Stern test from The Imps but we're in the hat

By Paul Traill 06/01/2019 29comments  |  Jump to last
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We proudly drove over to the game at about 12.30pm. I say proudly, because it was the first taste of Everton for Elliot - my two year-old son. And though testing on a few occasions, it was a joy to indoctrinate the boy at Goodison Park.

At the pub they were nice and accommodating for him. Ordinarily we walk up to Goodison Park at about 2.40pm, but this time gave ourselves a bit more time and were into the ground at about 2.20pm. It was actually quite nice to see the players warm up and Elliot seemed to enjoy absorbing the atmosphere even if he didn’t really know a lot about what was going on.

We got the team news is the pub, and though there were five changes, I was surprised, pleasantly, with the team. I expected more players to be given a rest but it’s nice to see that Marco, perhaps as a consequence of current form, taking the competition seriously.

Not that Lincoln City are a team to be taken lightly of course. Only two seasons ago in their promotion back from the National League to League Two, they reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup, knocking out League One Oldham Athletic, Championship teams Brighton & Hove Albion (who were promoted to the Premier League that season of course) and Ipswich Town; and defeated Premier League Burnley at Turf Moor in the 5th Round before finally succumbing to Arsenal in the last eight. They also won the FA Trophy Cup that season and now sit at the top of League Two and are very much a club on the up. A nice success story, and one we would rather have not been a part of in this fixture.

Thankfully we started well and effectively had the game wrapped up inside the opening 15 minutes thanks to two goals in as many minutes from Ademola Lookman and Bernard, both of which were put in the net smartly following nice build up play. The first started when Tom Davies, somewhat waywardly, switched play out to the left to Leighton Baines and following several passes, Baines was released by Idrissa Gueye and put in a superb delivery for Lookman to head smartly past the goalkeeper and over the line.

The second was a great finish by Bernard, this one lofted over the keeper again following a good passing move which finalised with Gylfi Sigurdsson fizzing a ball in to Dominic Calvert-Lewin who nicely teed up Bernard to do the rest. I’m pleased to see Bernard finally get a goal for Everton. On countless occasions now he’s got himself into a good position and had an opportunity to score a goal or provide an assist but his final decision making has been lacking. Hopefully this can be a catalyst for Everton to make more of these opportunities.

Everton were cruising now and for a while you dared to think this may be a case of “how many?”. Ademola Lookman curled a fabulous effort around the post and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was through on goal but the keeper saved well as Everton threatened to turn the screw.

Typically Everton made a mess of this superiority far too easily. Yerry Mina was poor in giving away a soft free kick to John Akinde. It was a good ball in but Gylfi let his runner John Shackell go too easily and his free header was well saved by Jordan Pickford. However Michael Bostwick was first to react to smash the ball into the net to put Lincoln City back in the game.

While I’m pleased Everton have improved immeasurably at defending set-pieces in the first phase (albeit not on this occasion), we need to get more alert to the second ball. In three of our last four games now we’ve conceded from the rebound. Granted there’s not always something you can do about it, but it was too easy at Turf Moor and the Falmer Stadium.

We struggled through the remainder of the half with the noisy 5,481 Lincoln City supporters now whipped up into a frenzy and backing their team all the way. We got to the break unscathed, and Marco Silva used the half time opportunity to try and sort a few things out with a change of personnel, hooking Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the more experienced pair of Andrew Gomes and Cenk Tosun.

Though we were back to creating opportunities again, we couldn’t take any of them and The Imps remained in the game right to the death. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s half-volley from distance was well-beaten away by Josh Vickers, Leighton Baines tumbled in the penalty area but it wasn’t given - I guess that depends which club you play for; while Cenk Tosun and Richarlison both missed good opportunities to put the game to bed.

