Crystal Palace 0 - 0 Everton

The chafing irony of Bill Kenwright’s wholly ill-timed and misguided open letter to the #AllTogetherNow movement on the eve of a hugely important Premier League match was not lost watching Everton slog their way to an unsatisfying but not unwelcome point at Crystal Palace.

The Chairman’s missive was self-congratulatory in tone and yet his failings and that of the rest of the hierarchy have been laid bare in recent weeks, as a squad painfully short on depth and quality has picked up just three points from a possible 15 and scored just four goals in five games.

Setting aside the glaring lack of striking reinforcements, perhaps nowhere is that galling lack of quality more evident than in the full-back positions where Sean Dyche deployed yet another awkward and ill-suited centre-half and paid the price for a lack of foresight and action when Mason Holgate was sent off for a second bookable offence with 10 minutes left of the regulation 90 in this lacklustre encounter at Selhurst Park.

With Nathan Patterson deemed either too raw or lacking in sharpness to start, Ben Godfrey struggled at right back in Seamus Coleman’s absence against Fulham last weekend. Holgate was several shades worse this afternoon, putting in the kind of horrendous showing that should have seen him hooked long before he had the chance to clumsily foul Jordan Ayew for a third time on the day and receive his marching orders from referee John Brooks.

Both bookings were soft but Holgate and his Everton team-mates had been doing their best to make Ayew look like a vintage Brazilian rather than the unremarkable Ghanaian he has been throughout his career and the writing had been on the wall for a defender who has been on the Blues’ books for eight years without ever finding any real consistency. Dyche leaving him on as long as he did was a worrying dereliction of duty on the manager’s part.

Even allowing for Patterson's ill-fortune on the injury front, that a 34-year-old Coleman is comfortably the best full-back at the club is a damning indictment of Everton’s recruitment and whether he likes to admit it or not, "Chairman Bill" is partly culpable; that Rafael Benitez was allowed to trade Lucas Digne for the visibly declining Vitalii Mykolenko on the other side of defence just rubs salt into the wounds and has contributed to a plight that will look increasingly desperate unless this team can start scoring enough goals.

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In that respect, the return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin was, perhaps, the only pleasing aspect from today apart from the fact that Everton managed to hold out for a point despite playing a quarter of an hour with 10 men. The striker, starting his first match since early February, has been eased back to fitness and lasted 90 minutes before being replaced in stoppage time and he came close to a hero’s comeback with an hour gone but, sadly, just missed the target with his only real chance of the game.

Indeed, with just one corner all afternoon, offering almost no threat from set-pieces and generally struggling to create from open play as Demarai Gray in particular came up short, Everton failed to provide their main goal-poacher with any real service; that will need to change on Thursday when Newcastle come to town for a fixture that has ratcheted up in importance from the Toffees’ standpoint.

With Amadou Onana still out injured and Abdoulaye Doucouré serving the final match of his three-game ban, Dyche continued with James Garner in central midfield and installed Gray wide on the right with Alex Iwobi in the middle behind Calvert-Lewin.

Everton had the first sights of goal when Dwight McNeil dribbled a shot towards Sam Johnstone in the fourth minute and Calvert-Lewin could only get a shoulder to a chipped Iwobi ball into the box early on but it was Palace who assumed the greater control of the contest.

Holgate’s first infringement on Ayew set the converted winger up for a header in the eighth minute but he put the chance over the the crossbar, while Michael Olise fired in a shot that Pickford dealt with comfortably and Tyrick Mitchell volleyed over after Ayew had been allowed by Michael Keane to get a cross in from the by-line.

Everton’s best moment of the first half came from Iwobi after they kept the ball despite a dreadful free-kick from McNeil, with Iwobi rattling a 20-yard volley off Mitchell’s short clearance that was heading for the bottom corner before Johnstone palmed it aside.

Calvert-Lewin’s daisy cutter six minutes before the break was comfortable for the keeper, as was McNeil’s similarly tame effort a couple of minutes later as the two teams went in level at the break.

The Eagles had the ball in the net after, not the for the first time on the day, they had caught the Everton defence flat-footed with a ball over the top but Ebereche Eze was correctly flagged offside.

Four minutes later, a booming Pickford ball forward was knocked down by Calvert-Lewin, Iwobi threaded a pass between the centre-halves back to the striker who rolled his man beautifully with a deft touch but hammered a left-foot shot inches the wrong side of the post.

Eze had Palace’s only meaningful effort on goal of the second period with a quarter of an hour to go but Pickford was equal to his curling effort that was searching out the bottom corner, the England keeper turning it behind and Cheick Doucouré lashed well over from a subsequent corner.

Everton’s hopes of sneaking a priceless winner more or less evaporated with Holgate’s second calamity when his lunge in on Ayew earned him his marching orders. Dyche threw Godfrey on instead of Patterson and eventually replaced Calvert-Lewin with Neal Maupay rather than Ellis Simms as the visitors dug in for the point.

