Everton 4 - 2 Leicester City
After the disappointment of Old Trafford we congregate again to witness our game against the current champions of England. The Room of Nonsense was abuzz with many topics and I have to say Ashley did not get a very good response. A good topic that was debated was that after Anfield and Old Trafford would Lukaku and Barkley be hanging around for another season. The majority thought that given the difference in their lengths of contract Barkley was more likely than Rom and then the discussion in circuitous fashion got round to ‘are they really world class players’? We got nowhere so I will leave that on the table for your musings at leisure.
The walk up was rather hushed today and I wondered if it had anything to do with the Liverpool weather being warm and spring like in the morning but the low cloud moved in along with a steady breeze coming up from the river which caught many a fan in summer T-shirt and shorts wishing they could have dressed more appropriately. It was even chillier coming off at the end but that was ok as the scoreline warmed the cockles of our hearts as well as the ale house being only a few minutes away.
Goodison Road was as busy as ever with the fat van outdoing the blue dragon for length of queue. The fan zone was as lively as a fairground and what seemed like first timers to Goodison were photographing anything and everything. Hell, I have been coming for more years than I care to remember but yet that walk up always seems new, vibrant and a cacophony of sounds that just leave me with that wide-eyed pleasure of my first visit.
In for Z-Cars, a quick hello to fellow regulars and off we go and what a pace we set. 30 seconds were barely reached when from a throw Mirallas showed blistering pace and was felled on the edge of the area. ‘PEN!’ we yelled but the ball broke to Tom Davies, the ref indicated play. On, Tom beat two men and slotted. The lad raced away sliding on his knees awaiting the celebration party and such was his excitement he had run to the away end and there we celebrated.
Our Ref Mr Madely and didn’t show yellow for incitement. What a start I think we were all a little shocked which kept the celebrations a little muted. What we didn’t know was that that goal was to be the starter for five by half time.
Just three minutes later one of our players appeared to be flattened near their box, we all yelled but the ref said play on and the Champions took full advantage catching us on a quick pacy break with the upshot being Slimani was clear in the right hand side of our box. He was able to meet Joel on the out and slide the ball between his legs and, hey ho, we are all square. Our defence best described as AWOL.
The game then became a bit helter skelter as Leicester were quick to cover and tackle and give us very little time on the ball where we were trying to get more. The modern game seems to demand that teams play out from the back until panic sets in and then hoof and hope. This playing from the back cost us big time when Pennington got caught in two minds in a place he did not want to be the upshot being he stopped a clear run on goal with a foul. “I had no choice gov would be his plea to the manager.”
Albrighton took from near the touchline Main stand side and arced one in toward the top corner. Now with the height and reach of Joel it should have been meat and drink but, no, it went over his hand and straight in leaving us 2-1 down and goalkeeper error to boot.
Now the Leicester fans let rip singing about their champions and writing our support off as no more than excreta. Still, they hadn’t told us to sign on yet. The game went on with us playing keep ball to excess as it was taking us nowhere except to their box out again and then repeat as often as possible. If they are going to use those tactics I would like to see far more adventure and bravery when in that box. We had more of the same except Leicester did attack and into our box forcing Joes to save with his feet. We responded with a corner expertly taken by Mirallas that pinged about a bit but no one was able to take charge of the chances so it was pinball with no end product.
Then out of the blue Lukaku plays one forward but a Leicester boot is there first and clears toward half way where Schneiderlin won a towering header that was picked up by Davies. He fed Gana who quickly moved the ball on to Barkley who whipped in a beaut of a cross right on to the head of Lukaku and such was the pace on the ball the Belgian’s forehead powered it home leaving the keeper rooted and ball netted. 2-2, game on.
A touch helter skelter again now as both teams pressed but where Leicester were quite direct we were trying the very intricate and eventually losing the ball. A bit of excitement when Huth raked down Mirallas’s calf so Kev got him by the throat. A melee took place – much ado about nothing – the ref gave them a yellow each and on we went.
Coming up to half time we again got into their box where Gana had a shot (hooray) but the ball came out. Barkley on to it in a flash went in and around the keeper. “GO——!” we almost cried as the keeper got a hand to it and it went for a corner. I said to my mate Keith, hell we could have done with that right on half time as well. But wait, Mirallas took another fine corner and there was Jags rising and hanging in the air a la Golden Vision and powered home. Now a proper celebration. 3-2 to us and it’s only half time.
The chat centred on what a crazy half. 5 goals. Them looking like they may punish us each time they broke yet without playing fantastically well we scored three very good goals. That’s footy for yer.
Second half opened with most of us hoping and praying that it would be us that got next goal. Two up seems much better than all square. Both teams seemed to sense the next goal was important and it made for a midfield battle, feisty at times. That saw both teams strive for the upper hand.
The ref was narking the crowd with his habit of playing advantage when none was there. Coming up to the hour mark we gain a corner again Mirallas fired in a beaut. Jags caused panic in their box as he had already proved deadly in such situations and he looked to have got a slight touch on the ball and such were the visitors’ efforts to mark him they lost concentration and left Lukaku unmarked. The Belgian struck a right foot shot home unerringly.
That looked like the killer but hey remember Bournemouth. The Leicester manager made a double sub. Mahrez and Musa came on for Grey and Vardy. Mahrez got into the game quite quickly and was spraying passes but none to really hurt us. Our manager made a good sub on 70 minutes when he took off the excellent Schneiderlin (no point in pushing the recovering calf to hard), replacing him with Barry who seemed to make a third centre back and made the two highest balls of the afternoon when clearing. I swear they had snow on them when they came down.
Before the end Joel made two super stops from point blank range and from one of these Ulloa got a header in that the magnificent Jags headed from the goal line. Final whistle and although ‘Grand old team’ was played the rendition from those assembled was muted.
Out of the ground and those in mid-summer attire were showing goose bumps before Spellow Lane was reached. Back to our watering hole and the game rerun as seen from various sides of the ground. Strange how a person in say the main stand can have a different view than a fan in the Park End but in many ways that’s what makes for good conversation.
I was informed that Rom’s goal tally is 23 which again prompted the question will he stay? Well our man in the family enclosure says that after his second goal he waved toward the directors box and Bill was blowing kisses to him. Our man had not been drinking alcohol either. The mind boggles.
Back again in a week to go through it all again and let’s keep this unbeaten since Jan 2nd run going. See you there.
UP THE BLUES!
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