Everton Pass Up Fourth Straight Win

A fourth match unbeaten keeps the belated recovery alive and keeps Everton's hopes of a top-half finish alive but it was a largely uninspiring performance.

Lyndon Lloyd 12/04/2015 24comments  |  Jump to last

Aaron Lennon's second Everton goal was cancelled out by Seamus Coleman's error

If, as you would hope, Roberto Martinez and his players have designs on achieving an eighth-place finish in the Premier League that would bring some respectability to an otherwise poor domestic season, then a meeting with the current occupants of that spot represented a tempting opportunity to gain ground with just seven games left in the campaign.

Everton were on course to return to winning ways over Swansea City having got on top of Gary Monk's side with an increasingly accomplished first-half display and had taken the lead through Aaron Lennon's second goal for the club. True to their form as the side to have thrown away the most points from winning positions in the top flight this term, however, the Blues allowed the Swans back into the contest in the second half and were punished for another critical individual error, this time from Seamus Coleman.

Martinez has stated often over the last couple of weeks that Everton would be doing everything they could to finish the season on a high and with as many points as possible from the remaining games. That was perhaps borne out by the fact that he named an unchanged team from the won that beat Southampton last weekend, keeping the fit-again Kevin Mirallas on the bench and playing Ross Barkley off Arouna Kone in the continued absence of Romelu Lukaku with a hamstring injury.

The visitors started with the confidence generated by three successive victories and with some of the tidy possession-based football that has become a feature of Martinez's tenure. It was joined by more of the familiar lack of end product in the final third, though, and for all Everton's dominance in the first quarter of an hour, it was Swansea who twice nearly scored through Bafatembu Gomis.

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The French striker popped up in the area in the seventh minute but was swiftly closed down by Leighton Baines before he could get a shot away. Then, seven minutes after that, he whipped a snap-shot from the edge of the box that was heading for the top corner until Tim Howard pulled off a flying finger-tip save to turn it around the post.

Gomis injured himself executing the shot and had to be withdrawn with what looked like a hamstring strain a few minutes later and with him temporarily went Swansea's attacking momentum. Martin Emnes replaced him but while the dreadlocked Dutchman looked the part, it would take him another half an hour or so to make an impact on the game.

In between, it was the Blues who continued in the ascendency, particularly once Martinez had been forced into an early substitution of his own by a groin problem for Leon Osman. Steven Pienaar came on in his place and immediately added his brand of guile of which Everton have been deprived for so much of the season.

After Coleman had forced the first save from Lukas Fabianski with a low drive that was heading for the far corner until the goalkeeper pushed it past the post, the South African was involved in the build-up to Everton's goal. The ball was eventually worked wide to Kone, he nudged it on to James McCarthy and though his cross eluded Pienaar in the centre, the ball dropped nicely to Lennon who set himself with one touch before burying the chance with his second.

Pienaar then played Kone in with a neat reverse pass but the Ivorian couldn't beat Fabianski from a tight angle and when the roles were reversed in first-half injury time, Pienaar couldn't get enough power or bend on a side-foot shot after collecting Kone's back-heel.

Given the Blues' propensity to throw away leads this season, a second goal to kill the game was always going to be important but with Kone again found wanting as the lone striker and Barkley struggling to consistently provide a threat going forward, the ball was increasingly coming back through Everton's as attacks broke down in the final third.

By the hour mark, it was obvious that Martinez needed to make a change up front to help make the ball "stick" a little more in Swansea's half but the manager remained characteristically unmoved as Monk's side began to turn the tables. First Ki Sung-yueng beat Baines with a deft touch but skied his shot from a difficult angle and then the Liberty Stadium erupted in claims for a penalty when Wayne Routledge fell in the box under a challenge from Baines.

