Back on 21st January (I checked back on WhatsApp) I messaged a Dutch Evertonian friend of mine, Steven, on how he was getting on? I was aware at the time that his wife and he were expecting a baby any day at that time.

The thing with Steven, is he’s woeful at getting back to you, though will then message you back completely out of the blue. As was the case in this instance.

“Hi Paul. Baby is good, born 7 weeks ago. We are in Liverpool now.”

That was his way of telling me he was over in Liverpool for the evening match versus Tottenham Hotspur. Nice of him to give me a bit of notice as ever.

Nevertheless, we arranged to meet Steven in The Winslow and it was nice to see, he, his brother Leonard and his Dad for a few drinks ahead of the match. They headed into Goodison Park a little early so we hung around for another pint outside The Winslow as we were meeting another couple of fellas to pass some tickets on to them. Though when they arrived they thought they were getting three tickets, when they only had two. Quite the dilemma.

And so whilst one of the fellas was inside The Winslow desperately asking anybody if they had a spare, a bloke went past outside asking if anybody needed a ticket. I told one of the fellas and he said “who, where is he?” By which point the bloke was a bit down Goodison Road but I could still see him. As kick off neared I pointed down the sea of people walking down along Goodison Road and said “the bald guy with the hood”, which didn’t exactly narrow it down. By miracle, the bloke made his way back and I was able to spot him, and we were able to get the lad a ticket.

With that being enough drama already for one evening, we headed into the Gwladys Street, running into Gary on the way. As soon as you got inside you felt it was going to be one of them Goodison Park evenings. The crowd up for it, everyone anticipating the big game…

The majority of which, it felt to me that both teams largely cancelled each other out. That’s not a slight on Everton’s efforts. The lads tried phenomenally hard throughout, though were up against superior quality and in the main, a well drilled outfit in Tottenham Hotspur. Chances were few, though I felt we were lucky not to go behind when Harry Kane headed wide with a free header – he seldom misses them. He’d come close to scoring earlier but credit to Michael Keane who got back onto the line to clear what would have been a certain goal.

At the other end, Abdoulaye Doucoure also missed with a good headed opportunity. In Abdoulaye, Harry and Michael, that’s three players who all ended the game as big talking points, for varying reasons.

Though even and tight, the game was enthralling as it was non-stop. Everton put a huge shift in. They are certainly pressing well under Sean. Though another thing I notice is there is less of an emphasis on passing accuracy than under Frank Lampard. Sean has them very well drilled on getting into areas to pick up second balls, i.e. if Jordan Pickford puts a ball over to the right wing and the defender beats Alex Iwobi to it for example, often Amadou Onana will be in the right place to pick up the ball. It won’t always work, but playing the averages, its an effective way to get up the pitch quicker…and attack. I like it.

I didn’t like what happened in the 58th minute however, when Abdoulaye’s actions gave the referee no alternative but to send him on the extremely short walk down the tunnel. Harry Kane antagonised Abdoulaye and he should have known better. I hate all the gamesmanship which comes with football now. It makes a mockery of what I grew up to love, but push Harry Kane in the face like that and he’s going to dramatically hit the deck. Few players wouldn’t.

But once Abdoulaye was sent off, did Harry Kane REALLY need to stay on the floor holding his face for so long? I mean, what did it achieve? He’d gotten what he wanted already. In a roundabout sort of way, I wonder if this riled the crowd that much it helped suck in the late equalizer.

I was made up for Michael Keane after that thunderbolt, especially after he gave away the penalty earlier, and let’s be fair, despite the protestations, it was a foul. We’d had some opportunities before Lucas Moura was jettisoned but had been unable to find the net. And then, out of nothing, up stepped Michael who carried it forward, looked up and smashed it into the top corner. Hugo Lloris could only watch stunned. Goodison Park went wild, as did the fellas around us. I was amazed and could only stand there with my hand over my mouth, I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen.

“Let’s win it” yelled Ste. “Steady on” I thought, lets not leave ourselves wide open and lose now that we’ve pulled it back. For some reason Everton 2-3 Aston Villa in December 2008 flashed into my mind, as almost immediately Tottenham Hotspur attacked down the other end. Both teams were going for it at this point, and either might have snatched it in truth. I could barely watch when Tottenham Hotspur were awarded a corner kick deep, deep into stoppage time, though with huge relief, David Coote blew for full time. What an incredible last half hour.

I’d probably have taken the point before the game…and certainly would have done on 89 minutes. We’re drawing a lot of games lately and we’ll need more than that to survive, though you take them against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. You’d take it at Old Trafford too, but so long as we win the more favourable ones.

But as Sean Dyche keeps saying – we’re building that mentality. Keep doing what we’re doing and you have to expect that we’ll be fine.

