Martinez Acts Decisively to Turn the Tables on Barnsley

Decisive half-time changes eventually turned this Capital One Cup second round tie in Everton's favour as Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley provided the catalyst.

Lyndon Lloyd 27/08/2015 10comments  |  Jump to last
Barnsley 3 – 5 Everton (aet)

There are still five days left in the transfer window a long time by footballing standards and plenty could still happen to cause another twist in the John Stones saga, but tonight's pulsating tie at Oakwell might have been a transformative one in some respects for Everton, the player and Roberto Martinez.

Fewer than 48 hours since news broke that he had submitted a transfer request, there were no guarantees that the manager would name Stones in the squad to face his old club at the stadium where he cut his teeth. But in the absence of any official word from Everton regarding the player's decision, Martinez delivered something of a statement by including him in the starting XI. Under the pressure of the spotlight, the 21-year-old may not have enjoyed his most convincing performance but he came through 120 minutes on the right end of a 5-3 scoreline, was applauded warmly off the field by the vast majority of the 4,300 Blues amassed in the away end, and was spoken of in undeniably supportive terms by his gaffer to the television cameras after the game.

Martinez's disdain for Chelsea's media-driven pursuit of his young protege and the lack of support from "the authorities" was as unmistakable as his instinct to protect Stones and if the player's decision to signal an intent to leave Everton after just two and a half years and 48 appearances was in any way a personal choice, his manager might have given him plenty of food for thought over where is best for him as he continues his development as the club prepare to formally reject that request for a transfer.

For Martinez, just days after coming under criticism from supporters for his unimaginative substitutions against Manchester City, his half-time changes proved to be spot-on as Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley came off the bench to inspire a fightback and an overall attacking performance that eventually booked Everton's passage to the third round.

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The Spaniard had, of course, made a belated and very rusty-looking cameo at the end of Sunday's defeat but here, given a 45-minute run-out one that ultimately stretched to 75 minutes against more favourable opposition, his impact was game-changing. Though McGeady had tried gamely enough to influence proceedings, he wasn't able to ruffle the Tykes' back line in quite the same way as Deulofeu, while the injection of Barkley's own direct running and driving from midfield offered a greater attacking dimension once Tom Cleverley had dropped into a right-back role in place of debutant Matthew Pennington.

Pennington had actually done fairly well in the first half but thanks to the kind of indecisive defending that is becoming more common under Martinez from some of the more experienced heads, he was an obvious candidate to be sacrificed with the score at 2-0 to Barnsley. There is something to the argument that you should play your strongest line-up or a minimally-changed team, at least but against League Two opposition, Martinez clearly felt it was a calculated risk to include some players who were some way off full match fitness. His decision was ultimately vindicated but it owed much to the attacking talent he has assembled and nurtured in his two years at Goodison Park.

Things had looked routine enough in the early going, though Josh Scowen had had the first real sight of goal for hosts when he bounced a shot narrowly wide of Joel Robles' right-hand post. Everton had largely assumed control of the match by quarter-hour mark and really should have been a goal to the good already but Aiden McGeady contrived to shoot meekly at goalkeeper Ben Davies with the goal at his mercy after the ex-Everton Academy goalkeeper had parried Mirallas's shot into his path.

Nevertheless, with Mirallas buzzing around behind the front line and Cleverley knitting things together in midield, it seemed just a matter of time before the superior attacking unit made the breakthrough. Instead, it was Barnsley who scored mid-way through the first half. Stones failed to properly deal with a low cross from the left and Jagielka was similarly indecisive leaving Sam Winnall free to fire the loose ball into the far corner of the goal from about 12 yards out.

Matters got worse when the Tykes doubled their lead in the 28th minute. The decision to field the second-string goalkeeper for League Cup ties has come back to bite Everton in the past and the spectre of a selection-related cup disaster loomed when a deep cross to the back post was headed back across goal and Robles fluffed his lines with Marly Watkins in attendance and the ball ended up in the net off the Barnsley man.

With their manager stone-faced on the sideline, the Blues needed a rapid response but they would be frustrated by opposition defenders who put their bodies on the line to keep shots from Lukaku and Muhamed Besic from troubling Davies, while the 'keeper made a routine save to keep out McGeady's tame attempt to curl a shot past him.

Based on the scoreline, a major upset was on the cards at the half-time interval but you got the sense that Everton would still have too much for Barnsley if they could get their attacking unit clicking. It took just six minutes of the second half for the Blues to put that theory to the test when Oviedo's cross came off a defender's arm and fell invitingly to Mirallas who rocketed a half-volley past Davies.

And after Deulofeu had seen a rather scuffed effort saved by Davies and Barkley had steered a header off the rebound well wide, Everton levelled the game in the 59th minute. More great work by Deulofeu in the cramped environs near the corner flag with two red shirts for company ended with a cross that found Naismith beautifully in the centre and the Scot headed powerfully home from close range.

