While worried that we may be too late, I scoffed at Gaz's initial suggestion of a 9:30 am departure, leaving at 8:30 am was more than a tad early as we made good haste down the A41, parking up about a mile from Molineux at around 10-10:30 am.

The luxury of time is, sometimes, a beautiful thing and it was nice to walk around Molineux before heading into the city centre. Wolverhampton is notorious amongst Evertonians for being a difficult place to get into pubs with many a 'HOME FANS ONLY' sign blue-tacked to a pub window, so we planned to meet a few great Evertonians, Chris, Michael and later David, in the – there's no other word to describe it – quaint village of Penkridge for a few quieter, hassle-free beers.

I'm not much of a gambler, though occasionally if the thought of a scoreline and goalscorer crosses my mind, I'll have a little flutter. While Gaz nipped into a cracking little bakery called Jasper's, I went into William Hill to bet on Everton winning 2-1 with Alex Iwobi first goal.

Obviously that didn't come off but, in doing so, I got chatting to a gentleman named Lionel Martin who used to play for Aston Villa back in the 1960s. He spoke ever so glowingly about Everton as a football club:

"Everton can't go down" he said. "They're far too big to go down".

His eyes really lit up when talking about our Holy Trinity midfield of Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey and Alan Ball and the team that won the league in 1969-70, and also our greatest period of Howard Kendall-led success in the 1980s. I share his sentiment: We can't go down. We're too big.

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After beers in The Boat Inn and then The Star, we made our way to Molineux. It was my first visit to the stadium and I have to say I was very impressed. A great atmosphere at a tidy stadium in beautiful sunshine made for a fantastic sunset to their survival season. We just needed Everton to spoil their party.

And for about 30 minutes, we looked well set to do so. Two chances for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, one I thought he'd scored with, the other he should have scored with, and we were going well.

But then disaster struck, of course. Firstly Nathan Patterson went down injured and, despite his best efforts, was unable to carry on. And then Wolves scored. A good break which was unbelievably not stopped by either Idrissa Gueye or, more notably Amadou Onana, and the ball was put in by Hwang Hee-Chan on the rebound. It was tough on Everton but so preventable.

At this, David went down to get a beer so I followed him down a few minutes later and while he waited frustratedly in a slow-moving queue, I watched on the screen as Amadou put a nice little ball into the pocket for Dominic to chase. He couldn't get there but then went down, injured again.

I was gutted for Dominic and was left pondering quite what we could do to get back into this one, let alone take on the next one. Fair play to the Wolves centre-back for showing compassion and concern for Dominic as he nursed his injury. David arrived with a couple of ciders. "Did I miss anything after the goal?"

At the break, we discussed our options and felt we had no choice but to go 3-5-2 and Sean did just that. The only problem being that it didn't work. Through no shortage of effort, we didn't know how to play it and were lucky not to be further behind when Wolves missed the target with three good opportunities. In reply, Damarai Gray drove straight at Dan Bentley, and Alex Iwobi shanked a half-volley wide.

We were desperate and what we were doing wasn't working. I can't recall a time when desperate times had called for such desperate measures but Sean did what he had to and abandoned the system and put Michael Keane up front. The referee, rightly given the lengthy in-game stoppages, gave 9 minutes of stoppage time. We could barely watch.

We won a corner and Jordan Pickford wanted to join the fray but Sean kept him back. We won one more and this time he was allowed to go up. It was cleared, I think for a throw-in, and we got it back in there quickly. In real time, from our location, we had no idea how it happened but were overjoyed when it went in. A stranger and I looked at each other and hugged for dear life. Having seen it back this morning, it was great from all three centre-backs. 

As we walked out at full-time someone asked me who had scored the goal. I had no idea. It hadn't even occurred to me for a minute. The 99th-minute goal could be huge, it might end up being completely insignificant, but at that moment then, it meant everything.

We walked back to the car and, in quite desperate need for the toilet, went into a pub called The Summer House. Not being in a particular rush, we sat in the large comfortable beer garden and had a drink and ordered some food. And you know when sometimes you have an idea and you know it's a bad idea but you do it anyway?

