I was on the train to London for a little visit on Thursday when I got a message from a friend offering me some corporate tickets in the Dixie Dean lounge for Saturday’s game. This meant a little bit of rearranging as my train back to Liverpool on the Saturday was due to arrive at around 1pm.

I didn’t realise when booking the train, but the return journey was taking me via Chester at around midday, which actually really helped. This meant I could then meet Katja at Chester station who could pack my suit and then give me a lift to Goodison Park. I got changed in the car somehow and met Ste near the Park End at around 1pm before heading into the lounge.

Great company awaited us and we had a good laugh as we tucked into our food and drink. We were asked to head up to our seats a few minutes early to ensure we were present in time for a minute’s silence in memory of the Hillsborough victims – of which was, needless to say, impeccably observed. Marco Silva trotted down the steps and took his seat just a few rows ahead of us.

We’d received the team sheets and it was fair to say we were all a bit disappointed to see Dominic Calvert-Lewin not in the squad. Likewise Amadou Onana, both of whom were sat not too far away to my right in the first half.

We got underway and I thought we began OK, but as too did Fulham. I forget who it was but somebody missed a handy chance for the visitors, Demarai Gray tested Bernd Leno at his near post though it was easily saved.

And then Fulham began to exert themselves and began knocking at the door, and Everton opened it when Harry Wilson struck an excellent effort against the goal post. James Garner couldn’t quite get to the rebound and the ball eventually ended up with Harrison Reid who finished well to give Fulham the advantage. Good from Fulham, poor from Everton.

Credit to Everton however who battled back at haste and it didn’t take long before we were level when Dwight McNeil turned and charged at Fulham’s defence and drove nicely into the corner. It was deserved. Neal Maupay had already missed a great chance when he headed straight at Bernd Leno from six yards out after a nice ball in from James Garner. James Tarkowski also should have scored in the same opportunity but skied his half-volley well over the crossbar.

The chances didn’t stop there. Neal Maupay was again thwarted by Bernd Leno though I’d praise the keeper rather than criticise Neal in that instance as he was out quickly to smother. His first touch may have been better perhaps. And then another opportunity from Demarai Gray squirmed wide of the far post…perhaps had Neal have gambled he might have been in business there. Nevertheless, we’d recovered well in the game and we were all quite buoyant at the break as we sunk our half time pint.

Into the second half and I thought we were doing OK. Bernd Leno succeeded where Illan Meslier failed a few months back when Seamus Coleman scored from a tight angle. Bernd was better positioned and repelled it. We were having a bit of a go but then bang, out of nothing, a bit of a loose ball in was defended poorly by Ben Godfrey who got under the ball. It was headed back and Harry Wilson was there in the penalty area to finish well past Jordan Pickford. Good from Fulham, poor from Everton.

It was disappointing but at that point you felt there were more goals in the game as it felt very open. Unfortunately Everton just couldn’t get their act together and Fulham turned the screw and played on their terms and managed the game perfectly from there on in. Marco Silva made a very good tactical switch. In the first half James Garner was getting on the ball a lot and dictating things. Though after the break it seemed that Harrison Reid was tasked with picking him up and not allowing him time on the ball. This really effected the game and Fulham bossed it from there really.

James Tarkowski was lucky to escape a caution when he fouled Harry Wilson unnecessarily on the half way line. Though the goal we conceded from the subsequent free kick was so poor. Dreadful pedestrian defending and communication from James Tarkowski and Michael Keane provided Dan James with the relatively simply opportunity to slot into the goal tom make it 1-3. I felt for Ian Woan, Steve Stone and particularly Sean Dyche as they threw their arms up in anguish once that goal went in. Sean had been bellowing instructions to his players for some time by that point but to no avail. Good from Fulham, poor from Everton.

A growing anger was developing around Goodison Park and as Idrissa Gueye was swapped out for Tom Davies following the goal, you felt the game was up.

We briefly rallied, Alex Iwobi central to most things in terms of effort if nothing else, but it felt Fulham were in charge and in truth could have made the scoreline worse for us.

We watched the players trudge off at full time, while the Fulham fans hilariously taunted us with “You’re going down with the Chelsea”. I haven’t had that feeling of numbness after a game for some time with the threat of relegation feeling so real…made more apparent by Bournemouth scoring a late, late winner away at Tottenham Hotspur.

Mark Pembridge was the guest speaker, and he spoke very glowingly about Everton. Despite also spending a perhaps more productive spell of his career at Craven Cottage, he was referring to Everton as “we”, which was nice to hear, and also that his son supports Everton from his time here. We had a good laugh with the rest of the folks on the table as we made the best of things, and all watched the Grand National before finishing up and departing into the night.

