One of the classics

Paul Traill 18/03/2022 10comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 0 Newcastle Utd
Being a bit older now and with kids to deal with in the morning, I don’t feel I have either the time or energy to write match reports immediately following an evening game. These days, I’ll likely come home, have a cup of decaf tea and a bowl of cereal and hit the hay. Rock-’n'-roll, I know.

Last night was a bit more rock-’n’-roll, mind. I came home and sank two beers while discussing the match with some friends over a Zoom call (we got quite used to doing that over lockdown and it’s kind of stuck). I was totally drained after an hour or so following such an intense game.

But, 24 hours or so on, and still buzzing about what is certainly one of the most incredible evenings I’ve ever witnessed at Goodison Park, and with little better to do this Friday evening, I thought I’d try and share my experiences of yesterday’s Goodison Park thriller.

I work from home most of the time but, once a week or so, head into the office in Bolton. I therefore drove straight from Bolton direct to the pub. Everyone arrived there, all with a fair amount of apprehension. This not improved by the news that Jordan Pickford and Donny van de Beek were both missing with illness.

Still, we were certain the team news wouldn’t affect the atmosphere. Ordinarily, we all pile into one car, usually Gaz’s, but with so many arriving at different times and different locations, we had four separate drivers so didn’t stay in the pub too long and were in the stadium in good time. The atmosphere was rocking. The crowd were doing their part from the get-go. Could Everton do similar?

The players certainly began on the front foot and had a strong first 10 minutes, Ben Godfrey heading straight at Martin Dὐbravka, the closest we came during this period. Newcastle United, at a very early stage of the game, were taking up as much time as possible with their throw-ins. Once they settled into the game however this soon accelerated. They had us on the back foot for a period of time afterwards and, once they got behind us on our left, you worried they were going to score but fortunately we scrambled the ball clear.

We wrestled our way back into the game with good old fashioned hard work. The thud which echoed around Goodison Park when Anthony Gordon won a 50/50 ball against Ryan Fraser epitomised that. Regardless, Ste and I spent most of the break lamenting a lack of quality all over the park, for both teams. We were worried that, if Newcastle United suddenly upped their game somewhat, as Wolves did on Sunday, that we could be in trouble very quickly.

Everton didn’t begin the second half particularly well, but the crowd kept going. A very bizarre 10 minutes or so occurred when Everton had cleared a ball and a few fellas sat next to me started pointing and shouting “what’s he doing there?”.

I looked back to our penalty box and didn’t at first notice the protestor who had tied himself around his neck to the goal post. All the players were looking at each other wondering what to do. It felt more and more like a comedy sketch with how long it took to “free” the protestor.

Firstly it looked as though they felt they could do it with a penknife of a pair of scissors. And then the Police felt they could do it with some sort of device, before a fella arrived with perhaps the biggest set of bolt-cutters I’ve ever seen.

Between them all it took them an eternity to take it off, and when they finally did, the said protestor flopped to the floor to make it difficult to remove him, which was too much for one supporter who got onto the field to try and take matters into his own hands, though was thwarted. He didn’t leave quietly either. It was all very amusing. And then we were back to the action…

I can’t recall exactly at what point Everton managed to get on the front foot. I think we won a few tackles on the far left area of the field; the crowd picked up and Everton had a good go. Anthony hit a good effort from the edge of the penalty area which was well saved by Dὐbravka. And we had a few moments around the penalty area which didn’t quite drop for us.

And then Alan Saint-Maximin broke away. Allan did the right thing. 83 minutes on the clock, the game 0-0, take the man down and take the booking. It was exactly what you would expect any player to do. Except, and this will sound familiar, the VAR, Stuart Attwell, had other ideas, and deemed it necessary to ask Craig Pawson to go and check the monitor.

Now what he saw differently here, to what he saw on the pitch in real time I don’t know, but sure enough, he went back and changed his mind, changing Allan’s yellow card to a red one. The crowd were furious and made their feelings known. It was an awful decision.

As I write this I’m watching Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Leeds United and Joao Moutinho just lunged in knee-high on Stuart Dallas which got checked by theVAR but was deemed OK. I can’t fathom the inconsistency from one game to the next. Who can?

