Goodison Park. You just can’t beat it.

Paul Traill 02/05/2022 18comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 0 Chelsea

With Dan and particularly his son Alfie wanting to experience the planned players welcome on Goodison Road, we were on our way pretty early, Dan parking up at about 11:30 am.

We arrived up by the Holy Trinity statue a little after that and it was incredibly busy, lively and atmospheric even then. Smoke from blue flares filled the air as Evertonians sung for our team. And this was long before the first team coach was due to arrive. Goodness knows what the atmosphere was like later on. Gaz, Ste and I didn’t stick around to find out, but great work those that did, it really made a difference and gave the team a heck of a boost. Instead, we tried to go for a pint at The Spellow, which was not yet open, and so went to the Harlech Castle instead, which kept us refreshed for a couple of hours or so up until kick-off. Time was going slow.

The team news arrived. Yerry Mina replaced Michael Keane, and Fabian Delph returned in place of Allan. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies both made welcome returns to the substitutes bench. The atmosphere was electric from the start and right throughout the game. Gary had also stayed on Goodison Road to see the coach come in with the players and was able to back up what a special occasion we had missed. “I almost welled up” he said. “We’ve the best supporters in the world”.

At kick-off, Everton began right at full throttle and within the first 10 seconds or so had forced a well-positioned free-kick, which Anthony Gordon subsequently hit high into the Park End. Regardless, it was the start the supporters demanded, getting on the front foot and making life difficult for Chelsea.

Though played at a frenetic tempo, there wasn’t much more by way of opportunities in the first half. Anthony Gordon had wriggled into space and drove an effort wide of the post, though neither goalkeeper was seriously tested in the first half otherwise. There were a few instances where Chelsea threatened, but our defenders and midfield were resolute and workmanlike and repelled Chelsea’s attempts.

We grabbed a quick beer at the break and were back upstairs in time for the second half, which was just as well because, within a minute of the restart, Everton were ahead. Brilliant aggressive pressing from Richarlison forced the error from Cesar Azpilicueta. The ball fell to Demarai Gray who put it back first time into the path of Richarlison who took it early and buried past Edouard Mendy.

In my many years attending Goodison Park, few goals have been greeted with the roar that followed. It was an incredible moment and, amongst it all while celebrating, I somehow didn’t even notice Richarlison picking up the flare and launching it off the pitch and away from the crowd.

Chelsea were completely rattled at this point and were all at sea. Unfortunately Everton’s efforts to capitalise were not rewarded when Vitalii Mykolenko thrashed the wrong side of the post with a great opportunity. “That was the game” I, prematurely, said to Ste. As, yes a two-goal advantage would have been very welcome, Chelsea are too good a team to not retaliate.

Retaliate they soon did once they got their house in order again. Firstly, we got a bit of luck when Mason Mount hit a good effort at goal which was out of Jordan Pickford’s reach. Thankfully the ball came back off the inside of the post and squirmed across the goal line before hitting the other post and arriving invitingly for Cesar Azpilicueta, who looked for all the world that he was going to level the scores for Chelsea. The crowd drew collective breath as he fired it back at goal, but nobody could have expected Jordan Pickford to get up, get back, fling himself to his left behind the goal line and push the ball out. It was an incredible save, as good as it gets.

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And then from the resultant corner, with Everton switched off somewhat, Antonio Rudiger fired at goal from close range, but Jordan was across to save brilliantly again, this time with his face. It was a little bit reminiscent of Neville Southall, and I think I enjoyed that one more than the previous. He stayed down for some treatment for a minute or so before getting up as Everton had to deal with another corner kick which they were this time able to clear.

It was a ferocious battle in the second half and Everton scrapped for everything and got over the line. We could have breathed easier had Gray not have blazed over the crossbar late in the game though he was well pressured by Antonio Rudiger. At the other end, Jordan had to make two further saves, one from distance from Ruben Loftus-Cheek; the other much closer from substitute Mateo Kovacic. You felt that Jordan simply wasn’t to be denied in this one.

And nor were Everton. As Chelsea’s pressure grew, the time ticked by even slower and slower, and the 7 minutes of stoppage time were just unbearable. You couldn’t hear anything but whistles from the crowd, and eventually Kevin Friend obliged and joined in the whistles to end the game.

Savouring that win in the Gwladys Street was something else. The players lapped it up as we all sung and clapped and cheered, and then, just when you thought you’d missed him, Frank Lampard appeared shaking his fists shouting “Come on” towards us. It’s an amazing feeling and I don’t think you can ever get too old for it.

You just can’t beat Goodison Park when it's anything like that. We’re going to miss this special place.

