Everton shrugged off a flaccid first-half performance to eventually power their way past Fulham, collecting their first clean sheet of the season along the way.
Gylfi Sigurdsson atoned for hitting the bar with a penalty to stroke home the opening goal in the 56th minute and wrapped things up late on with another well-taken strike either side of Cenk Tosun's first of the campaign.
Unchanged from the side that lost at Arsenal last Sunday, Everton started slowly, a pattern that would be a feature of a scrappy first period that was interrupted by a succession of free kicks for both sides.
The Blues briefly exhibited some of the incisiveness that the Goodison faithful hoped would see them press home their status as the favourites on the day when Richarlison surged forward in the third minute but, caught in two minds over whether to shoot or nudge it on to Theo Walcott, Sigurdsson ended up stabbing the ball behind.
Richarlison had another chance to drive at the visitors' defence when the ball was given away to him but he ran into a cul-de-sac before Kurt Zouma connected with Lucas Digne's excellent free kick and forced a save from the goalkeeper but was flagged offside.
Fulham carved out the first clear chance when Ryan Sessegnon evaded Keane at the byline and cut it back for Andre Schürrle but the German skied his effort over the crossbar.
Bettinelli spilled Walcott's low drive at the other end and Sigurdsson despatched another direct free kick off the wall but it was Sessegnon who should have broken the deadlock shortly before half-time.
The teenager popped up on the far side of the area with Everton's midfield and defence conspicuous by its absence but he fired off the face of the bar with just Pickford to beat.
Everton were markedly better after the break and while the stream of set-pieces continued, it was from open play where they would eventually do all the damage to the Cottagers.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin had the first opening of the second half and looked to have got the better of Denis Odoi as he drove into the box but as the goalkeeper rushed out, the defender shoved him over and, on the advice of his asssistant, referee Roger East awarded a penalty. Sigurdsson stepped up but chipped his effort disappointingly off the crossbar.
The Blues took the lead five minutes later, however. The Icelandic international threaded a great ball to the byline for Jonjoe Kenny and when the fullback's cross came back out, Sigurdsson passed the ball superbly through the crowd box and inside the far post.
It could easily have been 1-1 five minutes after that, however, as the home side were caught with too many numbers forward and Fulham raced away on the counter-attack. Luciano Vietto was picked out as Kenny was left trying to cover two men but Pickford pounced off his line in impressive fashion to snatch the ball at the Argentinian's feet.
Everton then doubled their lead with Kenny involved again. This time, the young defender's neat pass found Walcott whose chipped cross was perfect for substitute Tosun. The delivery from the right picked the Turk out in front of goal and he had the simple task of nodding home from close range.
Walcott forced another save from Bettinelli with 10 minutes gone but it took the introduction of Bernard late on to create the third goal. The Brazilian was sent away down the left by Digne and after feigning a move to the byline, he cut back to Sigurdsson who side-footed his second past the ‘keeper.
The victory was a welcome second on the Premier League season and eases some of the anxiety over what had become a disappointing start to the new campaign.
Everton are back at Goodison Park this weekend for the first of two home games in the space of four days as newly-promoted Fulham travel to Merseyside.
Marco Silva sticks with an unchanged side, captained by 20-year-old Tom Davies. Bernard on the bench, with Lookman and Schneiderlin. The injury list still includes Mina, Coleman, McCarthy, Baningime, Gomes.
A nice sunny day for the Blues at Goodison Park, Calvert-Lewin making his 100th appearance, Everton choosing to attack the Park End, with the visitors kicking things off. Early exchanges were scrappy, with a host of throw-ins as Fulham pushed the Blues back but Richarlison and Sigurdsson broke forward with pace and the slipped ball to Sigurdsson seem to confuse him at the last moment, stretching to connect and pushing the ball wide of the goal.
Fosu-Mensah injured himself bringing down Calvert-Lewin, falling and jarring his arm, requiring a lot of treatment 3 yards in from the sideline, and was eventually substituted by Christie. A ball in from Kenny was too high for Keane to control and Richarlison was called offside.
Richarlison benefitted from a giveaway but played his cross into the legs of the recovering Fulham player and a great chance evaporated. Mitrovice had a wild lashed shot from distance, well over.
