Everton 0 - 2 Aston Villa

We were pretty buoyant for our second home game in a row, knowing that a win would elevate us a place at least. And despite our paucity of attack, with Aston Villa conceding 11 goals over their last three games, I fancied our chances of getting one at least in the onion bag. We certainly had the opportunities, though were undone by a lack of conversion… we all know where that fault ultimately lies, of course.

Dan did the driving this time, and it was good to have a few jars with the guys in the pub before the game. We were saying in the pub how refreshing it is to see our team unchanged for the right reasons, whereas under Frank Lampard you were scratching your head as to why he wouldn’t change the team, despite how bad it got.

This is in part due to availability, of course; this exemplified by Aston Villa’s ability to swap out Philippe Coutinho and Emi Buendia with Jacob Ramsey and Leon Bailey. Quality options we just don’t have.

It’s always nice to see a full away end at Goodison Park, and Aston Villa took their full complement, and were pretty noisy in the early stages of the game. They were spurred on by their team at this point, who made a positive start, at one point having us rather pinned back with several players unable to clear their lines effectively. In another moment, a ball over the top caught out Conor Coady way too easily, though thankfully Jordan Pickford was out quicksmart to thwart Ollie Watkins.

Once we became competitive in the game, we tilted the balance in our favour. We really had Aston Villa pushed back and created a number of positive opportunities, of which surely one should have been put away.

Dwight McNeil seeking out Neal Maupay who was free in the area really highlighted our issues. A top striker smacks that into the net first time with no hesitation. Neal, and it may be down to his eroded confidence, took a touch to set himself before striking weakly at goal. Emiliano Martinez easily saved.

The Argentina No 1 also thwarted us when Amadou Onana arrived into the penalty area and headed at goal. There were further opportunities too for Alex Iwobi and another Neal Maupay chance, though at the break, you had to be satisfied with our efforts, but the nagging doubt that not capitalising on our opportunities would come back to bite us remained.

In the second half, we kept up the tempo and couldn’t really have come much closer to scoring than when Neal Maupay bravely headed goalwards under pressure from the onrushing Martinez. Unfortunately, Tyrone Mings was on hand to clear off the goal-line. That was a real key moment in the game. If that goes in then, you’d say we probably would have had a good chance to take all 3 points. 

As it turned out, it wasn’t long at all until we were clearing off the goal line ourselves when Lucas Digne got beyond Alex Iwobi and put in a good ball for Ollie Watkins. His header was superbly kept out by Jordan Pickford who dived acrobatically and palmed the ball onto the post before James Tarkowski wellied it away.

Sadly, this was a pre-curser to what happened next. James Tarkowski mis-controlled under limited pressure and overhit the ball out for a throw-in, which allowed Aston Villa to make a couple of substitutions, one of which saw Emi Buendia enter the fray. Everton switched off sadly and were punished, Buendia flicking the ball inside for John McGinn who ran into the penalty area and was brought down by Idrissa Gueye.

Or so it seemed at least. The replays show Idrissa Gueye getting a tiny nick on the ball, though this wasn’t picked up by the VAR and the penalty, and subsequently the goal, stood. In pre-VAR days I’d be wondering why Idrissa is taking such a risk in the penalty area making a challenge like that. Though now we have the VAR, I’m as bemused as I ever am with it as to why this wasn’t given a proper look.

I watched Match of the Day earlier and saw Leandro Trossard’s excellent strike for Arsenal against Leicester City chalked off for an apparent foul by Ben White when Danny Ward flapped feebly at a ball in from a corner. I’ve seen the replay time and time again and still don’t know what the foul was.

In Idrissa Gueye’s instance, it looks to me like he gets a clear foot on the ball. With my blue-tinted specs, of course, I don’t know why this wasn’t looked at.

Which brings me on to the officiating because, let's face it, Everton had no answers after the penalty. Aston Villa doubled down, and we couldn’t break them down, ultimately losing 0-2 when substitute Buendia (yes – a quality player who could come on from the bench and make a telling difference) rounded Conor Coady, who was pedestrian at best, before finishing well to seal the game.

The referee irked throughout. He’s a referee I’ve generally thought was decent quality, but he really stunk the place out yesterday. The early yellow card for Amadou Onana was as ridiculous as it was harsh and only seemed to happen once he went over to check on Douglas Luiz. Obviously we’re not privy to how much of a knock Amadou is carrying, but this could have had a massively negative effect on the game.

Following this, the referee made several inconsistent decisions throughout, many of which were very late and irksome to the crowd. I try my best not to be critical of officials as I believe they have a tough job, but this was really poor from supposedly one of the best.