Thankfully Lincoln City, though in the game throughout, didn’t really create that killer opportunity to level the game. Richarlison headed a ball out from just short of the goal line as the game ticked towards its conclusion; and substitute Shay McCartan went down in our penalty area. It didn’t look a penalty but with the Lincoln CIty supporters screaming for it and referee John Brooks having given us little all game, you half-expected him to point to the spot though thankfully he didn’t.

At full time usually we’re quick to scurry off home but this time, to save dragging our toddler through the busy streets we hung around a while. It was actually quite enjoyable. Jordan Pickford kindly came over to the Lower Gwladys and donated his gloves to a young supporter. It was also nice to see the Lincoln CIty players applauded off the pitch. It was well deserved as they’d given us quite a game, and it’s nice, for the first time in three years, to make it into the hat for the fourth round.

If we were more clinical our passage may have been more comfortable but that for me has been our biggest problem all season. We don’t, generally, concede a lot of chances but in key moments in a lot of games we’ve missed great opportunities. Games, to my mind, against West Ham United, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Watford, Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion have seen us miss big, costly, opportunities which could see us standing much higher in the league.

If our players can take these chances, or if we can sign players that can, we could be on to something.

Player ratings:

Pickford: The one time he was called upon he made a good save but nobody else was alert to it and we went behind. He didn’t have much else to do otherwise but distributed well. 7

Baines: He was excellent and I suppose it’s credit to Lucas Digne;s quality, availability and fitness that Marco hasn’t felt a need to call upon Leighton at any point in the league. That said, I think there’s worthiness in keeping players involved. Leighton is clearly still up to it and while he may be able to contribute for us for another year or two, we’d be loath to lose him, and lose him we may if he is seeking game time. He was class as ever and put in a good ball for the first goal and got forward brilliantly. 7

Mina: I’m not convinced by Yerry and his slack defending in giving away a poor free kick lead to their goal. He needs time of course. He is still learning the language and it’s a new league to him. He had a stellar World Cup and with a background including Barcelona I expect he will much improve over time but I’d be sticking with Kurt Zouma and Michael Keane for now. Yerry’s height and ability to play a ball out of defence are two things I like about him and if he can get more dominant and decisive in defence we could have a good player there. 5

Zouma: Good and solid. 6

Kenny: Did well I thought. What I like about Jonjo is his aggression. He loves a tackle and likes to know the winger know he’s there. Has done his first team opportunities no harm at all. 6

Gueye: Won many balls and kept things ticking over nicely. 6

Davies: I thought he was doing OK an was a bit surprised to see he was substituted but Andre does bring with him that sense of calm. 6

Bernard: Nice to see him score his first goal and his movement and cleverness on the ball was excellent. More goals and assists now please Bernard. My man of the match. 8

Lookman: Also did well and I’d like to see him start against Bournemouth to give him an opportunity to build on this positive performance. Nicely taken goal also. 7

Sigurdsson: Did OK. I imagine Marco hadn’t planned on using him for a whole 80 minutes but needs must I suppose. 6

Calvert-Lewin: Was doing fine. It might have been the plan from the start to give he and Cenk half a game each. 6

Substitutes:

Gomes (for Davies): Brought a bit of calmness to the field and helped us settle down in the second half. 6

Tosun (for Calvert-Lewin): Missed a good chance and though he tries it didn’t quite work for him. Sadly, because he seems a good lad, you feel time is running out for Cenk at Everton. 5

Richarlison (for Sigurdsson): He got involved and did OK but I really wish he’d curb this rolling around. I think he cut his lip not long after coming on but rolled around like an extra from that D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan. You want players to just get on with these things really. It’s frustrating me to hell and not fooling anyone. 6


Reader Comments (29)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 06/01/2019 at 08:22:29
I'm not too sure I agree with any of those ratings other than Baines and Kenny.

I'd Echo the sentiments though, it's just good to be in the hat for the next round!