Player ratings:

Jordan Pickford: My Man of the Match simply because goalkeeping performances don’t really get any better than that. Those key saves were simply sensational and we may not have won without them. 10

Vitalii Mykolenko: He’s a really good left-back, he just wasn’t yet ready to play when he first arrived, probably for a few reasons. Now that he has had a settled run in the team, he is really looking the part and not a lot gets past him. It's a shame he didn’t score that good opportunity but I guess you can’t have it all. 7

Mason Holgate: Had a very good and solid game at the back. Nice to see he and Michael Keane celebrating together at the end, especially given Michael had been dropped for this game. 7

Yerry Mina: He certainly makes an important difference to us defensively, and it will be an enormous help if he can remain fit for most of the rest of the season. 7

Seamus Coleman: Seamus was up for this and fought tooth-and-nail for the team. 7

Fabian Delph: Scrapped away in there and was a vital part of the midfield before he was substituted for the fresher and unbooked Allan on 71 minutes. 7

Abdoulaye Doucouré: It's great to see Abdoulaye back to his old self as he’s dipped in form over the last month or so. His performances in the last two games have been much more like it. Let’s hope he can keep this up. He was everywhere and never stopped running. 8

Anthony Gordon: Worked relentlessly as he always does and on another day might have got a goal or two. 7

Alex Iwobi: 100% effort from Alex, you can’t fault his work-rate currently. He’s really giving everything for the team, no matter which position he is asked to play. 7

Demarai Gray: Also gave everything and it was nice to see him rack up an assist for our goal. A great effort throughout. 7

Richarlison: He worked tirelessly throughout in what was a courageous effort. His work rate probably rubs off on the rest of the team too, and certainly helps get the supporters on side. He took his goal well and ran himself into the ground for the cause. Outstanding. 9

Allan (for Fabian Delph): He adapted into the game very well and did a good job. 7

Salomon Rondon (for Richarlison): Also got straight into the game and impressed in his 17 minutes. 7

Dele Alli (for Demarai Gray): Not on long but did okay in the short time he had. 6

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Reader Comments (18)

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John Raftery
1 Posted 02/05/2022 at 16:12:19
Thanks for the report Paul. I agree with all your player ratings. It was a great afternoon. Our home matches against what might be regarded the second tier teams this season, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs have yielded ten points. That’s probably a few more than we would have expected given our struggles against mid and lower table teams.

Keeping Mina fit for the remainder of the season will indeed be an enormous help. Achieving that almost certainly requires he should only start one game per week. More than that almost always leads to a muscle strain. Lampard has big decisions to make in terms of which games he should start. Does he select him for Leicester and rest him for Watford? Does he select him for Brentford and rest him for Palace?

Christopher Timmins
2 Posted 02/05/2022 at 16:36:12
John

If Mina can only play in two of the next 4 games then I would play him at the weekends as that gives him a week's rest before Arsenal.

Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 02/05/2022 at 16:56:37
Awesome report, Paul, and great ratings. I'd have given another point or two to Mina for his leadership -- he was constantly encouraging his mates and directing traffic, and the way he got inside the brains of Havertz and Mount was beautiful and really fired up his colleagues. I would contend that we have missed him more than any other lost player this season, and it's great to have him back.

In my view Holgate (for whom I rarely have a compliment) and Mykolenko are also due a special mention for their disciplined man-marking, particularly on Werner who was so smothered that he was subbed out before 70 minutes. Holgate's focus, so often a weakness, was absolutely impeccable yesterday.

Allen Rodgers
4 Posted 02/05/2022 at 16:58:46
Good write-up, Paul. In my many seasons of Evertonia I've never seen such fervour pre-match. Imagine the scenes when and if we ever lift a trophy!
Danny O’Neill
5 Posted 02/05/2022 at 17:26:12
Can't disagree with a lot of that Paul. What a day.

Pickford was the standout - he stopped it being 3 -1 to Chelsea. I was right in line from the Main Stand and still don't know how he kept them out. I honestly think I didn't breath for 10 minutes.

Mina marshalled the defence. We've missed him. Mykolenko is going to be a player that Evertonians will love. He's got a bite in him as well as a bit of fight.

Martin Mason
6 Posted 02/05/2022 at 18:17:17
We mustn't underestimate Coleman as player and skipper over the last few days. I'd have given him 8.5 because nobody can exceed Richarlison's contribution. £50 MM for him would be an insult, he is far better than that.
Jerome Shields
7 Posted 02/05/2022 at 18:44:13
The impact of Evertonian support at Goodison, both inside and outside, added 2 points to every player rating. Commentators after the game and since have contrasted the sometimes poor performances of players and the fact that they could not dare put in a performance with such support. It is now offically seriously considered a main reason why Everton's Premier League survival is possible.

Paul, your eloquent report gives us a clear insight into that impact.

David Currie
8 Posted 02/05/2022 at 19:17:33
John 1, We need Mina for both Leicester and Watford as we have to win both games. Mina is a key player for us and had he played in more games we would not be 18th. He has passion and is a leader, we badly need him to stay fit for these next 5 games.
Brian Wilkinson
9 Posted 02/05/2022 at 19:33:17
I know no one wants to talk about our ex Manager before Lampard, but what I will say is only once later on, did the crowd get behind the team when he was in charge.

That game was home to Arsenal, when protests against the board were organised, the fans stayed in their seats and instead roared the team on, we won the game 2-1.

