Positive end to season sets up summer of intrigue

A positive end to a poor campaign then, but the performance of the younger players certainly offers hope as we head into an intriguing summer with a new manager to arrive and surely several players both coming and going.

Paul Traill 15/05/2016 16comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 3 -0 Norwich City

It's always a little sad that final day of the season when you see people offering their farewell handshakes and goodbye's for three months... sometimes for longer... sometimes for good. Many lapped up the sunny weather outside the pub, ensuring it was a little quieter than usual inside whilst we watched Bradford City miss several chances in their play-off against Millwall.

Out of intrigue, we were all itching to get the team news and certainly weren't disappointed to see some of the younger players involved. Matthew Pennington beginning the game at right back with Phil Jagielka returning and Ramero Funes Mori not involved at all. The majestic Tom Davies and Kieran Dowell both began the game and Jonjoe Kenny also came into the match, replacing the unfortunate Matthew Pennington, and performed solidly. Ross Barkley, another fantastic product of our youth system of course, was dropped to the substitutes bench. Tim Howard played in goal for his Everton farewell appearance. Steven Naismith began for the already relegated visitors.

We were into Goodison Park in good time for kick off, Everton winning the toss and attacking the Park End in the first half. David Unsworth taking the place of Martinez in the dug out.

We began at a bright tempo with Romalu Lukaku forcing a save out of ex-Evertonian John Ruddy within 30 seconds. Our young lads Tom Davies and Kieran Dowell were particularly eager to get involved from the start and their effort and craft in their performance was encouraging. We survived a slight scare when Tim Howard had to be alert to push a stray clearance from Phil Jagielka around the post, but otherwise we were well in control and didn't have long to wait until we were ahead. Kieran Dowell showed great persistence as he charged forward in possession before laying the ball into the path of James McCarthy who drove at goal first time from 20 yards, bending the ball precisely into the corner of John Ruddy's net. I didn't know McCarthy was capable of such a strike! It's funny how all five of his Everton goals have come at the tail-end of every season.

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With Norwich City offering little resistance, Everton took the initiative. Kevin Mirallas slotted one wide with a great opportunity having been set up by Romelu Lukaku and Leighton Baines hit a tame free kick straight into the wall, before Lukaku was dragged back in the penalty area as he went to attack a ball and Everton had a penalty. Leighton Baines stepped forward straight away and with little, if any, debate it was Baines who stroked in the penalty, sending Ruddy the wrong way with his trusty left foot. I don't know if this was a command from David Unsworth before the game (he was also a left-back penalty taker for many years of course) but it was pleasing to see Baines given this opportunity again.

That was on 44 minutes and I took the opportunity to go straight to the toilet before it got busy up there. I was glad I timed it well as half time was rather special. Firstly Tony Bellew arrived onto the pitch, getting wet from the sprinklers in doing so, to promote his Goodison Park fight next weekend. Everton Fan of the Year, Speedo Mick, also made an appearance, as too did young Everton fan George Shaw to the adulation of the crowd. "We'll win 4-1" he said when asked. "Steven Niasmith will score for Norwich!"

It was more of the same in the second half. Everton didn't let up and made it 3-0 very early on, with all three youth players involved in the goal. Tom Davies, who was a joy to watch throughout, won back possession with a great tackle. Kieran Dowell then ran the ball on and slipped it in to Kenny who's deflected cross set up Kevin Mirallas for an easy finish to put Everton out of sight.

Tim Howard was I'm sure anxious to keep a clean sheet on his final game and though it wasn't his busiest Everton game, he did have to make one smart stop from Matt Jarvis low down to his right. Otherwise he caught and punched what he had to and, along with his defenders ahead of him, contributed towards keeping Norwich City out.

Off the pitch meanwhile there was a comical moment in the Lower Gwladys. I hadn't noticed a pigeon fly up and land on the upper scaffolding on the underside of the roof of the Gwladys Street end, but Gary had. "That pigeon is about to shit on someone" he announced. I was naturally oblivious to this and just as I looked up, the pigeon poop came down, landing on some poor fella a few rows ahead of us. We spent the next few minutes nervously looking up at the pigeon to spot further danger.

Back on the pitch and despite a few threatening breaks we were unable to add further gloss to the scoreline and the game finished 3-0. Tim Howard was given good applause from the crowd as he got emotional in his farewell interview, and the players did a quick lap of the pitch to thank the supporters for their support in this dreary season.

A positive end to a poor campaign then, but the performance of the younger players certainly offers hope as we head into an intriguing summer with a new manager to arrive and surely several players both coming and going.

Onwards and upwards into the next campaign. Have a great summer Blues!

Player ratings:

Howard: Saved what he had to and had reasonable command of his penalty area. 10 years, 414 games, 133 clean sheets and even a goal! Thanks for your service Tim. Good luck in Colorado. 7

Baines: Nice to see him score and good to see him getting forward positively. 7

Jagielka: He really makes defending look quite easy at times. John Stones also seems to perform better when alongside Jagielka. Had he have stayed fit for the season it might just have made the difference for us. 8

Stones: Performed well, as I say, plays much better alongside Jagielka. 7

Pennington: Was doing well until injury struck. Great to have another talented player within the ranks. 6

Barry: Another excellent display from our Player of the Season. Hopefully he has enough in the tank to help us along next season. 8

McCarthy: Got about the pitch well and contributed with a well-taken goal. 7

Davies: He was exquisite. A really gem of a player and completely fearless. He plays with an arrogance and if he keeps his feet on the ground has one exceptional future ahead of him. A real star in the making. My Man of the Match. 8