Kevin Prytherch
2 Posted 06/01/2019 at 08:38:42
You're risking the wrath of the Davies and Calvert-Lewin bashers here, Paul. Remember, they're Championship players at best and surely don't deserve more than 4 out of 10.

Although Calvert-Lewin did register another assist and Davies was instrumental in starting that move.

Michael Neely
3 Posted 06/01/2019 at 08:47:35
I'm not too sure I agree with either of you. Davies and Kenny once again proved that they are not up to the Premier League, and Gueye and Sigurdsson all had poor games... in fact, Sigurdsson should have been subbed long before he was.

Now to Zouma, I know football is all about opinions, and in mine, Zouma stunk the place out yesterday. His timing was out, his tackling was poor, and his passing on the whole was average. If it wasn't for Sigurdsson, he would have been Everton's worst player.

Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 06/01/2019 at 09:12:36
Once again, like last season, Jonjoe Kenny is introduced to a poor team playing like they don't know each other. I thought he had a good game and deserved more than the 6 Paul has given him.

Thanks, Paul, for your always interesting and different take on the game. I hope your little boy continues to bring us luck. Well, we did win and, as you say, we are in the next round of the FA Cup.

Steavey Buckley
5 Posted 06/01/2019 at 09:40:21
Yesterday's underwhelming performances by the Blues was caused by a lack of a quality centre-forward. You can sense once the ball is played down the wings there is no quality centre-forward to give any crosses the respect they need. No wonder there are delays putting quality crosses in.
David Pearl
6 Posted 06/01/2019 at 09:44:49
Well, Elliot didn't understand what was going on but probably more than the manager... boom. Take my Goodison pasty, please.

I actually think, if we play half a crap team and mix them with good players, the crap outweighs the good. A sprinkling of a coach that goes down in my estimation each week. His subs bemuse me. The timing of them. Two at half-time seemed erratic. I really need to see more from Silva. It may be only 20 games but many training sessions.

Hopefully Elliot can go to 7 more FA Cup games this season.

Mark Murphy
7 Posted 06/01/2019 at 09:48:38
I only saw the second half... but, from what I saw:

Gana once again was all energy, interceptions and tackling but his passing is awful, especially with that last breakaway when he should have put Tosun through. He and Gomes seem to be forging an understanding, though, and we do miss Gana when he's not on the pitch.

Kenny was fine – I prefer him at the moment to one of my favourite players, Seamus Coleman.

Lookman looks class and should be starting every match.

Bernard always looks like he can produce something and is getting better.

I thought Zouma was good actually – he's pretty cool on the ball and brings it out of defence with confidence.

Baines was awesome – it's almost a shame we have Digne now as Baines is still a threat going forward. My 2nd half MotM.

Negatives:

Tosun offered very little when he came on and Richarlison looked very miserable. I also thought Gomes was guilty of loose balls and bad decision-making at times. Sigurdsson may have been off the boil but he's still class and one of the few players we have who constantly hits the target from range.

All-in-all, I don't understand the negativity though. We have rarely – in all the 45 years I've watched the blues – played majestically in the early rounds and we bossed this game without hitting our straps. We are very much a work in progress and, once the players gel, we will be a very good team.

I'm happier than I was last week. Coyb

Tony Abrahams
8 Posted 06/01/2019 at 09:58:33
Got to agree with you, Steavey, we have got to go and sign a good striker, pronto.

Lovely story, hearing you took your little 2-year-old the game, Paul, I know how hard this can be, unless they fall asleep, because it's impossible to watch the game properly otherwise.

I say that because I hate watching Tosun. You say he tries... I think he tries harder at not trying to get involved?

He's an international footballer, he scores goals for his country, so he must have ability, but alls I see him do in the blue shirt of Everton is contribute absolutely nowt.

Bill Watson
9 Posted 06/01/2019 at 10:06:49
Very generous markings for a few there, Paul! It just goes to show how differently we all see games.

In particular, I thought Zouma had a very poor game as did Sigurdsson.