It was backs to the wall from here on in. The players fought like lions and had a determination not to concede. It got harder and harder and when 14 minutes of stoppage time appeared on the board you felt a goal would come for Newcastle United at some point. As these 14 minutes ticked by, you began to think “Well, a point isn’t much good but its better than nothing”.

And then. Well, wow. Seamus Coleman, who gave everything, made an excellent solid challenge on Alan Saint-Maximin, and fed Alex Iwobi. He took it past Dan Burn and played in Dominic Calvert-Lewin whose touch made getting a shot away difficult. Thankfully Dominic had other ideas and played a great backheel in to Alex, who had continued his run. He finished first time, and Goodison Park went completely berserk. It was incredible. Richarlison even ran all the way around the Park End to join in the celebrations. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so much joy at Goodison Park.

We still had work to do of course. Still five minutes to see out, which turned out to be even longer due to Anthony Gordon being down injured and then coming off with cramp… and then not coming off…and then coming off. It was all a bit bizarre and I felt at the time we’d live to regret it, but we saw it out.

An astonishing effort from Everton full of grit. And the scenes at the end of the game were incredible. You could have stayed there and sung and clapped all night. It was magical.

With a heck of a lot still to do in the league of course we can’t be getting carried away. But we can certainly head to Selhurst Park with a bit of that weight off our shoulders.

And just to mention recent decisions which are going against us. It’s been felt for a long, long time that we simply don’t get the decisions which the media favourites do. That’s been a given for ages, but what is going on at the moment? Every single game now we’re getting ridiculous decisions go against us, and nothing in our favour.

Not that it is doing us any good, but I like how Frank Lampard is standing up for us. It’s disappointing, though hardly surprising that Allan now has to serve a three match ban and will miss some crucial games.

“The FA are sending us down” said Gary when Allan’s yellow outrageously became a red. I’ve never been much of a conspiracy theorist with the decisions Everton do and don’t get compared with many of the others, but the way the last eight games have gone you really have to question what’s going on.

Bring on the siege mentality, Frank. If they’re all against us, screw the lot of them.

Player ratings:

Asmir Begovic: I can’t deny I was nervous when I heard he was playing. But good on Asmir. He made some very important saves and did a pretty good job with balls into the penalty area. He really stood up to the challenge. 8

Ben Godfrey: At least until Yerry Mina returns, I figure we might as well keep Ben at left-back in a settled back four for the time being. We’ve chopped and changed too much already as it is. Ben did well and gave everything. 7

Michael Keane: Michael was excellent. Can we all just accept with Michael that he isn’t perfect, will have some bad games, but always does his best and doesn’t hide? Applaud him when he does well, get behind him when he makes mistakes. He’ll bet better for it. 8

Mason Holgate: As with Michael Keane. 7

Seamus Coleman: Seamus had a brilliant game, full of commitment. He refused to throw in the towel and had as much of a say on the result as anyone. His tackle on Alan Saint-Maxim was excellent, as was his first half one on Ryan Fraser. Well done Seamus. 8

Demarai Gray: If I was rating him on his first half showing I’d be giving him a 4. However he did improve after the break. 6

Alex Iwobi: My man of the match. Yes, he scored the winner of course which probably tips him towards the man of the match award, but his work rate was phenomenal. He did a particularly good job of running the hard yards in injury time when, with 10 men, he had to put in a heck of a shift to help Seamus out with Saint-Maximin. I haven’t seen the stats but I’d be surprised if anyone on the pitch covered more ground than he. Outstanding, Alex, well done. 8

Allan: He had a very good game and should not have been sent off. The inconsistency and balance of favouritism with decisions towards certain teams has never been more apparent, and the withholding of the three-match ban will sting with me for a while yet. Simply unfair. 8

Abdoulaye Doucouré: He didn’t have a productive game with the ball. But as they say, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, and boy did Abdoulaye step up in the face of adversity. 6

Anthony Gordon: Once again, Anthony carried the fight to the opposition. It’s great to have a young Evertonian in the team. You can see how passionate he is. He was a pest throughout to Newcastle United, was feisty and made several good tackles. He got in their faces. He played ugly. It was what we needed. 7

Richarlison: He battled hard. He took a lot of kicks and gave plenty back. He was up for the fight. 7

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (for Demarai Gray): He got involved, bagged an assist and was a general nuisance in what turned out to be around 30 minutes on the pitch. He’ll make a big difference once he’s back playing regularly. 7

Andre Gomes (for Richarlison): He got involved, made some important clearances and managed to keep hold of the ball a little bit at times. A good introduction. I certainly feel that’s how he can be used best – coming off the bench with 20 minutes to go. He tends to get into the pace of the game pretty quickly that way. 7

Andros Townsend (for Anthony Gordon): Not on long enough to judge.