Dowell: If I was going to be critical I would say he perhaps needs to strengthen up a bit as he gets knocked off the ball fairly easily. That said, he is only 18. He also plays with a confidence and wasn't overawed by the occasion, playing a key role in two of our goals. 7

Mirallas: Showed what he is capable of with an industrious display and makes you wonder why he has been very much on the periphery this season. Perhaps a change of manager can offer new hope for Kevin Mirallas next season. 7

Lukaku: Will be disappointed not to have signed off the season with a goal. Will also be disappointed to not have registered a goal for over two months. His link up play was good and Norwich City didn't really have an answer to him. I hope he sticks around for next season. 7

Kenny (for Pennington): A solid debut from Kenny and great to see him get an assist also. 7

Lennon (for McCarthy): Got involved and was busy in the time he had on the field. 7

Barkley (for Dowell): Did one great surging run, though otherwise laboured through his 23 minutes somewhat. 6

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Reader Comments (16)

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James Stewart
1 Posted 15/05/2016 at 22:12:01
Agreed on your man of the match, Davies was outstanding and he should feature a lot more next season.
Andy Crooks
2 Posted 15/05/2016 at 22:14:41
Excellent report, Paul. A really good picture of the day. I think there is a lot to be positive about now. Thanks for your reports all season.

Mark Fitzgerald
3 Posted 15/05/2016 at 22:29:00
Well said Andy; my thanks also Paul from an Irish Toffee who enjoys an honest Evertonian assessment from one who's been there as opposed to the truncated media wire version.
Danny Broderick
4 Posted 15/05/2016 at 22:45:12
Dowell played right wing first half, which obviously isn't his position. He looked much better when moved inside.

Also, I thought Unsie got it spot on today. He injected some legs into the team with a few young lads, and his subs were good too. We also looked a bit more organised in defence, the whole team looked keen to keep a clean sheet.

The atmosphere was really positive at Goodison today. It's like a much needed fresh start for everyone. Onwards and upwards.

Charlie Lloyd
5 Posted 15/05/2016 at 23:17:38
Davies had a dream full debut. He looks a proper box to box midfielder. A great prospect we can hopefully develop to full potential.

Dowell was pretty decent. A bit hesitant at times but has touch and vision. Good prospect of making it at the top level.

Kenny was very solid. Up against Redmond he kept him pretty tightly reined in. Use of the ball a touch wayward but overall excellent debut.

Overall more passion, tempo and organisation. Amazing what was achieved since Thursday.

Ian Tunstead
6 Posted 15/05/2016 at 23:30:16
We finally have some real money to spend for the first time which will be tempting, I just hope we don't buy for the sake of buying and waste all the money.

The new problem created with this is that we finally have some good young prospect coming through who just need to be given a chance.

The danger is that that could be scuppered if we start throwing money about on the next Kone and Niasse. We need a manager strong enough to hold fire and buy what we need not what we think we might like.
Terry Murphy
7 Posted 16/05/2016 at 05:21:35
I would spend every transfer penny on finding a back-up/long-term replacement for Barry if that is indeed possible. After that Lukaku if that is indeed necessary and then look around for that elusive playmaker.
Ian Tunstead
8 Posted 16/05/2016 at 09:01:03
We have plenty of central midfield players Terry, and lots coming through the youth system. Davies, Liam Walsh, Williams, and Ledson I hope we don't block their progress.

The only positions I think we need are a top class goal keeper a left midfielder and maybe a right midfielder and striker.

Stephen Toy
9 Posted 16/05/2016 at 10:01:40
Who ever takes over as manager there will be a lot of new faces at Goodison park come August.


All will leave in the summer, you would think.


Hopefully not but all could be gone. The new manager is going to be a busy bloke, let's hope he has no TV commitments this summer!!!

Barry Pearce
10 Posted 16/05/2016 at 10:13:54
I agree with Ian. We shouldn't just go throwing money about willy nilly. We should only use it to strengthen where needed.

Some of the youngsters we have at our club, need the chance to show what there about. If your good enough your old enough.

I would love to see young Davies, and Walsh bossing our midfield for years to come. COYB.

Ron Sear
11 Posted 16/05/2016 at 10:29:57
At the moment the Wikipedia entry for Tom Davies is pretty thin. I've got a feeling that quite shortly it is going to get one hell of a lot bigger. The lad oozes talent and confidence, a pure pleasure to watch him play. Just as a matter of interest where does he come from?
Colin Glassar
12 Posted 16/05/2016 at 10:39:51
I wonder how long it will take the press to link him with a move to the mancs or chavs?
Dave Brierley
13 Posted 16/05/2016 at 11:59:48
Thanks for all the reports Paul, always good to read. I don't always agree with your player ratings but this week you pretty well got it spot on.
Next season looks a little brighter than it did last week.
Barry Pearce
14 Posted 16/05/2016 at 12:52:40
Keep up the good work, Paul. I love your ratings. Even like some have said I don't always see it your way.

That's what this site is about. Fans and their opinions, but above all else, we all want the same thing, that feelgood factor when our team plays well and wins.

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 16/05/2016 at 13:23:43
Thanks for your seasons reports Paul, it all ended happily yesterday and hope it continues next season, have a good summer.
Christopher Arellano
16 Posted 18/05/2016 at 20:38:17
Thanks, Paul, for another season of great match reports.
They are appreciated.

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