Everton United

Paul Traill 08/05/2022 25comments  |  Jump to last

What a weekend of football for Everton! Never in my many years of supporting Everton can I remember a weekend when all scores throughout the league have gone in Everton’s favour in every plausible way. With the way Saturday’s results went, you sensed Everton had an opportunity, and boy did they take it. What an effort. What a performance. What a day.

Gaz was due to pick me up at about 9am…and rocked up at about 8.20am. I wasn’t quite ready but wasn’t complaining and was out of the door by 8.30am and on the early road to Leicester. The journey was plain-sailing. Quiet road, good chat, and we parked up near the King Power stadium at around 11am.

It’s been about eight years since I last visited Leicester City and I can’t really recall a lot about pubs local to the stadium and what their policy is on accommodating away supporters. It mattered not as we pretty much crossed the road and right in front of us was a pub, The Counting House, with several Evertonians already mingling outside. We got a table inside, had some lunch and chewed the fat for a couple of hours. Over time the pub got pretty busy both inside and outside with the atmosphere bubbling away. Our fans were well up for this!

We made our way to the stadium pretty early and had a drink in the concourse. It was a little noisy, and got noisier and noisier as more and more Evertonians arrived, and when we went to our seats at about 2.45pm the atmosphere was really pumping.

The teams took to the field, and our fans got right behind the players and gave them a heroes welcome. Unchanged from the win against Chelsea, we attacked towards the opposite goal to where we were sat.

While we were ahead on six minutes, we could easily have been behind after two minutes when Patson Daka rounded Jordan Pickford but saw his goal-bound shot cleared just short of the goal line by Yerry Mina. Shortly after, Jordan Pickford made a good alert save also, though the offside flag had already gone up, I think against Kelechi Iheanacho.

It was time to have an attack of our own but nobody expected what would follow. Alex Iwobi did very well down the right flank and put the ball across to the edge of the penalty area where Vitalii Mykolenko had advanced. It was one of them balls where you had to have a crack, and our Ukrainian did. I even remember thinking as he shaped to shoot - well he’s not going to score, but you might as well have a crack. Blimey, nobody could have expected a finish like that. Our angle of it was perfect. It was beautifully placed and zipped into the corner. Everton ahead and it was that sort of celebration where you hugged everyone and anyone in sight. An incredible moment. Everton ahead. Everton fighting tough. Results going for Everton.

The joy was short-lived of course, as Everton did a bit of an Everton and contributed to their own downfall in gifting an equaliser to Leicester City. Mason Holgate did well to get a block-tackle in on Iheanacho, though this ultimately caused a bit of confusion between Yerry Mina and Seamus Coleman who collided in trying to clear the ball. This left Daka through on goal and he finished well past Jordan Pickford. It was very frustrating, all that good work undone by a poor mistake, doubly so when you remembered that Abdoulaye Doucoure had nearly scored at the other end just moments earlier.

And frustration merged into concern when play was stopped for Yerry Mina to leave the field injured. Michael Keane replaced, and did very well in his place.

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Indeed Michael was a little bit involved with our winning goal from a Demarai Gray corner kick as he attracted a lot of attention in the penalty area from Leicester City defenders. I’d actually thought he’d won the initial header but it turned out to be Richarlison. It was hard to see what exactly happened, and I haven’t seen it since, but the ball went in. The players wheeled away celebrating, and the fans went nuts…again. None of us knew who had scored the goal until it was listed on the big screen. I thought Richarlison had scored it but it turned out to be Mason Holgate. A couple of unlikely goalscoring heroes this afternoon. A lot had been made of Leicester City’s appalling record of conceding from set-pieces this season, so it was refreshing to see Everton take head and take advantage.

The following 10 minutes or so as we approached half time were the most amazing I have witnessed over the years watching Everton home and away. Several renditions of Spirit of the Blues were belted out by the away contingent in what was a very special atmosphere. We arrived at half time unscathed and in great spirits. Half way there, could we see it out?