And as I’ve set off on a bit of a rant, is there a team in the league as cynical as Aston Villa? We saw it earlier in the season at Villa Park, but all the rolling around and feigning injury to try to disrupt momentum really took the piss, and the weak referee failed to control it.

It’s part of the modern game and they aren’t the only ones that do it, but that left me incredibly frustrated yesterday. “We weren’t complaining when it was Richarlison” Gary said in response to one of my many vocal gripes. Touché. I can’t disagree with that!

And just to complain a bit more, shamefully, that’s four defeats in a row to Aston Villa, and no wins in eight against them (six losses, two draws) since they returned to the Premier League. I doubt there’s a single other club who has been in the league throughout that time who has failed to beat them once.

That’s pitiful and says everything about how low we have sunk. I would say though that the last three of them have all followed a rather similar pattern of Everton missing good chances, and Aston Villa making the most of the few that come their way.

That, my friend, is what you call a bogey team.

Player ratings

Jordan Pickford: Made two very good saves at 0-0 to deny Ollie Watkins though could do little about the two goals. I remember saying to Ste just as Ollie Watkins took the penalty, that Jordan should stand up tall. Ollie’s stance before he ran up had all the hallmarks of a player who was going to ram it down the middle. It’s hard to fault Jordan though as he had so little else to do. 7

Vitalii Mykolenko: He did pretty well mostly and joined in the attacks well, nearly getting an assist for Amadou Onana’s first-half header. There was a moment in the second half when he tried to put a ball into the box but it hit Dwight McNeil and went out for a goal kick. As you can make up to five substitutions now, if we’re losing the game anyway, I can’t see why on earth we wouldn’t put Ruben Vinagre on to try and get a better quality of ball into the penalty area. Surely it's worth a go? 7

James Tarkowski: He did okay. 6

Conor Coady: Defended poorly for Aston Villa’s sealer and was caught out in the first half with a ball over the top. Not the happiest 30th birthday for Conor. 5

Seamus Coleman: Defensively he’s rolling back the years. A real class act. 6

Idrissa Gueye: Yes he’s culpable for the penalty but, as with against Leeds United, I thought he had a good game otherwise. 6

Amadou Onana: He had a generally poor game despite a few good moments. I wonder how much the early yellow card impacted on that? 5

Abdoulaye Doucouré: He goes from the sublime to the ridiculous in the blink of an eye. A very frustrating player though he’s proving to be valuable in the midfield under Sean Dyche. 6

Dwight McNeil: Our best player on the pitch by a country mile for me. Showed a lot of industry, fought hard, was a constant nuisance for Matty Cash and got several balls into the penalty area. On another day ,he’d have got an assist or two. Keep going, Dwight. My Man of the Match. 8

Alex Iwobi: He did akay, though he doesn’t seem to be enjoying it out on the right to me. Maybe instead of hooking him for Demarai Gray, it was a chance to substitute Amadou and bring Alex into a more central position. 6

Neal Maupay: He missed some good chances, there’s no disputing that. Though I like that he’s at least getting into positions to score goals. Keep getting in there and surely a few will go in as the effort is certainly there. 6

Demaria Gray (for Alex Iwobi): He tried to impact the game and get down the line a few times but to no success. 5

Ellis Simms (for Neal Maupay): A few of us wondered if this was a chance to get two strikers on, as I feel having a strike partner up there would bring more out of both players. As it was, and such was the way the game had turned, Ellis wasn’t able to contribute a lot. 5

Tom Davies (for Amadou Onana): I felt sorry for Tom having to come on just when we went 0-2 down and I felt he was given a bit of a raw deal being asked to play on the right. Still, he got involved and did his best ,to his credit, and one good bit of play when we finally disrupted Aston Villa’s endless succession of throw-ins resulted in Everton getting back on the attack. Few recognise this from Tom though; most would rather concentrate on groaning whenever he does something that isn’t perfect. I think it’s all quite sad for a local lad who always tries his best. 6

And one final thing…

I’m intrigued to see what line-up plays at the Emirates Stadium. With a mammoth game coming up on Sunday away at Nottingham Forrest, do we rotate and keep our best players fresh for that, or go hard in both games?

I’m not talking about an XI changes surrender á la Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup, but we could play at our very, very best, put a huge amount of energy resource into the game but still lose.

I’d say it’s a good opportunity to play Yerry Mina, perhaps give Amadou Onana a game if he’s struggling with a knock. Could we give Demarai Gray a chance? Could we learn a bit more about Ellis Simms? I think that three or four changes might not be a bad idea in a match where, let’s face it, anything we get is a bonus. 

