Back at a sold-out Goodison after that poor show down the Lane and we all wondered would there be any hangover. Pulis and WBA always make life difficult for us in most games. We had some West Brom fans in our pub and we were discussing away days in general and this game in particular.
When the teams came through he took one look at his team and informed me Pulis had picked a very defensive side trying to make sure they didn’t lose and maybe nick one especially from set pieces. I said, well you usually play like that but if we can score early then you may have to change tack and save us from a grind of a game. We had good banter and he bought me a drink and said he would see us after the match and after the Baggies had won. I gave him directions as to the best way to the ground and he was gone.
We made our way up and the place was buzzing. Goodison Road was awash with people, chip papers and horse droppings. Why are the police allowed to not have or use ‘Pooper Scoopers’? In our seats to hear the tribute to Alex Young. His ex-teammate Derek Temple spoke in glowing terms regarding Alex the man and player. The teams came out to Z-Cars but today the music was played by a lone piper, a nice touch.
The game started and within minutes you got the sense it would be as my new friend had said. WBA were in “they shall not pass” mode and we were pressing hard but finding no routes through. A bit boring you might say but I believed we were willing to keep possession and keep probing thus giving them little leeway to break on us looking for a breakaway goal or a foul to create a set piece.
Our manager had left out Gana and left Davies in as well as retaining Barry even though he got some criticism after Spurs and it seemed to be paying off as with Barry the conductor and Davies the whirling dervish we were starting to take control. Rom and Ross were causing problems for them up top. Schneiderlin was more box to box and with Jags back in the back four with Mori benched we were looking solid and indeed thwart West Brom at two set pieces first half.
The crowd were quiet which had the away fans asking if they should sing a song for us; we took no notice of them as our quietness was one of anticipation as we could see we were getting control and all that was needed was a goal. With every break we made fans leaned forward in anticipation and hope and when 30 mins came up a touch of anxiety was creeping in. However, we were probing more and with intent.
Then on 40 mins Lukaku who had grown into the game was marauding in the right channel and headed into the box where two defenders bounced off him and his pass ended up at the feet of the excellent Ross Barkley who hit a power drive that hit their keeper in the chest with a thud that could be heard from my seat. The ball bounced out and the quicksilver Mirallas was first to react and smashed the ball home. Now we got some response from the crowd. Chadli did have their only real shot on goal but Joel sprawled and deflected the effort for a corner.
Things got even better as the half was ending. The muscular Lukaku seemed to holding off three defenders in their box in a mighty tussle and he timed his pass to the darting Schneiderlin to perfection who rather expertly threaded the ball home from close in and at a tight angle. At the cessation of the home celebrations you could feel relaxation in the air.
During the break Tony Bellew took to the mic on the pitch by the dugout and thanked all the Evertonians who rooted for him last week. It must be Tony’s shortest speech ever!!!
Second half and Baines didn’t reappear; Mori came out in his stead. A few around me admitted to a touch of the jitters but as things would work out he mostly gave the simple ball and did not create and danger for us.
The half would be not really boring but rather technical should we say. We moved the ball about well and were happy to pass sideways and backwards and then come again looking for that elusive opening that would allow a third goal and goodnight Baggies. Ross was showing well and at his creative best but he could have done with a few more runs being made for him as often he would look up see nothing and go back a bit to start again this was fine in the technical sense but the crowd were starting to demand more forward intentions. However, he did make one break and after a judicious turn in the box fired hard but untrue and the ball hit the side netting only.
With WBA leaving forward thinking players like Morrison and Rondon on the bench then not a lot of threat was being created for our rearguard so we continued to prod and probe. Chadli did fire one in that had Joel racing out to make a good block and Williams cleared the loose ball away. 80 minutes came up and at last our patience paid off when the move of the match took place.
Davies found Gana on the left who passed to Mori and the Argentine then found Barkley in the box. Ross twisted one way then the other to put his markers off while looked up and saw Lukaku. He then measured his cross perfectly to find Rom between two defenders and the big Belgian headed back across the keeper and ruffled the net – now all were happy.