Yes, of course we did, but boy did the lads have to work for it. They were willed on every step of the way by our passionate fans. The atmosphere was something else, I can’t emphasise it enough. Life could have been made a lot easier with better finishing and/or decision making, one particular moment when Anthony Gordon tried to pull the ball back for Richarlison when maybe he should have shot springs to mind. We got into plenty of good positions but couldn’t capitalise.

It was just as well we were determined, dogged and disciplined defensively, as just like the Chelsea game, we were not going to be denied. All defenders stood up and were counted, particularly Alex Iwobi who stuck to his task and showed exceptional poise on the ball also. Fabian Delph and Abdoulaye Doucoure combined well in midfield, and Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon both dug in and helped their full backs. Jonjoe Kenny also came off the bench for the stricken Vitalii Mykolenko, and also performed brilliantly and didn’t let anyone down.

But as with the Chelsea game again, special mention has to go to our outstanding goalkeeper, who is in the form of his life. He repelled Leicester City with a string of top drawer saves which more than helped preserve the precious points. The pick of the bunch, or at least certainly the most spectacular, was when he pounced to his left to tip Nampalys Mendy’s drive around the post at full stretch. It was a great effort from Mendy and an incredible save from Jordan.

He also then twice denied Ashley Barnes, once from close range, the other also a drive from distance, this a lot lower than Mendy’s, but Jordan got down very well to save. Ashley Barnes did come close again to levelling the scores in the latter stages of the game and this time he did beat Jordan, but also beat the far post with his header. Everton defended stoically and repelled all six of Leicester City’s corner kicks as pressure really cranked up. No mean feat given we scored from our solitary one.

It felt like Leicester City threw all they had at Everton, and were exasperated to see everything repelled. In the closing few minutes they lost their discipline entirely and picked up two stupid yellow cards and allowed Everton to run the clock down, much to the delight of our outstanding supporters.

Because we played our part too. How bullishly Evertonians have got behind our club in recent weeks has been exceptional. We have refused to go down with a whimper, and the backing the players got was the best I’ve ever witnessed from Evertonians. The scenes at full time were incredible. You never wanted it to end. You could see how much it meant to all the players and staff.

And if we can keep pushing forward and steer ourselves out of this mess, the future feels a lot brighter. We went probably as low as we can go this season under Rafael Benitez. Maybe it took that to make us realise how precious our club is to us. For the first time I can probably ever remember, all the supporters are united. We are all behind Frank Lampard and his team. We are all behind the players. We are all in this together.

Everton are united. Survive, and we could be on to something special.

Player ratings:

Jordan Pickford: I really wanted to give man of the match to Alex Iwobi, but when I think about it, Jordan was flawless, and I can’t justify giving it to anyone but he. He’s in the form of his life and has contributed towards us winning six vital points more so than anyone else in the team. Outstanding Jordan, well done. 10

Vitalii Mykolenko: What a brilliant goal he scored and nobody expected that. He also operated rigorously in defence and showed good use of the ball moving up the pitch. Let’s hope his injury is just cramp and he’s raring to go for Watford. 8

Mason Holgate: It’s great to see Mason chip in with a winning goal, and he also defended his box very well. 8

Yerry Mina: Well. He made one great goal-saving intervention, made a big mistake for Leicester City’s goal, and then limped off injured…hopefully its not a serious injury. 6

Seamus Coleman: While he was also at fault for Leicester City’s goal, his contribution throughout the game was very good and he lead the players well. 7

Alex Iwobi: Alex has been titled a lot of things during his Everton career, but I don’t recall “brave” being one of them. Brave he was though. There was one 50/50 ball he probably could have been gutsier with, but otherwise he put in an incredible shift at right wing back, stuck at his task well, and also used the ball very intelligently…including an assist. A fantastic shift from a player who has become an unlikely hero under Frank Lampard. 9

Fabian Delph: He was exceptional in the first half. In the second he tired a bit probably but got through the 90 minutes and helped contain the Foxes. 8

Abdoulaye Doucoure: Its great to get Abdoulaye back to his best.. His energy and work rate is currently a key cog in the team. 8