Luka Milivojević came off the bench for Palace and saw a goalbound shot deflected behind off Vitalii Mykolenko and Eze fired a dangerous ball across the six-yard box but Pickford held on before Brooks called time on five minutes of stoppage time.

Depending on how this season pans out over the remaining six games, this was either a point that inched Everton to safety or an opportunity passed up to climb away from the bottom three. Much now rests on the home clashes with Newcastle and Bournemouth, the trips to Leicester and Wolves and hope for some kind of miracle against Manchester City and Brighton.

Seven of the 11 who dismantled Patrick Vieira’s Palace last October started at Selhurst Park today but with confidence at a low ebb, there was precious little of the quality shown in that handsome 3-0 win on show in yellow.

Somehow, Dyche needs to restore large measures of the former and coax more of that latter out of his charges against the Magpies where, hopefully, after full-throated and laudibly passionate support from the travelling Blues at Selhurst Park today, a raucous and defiant Goodison crowd will be there under the lights to propel them to what would be a vital victory. The alternative is too heavy to ponder.

Reader Comments (23)

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Steve Guy
1 Posted 22/04/2023 at 23:15:42
How Holgate got the nod ahead of Patterson is beyond me as is sending Maupay in ahead of Simms for the last five minutes. Dyche’s overall in game tactics are confusing to say the least. In the last two games we have played two teams with the proverbial flip flops on and we’ve gained 1 point. These were the games that were our “bankers”. Newcastle, City and Brighton await and our other games can definitely not be defined as “bankers”. The long awaited return of DCL is clutching at straws. We don’t score goals and are relying on Leeds and Forest doing worse than us in the last few games. Fingernails will be bitten to the quick ! Final point…..well done to Billy Liar for proving (if anyone still needed the proof) that he is wholly unfit to control our Club with the frankly deluded, rambling, sarcastic and patronising diatribe you saw fit to publish yesterday. Well done also to the “best of the best” and other Board members who thought it a fine idea to let him do so; thus proving they too are unfit to be in charge.
Paul Kernot
2 Posted 23/04/2023 at 00:10:00
Wow. I thought we were toothless last week but even with DCL back, we had nothing. We were just fortunate today that Palace are mid table and didn't need to win.

Holgate over Patterson?
Maupay instead of Simms or, well anybody at the club including the gbus driver.

Iain Croft
3 Posted 22/04/2023 at 00:33:12
Holgate thrown in with next to no game time..yet away v attacking in-form wingers I accepted it over a less defensively minded Patterson selection. Both his cards were very soft.
I scream for subs every game when it’s so clear we are fading & increasingly vulnerable.. then I look at our bench!

Simms yes.. but Simms & DCL v 10 men would be crazy. Mops was not the right sub tho for sure.. nor will he ever be.

I will try to bring the positives cos we all need something:

1 - clean sheet away against a team in goal scoring form.
2 - DCL IS actually still alive and got almost a full game under his belt/ skirt & in 1st half held it up, flicked it on to a runner and also defended the set piece onslaught towards the end.
3 - Dacca available next match. Whatever anyone thinks.. he gives us something different and is always involved in our goal scoring opportunities.
4 - No 4th.. that’s all I got!

Neil Cremin
4 Posted 23/04/2023 at 07:32:49
Holgate did not have a good game but in his defence, the first booking was never a booking (I was stuck in the middle of Palace supporters who I overheard say it) The second was as a real of an awful Pickford pass straight at Ayew which left Holgate scampering back to retrieve the situation.
Again I will be very unpopular here but watching Pickford yesterday only confirms what I always believed, he is a destabilising influence on our defence with his ranting and ravings. His insistence on playing out at back early on when Dyche was shouting to play long put us under unnecessary pressure. You could see there was verbals between himself and Keane and Tarks. Our best chance came from a long ball ot DCL. I know he’s England No. 1 but when playing forEverton he’s got to learn there is no I in TEAM.
Mal van Schaick
5 Posted 23/04/2023 at 08:20:53
It’s nothing that we don’t all ready know, Holgate, Davies and quite a few more are not good enough to play at this level, that’s why we are in the poo.

Two or three chances aside, it was a flat performance, no grit or vigour and no determined leader in the team to step up and invigorate the players for the realisation of the situation that we are in.

Dyche is in dreamland until he proves that he can inspire the players with the wins that we need to stay in the league. It’s like we are drifting along rudderless.

Joe McMahon
6 Posted 23/04/2023 at 08:47:46
Mal, exactly, and JJK chose to leave instead of hanging around. Non of them good enough, seriously how can Tom Davies after several seasons still be at Everton! I honestly believe it's part of the self congratulary culture at Finch Farm. We are all part of Everton and isn't it nice. Let's not rock the boat as we are all friends.

Unsworth and Dunc living on Easy Street for years. Look at the level they're both managing at. They both were at cosy Finch Farm years too long. It all fits in with Bill's antiquated view of Everton. The obsession with the past will relegate the present.