That should have been the platform from which the Premier League side went on to put the tie to bed but they were caught cold less than 60 seconds later as Oviedo battled to contain Watkins down the Barnsley right and he eventually delivered a low cross that Dan Crowleuy swept home with a tidy first-time finish to restore the Tykes' lead.

Deulofeu's probing almost forced Marc Roberts into prodding into his own net under the attentions of Lukaku but the ball was hacked off the goal line and the referee somehow ignored pleas for a stonewall penalty when Watkins put his arm across across Oviedo face and sent him sprawling as he raced onto Mirallas's pass on the overlap.

But Martinez's men did draw level again when another excellent delivery by Deulofeu from near the touchline picked out Lukaku's run and the Belgian side-footed home to make it 3-3.

A victory in normal time would elude the Blues but it certainly wasn't for the want of trying as they racked up chances in the final stages. Barkley rattled a shot inches wide and the skied a decent chance high into the stand, Lukaku saw a driven shot cannon off Reece Wabara's shoulder and behind for a corner, Jagielka almost converted a Deulofeu cross with a reaching header, Mirallas glanced a Lukaku centre a foot wide and Deulofeu chipped the final chance agonisingly over Davies's crossbar.

Barnsley's valiant stand was broken in extra time, however, although it remained an open contest throughout the additional half an hour as legs tired and mistakes crept in. Indeed, Robles was the first of the two goalkeepers to be tested when he spilled a powerful shot but was rescued by a blue-shirted defender before Deulofeu did prompt Roberts into inadvertantly finding his own net, again with Lukaku hovering menacingly. Had the defender not stabbed the ball in, the Belgian would have done but, regardless, it was 4-3 on the night.

Still, while Everton failed to kill the Tykes off by wasting terrific opportunities on the break-away Mirallas and Naismith getting in each other's way when either would almost certainly have scored was the most glaring instance Lee Johnson's men remained in with a chance but they fell agonisingly short from their perspective when Connor Hourihane with an impressive curling shot from distance that no doubt had Robles's heart in his mouth as it sailed past him.

One of those counter-attacks finally did pay for the Blues five minutes from the end as Barkley romped forward and then held his pass until Lukaku was set ahead of him and he released the striker for a simple side-foot finish past the stranded 'keeper to make it 5-3.

Lukaku steers home to make it 5-3

There was still time for Lukaku to grab his hat-trick but he unselfishly tried to tee up Barkley or Deulofeu and his cut-back caught the heels of a defender and the chance was lost.

They had done it the hard way but the job had been done, however, and Martinez can now prepare for a third-round date at Reading next month. It must be said that Barnsley's performance belied their status among England's third tier and they pushed their more fancied top-flight opponents all the way in an entertaining tie but, in the end, Everton had too much firepower, partcularly when Deulofeu was introduced.

It was a game that will hopefully have provided Martinez with something to ponder when it comes to the permutations across his forward line. Deulofeu clearly added what had been so criminally lacking against City at the weekend namely, width while the combination of the Spaniard and Mirallas operating in concert with Lukaku and Barkley provides an explosive attacking unit with the right defensive formation behind it.

The manager was reluctant to operate with two wingers for much of last season and it was reflected in his team's struggles to break teams down; whether this evening re-opens his eyes to those possibilties again remains to be seen but it's clear that he has weapons at his disposal if he can use them correctly while shoring up a defence that remains prone to mistakes.

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Reader Comments (10)

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Sharabi Singh
1 Posted 27/08/2015 at 09:52:15
Deulofeu was awesome when he came on and but still looks a few weeks away from starting. Mcgeady wasn't as bad as alot of people have made him out to be yesterday I thought.
Besic also had a great game and deserves a starting berth sooner rather than later in my opinion. Surely Roberto must see the drive from midfield he brings while also helping the defenders (yes I know he was at fault for one of the goals but he's young and needs more games in the prem and those will stop). Overall we've played 4 games won 2 and drawing 1. Scored 10 goals but conceded 7. Not good but not bad. COYB
Charles Brewer
2 Posted 27/08/2015 at 14:48:17
Seen from the safe distance of Thursday afternoon, this was a cracking match and Barnsley deserve much praise for their approach - which completely lacked the thuggery often associated with this kind of fixture - and indeed much of their play. If I were RM, I’d have been examining the past documentation about the acquisition of centre backs from Barnsley by Everton.

I thought Pennington had a very good first half, and that, for once, the substitution at half time was no reflection of poor play, but a genuine tactical reform. And didn’t it pay off? Barkley and Deulofeu were a revelation and I suspect would have had Man City rattled if they had played like that on Sunday.

Everton’s defence is weird. We have an excellent set of players who invariably have a mental ’go walkabout’ period once or twice a match.