I agree Kenny acquitted himself well but wasn't surprised when Davies and Calvert-Lewin were hooked at half-time — although I'm fully aware they shouldn't be criticised because they're 'young'.

Dave Ganley
10 Posted 06/01/2019 at 10:38:07
Not sure I totally agree with the player scoring but was probably there or thereabouts. I thought Baines was out MotM personally. Bernard scored a fabulous goal but drifted in and out a bit whereas Baines showed everyone what you can do with a bit of intelligence.

Now I am full of praise for how Digne has come in and made the spot his own but Baines yesterday gave a masterclass of full-back play in how you combine with wingers and midfield to create space. I've always been amazed at how, since the Baines - Pienaar axis ended, that subsequent fullback - winger combinations don't learn from that. It's not rocket science what Baines does: just pass and move into space.

I know It was only Lincoln but time and again Baines made the overlap into acres of space to put in decent crosses. What a shame that, for most part, no-one was in the box to capitalise. If I were the manager I would have the full-backs and wingers study old footage of Baines and Pienaar doing their thing and put it into practice.

It's so frustrating to see the full-backs not having support to go forward. Many times we see Coleman or Kenny or Digne receive the ball on the half-way line and have the wingers or midfield just drift away from them. Simple triangle passes and move; as I say, it's not rocket science.

Another aspect we are sorely missing is the heartbeat of the team. A Cahill or Arteta or Neville, someone who let's the team know when they're underperforming or made hideous mistakes or just get them to step it up. Time and again, we see daft goals given away and the whole team just mope around. No one barking orders or geeing the team up.

We saw it again yesterday. Lincoln scored the sloppy goal and we just buckled for the rest of the half. From complete control to being under siege. Now, from where I was sat, we were never really in danger of not winning but invite it on and you leave yourselves open to another mistake or give away a sloppy goal. You need someone on the pitch to focus everyone again and we just don't have anyone. That kind of character in the team is as important as a striker.

We are going through a bad patch at the moment but we just don't help ourselves. Clean through on goal and we panic. Poor touches generally are our undoing. Calvert-Lewinand Richarlison both should have scored. Very poor touches lost that chance. I agree also that Richarlison needs to cut out the theatrical diving, it's embarrassing.

Bottom line is we are into the next round. Fair play to the Lincoln fans, they made it a good atmosphere throughout but we thoroughly deserved it in the end, if a little laboured but we really need to step it up. A proper captain or a voice from somewhere desperately needed as well as a striker and then we can start to progress.

We also need to be quicker in execution of everything. Time and again, we slow play down unnecessarily. We have a break on and we go backwards. Pickford goes for a quick throw and he pulls it back. It's so frustrating. This keep ball at all costs hasn't left the club since Martinez. Sometimes you need to take a chance and break at speed. Take a risk, it's how the better teams score on the break.

Can you imagine the better clubs breaking out of defence and just stopping like we do? No me either. Too much caution in our play and not enough play what you see on the field. Same at throw-ins. We get a throw-in with space and everybody just trots around and waits for the fullback to take it. Again, chance gone.

Football by numbers is just getting dull. We beat ourselves a lot of the time. Be spontaneous occasionally and we will reap rewards. Bit like the lack of bodies in the penalty area when a cross comes in. How are we ever going to score if no-one is there to put the ball in??? Nobody arriving late, no-one on the back post at corners... you shouldn't need to teach this to professional players, they should already know the basics of scoring goals, be in position and you score, simple.

There's a lot of good going on this season in spite of our poor run at present but there's also so much more the players need to work on to become consistent and climbing the table.

Darren Hind
11 Posted 06/01/2019 at 13:22:14
Like others have said, Paul, I think your marking was probably there, or thereabouts.

The big question is: What does Eliot think of this Zonal Marking lark?