Referee Michael Oliver waved those appeals away but pointed to the spot two minutes later when Coleman went down in his own area under the attentions of Emnes and made the mistake of handling the ball expecting the official to blow for a foul in his favour. In truth, there was little contact from the striker save for his hands on the Irishman's back but with so many of those types of challenges drawing routine fouls these days, Coleman could have been forgiven for expecting a whistle. He paid for the error of not playing to that whistle, though, and conceded a crucial spot kick that Jonjoe Shelvey despatched clinically.

It would be another seven minutes before Martinez belatedly brought on Steven Naismith to replace the ineffective Kone who, having been booked in the first half for leading with his arm in an aerial challenge with Fernandez and then profited from Oliver's leniency when he clattered through the same player midway through the second period, was now on very thin disciplinary ice.

Barkley tried his luck with a couple of poor pot-shots from distance but what was arguably the Blues' best chance and simultaneously illustrative of the lack of conviction that rusn through much of the team fell to McCarthy but as the space for a shot from 12 yards opened up in front of him, he tried to over-elaborate with a flicked ball to the side that failed to find its mark and the chance evaporated.

Howard pushed a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick over the crossbar at one end as the match moved into the closing stages, Baines put yet another corner straight into the arms of Fabianski and late sub Mirallas gave the 'keeper an routine save with a 20-yard effort before the referee called time on a 1-1 draw.

A fourth match unbeaten keeps the belated recovery alive and keeps Everton's hopes of a top-half finish alive but where those who made the long journey to South Wales were no doubt looking for some demonstration from the team of what could be possible next season under Martinez, they found a familiar lack of cutting edge and failure on the manager's part to make proactive changes to keep hold of the lead.

Everton had sufficient control of proceedings to suggest that they might have got an all-important second goal had Lukaku been on the field but with just the ever willing but inadequate Kone as an option up front the consequence of Martinez's decision not to replace Samuel Eto'o and to not introduce Mirallas in a forward role much earlier in the game there just wasn't enough fire-power.

Regardless, it's likely they still would have collected that fourth win on the bounce without Coleman's error because Swansea were largely being contained despite their increasing share of possession in the second half.

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Reader Comments (24)

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Andy Bone
1 Posted 12/04/2015 at 08:22:57
One or two poor decisions made in the last third again, and Kone just did not look up to it at all. The game was crying out for Mirallas or Naismith to go up front much earlier, especially after Kone was so close to getting himself sent off.
Sam Morrison
2 Posted 12/04/2015 at 08:56:40
I’m afraid it was foolish play by Coleman that cost us here. Overall he had a decent game from the moments I saw, but that handball was fairly optimistic, let’s say.

McCarthy needs encouragement to shoot also. I thought Barry was OK but, as I said, I didn’t see the whole game.

Harold Matthews
3 Posted 12/04/2015 at 09:11:28
I have to admit that, before the game, I expected to be beaten by a good Swansea outfit. After the game, I was very disappointed we didn’t win.

Okay, I can moan about the stupid Coleman handball and Kone fighting a losing battle against Williams and Taylor but, in general, I thought we were pretty good. Certainly a whole lot better than I had anticipated.

Lukaku would have made a difference and Naismith wasn’t the answer when Kone went off. Most clubs have three or four main strikers. We have two and it’s not enough.

I don’t have a Man of the Match. They all played well and two or three intelligent additions would make us difficult to beat next season.

Mike Allison
4 Posted 12/04/2015 at 10:09:05
I have to agree with a point you mentioned twice, Lyndon. It was obvious to everyone except Martinez that Kone needed to come off for Mirallas around 55-60 minutes. Nothing happened til after we’d conceded and it was Naismith, not Mirallas in the 76th minute. Nowhere is the contrast between Martinez’s first and second seasons so apparent as in his failure to make good substitutions this season.
Alan Bodell
6 Posted 12/04/2015 at 10:41:51
Stupid of Seamus to give the referee a pretty easy choice as the push on him was minimal and why Kone was still on the pitch trying for a second yellow before El Maestro decided to hook him eventually, who knows.
Trevor Peers
7 Posted 12/04/2015 at 10:48:36
I think Coleman has form when it comes to giving away needless penalties, it’s his weakness of his I’m afraid. Otherwise he had a great game, the problem was obviously our inability to create any kind of real attacking pressure. Something were all hoping Roberto will address in the summer, if he keeps Kone, Alcaraz and buys Cleverley his credibility will be at an all time low.