Fancying a few beers and not exactly thrilled by the prospect of the drive back, we checked for hotels and found one nearby at a handy price. I checked in with Katja first of course, who gave me the green light, and so we stayed in Wolverhampton for the evening. As always, we ran into a few other Evertonians who'd done a similar thing.

How important that point will be remains to be seen. I think it will end up being important and will help us scramble to safety, but we're certainly doing it the hard way. I'm writing this on the way home and Leeds United are yet to play. Let's hope for the best with that one.

Player ratings

I don't have the time to rate them all right now but I will single out three players particularly for giving their all and not giving up on this one.

Idrissa Gueye: Okay, he could have done a professional foul for their goal but he gave his all and kept possession well.

James Garner:  He worked his socks off, and took a yellow card for the team later on in the game. And 

Yerry Mina: He was colossal. Of course he was my Man of the Match. He would not give up on this and got his rewards at the death. If it's in our hands next Sunday, he for one won't let the unthinkable happen.

Keep the faith. We're nearly there. 


Reader Comments (32)

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Pete Gunby
1 Posted 21/05/2023 at 17:59:06
Keep those positive thoughts Paul. Agree with your views of Mina, Garner and Gana. Pickford made a save that kept it at 1-0 that can’t be overlooked. We need a right back and fit striker for next week.
Brent Stephens
2 Posted 21/05/2023 at 18:07:45
Nice write-up, Paul. I hope you weren't driving as you wrote that up on the way back.

And a nice little story about Lionel Martin.

Jerome Shields
3 Posted 21/05/2023 at 18:13:57
Yes Paul , Mina has probably keep Everton in the Premier League and is worth his signing on fee and his wages just for that.It even surpassed his leadership against Brighton.Garner and Gueyedid a great job. If only they had have had McNeill with them.Dyche not playing Holgate a defender is unexplainable.
Gerry Quinn
4 Posted 21/05/2023 at 18:29:34
Interesting read, Paul, so happy you got some kind of result - I would have loved to travel with you all but I learnt a long time ago there are no sofas to hide behind on the terraces!!!!!
Richard Lyons
5 Posted 21/05/2023 at 18:54:33
Thanks for the write-up, Paul.
Given that Leeds lost today, and assuming Newcastle beat Leicester tomorrow, we just need a draw against Bournemouth to survive (I think). Surely we can do that??
Dan Brierley
6 Posted 21/05/2023 at 19:02:37
Thanks for the report! A pont was a great result against a team who had won their last four home games without conceding. Interesting how Mina now seems immune from criticism though. Got skinned a few times, and was in a shocking positon for the rebound. Was ball watching from the half way line, had no idea there was a man behind him. He put the goal away in style, but not a mention of the immaculate control and square ball from Michael Keane? All in all a very important point, which keeps huge pressure on Leicester as they now need to win tomorrow keep it in their hands. UTFT!
Mark Andersson
7 Posted 22/05/2023 at 04:48:37
Looks like Moyes done us a favour, maybe he wants his Everton job back...

Thing is IF we survive, will it be the same next season... 🤔 😕 😔

Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 22/05/2023 at 06:02:15
Pretty much how I saw it Paul.

I'm still penning.

It won't be a repeat, but not too dissimilar.

Good to know that we broadly witnessed a similar match.

It could be back in our hands by tonight.

Jim Bennings
9 Posted 22/05/2023 at 06:17:21
We are almost there, but only almost.

I can still see many twists in next week yet, this is Everton after all where nothing is ever straightforward.

If we do stay up then of course a huge overhaul is needed, whether we will get one or actually be allowed to make one given the charge we face, who knows.

We can't start another season without rectifying this striker situation, it's obvious we can't rely on Dominic Calvert-Lewin anymore, his body won't allow him to play games now consistently.

