Match Report As a second successive campaign of worry and stress over the grave threat to Everton’s continued membership of the Premier League grinds on, it’s almost impossible not to have your emotions dictated by the ebbs and flows from week to week of the Toffees’ fortunes. You may not have shared the fatalism of some who were convinced the club was heading into the Championship following that desperately poor defeat at West Ham in January but even the most level-headed Blue must have felt fairly deflated after the failure in the transfer window, successive defeats to Aston Villa and Arsenal and then the failure to hang on to three points at Forest last Sunday. With Everton having played a game more than the teams around them at the bottom coming into this weekend and only 12 fixtures left to either get to the famous 40-point threshold or somewhere close, this match — a home game, no less — against one of the form teams in the division felt as though it had taken on outsized significance. The Blues are at the stage where every game, every point is massive and Bournemouth’s improbable win over a Liverpool side (that put 7 past Manchester United last time) in the lunchtime kick-off had ratcheted up the importance of an Everton victory this afternoon over a team that hadn’t lost a League game since October. Of course, the last side to come to Goodison Park unbeaten in five months was Arsenal and they left with a 1-0 defeat and so it was again today as Dwight McNeil fired the Toffees into a lead after just 35 seconds that they simply refused to relinquish despite ending the contest with a mere 33% possession having spent most of the second half under pressure from Thomas Frank’s men. This was close to a quintessential game of two halves; although Brentford did have a spell midway through the first period where they threatened to erase that very early advantage, Everton were largely on top during the first 45 minutes and were it not for David Raya in the Bees’ goal, an wayward finish from the below-par Amadou Onana and a horrific decision by VAR to overturn what should have been a second goal for the Blues, they could have been as comfortable as they were in last season’s FA Cup tie under Frank Lampard. The visitors were unquestionably on top after the break, with Everton unable to establish any rhythm on the ball and by the closing stages they were hanging on to a degree, even if they were able to keep Brentford mostly at arm’s length in the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time. That was thanks to immense displays by Idrissa Gueye, Seamus Coleman and James Tarkowski, a reassuringly composed second-half performance from Michael Keane, and ceaseless graft in the press from the likes of McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Demarai Gray and Alex Iwobi. There was much that Sean Dyche would have loved about this overall showing and quite a bit he wouldn’t about his players’ poor use of the ball at times after half-time but there is no question that, at the end of the day, the three points were absolutely vital. Though Vitalii Mykolenko was available again after missing the 2-2 draw at Forest through illness, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin absent once again Dyche named an unchanged starting XI that saw Ben Godfrey and Keane keep their places at the back and Gray lead the line up front. The club’s top scorer this season had done enough at the City Ground last weekend to convince Dyche that he was worthy of starting ahead of Neal Maupay and though he was never going to win any aerial duals with Brentford’s centre-halves, he did what he needed to in the first minute to get Ben Mee to head into Iwobi’s path after Coleman had launched the ball down the line after Everton had broken up a Brentford attack from kick-off. Iwobi presciently knocked it inside to Doucouré who moved it on to McNeil approaching the opposition box. The winger, reborn under his former manager at Burnley, exhibited close control before firing a crisp shot across Raya and into the far corner. It was a lovely finish but it behooved the home side to ensure that they kept pushing to increase their lead against a very difficult opponent. Keane had a chance to double the lead when Gray fired a deep free-kick into the box that the defender could only head well wide when a glancing effort might have steered it home before Amadou Onana spurned a gilt-edged chance, side-footing disappointingly wide after Iwobi’s fizzed cross from the byline had been parried into his path by Raya. Brentford began making inroads of their own around halfway through the first period, trying to catch Everton out by drawing the press and then hitting balls down the channels for Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo. The latter forced a first save from Jordan Pickford in the 24th minute that the England keeper initially spilled but then gathered at the second