Sam Allardyce expressed his disappointment with Everton's “under-par” performance against Southampton today but reserved the bulk of his criticism for some of the fringe players given an opportunity to shine following injuries to Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott.
In addition to Nikola Vlasic, another player who has been out of the side recently, making a rare start, Yannick Bolasie came in for Walcott (who strained calf in training this week) and Tom Davies replaced Rooney (who had a knee problem) but Allardyce tacitly argued that they had failed to step up despite Davies grabbing an equaliser in the sixth minute of injury time.
Southampton, desperately in need of points in their bid to avoid relegation to the Championship, were leading through Nathan Redmond's 56th-minute header as the game headed into its final seconds where Davies fired a side-foot shot into a crowded penalty area and the ball deflected off Wesley Hoedt and past Alex McCarthy in the Saints' goal.
It was harsh on the visitors from the south coast who had been the better side, with Goodison Park reverberating to a chorus of boos at the end of both halves in condemnation of another poor display by the Blues that had yielded just one tame effort on target before time added on for stoppages.
“It was a bit of joy for frustrated players and frustrated fans,” Allardyce said of the last-gasp goal in the tunnel immediately after the final whistle. “but no one will be more frustrated than me by our performance today.
“But I did say in my interview before the game today how interesting it would be to see [how well] the players who replaced Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney and Dominic Calvert-Lewin [performed] and I think that's caused an under-par performance.
”You'd want the players who get frustrated about not playing and wonder why they're not playing to step in when they get the chance to play but they didn't really perform that well today.
“So the only really positive out of that was going right until the very end, never giving up and getting that little bit of reward to get the 1-1 so we keep our undefeated run going.
“Another point, eight games and 15 points now so I think while the performance wasn't good enough we pinched a result and lots of people say that's what you've got to do — get a result when you don't play well and then get better from there.
Allardyce credited Mark Hughes's men for playing better than Everton and for a well-taken goal but he reiterated his disappointment in his own players.
“I think we've made [Southampton's] job very easy for them in our performances right across the field," continued Allardyce, who said he did not take part in the post-match lap of appreciation to a mostly empty Goodison Park because of his media commitments. "I've never seen, since I've been here, the Everton team play so many sloppy passes and give so many balls away.
“I think we need change if we're going to get better. I think there's no doubt about that but where that will happen and what changes we'll make, only time will tell.”