And just a funny story to finish on. I was on the way down the stairs and saw a mate of mine, who’d also been in a separate hospitality suite walking down the stairs ahead of me. “James” I called though he carried on walking, not batting an eyelid. “Eh. JAMES” I called louder but still nothing. “JAMES”. Eventually he turned around and we had a little chat as we made our way outside. “Just to say by the way, Paul” he said. “My name isn’t James you know. It’s Michael.” Since I got to know him about 18 months ago I’ve been convinced his name is James. I can’t believe he’s been politely going along with it all this time.

On to Selhurst Park then. Come on, you Blues. Just do it.

Player ratings:

Jordan Pickford: I’m not sure what he could have done about the goals and he did alright otherwise. 6

Vitalii Mykolenko: He had a bit of a struggle throughout. Quite sad to see Antonee Robinson performing so well at left back for Fulham given we let him go. Even sadder to think we’ve sold Lucas Digne and replaced him with Vitalii. I’ve nothing against him personally of course, though the reduction in quality is apparent for all to see. 4

James Tarkowski: He had a really poor game. Hopefully he gets that out of his system in time for the trip to Selhurst Park. 4

Michael Keane: Better than James Tarkowski but still not great and also culpable for Fulham’s third goal. 5

Ben Godfrey: Also poor. I don’t know how much the concussion injury had to do with Fulham’s second goal, but that was mighty poor defending. Other than an inside centre back in a three man defence, I’m not so sure what his best position is, but it certainly isn’t right full back. 4

Idrissa Gueye: I thought he did quite well mostly. He got about the pitch for as much as he could before he had to come off. With Eid symbolising the end of Ramadan this coming Friday, hopefully we can begin to see more from Idrissa, Amadou, and when he’s back from suspension, Abdoulaye, as fasting while playing in the Premier League must be incredibly draining. We’ll need the three of them at their best if we’re going to get out of this mess. 6

James Garner: In the first half I thought James was very good. He got on the ball well and dictated play. Though I was a bit concerned by how easily he was the contained by Harrison Reid in the second half. Maybe with more midfield support around him we can get more from James, as that two man midfield didn’t really work. I look forward to seeing more of James. A good player who could make a difference for us in this final stretch. 6

Dwight McNeil: Took his goal well, used the ball intelligently and ran himself into the ground. A good shift from Dwight, one of the few. My man of the match. 7

Alex Iwobi: Also worked very hard and did quite well in flashes. 6

Demarai Gray: Not one of his better afternoons unfortunately. 5

Neal Maupay: I never like to load in on a player when everyone else does, though its difficult not to admit that this was a poor performance. He’s not really in the game a lot Neal, which is fine in a way so long as you’re clinical when your chances come. And that he is not. Two good chances came his way, one a sitter really and he couldn’t put them away. He is at least getting into the positions to score I guess, and if one goes in a few more might, but we really don’t have the luxury to wait on goals. Time is ticking by. We need Dominic back fit and playing desperately. 4


Nathan Patterson (for Ben Godfrey): He also couldn’t get going in the game. Regardless, if Seamus remains injured, I’d like to see Nathan get more games. 4

Tom Davies (for Idrissa Gueye): I feel he’s done pretty well in his game time under Sean Dyche but that wasn’t the case on this occasion. He made a few mistakes and was pick-pocketed quite easily a few times. He had a face of thunder as he trudged off at the end. 4

Ellis Simms (for Neal Maupay): Also never really got going. 5

Reader Comments (17)

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Danny O’Neill
1 Posted 17/04/2023 at 05:43:57
Not a lot else to say that I haven't already said Paul.

No dig at Tom Davies here, but it speaks volumes that we don't have options from the bench to impact or change the game.

Respect to the supporters for the silence in memory of the 97. That shower can call us what they want, but we have stood by them more than any other club.

I too had a train ticket that was directing me through Chester. At Euston, I chanced it and got on a direct one to Lime Street. They may have been trying to control Grand National traffic, but it wasn't really being policed.

Dave Williams
2 Posted 17/04/2023 at 10:11:27
Very much how I saw it Paul and Dwight head and shoulders above the rest. Whoever sanctioned the sale of Robinson should never work in football again. He looks a very good player and naturally athletic too. Mike Gaynes was banging on about how good he was for a long time- why can’t so called professional people see these things, like how we can’t survive playing only two in centre midfield?
Good report!!
Mark Murphy
3 Posted 17/04/2023 at 12:02:25
It’s like Dejavu all over again!
I remember trudging home in the seventies in my early years as a blue vowing “never again” after a dour and disappointing result (although in my head it’s always a 0-0 against Coventry or West Ham eg, not a thumping). Then by Monday I’m champing at the bit to get to Saturday and the next glorious win! I don’t know what I did in a previous life to upset Him but Gods taking the piss now!
Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 17/04/2023 at 12:19:20
Good report Paul and you picked out the players who had a decent game, what you made me remember, unless I’m mistaken, is that Harry Wilson is the ex Liverpool player who started so well with them and great things were predicted for him, he certainly made those predictions look like very sensible ones.
Jim Bennings
5 Posted 17/04/2023 at 13:32:49
Rubish performance, rubbish season, same as last season minus Richarlison driving us forward.