Tony Everan
7 Posted 23/04/2023 at 08:50:03
Betfair exchange is a a pretty good barometer of where we are at. Everton are now evens to get relegated, almost exactly the same as before the Palace match, so really it was a kick the can down the road result yesterday, not good or bad. Leeds now 7/4 and Leicester 2/1.

The next two games will bring much more clarity to the situation. It’s crunch time, we need four points to keep our head above water and give us a fighting chance.

Andrew Clare
8 Posted 23/04/2023 at 08:56:43
Looking at the table and the remaining fixtures I think our only hope is that Leeds and Forest get nothing out of their upcoming matches as I am finding it difficult to see where we can get any positive results.
Leicester will pull away- they are in a false position.
There is a massive difference between the top five and the bottom five.
Mark Murphy
9 Posted 23/04/2023 at 08:57:25
Tom Davies didn’t even play and he still gets stick!
DCL back is a bonus and with Doucoure, O’Nana and hopefully Seamus back we will be better than today. Whether better than today is good enough is the worry. I foresee a final day lottery.
Danny O’Neill
10 Posted 23/04/2023 at 09:03:28
Neil, I sympathise with you sitting amongst the opposition. Been there.

With regards to Pickford, you always get that with keepers. They are an angry bunch just as much as a decent striker is usually selfish and struts around sulking a lot!

Remember Peter Schmeical at United? He wasn't shy in dishing out "advice" to his defenders. In relative terms, he made Pickford look like a puppy.

Nature of the beast.

Neil Cremin
11 Posted 23/04/2023 at 09:14:00
Thanks Danny
I know I have a blind spot re Jordan for years.
Thought we had more threat (bar Ayew) and thought we looked more like scoring.
Was only nervous of my reaction had DCL converted his chance. I did jump
Here’s to hoping for a better result on Thursday
Neil Cremin
12 Posted 23/04/2023 at 09:17:40
Also great vocal support from travelling Everton fans.
Made me proud
Dwayne Perkins
13 Posted 23/04/2023 at 09:19:19
@ Joe McMahon

Spot on 100% agree.

The writing's been on the wall for many a season due to the miss management of the club!!

Paul Tran
14 Posted 23/04/2023 at 09:24:14
Spot on Joe #6, we have been the football equivalent of Grace Bros for years - still think we're marvellous, can't understand why the rest are leaving us behind.
Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 23/04/2023 at 09:29:58
It was quite special in the circumstances Neil.
Martin Mason
16 Posted 23/04/2023 at 09:32:36
A very fair result for a very dysfunctional club with a very poor team. We will not recover until we excise the amateurs and dinosaurs like Bill Kenwright and banish the debilitating Everton chumocracy that pervades the club.

Bill will take us down or even out of business and he'll enjoy it as it makes him the last of the Mohicans.

Mark Murphy
17 Posted 23/04/2023 at 10:13:29
“Chumocracy” – Love it!!

Very apt, Martin.

Neil Cremin
18 Posted 23/04/2023 at 10:34:59

No strategic planning. Every decision in the last 10 years has been ad hoc impulsive – particularly since Moshri's money.

Steven Kendrew
20 Posted 23/04/2023 at 12:54:22
“The football equivalent of Grace Brothers”. I like that Paul!! At least they were funny though. I’ll be listening out for DCL saying “I’m free!” on Thursday.
David West
21 Posted 23/04/2023 at 19:11:43
I think Lyndon got it spot on. Ayew has never been an amazing player but against Holgate he looked a world beater.
Hes not blessed with lightning pace yet made Holgate look pedestrian.
Hes not the most physical yet made him look weak.
The 2 bookings were soft but most fans could see it coming a mile off.
One positive is it may be the last time we see him in a blue shirt.
Compare him with Mykolenko who had the quicker more talented player to deal with, he has such a better temperament, a Defenders temperament. He's not the best going forward not the best crosser but he can defend.
Mark Murphy
22 Posted 23/04/2023 at 19:28:27
Isn’t it funny how we all see things differently? The lad next to me yesterday was cursing Myko as shite whilst personally I thought he was ok. I thought Tarks was great and Keane poor but some lads in the pub afters were slagging off Tarks and praising Keane.
Personally I thought Tarks and Coady would be our CB pairing for the next two seasons. With the armband going to Coady.
Doucoure, Onana, Coleman & DCL back will be massive.
Neil Cremin
23 Posted 23/04/2023 at 19:38:12
Interesting comments
Just considering not so very long ago Coleman was also being written off.
For me if we had his drive throughout the team we would not be in the position we are in.
Paul Kernot
24 Posted 24/04/2023 at 03:07:04
Mark #22. I have to disagree there mate. I reckon we won't sign Coady, even for the reported 4.5mil. We'll bring young Banthwaite back from PSV & get him ready for next season. Maybe in the champoinship, maybe not but surely he's our future CB.

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