Player ratings:

Jordan Pickford: Not a huge amount to do. Distribution wasn’t up to scratch but he did OK. 6

Ben Godfrey: Not bad, not great either. 6

James Tarkowski: Did very well. I liked the one he left on Harry Kane in the first half. 8

Michael Keane: The mistake for the penalty aside he had a very good game, and then stole the headlines with his incredible long range effort. Well done Michael. 8

Seamus Coleman: Seamus did OK, though was given a tough first half at least by the lively Ivan Perisic. He couldn’t affect the game as well as he’d have liked in an attacking sense. And so given Nathan Patterson has just featured twice for Scotland over the last week, I was surprised he wasn’t on the substitutes bench, as it could have been a useful substitution to give Tottenham Hotspur something else to think about. 6

Idrissa Gueye: He did well defensively, though unfortunately showed his lack of composure in front of goal early in the second half when he blazed over when he had a few good passing opportunities on. 7

Amadou Onana: A bit hit and miss but the energy was there. 6

Abdoulaye Doucoure: He’d had a pretty good game until his moment of madness. He’ll have to learn the hard way by sitting out the next three games. 6

Alex Iwobi: An incredible effort from Alex, he worked incredibly hard and kept on bringing us forward. My man of the match. 8

Dwight McNeil: Likewise with Dwight. An incredible effort and a lot of ground covered. 8

Demaria Gray: Not great for most of the game but had some moments, thought the effort was certainly there. 6


Vitalii Mykolenko (for Seamus Coleman): He slipped over twice very early though finally got himself together and into the game. 6

Ellis Simms (for Demarai Gray): Got involved and put himself about. 6

Tom Davies (for Amadou Onana): He did well and got forward and helped press us on. 6

James Garner (for Idrissa Gueye): I hope that the suspension to Abdoulaye Doucoure opens the door to opportunities for James. He looks a very good player. Dare I say even a touch of Mikel Arteta about him. He’s smart on the ball, has intelligence and shows grit. I’d like to see more of him. 7

Reader Comments (8)

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Danny O’Neill
1 Posted 05/04/2023 at 17:13:41
Fair assessment that, Paul, and the player ratings.

I just about went for Keane over Iwobi but they both had a good innings.

You pick on a very pertinent point. Mentality. There is a totally different mentality to the group of players.

Let's take it to Old Trafford.

Very good and accurate write-up as always.

Geoffrey Caveney
2 Posted 06/04/2023 at 15:05:59
I'm a Blue from New York City and Monday night was my first chance to watch a match in person at Goodison. I also met up with local mates I know from the New York pub (The Turnmill) at the Winslow before and after the match. Everton USA had a big group (73!) over for the match. I was with the group in Main Stand 1, JJ 19, and by luck that was a great view of Keane's beautiful strike. What an incredible unforgettable moment for my first match at Goodison.
Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 06/04/2023 at 15:27:24
Glad you enjoyed the experience Geoffrey.

It was good to see the US supporters on the Tunnel Access video with Onana and then Sean Dyche coming out to meet you.

Nice touch. And great dedication from yourself and the others. I think I have it rough getting a train from London!


Will Mabon
4 Posted 06/04/2023 at 15:28:39
Geoffrey, nice.

I often wonder how things differed from expectation when people made such trips (or pilgrimage in this case).

What was good, bad, better or worse, unexpected from how imagined and so on. We've all experienced that.

Tell us more...

Geoffrey Caveney
5 Posted 06/04/2023 at 21:49:13
I will share here my Facebook post summarizing my experience of the weekend on Merseyside:

What an amazing weekend in Liverpool:
* My first Everton match at Goodison Park
* Incredible Michael Keane 90th minute screamer to equalize and salvage a point vs Spurs that we desperately needed
* Even had a great view of Keane’s goal from the Main Stand
* Having pints with mates from New York and Merseyside at the Winslow pub before and after the match
* Local Blues I had never met before greeting me at the Winslow cos they saw me dancing to “Spirit of the Blues” in a video after the Everton exhibition match in Baltimore last summer and recognized me 🤣💙
* Meeting Tony, Fran, and Simon and all gathering at the Denbigh Castle pub for pints and talking Everton past and present
* Meeting lots of Everton USA friends old and new all weekend. I hope to get to a New Jersey Toffees meetup soon, and see our New Haven Blues at The Turnmill! I can’t wait to see Dave, Michael, Rob, and all the other Turnmill regulars back in the pub soon. Great to meet Chuck who has been an American Evertonian since Alan Ball played, and his 25 year old son named Everton 💙 Great turnout from Atlanta and San Francisco Blues too. (Sorry I told you all the Jimmy Caveney and Joe DiMaggio San Francisco Seals story so many times lol, Marshall and Brendon)
* Official tour of Goodison Park with the Everton USA and North American Toffees group
* Visiting Mathew Street, the Cavern Club, and all The Beatles landmarks there
* Going on the amazing Liverpool Music Icons tour guided by Keith Mullin of the Liverpool band The Farm (“All Together Now”) and David Fehily who worked on the Everton Howard’s Way film and is a walking encyclopedia of Liverpool history and culture
* Going on a Liverpool pub crawl every evening and somehow always ending up at The Grapes on Mathew Street 🤣 No bar fights, although I came close once lol
* After The Grapes, grabbing a late night kebab at Botan (thank you Kourosh!) and talking about the Toffees with local Blues I met waiting in line
* So much more, with apologies to all the amazing memories and people I must have left out of this post

Paul Traill
6 Posted 07/04/2023 at 11:27:15
Sounds like you had a great trip Geoffrey, glad you enjoyed it.
Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 07/04/2023 at 11:51:20
That sounds more eventful that one of my adventures Geoffrey.

Next time you're over, be that at Goodison or Bramley Moore, be sure to give me a shout.

Geoffrey Caveney
8 Posted 07/04/2023 at 14:23:45
Thank you Paul and Danny. Will do!

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