Reader Comments (29)

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Stuart Prendergast
1 Posted 26/02/2023 at 12:08:37
Hi, I'm a Villa fan so I may have tinted glasses on as well! But I completely agree with you on the penalty decision. I watched it on VillaTV so nothing was mentioned but to my eyes he clearly got the ball.

Re: time-wasting, yep, we do it and I really don't like it. Martinez knows he can get a booking and then you actually can see him counting down in his head to make sure he doesn't get another one.

I don't know what the answer is to that, whatever rules are put in place the players will try to exact the minute detail to the letter of the law. I don't like it, but I'm not sure how you deal with it.

Everton were much the better team based on play and possession and, from my villain perspective, Sean Dyche was the right choice for a manager. I've always though that he should've been at Villa instead of Stevie G.

Gaute Lie
2 Posted 26/02/2023 at 14:10:26
Thank you for the report, Paul.

Did not see the match myself, lucky me...

Jim Wilson
3 Posted 26/02/2023 at 15:23:41
The referee affected the game massively in my opinion.

It should not be underestimated how each incorrect (and corrupt) decision, whether big or small affects the outcome of a game.

Something our asleep-at-the-wheel board needs to wake up to.

If these decisions had been against some of the top clubs, the outcry would be huge, from the manager during the game and after and beyond.

This corrupt referee should never be allowed to ref an Everton game ever again.

He and others need to be stopped. The whole situation is a disgrace and it is sickening!

Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 26/02/2023 at 15:45:32
Stuart (1),

I think you give a fair view of the game.

Regarding referees, they are a very poor lot with some very poor decisions on the field and in the studio but an awful lot of players run them very close with the way they dive and cheat, pretend to be injured, kicking the ball away like kids, arguing every decision by these refs.

Let's be honest, the refs are poor, incompetent or even bent but these players make a very hard job even worse for referees, not talking about yesterday's game but every game that is played, especially in the corrupt premier league where plenty of games are won miles away in the VAR studios, even a title or cup can be won there!!

James Hughes
5 Posted 26/02/2023 at 16:03:09
Dave A #4,

Well said, Sir. I would the referees have to give a post-match interview and explain decisions.

The reason the VAR works in rugby and cricket is because the officials are respected and the players 99.9% do not try to con them.

Couldn't get a link yesterday but just seen the Onana yellow on the official site and that beggars belief.

Peter Mills
6 Posted 26/02/2023 at 17:18:09
Dave #4, you are spot on about the behaviour of players, it's quite pathetic.

Apart from the match at Goodison, I've watched 4 kids' games this weekend, and seen little boys waving their arms at referees, backchatting, even rolling their hands to indicate one of their teammates needs to be substituted.

Fortunately it is only a minority of them who do it, and their parents skit them and tell them to get on with the game, but these children are obviously picking it up from their heroes.

Top marks to the manager last week who immediately subbed one of the lads for kicking the ball away after conceding a free kick.

Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 26/02/2023 at 17:49:32
Peter (6),

Yes, kids can pick up bad habits just as quick as good habits so well done, as you say, to the manager who hopefully proved a point to his young player. Cheating is horrible to watch no matter who does it and I despise it from Everton players just as much.

I think the modern way life is lived leaves a lot to be desired and it's great for me to see kids with manners and respect. Fortunately there are plenty of them about, you really can't fully blame the bad kids but you can certainly blame their parents.

Sorry for going on about it.

Jim Bennings
8 Posted 26/02/2023 at 18:43:31
Listen, the hard work was there, the endeavor was there, organization was there.

But the key component which is a striker/strikers/attacking midfielders that can score goals is the most important missing piece of all.

We can talk about the defence, the trio of Doucoure, Onana and Gana being solid ect ect but none of them are ever going to create or score.

Missing pieces such as James Rodriguez, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison etc.

We can't score goals, we are unlikely to see this team or any of the available option bar maybe Demarai Gray (but he seems out of favour) chip in with two or three goals between now and May.

Paul Traill
9 Posted 26/02/2023 at 19:24:35
Stuart #1,

Thank you for posting. It's always nice to get an opposing supporter viewpoint on here. Good shout on the gamesmanship, other then referees reading the room better and being more wise to it, it's hard to know what can be done.

Cheers and here's hoping Everton are still in the league next season so I can make another trip to Villa Park... Which will always be one of the best away grounds. 👍

Stuart Prendergast
10 Posted 26/02/2023 at 19:39:47
Re: Paul.

