we do not have the luxury to be so profligate.
14 Posted 12/03/2018 at 13:43:14
15 Posted 12/03/2018 at 13:59:39
I'm pretty sure Tom Davies fell to the floor to win a free kick earlier in the game; it is just part of the game unfortunately. Let's save the divers tag for those who don't need any contact to fall over in the box.
A bit harsh on Bong as well, I think Paul. Not an awful lot a defender can legally do to prevent an attacker running off his shoulder if a good ball is played in. He had pretty much covered the run but couldn't quite get a good enough contact to hack it to safety. Had to get something on it otherwise Theo had a tap in. I'd put it down to good attacking play rather than poor defending.
16 Posted 12/03/2018 at 14:14:28
We laboured for all but 15 minutes in that game, even in the first half we offered zero penetration despite hogging the ball.
We owe very much to Brighton who were as hapless as we are away from home.
Baines offered the most heart warming of returns though, accurate and clever as he single-handedly constructed our second goal.
As for the penalty Calvert-Lewin initiates the contact and has ‘won' the penalty. An almost cc of the spot kick at Anfield.
His skill to get there was very good but the rest he should look at and then forget about.
17 Posted 12/03/2018 at 16:26:05
Err... ask the 95%.
18 Posted 12/03/2018 at 16:28:35
He's saying that about Stoke, who sit 19th in the table, Stoke. Just get him out now. To think I was actually hopeful that some sense had finally gotten through his thick skull.
19 Posted 12/03/2018 at 17:10:02
Allardyce is gone as soon as the season finishes I'm sure.
PSG want somebody else in.
Leaves Emery wanting a job somewhere
20 Posted 12/03/2018 at 21:56:34
I really hope he leaves as I don't believe he can deliver Everton what they need. He does however seem to think he's got longer that this season from his interviews which is scary! Why waste another summer and half season before getting rid!
21 Posted 12/03/2018 at 22:54:10
Yannick had a good 15 minutes (which with a player like him can be damaging) Glyfi was solid as was Rooney. Walcott lively. Leighton and Jags showed what we have missed. Tom was good in places. Tosun finished expertly.
I reckon having Gana and/or Sigurdsson would have potentially led to a worse result. We were mostly on the front foot due to the personnel.
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