Some dominant play from Fulham saw a great layback but Schurle skied a very scary opportunity well over the Gwladys Street bar: second warning across the bows. Richarlison got the ball and ran at Fulham, Anguissa fouling. A good free-kick from Digne, Zouma stinging Bettinelli's hands but deemed (incorrectly) offside.
Richarlison went on a great run, but got blocked wide and had to accept the corner, Sigurdsson delivering it well but defended away. A fantastic ball from Keane was followed by a good shot from Walcott, Calvert-Lewin unable to get on the keeper's rebound.
The game was very competitive at an individual level, no lack of effort from either side with little space conceded, Seri bowling Sigurdsson over with a sneaky forearm smash. Davies next to be double-teamed, illegally. Anguissa cut down Sigurdsson in a decent position, Sigurdsson hitting the wall, as is his wont, but winning a corner.
Digne delivered it well, and volleyed a clearance straight back in but Fulham somehow broke and it needed a foul to stop them. Davies was playing deep and did well to stem the forward flow, but Fulham were nothing if not very determined. Incredibly, no yellow cards despite plenty of contact and robust tackling, Gueye and Richarlison both down injured.
Christie finally saw yellow after pulling back Richarlison again, but the ball in had too much air on it. Everton were doing well enough in midfield but unable to really create. A great cross from Sigurdsson but Calvert-Lewin could only win a corner that came to nothing. Richarlison went down, clutching at his thigh, and needed treatment.
Everton struggled to get the ball off Fulham as they pushed the Blues back, the game lacking fluidity, with Richarlison still limping. Walcott finally got the ball forward but it ran out of play for Calvert-Lewin.
Some brilliant Fulham passing had Everton chasing shadows, Sessegnon in three on one, smacking the crossbar when it might have been easier to score! Shocking defence from the Blues as they continued to be pushed back, unable to get a hold of the ball.
As 5 minutes of injury time was signaled, Walcott was harshly flagged offside despite a defender playing the ball on. But Digne forced a turnover and released Richarlison, who was not himself and again played a poor ball to end the attack. digne tried a clever ball in behind: too clever for Calvert-Lewin, who watched in bounce behind. But he next won a corner deep in added time, this one also defended away and Fulham surged forward, Mitrovic shooting wide
A really hard first half for Everton, thwarted by the aggression, desire and skill from Fulham that they struggled to match at times, and lucky not to be one goal down.
Sigurdsson restarted the game with Everton passing the ball around, Digne crossing brilliantly but not to Calvert-Lewin. From the other side, Kenny won a corner, that Keane got his head to and Richarlison had to improvise but could only put it over the bar. Another corner, Zouma climbing high but still not high enough, his header well over the Fulham bar
Calvert-Lewin ran into the area and was barged aside by Odoi, the linesman flagging for a penalty, perhaps buying the rather extravagant dive, the referee rather unconvinced, but it was still given, Gylfi Sigurdsson smacking the spot-kick against the bar... a shocking moss for the £45M man, reminiscent of his similar World Cup miss, and could be equally costly.
Everton continued to pressure the visitors, Richarlison lashing a shot at Bettinelli. Tosun replaced Calvert-Lewin with 55 minutes gone, a rare proactive change form Silva. Keny did well to keep the ball alive and a snapshot from Sigurdsson on the half-clearance bought instant redemption for Sigurdsson, a beautiful strike curled into the far corner from the Icelander.
Richarlison ran half the length of the field off a smat ball from Sigurdsson but was finally blocked and Sigurdsson could not dig out a shot. The Blues were now surging forward in fine style, Richarlison's touch letting him down but winning a corner, that Fulham eventually surged away with three on one again, stopped by a fantastic diving intervention from Pickford at the feet of Vietto. Priceless value for his new 6-year contract!
Yet another Everton corner, swung in by Sigurdsson, cleared again. A fine move down the right, a great ball from Kenny to Walcott, who picked out a with a plumb ball to Tosun at the far post, a fine header from close range for Cenk Tosun, so happy to finally score this season.
Davies divided in rather too aggressively and was lucky not to see yellow. Kenny tried his shooting but the range-finder needed some adjustment. Digne curled in another set-piece but yet again it was a Fulham head that was first to it.
Fulham worked the ball well, a fantastic ball in was just a foot ahead of Mitrovic, who had otherwise been marshalled well by Keane and Zouma. More good work from Richarlison wins another corner, almost fooling Bettinelli, but Davies fouled in the next phase.