Demarai Gray: He was crafty on the ball and put in quite a shift before he was substituted. Nice to see him play a part in our winning goal also by putting a good corner kick into the box. 8

Anthony Gordon: A bit hit and miss, more miss than hit in and around the penalty area, but regardless he worked ever so hard, kept on going and made a good contribution to the win. 7

Richarlison: He gave everything as always, and made things difficult for Leicester City as the game rolled on. There was a funny moment after the game when a blue flair was thrown onto the pitch just next to him and was smoking away and he looked at it and laughed back at the crowd as if to say “I’m not touching that mate”. 8

Substitutes:

Michael Keane: Given he was thrown into the game unexpectedly, I thought he coped ever so well and marshalled our back line brilliantly. 8

Jonjoe Kenny: Jonjoe also excelled after coming into the game at left back in testing circumstances. He got involved straight away and performed admirably. 8

Salomon Rondon: He was good nuisance value, and certainly helped give Everton the opportunity to play the ball deep into the corner as we stretched the game out to get over the line. 6

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Reader Comments (25)

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Mike Gaynes
1 Posted 09/05/2022 at 06:35:02
Paul, and to you and the traveling Blues, a 20 out of 10. You and your 3500 singing partners have kept this club up. A historically magnificent performance by our fans.

When you watch the replay of the game tomorrow, you'll swap the ratings for Mina and Coleman -- the bungle was far more Seamus' fault than Yerry's. And Mina's injury apparently occurred on that play, so it's a moment the captain will cringe about for quite a while.

Jerome Shields
2 Posted 09/05/2022 at 07:25:28
As always Paul you give such a genuine reflection of being there and thank you for giving me a flavour of the wonderful Everton support first hand.
Paul Traill
3 Posted 09/05/2022 at 08:00:12
Mike #1. Yes I've seen it since and you're right, the goal was Coleman's error. Thankfully it didn't cost us on the day. Thanks for nice comments.
Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 09/05/2022 at 08:16:03
Really enjoyed that report Paul, and listening to my oldest son (who took Dave’s precious piece of coal😂) he also told me it’s the best away crowd he’s ever been amongst, so a very, very special day for everyone who was lucky enough to be there, and also much respect comrades🙏

“Maybe it took this to make us realize how precious our club is to us” - along with - “For the first time I can probably ever remember, all the supporters are United” are two fine sentences Paul, and both music to my ears!

Evertonians don’t unite very often, but when they do they create an incredible force, and I know this from memory because I’m old enough to remember the mid-eighties, when the despair turned to incredible joy, so quickly.

Nick Page
5 Posted 09/05/2022 at 08:20:36
Kudos to everyone who was there yesterday. Majestic scenes. Commentators were stunned.

Tony - 1985 vs QPR to win the league. Stood on my seat in top balcony with my old man (RIP) cos they opened the gates and the whole crowd was bellowing “Hand it over, hand it over, hand it over, Liverpool”. 4 sides of the ground united is song. Was unbelievable. Still brings a tear to my eye.

Everton aren't we.

Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 09/05/2022 at 08:32:49
Stop it Nick! Seriously everyone remembers Oxford away, but it was the replay at Goodison, when I first noticed how much the crowd was beginning to unite. It started snowing, but looking around the crowd, everyone was smiling like they were on an all-inclusive holiday in Cancun… But the next 18 months were much better than that!
Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 09/05/2022 at 08:41:20
Great read as always Paul. What a one to miss out on! I'll make up for it on Wednesday at Watford.

I already said on Michaels's thread that I think Coleman should have left that to Mina and dropped to cover the potential 2nd ball, but hey, we won.

I haven't seen any updates or reports on the severity, but he had to go off early then that doesn't bode well.

2 more wins and a few favourable results and we could be over the line.

Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 09/05/2022 at 08:47:32
Hand it over, Liverpool. You've just reminded me of Norwich away in 1987 now Nick in terms of memorable away trips!!

Gutted I couldn't be there yesterday. Big night Wednesday.