The fact that we haven't signed a striker worthy of the clubs name in the 7 years since Lukaku left has clouded our judgement that DCL is better than he actually is, if we'd signed a like for like last summer then we probably wouldn't have missed him as much as we have.–

The right back situation also needs closer examination too, Patterson has been here 18 months but his injury record is very concerning.

Jerome Shields
10 Posted 22/05/2023 at 08:50:43
Jim #9,

Yes, they have to beat Bournemouth, which is not a forgone conclusion. Last times they played Bournemouth they were walloped twice in one week. Bournemouth have done well climbing out of the relegation zone from bottom spot.

But Mina's goal has given them a chance, gaining them a crucial point. Leicester still have to play and are capable of a performance, well at least Maddison is.

Maybe a draw against Bournemouth may do it. I would not put money on that not being the result at Goodison, such is my confidence. I have had the gut feeling it would come down to the last round throughout this relegation dogfight. I am now thinking in terms of injury time at Goodison.

But it does not end there. An independent commission and the management of Everton pissing about all Summer. Such is an Evertonian’s lot.

Michael Lynch
11 Posted 22/05/2023 at 09:26:55
Nice to get the point, which might or might not be significant, but how many times will we blow our chance of safety? A win on Saturday and, chances are, we'd have been celebrating safety tonight.

But, as it is, we're still in big trouble and relying on getting a result next weekend or - possibly more likely - relying on the teams around us to fuck up again.

I'm not sure how we beat Bournemouth on Sunday with the players available to us, and bearing in mind they are capable of hammering us. Let's hope we don't have to.

Finally, once again the players gave their all, and once again they simply weren't good enough. I'm sure I'll give them a round of applause at the end of the last game because very little of this season's shambles has been their fault. They've tried their best and can't be blamed for being a poor squad of footballers.

Even if we do survive, we need this club sold within a couple of weeks and a complete restructuring as soon as possible. We can't waste any time, especially if we get a transfer ban or points deduction, or else we are bound to do down next season if we don't go down this season.

Martin Mason
12 Posted 22/05/2023 at 09:40:27
I thought that the Mina and Tarks were colossal and Garner up there with them. We've made some awful buys but he isn't one of them. He looks after his own patch perfectly and he has some good distribution in him.
Martin Mason
13 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:03:56
Remember also that we effectively lost our best player with moving McNeil to LB. Our tactic of simply hoofing the ball into the Wolves area where their CB's simply lapped it up were those of an amateur too. We desperately need a thinking coach not a dinosaur. We may look back next Sunday and realise that this was the game and the performance that kept us up.
Christine Foster
14 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:09:08
Yerri Mina has sat on the sidelines unused all season.. not a fit, an injury prone risk.. circumstances presented him with an opportunity to put himself in the shop window. He is a free agent in one more game and should we stay up, he will be a major footnote to a horrible season.
He is not elegant, he is a bit of a nark, but he has been worth every penny of his transfer fee.. many may not agree, but when the chips are down he stepped up. Its a shame he has been fragile but one wonders with so many other players at the club injured, if that is more an indictment of the club than the player.
Would we keep him? probably a mute question, but there are several players in his position he should be going before him. I wonder what he and Branthwaite would be like as a pairing? Who should we keep? Holgate? Coady? Tarkowski? Keane? Godfrey? To be fair, none of them would make my first eleven.. some better than others admittedly, but all have serious shortcomings.
So, four, out of the seven backs we have probably need to go.. if its Mina, then its another 3 out of 5.. will be sorry to see the big man go.. he earned his keep in the end.. and one more game to seal it.
Martin Mason
15 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:33:14
Christine, I managed to see the away games at Brighton and Wolves and Mina was magnificent especially in rallying those around him. That he scored Saturday was really fitting. I had my doubts about him during his time here but had he been able to stay fit he would have been one of the clubs best buys ever. Sad to see him go.
Danny O’Neill
16 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:38:53
Martin, Christine,

You are right about Mina. I am just disappointed we didn't see more of him.

Slightly different, but I wish a lot of Evertonians would have got to see James Rodriguez.