Good defending from Digne stopped Christie and, from a good break, Walcott tested Bettinelli with a decent shot. Another set-pice by Sigurdsson; another headed clearance by Fulham. Digne won a corner, but again, Sigurdsson's ball in was over Zouma and, yes, headed clear yet again.
Richarlison played a great ball forward for Tosun, who was ruled just offside. Bryan tore his hamstring and was withdrawn, as Fulham won their first corner. Gueye released Richarlison for another run, winning another corner, his last contribution, to a massive ovation for the brilliant Brazilian, replaced by a noticeably smaller one in Barnard.
Barnard immediately got free, galloped away down the left, paused, centered perfectly for Sigurdsson to pass the ball through three defenders and into the net for a fine 3rd goal.
A much more effective second half, where Gyfi Sigurdsson could have had a hat-trick, all triggered from a positive early substitution by Silva, replacing the serially useless Calvert-Lewin.
Scorers: Sigurdsson (57'), Tosun (66')
Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Keane, Zouma, Digne, Gueye, Davies, Sigurdsson (90+1' Schneiderlin), Walcott, Calvert-Lewin (56' Tosun), Richarlison (88' Bernard).
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Baines, Lookman.
Fulham: Bettinelli, Fosu-Mensah (8' Christie [Y:29']), Sessegnon, Odoi [Y:51'], Ream, Bryan [I:86'], Seri (85' Ayite), Anguissa. Schurrle, Vietto (63' Cairney), Mitrovic [Y:].
Subs not Used: Rico, McDonald, Johansen, Le Marchand.
Referee: Roger East
One great half...
With Ste unable to make this one, my father-in-law, or “schwiegervater” given his German roots, gladly used his ticket. Gaz kindly picked up up, and we were nicely in the pub for about 1pm, Dan and his son Alfie arriving at exactly the same time.
It was nice to relax in the pub with a good game of football. West Ham United vs Manchester United was quite a battle with the Londoners, who were in crisis a few weeks ago, coming out on top. You feel it’s now Manchester United who are the team in crisis.
We got the team news in the pub and there were no changes whatsoever to the team that lost unluckily at Arsenal last weekend. Even the substitutes bench remained the same I believe. With Andre Schurle, Ryan Sessegnon, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Timothy Fosu-Mensa and, Jean Michael Seri all featuring, the visitors did have quality in their ranks and couldn’t be taken lightly. Roger East, the best referee in the league in my opinion, got the game underway.
For once, we made it to Goodison Park in plenty of time for kick-off and even had a bit of time to enjoy the warm sunshine as we awaited kick-off. It was a good day to remember your shades. Though not such a good day to bring a coat. A packed stadium roared the teams out as Z-Cars rang out. That really is a special feeling which we miss far too often these days such is our laxness in leaving the pub.
Sadly, in the first half, the team didn’t respond to the backing of the expectant crowd, when a sluggish Everton really struggled to get going. It was actually Fulham who impressed me much more in the opening half. They are very intricate around the penalty area and keep the ball very well. Far too easily, they twice carved us open in the first half, first when Andre Schurle skied well over the bar from a good position just outside the penalty area; and secondly, not long before the break, Ryan Sessegnon also missed the target, this time rattling the crossbar when bearing down on goal with just Jordan Pickford to beat. He should have scored and I assumed he had and was astonished to see the ball cannon away off the woodwork. A let-off to the extreme for Everton.
With a few stoppages for injuries, 5 minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of the first half. With Everton shapeless and struggling badly to engineer anything, these 5 minutes were quite a slog and everyone in blue – supporters, coaching staff and players alike – were thankful when Roger East blew up to end the half. This had to get much better.
Sadly the half-time “entertainment” didn’t offer this and I hope they ditch this new game as it really hasn’t provided the crowd interaction that the marketing guys expected or targeted. It’s a ‘Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game’ conveyor belt game, when a list of items scroll across the screen, and then afterwards the contestant has 15 seconds to name as many as he can, and for each one correctly guessed, gets £15 worth of vouchers to spend at the Everton Clubshop. Hardly a life-changing prize.