It was very flat on Saturday even before the match, I don't know if people had the Grand National at the forefront of their thoughts or what but it just seemed really really flat.

Its only when you go through that list of players and the whole squad when it hits home just how poor the options are.

We have absolutely nothing in the way of creativity or goal threat.

We are going to need at least another 9 points, maybe more than that and we are going to need to score goals and also keep it extremely tight at the back because of our lack of goals.

I just can't see any of that happening though.

Mike Doyle
6 Posted 17/04/2023 at 14:13:41
Jim #5] Sad to say but I agree with you. In the final batch of games last season we were heavily reliant on the ability of Pickford and Ritchie at each end of the field - plus the speed/nuisance value of Gordon.
3 wins from the last 6 games got us across the line. Without the same (any?) attacking threat it is, as you say, difficult to see where the goals will come from, though the return of Doucoure and Onana will add some physicality and might help achieve some draws.
Not surprised the atmosphere was flat on Saturday. Even the most battle-hardened match-goer must be suffering from serious fatigue after 2 years of the same drivel.
Like many posters I'm reduced to clutching at straws and watching the results of those around us. Wish I had Danny's level of optimism.
Mick O'Malley
7 Posted 17/04/2023 at 14:20:34
Jim above agreed, I honestly think it’s going to the last game, can anyone see us going to Palace and winning? We’ve won one away game all season, and scored 10 away goals, as for Saturday I couldn’t believe Maupay missed those 2 chances, as you pointed out on another thread why not try Keane up front for a bit? Let’s be honest Gray and Maupay were woeful on Saturday, not helped by Dyche’s long ball tactics, I feel a bit sorry for Maupay as he is totally not suited to those tactics, but even so you would expect him to score at least one of those chances he spurned, and please Mr Dyche can you sack 442 and go back to 451 because we were over run on Saturday
Dave Carruthers
8 Posted 17/04/2023 at 14:21:45
Having watched Forest last night I think they are pretty much as bad as us, but with the luxury of a home game against Soton coming up. I can’t see more than another 7 points max from them so 34. Leicester are an unknown quantity at moment. Obviously low on confidence but they did ok second half against a City team so obviously coasting. I thought they may have scored 6 or 7 when they went three up which would have hugely helped GD. Looking objectively at their fixtures I think maybe 8 points ( and I'm optimistically giving them
a home draw against us!!) Thats 33 points. Whilst i’m hoping the neighbours do us a favour tonight (🤔🙄) I do see it as between us and the two just mentioned. That means we need 7 points. I'm looking to the home games vs Newcastle and Bournemouth ( but oh god, there is another Wimbledon/Palace clearly in the making) and away games vs Leicester, Palace and Wolves to pick up one win and four draws. If the win comes early all the better.
To team structure. I have no doubt the return of Coleman, Doucoure and Onana will help hugely. If he is fit ( match fit not just healthy fit) then DCL obviously brings another dimension. No doubt the 5 in mf is the way to go. Gray and Simms off the bench where I think they currently offer more value. On reflection how much is the club etc going to regret the Doucoure red? Its meant tweaks when prior to the Spurs game we didn’t need them.
In the Danny and Rob school of optimism, with Palace maybe relaxing a decent performance can provide much needed points
Dave Abrahams
9 Posted 17/04/2023 at 14:34:33
Mike (6), the fans will always encourage the team when they see signs of the team competing, we were out in force at the beginning of the game but dropped off the vocals when we saw two in the middle of centre midfield instead of three was going to produce the same result that it usually brought, Dyche changed it around and we got back in the game and the crowd came alive with them and we could have gone in at half time a couple of goals ahead.

After a few minutes of looking lively in the second half we switched off and really poor defensive play put Fulham two goals ahead and looking the more likely to add to the score than the impoverished Everton team.

The crowd are not daft, as you know Michael, and realised the game was over.

Dyche has done better than many thought he would when he came but it was hard to try and understand why he didn’t keep a compact midfield when it has brought us out of complete despair and on the point of getting the necessary points to save us for another year.

It is far from over, relegation, and we are still in the battle and we definitely missed Doucoure in the last two games he has been the vocal point in rallying the team since Dyche brought back into the squad and he will strengthen the team when he comes back along with Coleman’s presence in the team adding his voice to his 100% efforts on the field, Onana, up to now, has shown potential, when is he going to bleedin’ use it I haven’t seen much evidence of it and it is hard to imagine he would have made any difference to the result on Saturday going by his previous performances, perhaps he will do better in the last few games and I can enjoy his after match cheer leading with him.