Jim Bennings
17 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:43:01
Huge shame that since Mina arrived in 2018 he's missed so much football.

Every time he plays for us the whole defence looks mentally more adept, more switched on and frankly more imposing.

If he leave next month it's tinged with regret of what could have been.

Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:50:29
Dan (6), I never saw the game only the highlights, I’m not a fan of Keane but thanks for pointing out his part in the goal,cool, calm and the pass was perfect and Mina slotted it home.

I’m not a fan of Mina either but my opinion can wait ‘til he scores the winner on Sunday,if he does it won’t change my opinion!!

Christine Foster
19 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:50:29
Danny, please, do not get me going on James Rodriguez.. he has a multitude of detractors here on ToffeeWeb for a whole variety of reasons, but frankly there isn't one single player in the current Everton team that comes anywhere close to him even now.. thats not to say he is without fault, age, or lifestyle, you buy him, you buy him for what he is. I would still have him back tomorrow, his guile, skill and ability has never been replaced and no-one currently comes close. It was a huge failing that no no10 was brought in when he left, as bad as no striker in my opinion. We turned into a one trick team with DCL, when he got injured we had, and still have nothing. No creativity other than Iwobi, can anyone seriously suggest that Iwobi is a better option than James? Ah well, I wish Goodison could have raised the roof to him, it would have taken him to a higher level too.
James Marshall
20 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:51:54
I reckon a draw against Bournemouth will be enough now - their form isn't great, having lost their last 3 games and we have all the motivation/home advantage, even if we lack the players.

I would forget DCL for next week, he's not going to play and neither is Paterson so it should be Holgate at the back and use McNeil in midfield.

I'd play Simms or even Keane up front because this team needs a focal point that isn't Maupay.

Holgate could play left back even, with Mina & Keane in the middle and Tarkowski left back since he's a lefty. Also, play Demarai Gray!!

Christine Foster
21 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:56:45
Dave, I guess what I was referencing with Mina and the other centre backs we have, was he offered more than anything we had. Is he world class? No.. is he better than most of what we have, Yes. Coady and Mina will be gone, Keane and Tarkowski will probably end up staying, Holgate probably sold, Godfrey kept.. but who will be the first pick pairing next season? Branthwaite must be a shoe in, but who with?
Dave Abrahams
22 Posted 22/05/2023 at 10:59:32
Christine (19), Come on girl you know your football why not try McNeil instead of Iwobi, never misses a game when he is picked, plays in different positions, creates goals, scored a few as well, covers back for other players, saved two goals by being on the line, tales corners, free kicks, gets on with game, picks himself up after being kicked, no little twinges stop him from playing, Rodriguez would faint if he even read the work that McNeil does and for a lot less money!!
Christopher Timmins
23 Posted 22/05/2023 at 11:00:33
Mina and James are more suited to a League less demanding than the Premiership.

I am sure that Mina will have a successful career in Italy. Given that he is out of contract at the end of the season he deserves some credit for putting in a shift over the past few weeks.

Christine Foster
24 Posted 22/05/2023 at 11:05:29
Haha Dave, sure, McNeil is a raider, a modern half back with an engine, whilst he is an engine, a good one, he hasn't got the centre midfield creativity a no 10 has, and thats the point, we defo need him, an engine going back and forth, cover and raider, but he is not a James! Its the lack of creativity to unlock a defence we have missed, James was not a raider, and certainly not an engine.. but he was an element of the team, as much as McNeil is now. Just different.
Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 22/05/2023 at 11:11:20
Christine (21) I hope you are well and bearing up under the strain of watching our club fight for survival in the premier league and possibly existence so I’m not adding to your stress by debating certain players, we’ll leave the debates to when you finally get here and we can have a good natter about the Blues while getting bladdered together, hopefully we’ll both be smiling on Sunday night and all debates can wait while we enjoy the relief of being safe.

Very best wishes Christine girl I’ll even pretend to like James and Jerry just for you!! For now.