Lennon had another good game he has a winning mentality. Buy a few more like that Roberto and maybe you’ll win back a few fans.

Mick Wrende
8 Posted 12/04/2015 at 11:24:53
We are not going to finish top half because the gap is too big already. What does 'playing well' mean? Does it mean passing the ball around, making a few chances, missing all but one, giving away a stupid goal and having a breather for 20 minutes in each half so coming away with a draw. Or does it mean converting some simple chances, keeping a clean sheet and getting 3 points? Difficult to tell with our brain dead manager and players.
Colin Glassar
9 Posted 12/04/2015 at 12:00:17
We are five points off WHU in 9th place, Mick. With six games to go, and WHU in free fall, with 18 points still to play for, a top 10 place is still within our grasp. Not what we wanted or expected this season but we can still do it.
Denis Richardson
10 Posted 12/04/2015 at 11:48:12
I saw the team sheet and decided not to bother watching as he was not going to give any of the youngsters a run out or try anything new. I took the missus out for lunch in the sun instead, much more constructive use of my time.

The season ended in Kiev and I cannot understand what RM thinks he will gain or learn by giving the likes of Mirallas 5 mins to run around at the end. I guess he’s still focused on trying to get as many points this season to justify his job.

No Garbutt, Robles or Besic given any minutes and it doesn’t look likely at this point, nor for any of the other youngsters. We can presume Garbutt won’t be around at GP come August, so that’s two defenders definitely leaving.

Nice to see that Pienaar is finally fit, although Osman’s now injured....

Max Wilson
11 Posted 12/04/2015 at 14:22:49
I was there and pleasantly surprised at the number of Evertonians who made the trip. We had to wait for 40 minutes to get in.
Darren Hind
12 Posted 12/04/2015 at 14:24:50
A good report Lyndon, but I think you have been a little kind too McCarthy.

There was quite a heated debate about Macca last week. He was accused of being a coward and one or two took exception to it. ’Coward’ was always the wrong word; the guy is as hard as nails, but I felt there was a legitimate question mark about whether or not he has the courage to take responsibility. That question mark grew a little bigger and a little bolder for me yesterday.

McCarthy was clean through yesterday, he had a very clear sight of the whites of the goalkeeper’s eyes, There was no defender blocking his way, I’m sorry, but I was right behind that and his decision to move the ball on was a total abdication of responsibility.

I’m not a "hater" and if I didn’t think he had it in his locker, I would not criticise him, but I believe he does; without his drive and determination, we wouldn’t have had a lead to defend, but he doesn’t do it nearly enough. His goals return simply isn’t good enough.

I don’t know if its courage or self-belief he lacks when he gets near the opposition goal (sometimes on a football pitch they amount to the same thing) but if he is to fulfill his enormous potential, the devil in his game needs to turn up – all game... every week.

Colin Glassar
13 Posted 12/04/2015 at 15:35:34
Totally agree, Darren, he bottled it when he had a chance in on goal. This guy is a very good midfield player, but he has the potential to be a great midfield player but it’s up to him to take the bull by the horns or just settle on being above average.
Steve Barr
14 Posted 12/04/2015 at 15:33:25
I was hoping to finally see some signs that we are improving in some area of play.

Some will argue that we have gone four games unbeaten, had a good run in Europe, but I have not seen any signs that whatever the team works on behind closed doors is beginning to emerge. No signs at all — which is most alarming and does not inspire any confidence that we are on the up.

You always expect a team to go through a bad patch. We have been through one all season and that has to be down to the manager. A change has to be made or I fear an even worse season next term!

You wouldn’t want the dross we have endured all season heaped upon any team, not even Liverpool!!