I very rarely comment on posts, but your write-up was great. Very fair and balanced, it's nice to see!

Yeah I hope Everton stay up, I like Dyche. It seems as though you're going through the same thing the Villa were going through about 5 years ago with complete mismanagement at a boardroom level. I may be completely wrong about that but it feels all rather familiar!

Paul Jones
11 Posted 26/02/2023 at 20:03:47
Thanks for your insights Paul. It's always good to hear from people with boots on the ground.

With regards to the penalty, I was watching a stream and it was clear to me that Gueye got a foot to the ball before he took out the player. I think that the VAR can only intercede when the ref misses a foul or offside but play continues to a natural conclusion (throw, corner, goal kick or goal). I might be completely wrong here. But I don't know how play would be reset if the ref's decision was overturned as in this case.

So if the VAR had interceded yesterday to overturn the penalty, the only way I could imagine restarting play would be through a properly contested drop ball in the area. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't recall such an outcome since the VAR was introduced.

Paul Traill
12 Posted 26/02/2023 at 21:45:13
Paul #11 - this actually happened last season when we played Tottenham at home. The referee gave a penalty for an alleged foul by Lloris on Richarlison but it got overturned by the VAR. When the challenge occurred Richarlison still had possession and was looking to shoot into more or less an empty goal. But on the restart Tottenham were bafflingly allowed to restart.

Anyway, point being it can be done because it happened about 15 months ago in front of the Gwladys Street.

Paul Traill
13 Posted 26/02/2023 at 21:48:39
Stuart #10 - thanks for your nice comments. Yes the parallels seem to be there with where we are to where Aston Villa were. Everything crossed we don't copycat too much of course and do the unthinkable and drop. See you next season! 👊
Andy Crooks
14 Posted 26/02/2023 at 21:54:47
Good stuff as usual, Paul.

Much appreciated.

Paul Elliot
15 Posted 26/02/2023 at 22:43:42
Paul #11

I thought the same as you that Gana got the ball 1st!! However from a different angle sadly for us he never. He slightly missed it and took his legs, the follow-through actually got the ball.

All-in-all, it was a good effort, but as so many mentioned nothing upfront!!

Bad day for the so-called Best Ref in the Premier League...

Danny O’Neill
16 Posted 27/02/2023 at 08:00:43
Stuart, agree with everyone else; thank you for your honesty and I always like hearing from opposition supporters.

Good report as always Paul and I tend to agree with all of your assessment on the player ratings.

At the time, I knew it was going to be a penalty. I haven't watched it back and don't want to now reading the comments. I''ll just get annoyed.

That referee. I just couldn't believe how one sided he seemed to be. And yes, Villa's players were very deceitful in their play acting.

Thanks again Stuart and good luck for the rest of the season.

Thanks again Paul.

Mark Murphy
17 Posted 27/02/2023 at 09:16:28
I knew that ref was going to be a pain from the moment he booked O’Nana in hindsight. Maybe that was VAR shut stirring but they never seem to give them to us. We may have been the better team but we could still be playing now (monday) and not scored. Doucoure (wtaf??) Gana and Onana need to start chipping in with goals at least until we get the striker situation sorted out. What the f@ck is the point of Maupay btw? On a positive note Dyche seems to get the best out of McNeil. And sadly, for the first time since he left, I wished we’d had Anthony Gordon to bring on there… UTFT
Michael Lynch
18 Posted 27/02/2023 at 09:32:03
I thought we were no better or worse than we were against Leeds, while Villa were only marginally better than our opposition last time out. It's a game we should have won, but we all know why we didn't and - let's be honest - it's not down to the ref, poor though he was.

We've only had one goal scored by a forward so far this year, and that was a Demarai Gray consolation penalty after Brighton had demolished us at home on January 3rd.

Dwight McNeil - as you say Paul, our best player by a mile - put in so many crosses, and some of them were pretty decent, but nothing came of any of them.

I think Dyche was a great appointment, and trust him to make the right decisions in extremely tough circumstances, but I wonder if he'll give SImms a bit more game time soon? Even in the limited amount of minutes he's had, he looks better than I expected and more dangerous than Maupay.

Arsenal will be damage limitation, but Forest is another must-win.

John Boswell
19 Posted 27/02/2023 at 09:35:53
Regarding time wasting I have posted on other threads, have 30 minutes each half and stop the clock when the ball is dead. The clock will restart when the ball is in play. FIFA is looking into this. A study of many first class football matches has revealed that the ball is in play for less than a total of 60 minutes, despite added time! COYB
James Marshall
20 Posted 27/02/2023 at 10:21:34

We could play all weekend and still not score enough goals to win football matches. Time wasting is the least of our worries. In fact less time is probably better for us poor bastards having to watch them!