They then get the chance to “gamble” at the end of this and could then win £300 worth of vouchers if they choose to answer a 50/50 chance question. This then gives the host a chance to plug one of Everton’s partners presumably, given the question last time was “Which online streaming channel is launching Jack Ryan next week, is it A, Amazon Prime, or B, Netflix?”
I think they assume that almost everyone will gamble and they get to plug something. The host seemed a bit annoyed this week when the contestant decided to keep what he had, £115 worth of vouchers. “Are you SURE you don’t want to gamble?” he probed.
It’s terrible, and bring back the ‘hit the bar’ contest I say. At least that kept everyone entertained but I think they ended up giving away more cars than they budgeted for and canned that idea.
I had to get that off my chest.
Back to the game and as Gary, sat next to me, said – "It’s good to know that Marco Silva has it in him to give the team a rocket at the break." Whatever he said, and presumably it was a bit of a telling off, worked and we were straight out of the traps in the second half and quickly had a great opportunity to take the lead when Dominic Calvert-Lewin was shoved in the back by Denis Odoi as he chased a through ball. It was rather unnecessary from Odoi as Marcus Bettinelli looked to have smothered the ball before Dominic could get to it. Good work though from the referee and linesman.
Roger East didn’t feel he had a clear enough view of it to award the spot kick but the linesman quickly communicated to him that there was a clear shove by Odoi and Everton were awarded the penalty. Richarlison wanted it and grabbed the ball, but Gylfi quickly showed his authority in the team and pulled rank. It seemed to take an age for Roger East to book Denis Odoi and clear the box for Gylfi to take it. Whether that is why Gylfi got under it and scooped it onto the crossbar or not we’ll never know but, despite sending the keeper the wrong way, he sent it too high and it was a pretty poor effort really from Gylfi. It reminded me of the one he missed in the World Cup against Nigeria.
Any fears that this would have a negative effect on Gylfi were quickly diminished, as he then worked like a man possessed to make amends, and it wasn’t long until he did when he quickly seized on a loose clearance and hit a splendid low, curling effort into the corner from the edge of the penalty area with his left foot. It was a great effort and Goodison Park erupted with joy.
Everton really had their tails up now but Fulham offered us a reminder of the threat they possess on the counter-attack when Andre Schurle played in Luciano Vietto but having touched it a little heavy, Jordan Pickford seized the opportunity and came out rapidly to smother.
We needed a second goal to see off the visitors and we got it when substitute Cenk Tosun headed in following tremendous work by Theo Walcott down the right. You could see how much it meant to Cenk, and how made up for him his teammates were as they celebrated wildly. It was heart-warming to see him gesture up to his family in the Main Stand as they ran back to position. Let’s hope that’s a catalyst for Cenk to kick on now and get back on the goals trail as he certainly knows where the goal is, though I still wish he’d have scored that even easier chance against Liverpool last season.
The game was more or less done, but the introduction of Bernard on 88 minutes for the spent Richarlison shows just what strength in depth we now have. I’d seen Bernard a few times a couple of years ago for Shakhtar Donetsk and I remember thinking “What a player he is”, but I never thought he was a player you’d ever see in an Everton shirt and I more-than raised an eyebrow when I saw he’d signed for Everton. I missed the West Ham United game so this is my first glimpse of him in the flesh, and what an exciting talent we have there, and at only 26 years old you feel we have him at what should be his prime.
Immediately he had Fulham back-peddling. He runs at you with pace and shows defenders just enough of the ball to entice a challenge, but dive in there and he’s past the defender and gone, very Phillippe Coutinho like. His pace and trickery quickly carved out a chance for Gylfi Sigurdsson, and the Icelander didn’t miss, calmly stroking the ball past Bettinelli to make it 3-0. I can’t wait until Barnard gets up to speed and I hope he can start the game against Southampton on Tuesday.
With the game now definitely won, a clean sheet became imperative and I was glad Marco recognised that immediately, withdrawing Gylfi Sigurdsson for Morgan Schnederlin to see out the final few minutes.
Overall, a nice win and an important one. As we have in our last two games, Fulham will rue them missed chances in the first half. The Premier League is unforgiving and if you miss your chances you are usually punished. Let’s hope this win can be a catalyst for us to be more clinical with our opportunities moving forward.
