Weak Everton succumb to damaging defeat against Fulham

15/04/2023 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 3 Fulham

Dwight McNeil scored another cracking goal but it was for nought as Everton collapsed in the second half against the Cottagers

Everton’s survival hopes took a sizeable dent as they were played off Goodison Park by their former boss Marco Silva’s Fulham despite a briefly successful reshuffle by Sean Dyche that brought the Blues back into the game at 1-1.

Shorn of the suspended Abdoulaye Doucouré and the injured Amadou Onana and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin once again left out of the match-day squad, Everton had looked aimless and disjointed in the early going and fell behind midway through the first half when Harrison Reed slotted home.

A tactical switch that moved Alex Iwobi into a central role and moved Dwight McNeil to the right flank paid dividends, though, with McNeil scoring what was, at the time, a precious equaliser. But the home side would be left to rue some missed, gilt-edged chances at the end of the first period as the visitors took control after half-time to run out comfortable winners.

Onana’s absence with a groin injury paved the way for James Garner to make his first Premier League start as he lined up in midfield alongside Idrissa Gueye and behind a front pairing of Demarai Gray and Neal Maupay, the latter preferred to Ellis Simms.

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Ben Godfrey switched sides to play at right-back in place of Seamus Coleman who was ruled out with a hamstring strain as Vitalii Mykolenko returned to the starting XI at left-back.

The Toffees had the first shot on target in the fifth minute when Gray profited from Garner’s intercepting tackle and fired a low shot that Bernd Leno safely gathered at his near post.

However, it was Fulham who took the upper hand once they had got the measure of an Everton side that seemed to lack ideas and belief going forward and they should have gone ahead with 18 minutes gone when James Tarkowski gifted Harry Wilson the ball around 15 yards from goal but he shot tamely at Jordan Pickford.

A corner that picked out Andreas Pereira in oceans of space on the edge of the box saw the Belgian bounce a half-volley wide but just a minute later it was 1-0 as Fulham pounced on another Everton giveaway in midfield and sprang foward.

Wilson’s shot came back off the post, Dan James did enough to knock the rebound into the path of the untracked Reed and he placed the ball wide of Pickford and inside the post.

Everton probably should have levelled 10 minutes later when Maupay was fouled by Tosin Adarabioyo, James Tarkowski won the initial header from the resulting free-kick but then blazed the loose ball over the bar after Leno had parried Maupay’s header from point-blank range.

The leveller did come 10 minutes before the break, however, when Idrissa Gueye’s tenacity won the ball in midfield, Garner carried it forward and found McNeil who drove towards the penalty area before drilling a crisp shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.

A neat one-two between Maupay and McNeil in the 40th minute opened up an great chance for the Frenchman but Leno got a crucial arm to his close-range shot to keep the ball out and McNeil appeared to have teed up Gray in the 44th minute but the forward side-footed past the far post with the goal gaping in front of him.

The Blues’ fortune deserted them four minutes after the interval when McNeil’s cross came back off the woodwork rather than sneaking past Leno and almost immediately Fulham restored a lead they never looked like relinquishing.

Tarkowski lunged in needlessly on one side of the pitch but missed his man, Godfrey was was caught out by a deep cross to the back post and Willian knocked it back to Wilson who had the simple task of rapping the ball past Pickford to make it 2-1.

Another short corner routine that once again found Pereira free outside the box required action from Pickford to push a fierce shot over the bar before shots from William and Paulinha were blocked and Pereira again smashed the ball over following Mykolenko’s poor attempt to clear his lines.

Godfrey was forced off with a suspected concussion, with Nathan Patterson coming on in his place but Everton looked lost at this point and they fell further into arrears with 22 minutes left.

A simple ball over the top wasn’t dealt with by Tarkowski, Dan James’s touch inside took a fortunate ricochet off Michael Keane and the Welshman found himself with just the stranded Pickford to beat, which he did with aplomb to deliver the killer blow to an utterly despondent Everton side.

Dyche’s men stirred briefly after Simms had belatedly come on for Maupay, as Iwobi tested Leno with a shot that had to be palmed behind and Garner first fired at the German keeper from distance and then drove another effort that narrowly missed the left-hand post but the fight had largely left both Everton and the Goodison faithful.

Billed as, perhaps, Everton’s most winnable game between now and the final day against Bournemouth, this has the potential to be a crushing home defeat if it is not followed up with a heroic display at improving Crystal Palace next weekend.

The Eagles have won three on the bounce to arrest their slide down the table but Dyche now needs to quickly find some answers to his own team’s crumbling morale and lack of goalscoring threat lest the remaining teams around them start to put the results together that could send Everton down this season.


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