Steve Hogan
9 Posted 09/05/2022 at 08:49:30
Great report Paul, I watched the match on an American channel who decided to stay on air after the game and just focus on the Everton fans singing 'Spirit of the Blues' after the game.

The commentator couldn't quite believe it.
One serious note on an otherwise joyous day. This revival of fortune has been solely been galvanised by the fans over the last two weeks who decided to 'take matters into their own hands' with an incredible show of support before and after games.

The clubs hierarchy has remained stony silent.

People won't or shouldn't forget that.

Dale Rose
10 Posted 09/05/2022 at 09:10:34
Love these articles, can't get to games anymore they give a real flavour of the day.
Ian Hollingworth
11 Posted 09/05/2022 at 09:51:18
Celebrated late into the night singing spirit of the blues with windows wide open for the benefit of my RS neighbours but paying for it now with a thick head lol
UTFT
Dave Williams
12 Posted 09/05/2022 at 10:12:39
Great article Paul- captures it all really well and how proud to be a blue!
I feel sorry for Iwobi because he should be getting the plaudits today but is overshadowed quite rightly by Pickford performance ( again).
Whaton earth has Frank and his staff done to Alex, Delph and Mykolenko?
Stunning revivals in form!!
Sam Hoare
13 Posted 09/05/2022 at 10:32:15
Thanks Paul. Well done to you and everyone else who was there. What a bunch of supporters!

I think that 4 more points should hopefully suffice given the goal difference and Leeds' matches. If we could beat Watford on wednesday then I might start to sleep a bit sounder for the first time in months.

Derek Taylor
14 Posted 09/05/2022 at 13:48:47
Watched the game on a mate's dodgy gismo and would echo all your comments, Paul. I am old enough to have been around when we went down in '51. I can assure you that that Evertonians' reaction was little more than a feeling of disgust and there was certainly no sign of mass active support like we have seen recently.

To be fair, 'things was hard' in those early post war years and few working class folks had decent bikes let alone cars ! Fireworks were banned apart for a few mild 'catherine wheels' on the 5th of November and there was certainly no outpouring of emotion from the near 50,000 crowd when we lost our last home game against Villa. Failing to score in our last half dozen games, we went down on goal average on only 32points (2 points for a win ) from 42 games. COYB !

Simon Hermansen
15 Posted 09/05/2022 at 14:39:59
Thanks, Paul, a great read, although I think you'er still recovering from the day if you remember taking your seat at 2:45 pm and seeing Ashley Barnes playing for Leicester!
Jay Harris
16 Posted 09/05/2022 at 15:26:15
Great read Paul and great performance by you and all the fans at the game which has been resonating around US TV since. I think we will get some new "YAnks" supporters after the last couple of weeks.

I agree with Sam if we can just get 6 points at least from our next few games we should be confident of staying up.

It would be good to start at Watford if the players arent too tired.

Rob Hooton
17 Posted 09/05/2022 at 15:57:39
Great write up Paul, I imagine there are plenty of hoarse throats today!
The atmosphere looked brilliant and Everton sounded like the home team on my stream, fans were MOTM again for me with Jordan a close second.
John Raftery
18 Posted 09/05/2022 at 16:02:59
The result was great while the support was as brilliant as anything I have seen in over fifty three years of attending away games. Every minute of that second half felt like a minute in a dentist’s chair. We longed for a third goal to ease our nerves but the forwards lacked the composure to take advantage of several quick counterattacks. Thankfully the defence did a fine job defending their box and Pickford again performed superbly as a shot stopper.

Frank was the unification candidate for the job. He has certainly unified the fans and galvanised the players for a relegation battle. We still need a few more points but it is a considerable relief he has learned lessons from those early away defeats. The team is more compact with every player focused on getting behind the ball. Keeping that approach will be essential until such time we can add more quality to the squad.

Brent Stephens
19 Posted 09/05/2022 at 16:12:51
It's interesting the way Iwobi has vastly improved his game of late. And I wonder why. Some people respond to harsh, in-your-face criticism. Some have to be treated more with kid gloves. I wonder if Iwobi is sensitive to criticism, has been on the receiving end of tongue-lashings by previous managers, but is now being handled more sensitively, and responding appropriately?