Mike Powell
12 Posted 06/01/2019 at 14:32:29
I agree with most of that except for Davies and Calvert-Lewin – they don't even deserve a 3. I don't understand how any blue can stick up for them. Yes, they are young players but they are both poor. They would be lucky to get into the Lincoln side, never mind getting a game for Everton.
Andrew James
13 Posted 06/01/2019 at 15:25:21
Thanks for your write up, Paul, and glad to hear about your little boy.

I agree with much of what you say. Richarlison's histrionics are annoying although he did keep out a goal-bound effort towards the end (unless I am mistaken) which is always encouraging to see from attacking players. Mina got into his obligatory locking of horns with an opponent off the ball which nearly escalated.

I thought Tom Davies was having a good game in a very British encounter (which Kenny relished as well). Strange to replace him with Gomes who didn't seem to realise he had extra seconds on the ball given the opposition and was like a cat on a hot tin roof. Calvert-Lewin looked like he had a goal in him during the first half of his half before we dropped off as an attacking prospect and got sucked into Lincoln's territorial skirmishes to win them set pieces.

If the changes weren't injury related, I would go so far as to say it was an unnecessarily risky move. 4-1 up, okay give Tosun a run. But 2-1 up? Surely give the existing 11 another 15 minutes to try sealing the deal? What if injuries had happened (likely against slower lower league opponents and given our fatigue levels will be up after the festive season) and he's blown two subs to achieve what? We might have been down to 10-men. Shades of the League Cup exit from Marco there.

Bernard was lovely to watch at points and Leighton Baines rolled back the years. I know this was Lincoln but he just always has seemed to have more time than others and hits the early ball so not to allow the opponents to close him down. We all got frustrated by him hitting the first man a few seasons ago, well much of that was because Martinez (like Silva now) seems to coach the full backs to go to the line and walk the ball into the goal with team mates.

I do think that Leighton has to be involved in some capacity. Not to the exclusion of Digne but perhaps in an Andy Hinchcliffe role if people remember the 1995 FA Cup winning season.

Gerry Quinn
15 Posted 06/01/2019 at 16:29:39
Thanks for the story, Paul – do you have any video of that "first sight of Goodison" from your wee lad? Saw this on NewsNow a short time ago which reminded me of my own smirk 60 odd years ago...

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/whether-youre-red-blue-little-15636315

Kevin Prytherch
16 Posted 06/01/2019 at 16:55:56
Here’s an interesting one for those slating our young players

Based on today’s market (£19m Solanke, £15m Origi etc)
How much would you expect from selling our youngsters?

Kenny (£10m)
Davies. (£25m)
Lookman. (£45m)
Calvert Lewin. (£20m)

Throw in the following if you like as well
Holgate. (£12m)
Dowell. (£5m)

My estimates are in brackets...

Cue laughter and debate

Andrew James
17 Posted 06/01/2019 at 17:35:41
Kevin,

You trouble maker. Those on this site who I suspect log on and then press CTRL-F "Calvert-Lewin" to seek and destroy will be here very soon...

Rob Dolby
18 Posted 06/01/2019 at 20:05:44
Bernard was my MotM yesterday, He at least offered a threat.

Against Bournemouth I would play both Baines and Digne down the left as they both have quality.

I thought the Davies sub was harsh and didn't see too much difference in shape, passing or bossing the midfield when Gomes came on.

We are in the hat which is the main thing; let's draw Newport at home.

Ian Brandes
19 Posted 06/01/2019 at 20:46:14
How sad to be an Evertonian when the Imps give us a stern test. How sad now that we have a Foreign Legion of players who are over-rated, overpaid and over here, manager included!

Never mind... we might regain our greatness by 2050, or maybe not.

John Boon
22 Posted 06/01/2019 at 21:26:44
New competent striker will make a huge difference to both forwards and defence. Essential that we get one.
Mike Benjamin
23 Posted 06/01/2019 at 22:06:27
At least one sub was definitely needed at half-time. Davies was too weak in the tackle and Gomes gave us control in midfield to keep them at arm's length. About time Marco acted before disaster strikes. Well done.