attempt while Toney was inches away from equalising with a header from a cross from the Bees’ right a minute later. Six minutes after that, Pickford was called upon again to beat away an effort from Toney with two fists but 12 minutes from the interval, Gray almost made it 2-0. Everton counter-attacked well and Gray ended the move by driving into the area and aiming a shot inside Raya’s near post but the goalie did well to divert it wide with an out-stretched leg. From the ensuing corner, Iwobi must have thought he had scored from just a couple of yards out but Raya was there again to save with his foot and Onana mis-kicked the rebound wide. The second goal that the Blues were so keen to get arrived three minutes before half-time, though, when Toney fouled the excellent Tarkowski in the centre-circle, Pickford fired the free-kick forward, Keane headed it into the area where Pinnock hooked the ball off the line but only into Gray’s chest and into the net. That should have been that for the half but despite taking a long look at an inconclusive replay, Coote decided to overrule Simon Hooper’s decision on the field to allow the goal and ruled it out. If Dyche had hoped that his men could retain the initiative and try and pad their lead in the second half, he would be disappointed as Brentford, spurred on by the much-lauded Thomas Frank, seized control of the contest almost from the restart and were almost level within two minutes. Aaron Hickey drove a dangerous ball across the six-yard box from the visitors’ right and Henry arrived to try and convert but both Coleman and Pickford were there covering the line, with the keeper appearing to make the vital block with his legs from point-blank range. Keane had a routine headed chance saved, Gray shot straight at Raya after taking a high ball down with his chest while, in between, Coleman stretched to head over his own bar with Toney lurking. With 20 minutes to go and Everton dug in, determined to protect the lead while hoping to catch Brentford on the break, Toney bought a very cheap free-kick right on the edge of the box but his direct effort caught the wall and deflected behind. Pickford made a mess of coming for the resulting corner, leaving his goal empty apart from McNeil who got to the loose ball after Pinnock had knocked it forwards and whacked it clear. Kevin Schade then rose at the back post in the 79th minute but Godfrey did enough to ensure the substitute could only head wide but it would be the Londoners’ only real chance until Raya came forward for a corner in stoppage time and planted a header well off target. The relief at the full-time whistle at the end of Everton's first top-flight win over Brentford since 1938 (coincidentally, the Bees' record 14-game unbeaten run in the old First Division was also shattered at Goodison two years earlier) felt immense and the victory aroused faith once more that this team can grind out enough points to stay up this season. Dyche now has as many League wins as Frank Lampard managed in 20 fixtures this season and his team sits 15 points shy of 40 with 11 games to go. Perhaps just as important from the psychological point of view, they are also out of the bottom three for only the second time since the 3rd of January. It will inject confidence into the veins of a group of players who have largely risen to the challenges posed by Dyche and his staff since they came on board six weeks ago that they can go to West London next Saturday and put in a performance capable of taking something off Chelsea. One step at a time, one game at a time, but things look immeasurably more rosy than they did before today. Lyndon Lloyd top Matchday Updates Everton are back at Goodison Park following back-to-back away fixtures that, unfortunately, only yielded a point as they face in-form Brentford in what is another must-win game. Dyche named an unchanged side, with Calvert-Lewin still not involved. James Garner is on the bench but not Nathan Patterson. It was cold and wet as The Bees put the game in motion, kicking toward the Gwladys Street end. Everton got the ball, went straight up the other end, and Dwight McNeil powered a very well-placed and perfectly struck shoot home past the desperate Raya off a great driving pass from Doucoure. Fine start for the Blues! Godfrey tried to overlap down the left but Godfrey's cross was over-hit. But Everton were showing some real bite in midfield to close down Brentford and win the ball back, Doucouré a fraction late with his lunge. Godfrey gets a free-kick for a dangerous high kick in his face and the ball in bounces in, headed back to Raya. Everton were doing well to win possession in midfield but were stalling their forward play, going sideways and backwards instead of pressing a clear advantage they had to generate more chances. Brentford came forward in response and won the first corner, out deep and then wasted, thankfully. McNeil couldn't get a clean