Jay Harris
10 Posted 17/04/2023 at 15:21:12
I agree with all you say especially Dyche's bad day at the office.

I can never understand that managers don't see what we see i.e. Godfrey is a disaster at full back and has totally lost his form and concentration since his injuries/illness and Maupay is a mile off being a Premier league player let alone a striker who can handle long balls pumped up to a pint sized player.

I do think that Onana does more than we give him credit for though with his presence in the centre of MF. I just wish they would give him more shooting practice though.

John Raftery
11 Posted 17/04/2023 at 18:19:16
I thought Dyche slipped up with the formation which was so open in midfield. As Jim Wilson said last week we need to pack the midfield in every game, whoever we are playing. To start with 4-4-2 smacked of complacency and an overestimate of our capabilities both in and out possession. Once he tweaked it after twenty five minutes we looked more comfortable until half-time which came at the wrong time from our point of view.

This dreadful result leaves us needing to grab an away win and a couple of draws just to give ourselves a chance going into the final couple of weeks of the season. We desperately need Seamus, Doucouré, Onana and Calvert-Lewin back in the team. I am not sure now is the time for James Garner. He looks competent on the ball but obviously is still learning at this level. Doing that in a struggling team is a huge challenge.

Stu Darlington
12 Posted 19/04/2023 at 10:36:13
Came away from Goodison on Saturday just feeling numb.I couldn’t believe what I’d just witnessed from my team and manager compared to Fulham.Apart from a few moments there seemed no spark.no belief,no urgency,no realisation of the situation we are facing. Pickfords antics and gesticulations to team mates seemed to imply lack of movement and ideas and then constant long balls to Maupay,expecting him to win them in the air,smacked of desperation
Even with the crowd,arriving at the Park End about 2pm. There was no buzz,no sense of optimism or anticipation.It was almost a feeling of resignation.Same inside the stadium,you could almost feel the atmosphere and to be out sung and taunted by the Fulham supporters with little or no response from us just about summed it up
Walking away from the ground,the supporters around me were very quiet and despondent and I wonder if now we are getting just worn down by season after season of fighting for survival.
It’s quite scary really, I used to feel the pain for days when we lost and lost badly, but now nothing,it’s almost as if I expect it.
I hope it’s just me suffering from temporary morale problems because we are really going to need our 12th man for our remaining games.
We’ve got to hope the manager gets his team selection and formations right and maybe key players back for the remaining games for us to have any chance of survival.
I wish I could muster up a quarter of Dannys optimism and enthusiasm but fear I’m a burnt out case!
Kevin Molloy
13 Posted 19/04/2023 at 10:48:57
I wonder what odds anyone would have given for our survival after the Palace game if we'd been told we'd have to do the same this year, only this time we were going to remove DCL, Richi and Gordon. I don't think anyone would have given us a cat in hells chance of staying up after that, but we are still hanging in there I suppose. there's no doubt though that we are currently in a serious nose dive. Not just Fulham, United. strolled past us even though they played midweek and it was the early game, and even the much vaunted draws against spurs and Chelsea are looking less impressive as we see in what poor form they are in. So, it's now down to Dyche to pull us out of it. It's possible, but it's now down to his coaching skills. Something's gone quite seriously wrong since a month ago, let's hope he can put it right.
To be fair, it will be a minor miracle if we do stay up, holding on to that cockney dolt for as long as we did. Lampard is now reaching terminal velocity, and breaking new records every week.
Michael Barrett
14 Posted 19/04/2023 at 12:49:35
Kevin I've just heard DCL played 70 minutes behind closed doors yesterday against Chester so hopefully he will play a part in the next few weeks...by god we need him.
Kevin Molloy
15 Posted 19/04/2023 at 13:04:27
I've pretty much given up now on DCL, if he plays it will be. a nice surprise, but even if he does, as others have said, he'll probably be injured for another two months following it. Poor old Sean is fighting with two hands tied behind his back, our whole team is designed to work with a target man, not even a good one, just adequate will do, and he doesn't even need to score goals, just holding the fuckng ball up would transform us. But our board in their wisdom couldn't get a target man through the door during the summer and winter windows, (not even a free transfer) and so we are backs against the wall now.
Michael Barrett
16 Posted 19/04/2023 at 18:13:44
Kevin I agree with every point, I don't feel anything now when we get hammered, years ago I would be a nervous wreck watching the games...but being in my 60s I have more things to worry about than fucking Everton nowadays...it does help though that the shite are struggling.
Brian Harrison
17 Posted 19/04/2023 at 19:01:29
I see DCL has posted a picture of himself saying roll on Saturday. I am assuming that he has no ill effects from the run out against Chester and is ready to face Palace.

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