Before the final whistle and with two minutes added Gana turned exquisitely in the box and fired with venom but hit the post. Drat – just one inch from perfection, eh? Final whistle and the stadium and the walk back to swop tales in the Room of Nonsense was of a sedate nature with every one expecting another three points next Saturday but heed the words of Big Ron ‘I say ok but this is football we must be ready’
M.o.t.M. — Ross Barkley (Fair dos, the rest of the team were close too)
All told a good day out where we saw our 5th home win on the bounce. Rom got his 20th goal to join Kane on top of the pile. Also, we are not the best of the rest — that title at the moment belongs to today’s opponents and we are part of the big seven as I told my new WBA friend as we swopped pints
Here is one for you: could Schneiderlin, who was signed as a holding defender of some renown, end up being our ‘Fox in the box’?
See you at the Hull game.
UP THE BLUES!
Reader Comments (12)
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1 Posted 12/03/2017 at 22:42:57
I am now content that we took 3 points from a competent, professional performance. Nothing wrong with that.
Also, I have gleaned a bit more about the Alex Young tribute. A lone piper sounds appropriate.
2 Posted 12/03/2017 at 22:58:21
I also reckon that yesterday will prove a change for the England football team. I have always wanted Ross to succeed and assume every other Evertonian wants him to do so also, yesterday, in front of the England manager, he was superb. The build up by the team and then the hold-up play and cross by Ross for the third goal was a pleasure to watch.
I reckon he will be selected in the next England squad and once in that squad, the way he is playing, it will be a long time till he is not. I appreciate that some may not see that as a good thing.
Anyway, thanks again Ken.
4 Posted 13/03/2017 at 00:38:08
On 'technical' I thought Saturdays performance by Lukaku was his best ever, he cushioned it, laid it off deftly, without being a blue arsed fly he moved enough to drag 2, 3, and sometimes 4 of The Baggies groks with him.
Interesting the comments by your new found Brummie best mate. We went to Spurs (or so it seemed) with much the same KITAP1 attitude, then bemoaned after the fact that we did and why didn't we take it to them a bit more; a constant theme of the Moyes years.
Were they happy with the way Pullis set them out or did they say... "Why the fuck didn't we have a go we got stuffed anyway." Is it our expectation that's false or is theirs set, for them, quite rightly, in mediocrity/reality mode?
5 Posted 13/03/2017 at 13:14:07
6 Posted 13/03/2017 at 14:35:20
I watched MotD and will admit to getting a bit emotional when I saw the piper and the "Golden Vision" banner...
7 Posted 13/03/2017 at 14:57:40
8 Posted 13/03/2017 at 15:02:03
A bit of moaning and groaning re Barry and Jags selection but the clean sheet, three goals and three points more than justified their selection.
As you say, Barry conducted the performance and we looked solid with Jags back. European competition secured onwards and upwards.
9 Posted 13/03/2017 at 15:08:55
"Why are the police allowed to not have or use ‘Pooper Scoopers'?" Class.
10 Posted 13/03/2017 at 22:10:06
11 Posted 14/03/2017 at 01:52:53
In the second half, Everton were saying "We're 2-0 up and we've got the ball and you're doing nothing about it; well, we're not going to hand you a way back in; this isn't last season."
I can't remember the last time a 2-0 lead 30+ minutes out felt so secure. A lot of the lads did well but, as you said, Ross was just excellent.
12 Posted 14/03/2017 at 08:55:00
13 Posted 14/03/2017 at 09:39:18
I note your remark about the Baggies fans taunting our quietude. It's becoming a regular thing. My seat is directly opposite our visitors and we hear the same things every home game.
The tribute to Alexander the Great, the Golden Vision was entirely appropriate.
An observation, however, it seems that no game at GP begins until we observe in silence? I recall a time not too long ago when games started with the crowd all pumped up.
My suggestion is that we fans "pay tribute" at the commencement of half time, rather than just before the game. Also, perhaps those we pay tribute to need to be more significant (clearly Alex Young would be a fine example of most significant).
Not wishing to be curmudgeonly, it almost seems that there is a hunt to seek someone to honour before each and every home game. Is this truly necessary? It definitely was last Saturday, but, surely not so every week?
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