I don't know. It's just a thought. But if this is the case, it speaks volumes for Lamapard as a (man) manager.

Dale Self
20 Posted 09/05/2022 at 17:06:35
Good stuff Paul. Away supporters are the absolutely the DNA of this club. Lampard deserves credit for finding a system, getting the players to buy in and finding some rotations that work when one goes down. This is enough to go forward and get him a couple of players he needs to install his preferred system and give it a go knowing we've got a small core of players who can get it done the old way. UTFT!!
Mike Gaynes
21 Posted 09/05/2022 at 17:07:12
Brent, I'd be willing to bet Frank simply handed him the keys to the #10 role and said, hey, Alex, here's where I want you, and here's how I used to do it. Just play. Have fun. Try everything.

And then he looked around to the other guys on the practice pitch and said, yo, guys, when you win the ball, pass it to this guy. He will be available.

I'm still buzzing about the defensive effort I saw from Alex. I think in the win over United, or maybe the first Leicester game, he pressured the ball all the way across the backline, left to right. The fullback finally got himself loose and made a 60-yard diagonal pass to the opposite wing. Hair flying in the wind, Iwobi raced all the way back and got back in front of the ball before the winger even had a chance to look up. He did almost the same thing yesterday, and this time got a foot in himself to break up a move.

Frank has made Alex better, and in turn he has made the team better.

Lee Courtliff
22 Posted 09/05/2022 at 17:09:46
Brent #19 They always said Anders Limpar was a player that you had to "love a little" to get the best out of him. Joe Royle certainly did that.

Good report, Paul, glad you enjoyed your day and wish I could have been there myself.

I did laugh when you referred to Leicester's Harvey Barnes as Burnley's Ashley Barnes, mainly because Harvey was actually born here in Burnley back in the '90s when his dad, Paul, played for the Clarets. Bit of trivia.

Jonathan Oppenheimer
23 Posted 09/05/2022 at 19:23:09
Finally got to watch the match late last night — had already seen the highlights but needed to experience the entire match as best I could — and my wife gets home at midnight and asks why I'm so giddy.

“You've gotta see this and listen to the fans. I've never seen anything like it,” I tell her.

“I'm glad it makes you so happy to be a part of this,” she tells me.

It's remarkable the feeling this level of support can generate as it reverberates across the world. Absolutely incredible.

Danny Broderick
24 Posted 10/05/2022 at 08:54:35
A great weekend to be an Evertonian!! We just need to make sure we finish the job now!!

Brent (19), I suspect you are right. He seems to have taken the pressure to create off Iwobi. He’s not playing him on the wing. He’s played him in hard running roles - basically as an advanced centre mid and as a wing back. We’re seeing the benefit of his athleticism now. He’s keeping things simple also. Long may it continue!

Charles Brewer
25 Posted 10/05/2022 at 10:48:52
It's very odd, but some players really seem to bloom with particular managers. DCL under Ancelotti was as good as anyone in England, an on-fire Harry Kane of the time included, but has gone back to "Championship at best" mediocrity this season.

Iwobi was shockingly bad under a succession of managers but has proved to be first class under Lampard. Delph is shaping up to a similar level after a similarly poor few seasons.

Pickford plays in the "lunatics only" position of goalkeeper but appears to have retained the maturity, confidence and outstanding competence he got after Ancelotti dropped him.

Mykolenko - unsurprisingly, given that he'd never played outside Ukraine before - took a few matches to fit in, but is starting to look like a very sound buy and a good replacement for Digne.

As the rest? Frank Lampard brings all the right qualities to get the crowd going - as he has done - has already got several players playing better than ever before for Everton, and I cannot but believe that the dressing room is a much better place than it was a few weeks ago.

Whatever is going on, it seems to be working for now.

On, just one point, I think Paul made up the whole report and wasn't there. He said "[Richarlison] laughed back at the crowd " - Nah! That can't be true!


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