Pickford: Though not a great deal to do, I’d say that’s his most assured performance this season after a couple of wobbles. Great news that he signed the new contract. That stability is required and it’s nice to get one back at all those who, following his World Cup efforts, told me he wouldn’t be at Everton for much longer. 7
Digne: Granted he joined us with high calibre so was expected to be good, but I have to be impressed by how effortlessly he has adapted to life in the Premier League. A great all-round player in defence and attack. 8
Zouma: A few shaky moments in the last three games has left me unconvinced, though he does show good qualities also. I’m sitting on the fence with him for now! 6
Keane: Certainly looking much more like a good centre back this season than last. 7
Kenny: A few wild hoofs on the half-volley way up in the air aside, he did well, particularly defensively. Certainly his best game yet since coming in to cover for the injured Seamus Coleman. 6
Gueye: My Man of the Match. His tackling and defensive cover is superb. A key cog in the team. 8
Davies: I like Tom and Idrissa as a two in the middle as they cover so much ground. I think I prefer Davies in there also as he’s a much more forward-thinking player than Morgan Schneiderlin. 6
Sigurdsson: His first goal was exceptional and having missed his penalty he then showed great attitude to re-focus and lead the team to victory. A good effort from Gylfi. 8
Richarlison: Not his best game so far but the boy shows good attitude and certainly works hard for the cause. 7
Walcott: He goes unnoticed a lot but shows great attitude and application and then, with his pace, can damage a team, as he showed with his excellent assist for Cenk Tosun’s goal. 7
Calvert-Lewin: Was contained fairly easily by the Fulham defence and it was a good call by Marco to hook him quite early in the game. 5
Tosun (for Calvert-Lewin): A great response to being dropped and we all hope he can really kick on now. 7
Bernard (for Richarlison): A great impact from Bernard and I can’t wait until he’s up to speed. 8
Schneiderlin (for Davies): Really not on long so difficult to judge but there was a moment when he had the ball in his own half and had ample space and time to put the forward-running Theo Walcott away, but he didn’t really look forward at all and just played the ball square. As Gaz said walking out of the ground, "If you can’t look up and pass forward when you’ve just come on at 3-0, when can you?" That’s why I prefer Davies in there. He’s much more positive. 5
If you were using history as your guide then Fulham at home would be high on the list of opponents you would pick for an Everton manager badly in need of a victory to face. Since the Cottagers left Goodison Park with a 0-0 draw in 1959, the Toffees have had a 100% record in these games in the league and, thanks to a strong second-half display, that statistic lives on.
While the grumblings from some quarters that Marco Silva’s job should be under review just six games into the new Premier League campaign were, frankly, ridiculous it’s fair to say that the anxiety over the Portuguese’s first season would have been ratcheted up had his side not won today.
Thankfully, however, Silva was not only handed his first clean sheet of the season, he will have taken encouragement from the strength of Everton’s performance after half-time as well, while also taken satisfaction from a couple of increasingly scrutinised players getting onto the scoresheet.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s £45m price tag has hung heavily around his neck in recent weeks as the Blues have struggled for inspiration and leadership in the attacking third. And while there was an air of inevitability about his penalty miss six minutes into the second half, there was no denying the brilliance of his opener five minutes later or the composure he displayed in burying a second in the closing stages.
For Cenk Tosun, meanwhile, who was dropped from the starting XI at the Emirates last Sunday and was again named among the substitutes today, there has been a feeling that he just needed a goal to get his season underway and re-ignite his confidence. If that’s the case then his routine but no less important header in the 66th minute will hopefully provide the catalyst he has been looking for.
As important and handsome a win this eventually turned out to be, it should be acknowledged that it masked a largely frustrating and impotent first-half from Everton’s perspective and better finishing from Andre Schürrle or Ryan Sessegnon would have almost certainly seen Silva’s men go into the break a goal down.
In the first instance, Michael Keane committed himself to a sliding block in the 12th minute that Sessegnon nonchelantly shrugged off before cutting it back to Schürrle who blasted over.
And if the Blues’ midfield has felt like it simply evaporates at times, the same sensation greeted a Fulham attack three minutes before the end of a bitty first period in which the home side lacked conviction, leadership and personality. Jean Michaël Seri carved the defence open with a pass to Sessegnon (although there was more than a suspicion of offside against Aleksander Mitrovic) who had a free run at Jordan Pickford but lifted a shot onto the face of the crossbar when he seemed certain to score.