I still think Lukaku is a much more effective player when teamed with Kone, and I think that in the Premier League a bit of daring from RM, keeping Lukaku, Kone and Mirallas on with Barkley and Deulofeu, at the expense of the more defensive midfield might make an interesting experiment.

I also thought Oviedo was not bad for a first full match and that we should persevere until such time as Baines / Galloway etc can challenge him for the spot.

I am currently involved in a minor war in one of the papers regarding Chelsea and Stones, which tends to elicit long single-paragraph, barely punctuated hysterics about Scousers. As I remarked, their literacy and cognitive skills appear to be on a par with their team’s no-class mien.

Well, the alternative is redesigning my company’s website and I can only do that for an hour or so before the various bits of software get me shouting.

Paul Kossoff
3 Posted 27/08/2015 at 17:48:38
Our defence was alarming at times against Watford and Man City, and again at Barnsley. Martinez has taken one of the Premier League's best defences and turned it into one of the worst. Our manager has not, or refuses to change.
Darren Hind
4 Posted 27/08/2015 at 19:40:28
Now then, Lyndon

A couple of weeks ago I called you out for suggesting Martinez should be given more time. Now I'm back to say I was wrong.

Martinez made mistakes last night, if he hadn't got his team selection so badly wrong, we possibly wouldn't have needed what have since been described as "inspired substitutions". You have to ask: What he was thinking selecting McGeady ahead of Deulofeu in the first place. No?

Anyway, it's immaterial now. We won and that's what cup football is about. But what is Roberto Martinez about ?

Selecting Johns Stones was an incredibly brave thing to do. He must have known the scale of the shit storm he would face if it had backfired. Keeping him on when he was having a Weston was even braver.

I believe Martinez already knew what he was going to say in his after match interview before a ball was kicked. If he is to be criticised for his crap interviews, then he surely deserves immense praise for this one. He wasn't just beating his chest, he was taking control of a really difficult situation. He wasn't just fucking Chelsea off; he was forcing the hand of his own board. Dare they sell Stones now?

Brains, Courage, Dignity. The jury is most definitely still out when considering whether he has the tactical nous to take us to the promised land but, right now, I feel very proud of him.

Peter Murray
5 Posted 27/08/2015 at 19:50:24
#3 Paul Kossoff

Why does this carping never stop? We have gone through a media onslaught to try and persuade us to part with John Stones. We approached this game in that poisonous atmosphere.

We started badly, rallied and won with brilliant approach work and finishing.

Credit where it is due for once and particularly to Roberto Martinez for his dignified yet stern stance that Stones was staying at Everton.

Bobby Thomas
6 Posted 27/08/2015 at 20:11:59
Hopefully that's the end of McGeady. Total liability.

His team mates must love his regular leg breaking hospital passes. As he was a free, we may get £1 or 2 million for him.

I think Lennon is the wrong age but if we could get a couple of million for McGeady & get Lennon cheap or even on loan then do it, please.

I can't handle another season of McGeady.

Paul Jeronovich
7 Posted 27/08/2015 at 22:30:24
Deulofeu was great. Let's get a result at Spurs now lads.
Spragg Johnson
9 Posted 28/08/2015 at 07:35:47
I'd rather Idan Tal than McGeady.
Harold Matthews
10 Posted 28/08/2015 at 10:09:01
Yes, thank goodness for Barkley and Deulofeu. The back four were pretty ragged and with Barry and McCarthy missing, Crowley and Hourihane dominated the midfield and opened us up quite easily.

The halftime subs changed everything and, truth be told, we should have scored 8 or 9.

Oviedo and Besic showed great character. Obviously not fully match-fit, they battled on bravely but I’ll be surprised if they recover in time for the Spurs game. That was a very tough 120 minutes.

We must be very short of CBs because Stones should have been wrapped up and hidden away while all this unfortunate business is going on. He’s still a kid and you don’t need to be a genius to see that he looked a bit lost out there. Let’s face it, the whole sorry affair would unsettle a more experienced pro.

On the plus side, Pennington looked a fine prospect, Lukaku was bursting with health and Mirallas put in a full shift for the team. Barkley has finally grown up and Deulofeu is a class apart even when not quite ready.

Paul Tran
11 Posted 28/08/2015 at 11:26:28
Darren, he picked McGeady because he sees something in him that never appears on the pitch. I haven't got a microscope that strong and he should be off the payroll straightaway.

I think he hung back on Deufelou because he doubted his fitness. Martinez is showing admirable restraint at throwing unfit players onto the pitch this season and I want it to continue.

What is he about? As I often said last season, there's a good manager in Martinez. Its all about hid decision making.He's better when he makes decisions on evidence rather than his instinct, which I don't often trust. First season he made good decisions, last season he made awful ones. To me, it looked the size of the job hit him last season like a ton of bricks. Hopefully, he's over that now.

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