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Reader Comments (10)

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Martin Mason
1 Posted 19/03/2022 at 09:30:38
Surely nobody could criticise the effort and intensity that went into that goal? Not only from Iwobi but Gomes and that amazing tackle by Coleman. That was a breakaway goal for Newcastle until he broke it up and got it forward. A truly awful game but proud to be a Blue today.
Jerome Shields
2 Posted 19/03/2022 at 09:37:41
Had a look at the goal again. Rather than good play from Gomes he effectively gave the ball away, as he is prone to do, with a poor pass luckily at pace, which eventually Colman superbly recovery tackle directed to Iowbi. In another game, Gomes could have set up an opposition break away.
Si Pulford
3 Posted 19/03/2022 at 09:53:05
The decisions are mounting up. There is nothing we can do about it. It’s frustrating but at least we know now. With referees you could cling to human error. With VAR it’s more apparent what’s going on. It can’t be human error by ref compounded with human error from VAR. That level of incompetence doesn’t exist. There are favoured teams, that’s incredibly apparent. But there’s no longer a reasonable excuse. VAR has just increased the sense of injustice as it was meant to remove favouritism but actually lays it out for all to see.

I hate to moan but to hear that Gordon ‘initiated contact’ is exhausting. He did. No question. But that’s described as clever when Kane or Mane do it and the pen gets given. It wreaks.

James Lauwervine
4 Posted 19/03/2022 at 12:44:40
Great report Paul, wish I'd been there to go berserk at the goal with you all too. What a moment that was. I've watched it about 50 times online.
Nick White
5 Posted 19/03/2022 at 13:11:36
Great article Paul, thanks for sharing! I’d forgotten about the Gordon 50/50 with Fraser, it made a right din! Brilliant! Like James above, I’ve watched the goal over and over! 1 of the best nights I’ve had at Goodison in ages.
Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 19/03/2022 at 13:44:28
Good report Paul, and your high marks for some of our players, (all of which I agree with) in a game that was low on real quality, just highlights how much hard work is valued by the man on the terraces.

Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 19/03/2022 at 14:03:22
Si (3), I agree with every word, every dotted I and crossed t, something hookey is going on with these referees and their “ decisions’ both on the field and in the studio, as you say there is little we can do about it except play like we have thirteen opponents against us not eleven and fight that little bit harder.
Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 19/03/2022 at 17:31:05
I like that account Paul. I think you give an assessment of the actual football when most of us are rightfully crowing over the amazing performance of the crowd. A good honest assessment that tells me things are still not right. Still a lot of work to do, but a step in the right direction. It's only desire and sheer hard work, bayed on by a passionate crowd that will dig us out of this hole.

The officials are being discussed on multiple threads, so no need for me to comment on that here.

Lampard has to keep bitching. He is a darling of English football and these star struck officials will eventually bow and give us a decision.

It's not right, but until we get competent, impartial officials, it's how it is.

Shit, I went on about the officials.

Let's get to Wembley tomorrow boys.

Bernie Quinn
9 Posted 19/03/2022 at 17:31:56
Great article Paul - I was worried sick here in NZ before the game - and having a 'dicky' heart I was scared that it was going to pack up on me at the final whistle. Frank has shown he is a true Everton Manager - He is one of us!!!
Andy McNabb
10 Posted 20/03/2022 at 00:43:11
Great report, Paul. Apart from ‘Tunnel Access' on YouTube, this is the closest I get to being at the match.

Special mention for Begovic. Some vital stops – he has never let us down when called upon.

I also wonder if the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock ever gets built, will it be able to replicate such an atmosphere?

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