cross but won Everton their first corner. Gray played it a little short but got a second chance to cross as Eveton applied some pressure. Gray put in a great ball and Keane got too much of it with Ria missing it completely. McNeil fouled wide left, setting up a chance for Brentford to cross in, Coleman just about clearing it for an Everton throw-in. Some good play saw a break on but Henry was far too fast for Iwobi. Out of very little, Iwobi fired in a wicked cross that was deflected at pace to Onana but he could not get his foot around it and an open goal was squandered. Brentford won a corner that was very well delivered but very well defended by Everton, Gray overpowering his man. But Brentford came back and put in great cross that Toney would normally have scored but Tarkowski did a great job of putting him off. Mee needlessly gifted Everton a corner, McNeil sending it to the far psst where it was a bit of a scramble but Godfrey drew a fol from Toney. McNeil swung it in from the left this time, but over everyone. Everton were not cashing in on the limited advantages they had been given, with Brentford growing in confidence. Gana was easily ambushed and a shot was taken cheaply on Pickford, in another dire warning that the next goal would go to the Bees. But McNeil bucked the trend with a decent run down the left that won a throw-in but then Godfrey was offside. Gana fired a tremendous pass to Gray who tried to go near post but the keeper was up for it. The corner caused havoc, Iwobi getting a close-range shot that Raya stopped with his foot on the line. Everton looked to break again but Godfrey hit a terrible pass for Onana. He then went the other way and hit his long cross-field pass too high for Iwobi to control. Brentford applied more pressure but their cross was overhit. Iwobi tried to release McNeil again down the left channel but the winger took his shot too early this time and hit a defender. A free-kick against Toney was swung deep right and headed in very strongly by Tarkowski, it hit a defender and bounced in off Gray's chest or arm... arm, said the VAR. Gray was then fouled by Nørgaard, Gray clipping the free-kick off the wall for a late corner that was headed weakly goalward by Keane as Onana and Tarkowski clashed heads. . Huge disappointment to end a half that Everton had played well but could have been 3 or 4 up if they had really pushed the advantage home. Doucoure got the game restarted, but it was Brentford who might have scored, Henry set up for a close-range header that Coleman did very well to block. Gana was clipped for a free-kick in midfield that Gray sent in but Keane could only ballon a soft header to Raya. Some great pressing was cheered enthusiastically by the Goodison crowd. But another good Brentford attack saw Coleman the only man who could stop them scoring, which he did by leaping to head the ball behind. Keane cleared the resulting corner. Iwobi had a chance to start a break but inexplicably stalled his run. McNeil lost the ball too easily when he ran into Mbueno, and Everton struggled to get forward, Onana eventually giving up a free-kick that was overhit. Iwobi played a great ball to Gray who could only pass it to Raya. But NcNeil did well to win a corner, Gray putting it deep but Raya punching clear. However Brentford broke, evading COleman's late lunge, and Godfrey did very well to stop the charge. Doucoure lost it momentarilly over Hickey's close attention. Brentford pushed the Blues back again, looking hard for their equalizer but Gana and Iwobi broke well down the right, yet there was nothing in the cross. Everton were continuing to concede astounding amounts of possession to their visitors, almost inviting them to come down the Park End and ruining this one, while the Blues attacks lacked cohesion. Toney cleverly bought a very dicey free-kick, Tarkowski giving him enough rope. But the free-kick flew off the Everton wall for a corner. That came in and Pickford missed it, McNeil clearing desperately off the line. Another dangerous cross was fielded well this time by Pickford but he could not find Gray with his forward kick and Everton were on the back foot yet again. Henry did really well to beat Coleman and his cross to the back post went wide off Onyenka, thanks to good marking by Godfrey. Another overlap and cross needed defending but Brentford kept coming back for more chances, with no relief coming from the Everton defence. A probing forward ball for Toney just evaded him as Davies came on for Amadou Onana, Gana Gueye had his usual weekly useless shot at goal rather than passing to someone more capable and the ball was rapidly back for a Brentford corner, Pickford punching out to nobody staying up in a Blue shirt. Back again for more Brentford pressure and increasingly desperate Everton defending. A free-kick for Everton allowed only a brief respite but McNeil got it forward only for Davies to lose it. But Davies was