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 12/04/2015 at 15:46:10
Darren (#12), I agree with every word of your post. I think McCarthy can be so much better, he definitely has more in his locker than he shows, he must be let out of his shell, I was screaming at him when he had that glorious chance but chose to pass, and it wasn't even a good pass. Another chance to move up was missed through the whole team not being aggressive enough.
Harold Matthews
16 Posted 12/04/2015 at 15:32:12
The Lukaku business certainly has shades of Athletico Madrid, a club renowned for it's strikers. Some cheap, some very expensive but many moved on for big bucks. Sanchez, Torres, Forlan, Sergio Aguero, Falcao, Costa etc...Not a bad bunch.

Darren. I wouldn't worry too much about McCarthy. He's a very good player who was under orders to try something new yesterday and we can't expect him to perform like Lampard overnight. The lad is definitely improving and, with the help of Barkley and Kone, he set up the Lennon goal and was involved in most attacking moves. Certainly a positive sign for the future.

Mark Frere
17 Posted 12/04/2015 at 18:13:01
I think McCarthy should have put his laces through the ball and tested the keeper yesterday because it was the best option. But I think everyone wants him to be something he's not.

McCarthy is a holding midfielder with terrific work-rate – that's all he is and there's nothing wrong with that. It's not his fault that there is very little creativity around him. I don't remember RS fans moaning about Javier Mascherano not scoring and creating any goals. They just appreciated he was a top holding midfielder who broke up opposition play and protected the back 4. The difference is, he had players like Alonso and Gerrard alongside him creating chances and scoring goals. McCarthy doesn't and for that reason people expect him to be something he isn't.

McCarthy is one of the best at what he does and these specialist players like McCarthy and Mascherano don't grow on trees. They usually cost a lot of money and are an important ingredient to their teams. Martinez needs to buy some creative players in the summer to add balance to our midfield.

Mick Wrende
18 Posted 12/04/2015 at 18:23:48
Colin @9 we may finish above West Ham but we are 4 and 5 points behind Palace and Stoke and I don't see us getting above either of them. Our team has no energy as we are so old and cannot play 90 minutes. There seems no reason now not to play the youngsters but we all know Martinez does not have the bottle to do that or he is as brain dead as the rest of the club.
Lyndon Lloyd
19 Posted 12/04/2015 at 18:19:47
I agree, Mark. He is very good at what he does but the problem is he's playing along Barry who is the same kind of player with only marginally more attacking capability.

Given the recent criticism of him from Ireland, there's clearly a perception that McCarthy could be taking the initiative a bit more and he's clearly got the ability to be more involved in the final third. He needs to flip a psychological switch, in my opinion.

Nicholas Ryan
20 Posted 12/04/2015 at 18:37:58
At about 60 minutes, my 14-year-old lad said: "He needs to bring Mirallas on, now." (Instead of Kone.)

For heaven's sake, if a 14-year-old (who doesn't even play football – he's a rugby player) can see it as plain as anything... Why, Why, oh Why, can't Martinez!?!

Mark Wilson
22 Posted 13/04/2015 at 00:36:33
This dire season has simply destroyed my faith in Martinez. I cringe at his post match nonsense and even tho a point against a decent Swansea side isn't terrible it was still the case that we looked short of ideas up front. Kone was going to have a "terrific influence on the second half of our season...." Says the mgr. Same for Atsu whose had flu for about a month now. Sadly nobody has had any real influence on the second half of our season other than Lennon.

We haven't really played well for a run of games at any time this season and the backward step we've taken is beyond huge when you consider that Utd are about to reclaim their regular top four finishing place after the Moyes blip, and brilliantly managed Southampton will add to their squad in the close season......making it even harder to finish above 8th next time around.

I watched the Swansea game and couldn't see us doing much to improve under Martinez. He rarely reacts quickly to some obvious patterns in a game and SWANSEA was no different.....the whole thing screamed for Mirallas to replace Kone after about 55 minutes but no, we plodded on risking a red card and seeing zero threat up front.