John Raftery
21 Posted 27/02/2023 at 13:39:40
Thanks for the report Paul. I agree with your player ratings. It was a very frustrating afternoon witnessing a very poor refereeing performance, Villa’s gamesmanship and our inability to convert decent approach play into an end product.

Villa have established themselves as one of our many bogey teams. Just after Moshiri arrived we won 3-1 at Villa Park in March 2016. Villa were heading towards relegation. We had the prospect of breaking free of some of the financial restraints which had hampered our progress for many years. Some of our fans taunted their Villa counterparts with ‘We’re rich, you’re s#it’. I remember thinking at the time, I hope the jibes don’t come back to haunt us. As a wise elder once said ‘be careful upon whom you tread on the way up because you never know who you might meet on the way down’!

The team selection for the Arsenal game will be very interesting. I will be very surprised if Dyche doesn’t make a few changes. If Onana is nursing a knee problem it would make sense for him to sit this one out so he is ready for Sunday. Likewise keep Seamus fresh for the more important match at Forest. Coady is in such poor form it might be time to try one of the obvious alternatives, Mina or Keane. I would also expect Gray to start, hopefully in a central role where he can perhaps grab a goal.

My final thought is our players need to be encouraged to shoot on sight. Only then will we get the benefit of a lucky deflection or a goalkeeping error.

John Boswell
22 Posted 27/02/2023 at 14:37:36
James@20, excellent observation :) I believe that our manager is looking to get DCL fit to finish the season by taking his time with the young man. We have a couple of attacking midfield players to come back, I just hope that they get fit in time. COYB
Derek Knox
23 Posted 27/02/2023 at 17:26:50
On a more sombre note, a regular poster on here had 3 Villa Fan mates visiting for the day. I was supposed to meet them after the game, and head down to Bramley Moore Dock for a Stadium Progress Inspection and a drink in the Bramley Moore Pub. I thought it strange when they never turned up, but put it down to possibly going somewhere else as it is not the easiest place to get to at present.

I only found out yesterday the reason, while he was waiting for his friends by the Park End (Dixie Dean Statue) he got a phone call that they had been attacked by Stanley Park. One seriously, requiring stitches to a head wound, and being kept in the Royal overnight, sustained after being hit with a log, or a piece of wood. More alarmingly people just walked on by without rendering any assistance.

I said I would be very surprised if it was anyone connected with Everton, but another mate who lives close by, reckons it is a regular meeting spot for young ' knobheads ' smoking wacky and more. It doesn't reflect well on the City or Everton for that matter. This was exacerbated by Merseyside Police not even getting involved when they had it reported to them, at the time and also via the Triage team at the Hospital.

Sorry to be the bearer of these tidings, but wasn't sure where to put it. I also think fans should be made aware of these sort of incidents both for their own safety and in the hope that something may be done about unwanted, but similar incidents in the future.

Tony Abrahams
24 Posted 27/02/2023 at 17:37:19
Scary memory that John@21. I remember Villa fans taunting Newcastle with something similar, when the maggots got relegated, and then it wasn’t much long later that something similar happened to the Villa.

It looks like the hooligan days are gradually returning Derek, possibly not helped by the circle of life, which is now seeing a lot of people struggling that little bit more financially.

Danny O’Neill
25 Posted 27/02/2023 at 18:58:03
Sad to hear that Derek. As you and others know, I travel and befriend supporters of other clubs from all over the country most weeks.

It should never come to that. I've had to defuse a few situations myself but then ended up in a taxi with the same people and ended up swapping mobile phone numbers!

We don't want to go back to those days.

Alan McGuffog
26 Posted 27/02/2023 at 19:36:12
Have a look at comments on BBC page. And a look at some of the Barcodes pages. We aren't that popular a bunch.
Danny O’Neill
27 Posted 27/02/2023 at 19:51:51
Alan, forget what is written by keyboard warriors or the actions of a few idiots.

I live amongst opposition supporters and I find most are intrigued and interested in Everton.

They are generally more inclined to be more hostile towards our cousins.

Generally, we are respected as the song goes.

Paul Traill
28 Posted 27/02/2023 at 21:57:25
Derek #23 - that's dreadful. Sorry to hear that mate.
Neil Copeland
29 Posted 27/02/2023 at 22:04:52
Danny, I would agree and find most are normally ok with blues.

Are you going on Wed to Arsenal?

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