Lookman gives us something different with the opposition standing off him, something you can see more clearly when at the game rather than watching on TV. Hope he now gets a run.

Andrew James
24 Posted 06/01/2019 at 23:25:15
Mike - I thought we were worse after half time. We looked good until about 25 minutes and then never kept possession for long or had a cutting edge for the remaining 65.

I really don't think Marco acted before disaster struck. From my seat, he merely prolonged the malaise by tinkering and confusing the players.

Bill Watson
25 Posted 07/01/2019 at 00:14:12
Mike #23,

I agree. The introduction of Gomes brought some order to the chaotic, unstructured midfield of the first half.

Ed Prytherch
26 Posted 07/01/2019 at 01:05:58
I watched the Sheffield Utd/Barnet game just to see how Dowell played. He was great on the ball and did little off it – Ross Barkley-ish. Almost every one of his passes were one-touch and were accurate. He has vision. In one of the few tackles he made he put Charlee Adams on the turf where he stayed for a couple of minutes, so he can do it.
Bill Watson
27 Posted 07/01/2019 at 05:11:17
Ed #26,

I think The Sheffield Telegraph more, or less, concurs with that although to be fair to Dowell he hasn't had many minutes, this season.

Kieran Dowell: 6. Also showed a few glimpses of his ability, a superb turn in midfield leaving his marker for dead, but couldn't quite impose himself on the game as he would have liked and also seemed to tire late on after not playing much football this season.

Read more at: https://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/blades/player-ratings-how-sheffield-united-s-players-fared-in-their-1-0-fa-cup-defeat-to-barnet-1-9522616

John McFarlane Snr
28 Posted 07/01/2019 at 15:31:38
Hi Dave [4] after another failed late fitness test, I was once again forced to listen to Radio Merseyside's commentary. It didn't sound such a good game, and while I acknowledge that all results are important, I place two instances where I consider the result as vital, irrespective of performances, and they are derby games and Cup ties.

If we beat Southampton in the Premier League fixture, we gain 3 points; likewise, the same reward is ours if we beat Liverpool, but the reaction following the win over Liverpool is hard to put into words... I know you'll understand what I mean.

Regarding Cup ties, particularly FA Cup victories, a win at Wembley and 3rd round struggles are completely forgotten. The point I'm attempting to get across is that performances can fluctuate but results are permanent.

You may remember that I told you that Josh was nominated to attend trials at Finch Farm; as a follow-on, Everton have invited him back for a further session, on Wednesday evening, 9 January 2019.

Dave Abrahams
29 Posted 07/01/2019 at 15:56:05
John (28), made up for Josh, he doesn't need advice off me while he's got you, but I would stress to him to go and enjoy every session he's there, hopefully quite a lot . The other thing is to use the most important thing at these sessions: his ears... listen and learn.

Best wishes for the New Year, John, and I hope you are back at The Park End soon. Enjoy your time at Finch Farm, Josh, good luck.

Andy McNabb
30 Posted 09/01/2019 at 01:13:25
Great to read about Elliot, Paul. We are hopefully back at Goodison for the first time in 7 years for the Burnley game in May if we can get tickets.

Maybe we could get Elliot together with our new grandchild, Heidi on another trip back? She's only 4 weeks old and her dad decided on 'McBaby' for the back of her Everton jumpsuit. Well - you can't rely on the players staying these days, can you?!

Paul Traill
31 Posted 09/01/2019 at 07:06:23
Andy (30) - yes sure mate, in a few years why not. I plan to start taking him regularly in 4/5 years, hopefully in time for the new stadium.
Andy McNabb
32 Posted 09/01/2019 at 10:40:09
See you in a few years then, Paul. I'm sad she will probably never see the Old lady but it's a long way from Melbourne.

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