Christine Foster
26 Posted 22/05/2023 at 11:12:24
Iwobi to me is such a frustrating player, skilful, he too has an engine, its just that his impact on a game is minimal, he rarely tackles, which means he gets back and marks space, his awarenes and speed gets him into good positions but his final ball is often careless or of the wrong option. He lacks any consistency which makes him of limited value. He really should move on at the end of the season, problem is, we have so little depth that even he is a first choice on the team sheet. He is a testament to the lack of depth and quality in the squad. An almost player..
Christine Foster
27 Posted 22/05/2023 at 11:22:59
Dave 25, the air has been blue at some godforsaken times, usually around 4am, the lone light on in a street of darkness! I will be glad to see the back of this season, of Kenwright and even Moshiri, although I am looking forward to turning left and walking down Boundary street sometime soon.. god willing, or more to the point, my heart willing! It certainly has been under stress this season, I have a GP from Norris Green who came here about three years ago, he is a red and will sometimes send me notes wondering if I need an increase in medication! Sod.. last month I went in for my annual check up which came back ok, he did say he had set aside some anti-depressants for me at the end of May..
But, a trip back home, if I can get this house finished and sold, will see me at BMD and engaging in a few drinks post game with yourself, Tony and any other Blue who wants to debate the good, the bad and the ugly.. My shout Dave...
Mark Murphy
28 Posted 22/05/2023 at 12:25:39
Christine, I enjoy reading you input and agree with most but I’ll disagree with you on Tarkowski. I think he’s been great whenever I’ve seen the team live. I had high hopes of him and Coady - they were immense at St Mary’s early season - but I don’t think Coady will stay. Branthwaite and Tarks should be our CB pairing IF we don’t cash in on Branthwaite, but I hope Godfrey recovers from his condition and returns to his early form with us.
For next season the only players I would not be happy to let go would be Garner, Patterson, McNeil (imagine that just a couple of months ago) and of course, Seamus. I think Myko is “ok” but not as good as Digne was. I like Pickford but he’s worth money and I prefer big commanding keepers.DCL sadly seems like he’s made of balsa.
I think O’Nana will be a huge player but not for us - he’s got Italian CL club written all over him.
Can’t wait for the end of this season. I’ve had loads of great days out spoiled by football matches - looking forward to a good day out without the nerves being shredded!
UTFT
Tony Abrahams
29 Posted 22/05/2023 at 12:27:53
I also met a very drunk Villa fan, on Saturday afternoon on his way to Anfield, and when I told him I was an Evertonian, he seemed to sober up for a few seconds, then he said “I hope Everton don’t go down mate, because you are a truly historical football club.

I can’t believe you never went into Jasper’s, Paul, because it’s got to be amongst the best bakery’s in the whole country. Our little gang used to travel everywhere, alcohol free, (with the kids) we much preferred looking for good food, and out of all the places we ever went, even the finest restaurants couldn’t beat Jaspers. The football was often shite, which often meant our detours to Penkridge, was usually the highlight of the day!!

Reading this article is just another reason to get me traveling again, but it’s not something I’ve been genuinely able to justify, since Ronald Koeman came into our club.

Jerome Shields
30 Posted 22/05/2023 at 18:46:55
Tarkowski has shown a determination in his attacking in the opposition area, which has made all the difference on more than one occasion in the relegation dogfight.
George Stuart
31 Posted 23/05/2023 at 01:47:15
Telecommunications will be a key part of Sunday.

Leicester and Leeds are both on 31 points. Leicester have a better goal difference than us. Leeds slightly worse.

10 minutes to go. Leeds lead 1-0. Leicester drawing 0-0.
We're 0 - 0. What do you do? Call for a bucket and throw up.

Please please please can we do this without going 2-0 down first?

Dave Abrahams
32 Posted 23/05/2023 at 11:09:08
Christine ( 27), Lovely post Christine and your Scouse humour is shining through it, see you at BMD but it won’t be your shout girl and you can argue as much as you want but your purse will stay in your handbag, Brent will do the honours!!

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