Don't get me wrong, I am not defending our former manager, but at the same time I do wonder had the players got that same backing at home, would we have picked more points up, for me the players had the perfect excuse, to hide behind the Manager who was getting all the abuse.

We made the right choice bringing Frank in, for me the former Manager should have gone, after the Goodison Derby, but I do not put the whole blame down to him, early results showed we were capable, but when you then start losing key players all the way through out the season, it would have been tough for any Manager, then no backing from the crowd makes it even tougher.

What does show is when The old lady is up for it, we always seem to raise our game and pick points up.

Make no mistake, the fans got us this win, they got the players up for it, every player raised their game.

That’s why part of me thinks, what if we had got the fans up for the earlier games at Goodison, would our previous manager got the effort and results from the players, in hindsight we gave the away team a huge advantage, venting our frustration at the Manager instead of making Goodison rock.

Teams coming to Goodison with only half their ticket allocation taken, but still being out sung by is this a Library.

What we do know is that instead of groans, when a player makes a mistake and the crowd sing, it raises the players performance.

Everything yesterday was perfect, the crowd, the players, we pulled together.

We need this for our remaining two home games, even if we go a goal down, we have to rally the players and roar them on, I do not want to hear Palace fans singing is this a Library.

Jon Harding
10 Posted 02/05/2022 at 22:10:43
Smashing report, Paul. 10/10 for you too.
Kunal Desai
11 Posted 02/05/2022 at 22:59:16
This board and owner don't realise how lucky they are to have this fanbase support this great club.

Once the season is over there is the question of the fans patience and how thin it will wear.

Kevin Prytherch
12 Posted 02/05/2022 at 23:06:42
After tonight's result, the next match is Brentford vs Southampton. If there is a winner in that match then the loser has 2 difficult games to play. (Brentford have Leeds and us, Southampton have Liverpool and Leicester) It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Everton, Burnley and Leeds could all survive at either Brentford's or Southampton's expense.
Danny Broderick
13 Posted 03/05/2022 at 01:18:13
Slightly harsh on the defenders, Paul. I'd have given them all an 8 – it was no mean feat keeping a clean sheet against Chelsea. Pickford was largely responsible, but I also thought Mina and Coleman were superb.
Jay Harris
14 Posted 03/05/2022 at 02:14:15
Kevin,

I looked at that too and I can see Southampton not picking up another point but it's still a tall ask to expect us, Burnley and Leeds to all get 40 plus points – especially with Leeds's next 2 games.

I will be happy for us to get to 40 and hopefully safety.

Kieran Kinsella
15 Posted 03/05/2022 at 02:22:59
Jay & Kevin,

It's weird. Until a month ago, we were trending to where 30 points would be enough for safety. It would be pretty hilarious if Aston Villa or more specifically Stevie G got relegated on 40 points.

But I agree with you, Jay, I can't see Leeds getting many more points, and then there's Everton. After Leeds, Newcastle and Man Utd, I felt positive then we went away and capitulated. So, with two away games on the horizon, let's not get carried away.

It's a weird mix of teams down there. Obviously I support Everton but, if we weren't in the mix, I would be rooting for the underdogs Burnley and Brentford, as well as the big clubs with long suffering fans: Leeds and Villa. So I guess, if it was up to me, Southampton would be for the drop.

To be honest, I'd like the top flight to consist of Northern clubs, old clubs, and London clubs. All these half baked regional provincial teams like Norwich, Leicester and Southampton can do one!

John Raftery
16 Posted 03/05/2022 at 13:04:14
Brian (9) Good points. Looking back to the autumn and early winter more backing for the team might well have yielded more points. The same applied in some of the away games.

Chanting abuse at the manager gave home teams and fans encouragement while lowering the morale of our own players. If we suffer relegation it is fair to say the seeds of failure were sown in the autumn.

Michael Lynch
17 Posted 03/05/2022 at 14:12:30
I've got a cheeky little bet on Southampton going down - the odds were too good to resist.

Meanwhile, we're by no means out of the woods yet. The Leicester game will be... interesting.

I've always been keen to leave Goodison; much as I love the memories I've accumulated since my first visit in 1969, it's a bit of a shit hole. But I'm really starting to worry about it now. It's in our DNA. West Ham's move to the London Stadium has ripped the soul out of that club in my opinion, and I think we're reasonably similar fanbases in some ways.

Sure, I'm excited about Bramley Moore Dock, but how long will it take to become home, and how do we go about making that happen?

Tony Abrahams
18 Posted 06/05/2022 at 10:02:49
Agree Michael, there is definitely something about the mean streets of Walton. Just before the pandemic, I remember a sign on a house window by the spellow pub, and the message went something like this - WHOEVER’S DOG KEEPS SHITTING OUTSIDE THIS HOUSE, CAN YOU PICK THE FUCKING MESS UP PLEASE!

We do need to leave, but when it finally comes, to leaving Goodison Pk, it will be a lot harder than just moving house, for many of us, and I just hope and pray that our famous old stadium goes out with a fucking great bang🤞


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