Given the unease which can pervade Goodison when Everton have been on top in terms of possession and chances, failed to press home that advantage and then fallen behind, this might have turned out to be a very different game had either chance gone in. Likewise, had Jordan Pickford not done brilliantly to spring off his line to deny Luciano Vietto with an hour gone and the score at 1-0, the psychological tenor of the Toffees’ afternoon and that of the fans might have changed significantly.
Just as was the case last week, however, quality in the final third would eventually tell and the away side would leave without a goal or a point.
Much of the talk leading up to the game had centred around Everton’s lack of firepower up front but Silva had clearly seen enough from the XI that started against Arsenal to feel confident fielding the same team from kick-off today.
Once again, the focus was on Richarlison and, to a lesser degree, on Theo Walcott to produce the goods going forward and the early signs were that the Brazilian wasn’t going to disappoint. An early foray that served up an early chance for Sigurdsson that the Iceland international ended up stabbing wide with what was neither a shot nor a forward ball pointed to a testing 90 minutes for Fulham’s defence.
Richarlison was involved in much of Everton’s best moments but like Walcott, he was perhaps guilty of too much selfishness when team-mates were in better positions and he ended up having a bigger impact in terms of winning free kicks and corners than creating clear-cut openings. He took a set of Denis Odoi’s studs to his thigh towards the end of the first half and while he stayed on until making way for Bernard with six minutes left of the 90, that injury may have affected him more than at first thought.
While Tom Davies and the otherwise excellent Idrissa Gueye were tenacious in central midfield when Everton didn’t have the ball, there was a general lack of movement and link up play in that area of the pitch at times when the Blues were in possession in the first half which made it hard to see where the breakthrough was going to come from.
A penalty awarded to Dominic Calvert-Lewin who was sent sprawling by Odoi’s shove in the 50th minutes looked to have provided it, though. Referee Roger East was given the nod by his assistant who deemed there was sufficiently illegal contact from the defender as the striker out-muscled him in the box and it handed Sigurdsson the perfect chance to put the Blues ahead. Unfortunately, he scooped his effort onto the woodwork and that just felt typical the way things have been going for him and Everton lately.
Sigurdsson atoned for the miss just five minutes later, however, with a lovely strike that did make it 1-0 and set the hosts on their way to three valuable points. It was his pass to Jonjoe Kenny that set the full-back up to cross from the right and when the initial clearance came back out to him, the Nordic star curled a precision shot around the forest of legs in front of him and inside the far post.
The aggressive search for a second goal was almost Everton’s undoing, however, as they were caught having committed too many men forward for one of a host of corners when the ball was cleared and Fulham raced away on the counter-attack with just Kenny back as cover. The two-on-one attack ended with Vietto being played in in an ocean of space but he knocked the ball a hair too far in front of him and Pickford scrambled onto it, grabbing it decisively off the attackers toes.
It was another let-off for Everton but they doubled their lead five minutes later. A slide-rule pass by Kenny ushered Walcott to the byline where he clipped a gorgeous cross into the six-yard box where Tosun, a 55th-minute introduction for Calvert-Lewin, was unmarked to head home.
As the corner count for Silva’s side mounted, it was still from open play where they were most threatening. Walcott had another opportunity on the breakaway 10 minutes from the end but he ignored Tosun and saw his shot saved by Marcus Bettinelli.
In the end it was another substitute, Bernard, who engineered the third and final goal of the afternoon. Thrown on late for Richarlison, the fleet-footed Brazilian was sent down the left flank by Lucas Digne where he cut back inside on his right foot, waited for Sigurdsson to arrive and then set the midfielder up for a side-foot finish past the goalkeeper to make it 3-0.
While far from fully convincing, this was an important result that can provide a platform going into the Carabao Cup tie against Southampton and then the trip to Leicester in the League beyond that. It still doesn’t feel as though the Blues have hit anything like their full stride yet and Silva has yet to find the right blend in midfield and attack.
Much will probably depend on Richarlison getting back into his groove, Sigurdsson using this as a springboard for his season and, perhaps, Andre Gomes getting fully fit and adding a different option and dimension in the middle of the park.
For now, though, three points secured and the chance to get some forward momentum on the season.