There isn't any money, as usual, unless we sell Lukaku at a loss and that won't be allowed to happen. We seem to be about to lose Garbutt who will be better than Baines in six mths but probably playing for Liverpool or Spurs. We need to replace Howard but won't. Barklay is, well, I just don't know what he is after this season but he can't carry the team. I realise this is depressing but honestly it's how I feel, the team has just totally collapsed from a point where we might have genuinely kicked on. We now have to totally start again and rebuild when it shouldn't have been necessary.

Whose fault is that ? The players...or at least seven or eight of them, have under performed and been guilty of more glaring personal errors than those in any other prem outfit. But I cannot get past the manager.....he lost the plot and his stubborn refusal to change approach immediately after Christmas...hell during that aweful set of defeats.....has cost us dear. But then so has spending £28m on one player when we badly needed three, and worse the failure to see the desperate need for centre back cover in the summer window.

Can't wait for this miserable season to end and all that's left is to hope for a miracle in the summer transfer window coming up. I say miracle because Martinez has got us dumped out of Europe and that WILL impact some signing prospects and we won't have money for anything special, so he's going to be under intense pressure to wheel and deal and pull off some extraordinary transfer successes if he's to put this crap campaign behind him and us.....he will not be sacked so lets pray for a "phenominal" close season......

Ernie Baywood
23 Posted 13/04/2015 at 04:22:59
Very even handed as always Lyndon.

Sometimes I think we're a bit unfair when we judge a performance. There's a tendency to accept a poor performance in a great season, while slamming a decent performance in a poor season.

The reality is that, in a poor season the most likely way to improve is through a gradual upturn in form rather than a complete reversal. Teams don't suddenly become great when they've been shit all season.

I thought Saturday was a good performance. Doesn't allay all my concerns and it even reinforced some about Martinez. But it was progress, and that's about the best we can expect right now until this ordeal is put to bed for the summer.

Patrick Murphy
25 Posted 13/04/2015 at 11:20:32
Just watched this little video from September 1980, Wolves 1980

Times may change but most Evertonians have seen most things before, given what happened to Gordon Lee at the end of that campaign, the fans were ultimately proved correct -–I wonder if those who have criticised our current manager will be proved correct.

The team in those days was very similar to today's in that it was mostly made up of experienced players and had a young starlet by the name of McMahon who was only 19 years of age.

Victor Jones
26 Posted 13/04/2015 at 15:14:10
Re. Darren Hind, I totally agree with your comments regarding McCarthy. He might be a "defensive midfielder", but he should be able to take a shot on goal. Very basic stuff, really. Is he a 14 million pound player, or is he not? I expect more from him than just running around a lot. In fact I expect more from a number of players.

What has happened to Baines's shooting prowess? Barkley does not shoot enough. Coleman is the same. Kone is useless. Even Lukaku can scuff shots. Do Everton not practice shooting? Do they not practice corners and Free kicks? Do they practice anything? I thought that all this talk about not practicing was just that. A load of talk from disgruntled supporters. Now I think that it is true.

We should try and sign Adams from Stoke, and get him to show this Everton team how to shoot. Cause Martinez has not got a clue. Still far too much tippy nonsense. It was evident again on Saturday until a few defenders decided to boot the ball up field. Playing the passing game is great, with the right players. We don't have those players.

So we are now playing out one of the most pointless and awful seasons that I can remember. I have lost interest a long time ago. But at least we are safe. And still Martinez cannot bring himself to play a few youngsters. Maybe bring some much needed energy to the team. Instead, let's see what Howard and Barry and Kone all bring to the team. I really do despair for how the summer will pan out. And next season could be scary. Batten down the hatches. We ain't seen nothing yet. FOREVER EVERTON.

Brian Hill
27 Posted 13/04/2015 at 15:52:27
Steve Barr @14, there is no limit to the amount of dross I would like to see heaped on LFC. What were you thinking?

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