then fouled, allowing more changes. Maupay did well to tackle and win the ball but was judged to have fouled his man, much to the aggravation of the Goodison crowd. More backs-to-wall, Tarkowski having to give up a corner, only to head it clear before Brentford were flagged for offside… more precious relief. Doucoure did well to draw a free-kick from Mbueno, giving the Blues time upfield as 5 minutes of added time was announced. Iwobi walked off slowly for Mykolenko. Another Brentford corner, Raya up for it but he heads it wide with 2½ minutes still to go. More fantastic defending from Coleman wins a vital free-kick to burn a little more time before the whistle finally goes to great relief and Everton leaping out of the relegation zone, up to 15th. Everton: Pickford, Coleman [Y:60'], Keane, Tarkowski, Godfrey, Onana (80' Davies), Gana, Doucouré [Y:71'], Iwobi (90+2' Mykolenko), McNeil, Gray (86' Maupay). Subs not Used: Begovic, Holgate, Mina, Coady, Garner, Simms. Brentford: Raya, Hickey (74' Onyeka), Pinnock, Mee, Henry (86' Ghoddos), Nørgaard [Y:45+1'] (74' Wissa), Janelt, Jensen (62' Dasilva), Damsgaard (62' Shade), Mbueno, Toney. Subs not Used: Cox, Jansson, Ajer, Baptiste. Michael Kenrick top Match Preview Everton are back at Goodison Park following back-to-back away fixtures that, unfortunately, only yielded a point as they face in-form Brentford in what is another must-win game. The Blues are still in the bottom three having lost at Arsenal and dropped two vital points against Nottingham Forest last Sunday but they can help their cause in a big way with victory over the Bees in front of their own fans this weekend. Everton scored twice in a game for the first time since October at the City Ground but scoring enough goals, particularly from open play, remains a challenge which is why the prospect, however slim, that Dominic Calvert-Lewin might be involved will come as a boost to Sean Dyche's side. The striker rejoined full first-team training today as he continues his recovery from a hamstring problem that has sidelined him for the past five matches and will be assessed to see if he can play a part against Brentford. It would seem unlikey based on Sean Dyche'c comments in his press conference at Finch Farm today that the striker will be ready to start what is a crucial fixture but he could be involved off the bench. "Dom is in and around it again, with us training," the manager said. "We are still making a decision on him being truly right to come back in. "It's early yet, he's just got on the grass with us, but he's done a lot of rehab – the stats and facts – and the way he's feeling is good. It's positive signs – that's for sure." Dyche has chopped and changed his options up front since taking charge, with all three of Ellis Simms, Neal Maupay and Demarai Gray having started since Calvert-Lewin's sole appearance under the new boss but Gray, having added to his tally as top scorer for the season against Forest, albeit from the penalty spot, could get the nod again. Nathan Patterson is also close to a return but an unlikely starter while Andros Townsend remains a ways away from action after suffering some setbacks in his return from a ruptured ACL last year. Vitalii Mykolenko, who missed the 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest last Sunday through illness, is available again and is expected to line up in an otherwise unchanged back four. Brentford's only defeat since the break for the World Cup was in the FA Cup Third Round against West Ham in January, a nine-game sequence in the Premier League that has them sitting in ninth place, just three points off sixth and very much in the hunt for Europe this season. In addition to the excellent work done by Thomas Frank, the Bees' success has been aided by good fortune with injuries, although they stand to lose Ivan Toney to a lengthy ban at some point — although, sadly, his FA hearing regarding his confession to illegal betting won't be held before this weekend meaning Brentford's chief danger man will be available for them. Only Keane Lewis-Potter (knee) and Thomas Strakosha (ankle) are ruled out for Brentford whose last three away games saw them beat West Ham and draw at both Leeds and leaders Arsenal. Having lost at home to Aston Villa last time out, the visit of a side that hasn't lost since November would appear daunting to Everton but Dyche has overseen progress on the attacking front in recent weeks and he will, no doubt, be impressing on his players the need to replicate the performance that toppled the Gunners in his first match since succeeding Frank Lampard. Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday, 11 March 2023Referee: Simon HooperVAR: David CooteLast Time: Everton 2 -3 Brentford Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Tarkowski, Mykolenko, Gueye, Onana, Iwobi, Doucouré, McNeil, Gray Lyndon Lloyd top * Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.