Everton 0 - 0 Aston Villa

This club means everything to me since my earliest memories and always will. No-one is taking Everton away from me.

A much earlier start than usual as there were the increasingly common complications with the trains that we’ve had recently. So the boy was out by 4:30 am. My sister was in London and we arranged to meet up to head to the homeland. She got off at Runcorn to be picked up by her husband and offered me a lift, but I always like to head straight to Lime Street. My nephew got on the train in exchange for my sister and we headed in.

Into the Northwestern to meet with Brian proudly sat there in his 1878 Originals tee-shirt. The usual banter about most people from the Speke area being Kopites, which I don’t dispute! My immediate family is a bit of a blue enclave. Mark joined us.

On to County Road. Met with Dave and the West Country Blues in the Harlech. Nice to meet you all and be introduced to others I hadn’t met before who had made the long journey from various parts of Southwest England. That’s a long trip and some were from as far away as the People’s Republic of Cornwall. I think I have a long trip. That is the dedication of the highest order.

As I was queueing for my standard Goodison Road Michelin 5-star cuisine from the outlet previously known as the Goodison Supper Bar, I couldn’t help noticing the amount of people wearing the half-and-half scarfs. Now I am not and never have been a scarf wearer and I appreciate it provides revenue for the street sellers, but I just don’t get it. I never or rarely wear colours, but I could never wear those of another team. It confuses me

Into the Blue Temple. The match itself was a bland affair. We had enough chances but once again fluffed our lines when it mattered. 

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There has been much talk about Dominic’s chance and yes, he should have scored. But in his defence, he did what all players / strikers are taught from a young age. First and foremost, get it on target. He did that. And in fairness, if that is Jordan Pickford, we a cheering a great save. As well as the follow up from James Garner. Martinez is a very good keeper. Villa pulled a masterstroke signing him. Very commanding, especially in the air, and a good shot stopper. 

Once again, Dominic mostly cut an isolated figure for a lot of the match, but he never stopped trying and you couldn’t doubt his effort. The lad is feeding off scraps. He won a lot of knock-on headers from the long balls being pumped up to him, but there was no one running off him. The supporter next to me agreed.

And from the other thread, I don’t care what clothes he chooses to wear in his own time. I just want him to play well for Everton when he is wearing a Royal Blue shirt. Sean Dyche summed it up well. Like all strikers who go through a barren period, he just needs one to go in. Strikers more than most players thrive off confidence, which comes through goals. For those of my generation, rememberer Andy Gray.

I mentioned Martinez, but let’s credit Pickford. He made yet another great save at the Gwladys Street end that kept us in the fight. That was going straight into the bottom corner.

Onana had another of his inconsistent days but did make some good recovery tackles. However, generally, I felt that once again, we didn’t control the middle of the park and were at times wide open leaving Villa to take the initiative and dominate possession.

Which leads me on to the defence. Superb under a lot of pressure.

It was interesting to see their tactic of taking a short corner before then crossing. Changing the angle? They were doing it continuously. Pretty much every time.

Seamus and our right side was deliberately targeted, but give credit to the Donegal Scouse Evertonian, he just about managed to cope with everything thrown at him. Great tribute before the match to him with that huge banner being draped from the Upper Gwladys to my left.

James “The Rock” Tarkowski was his usual self. Leader and captain. He continuously puts himself in the firing line. So much that he ended up clashing with Mykolenko, with both drawing blood and the Ukrainian having to play the rest of the game in respect to Terry Butcher with a bandage around his head. Total commitment from both players.

I was getting messaged by a Villa-supporting friend I’ve known for years, telling me Tarkowski was a dirty cheating so and so. My interpretation was that he got fouled and decided to let the culprit have it. The strange thing is that neither the referee nor linesman (who nearly got taken out in the follow-through) gave a free-kick at the time. Then they decided to yellow card both players. Let’s not get started on officials. But strange as I saw it.

But the plaudits once again have to go to young Branthwaite. His composure and ability defy his young years. Magnificent throughout and without doubt our Man of the Match. The Man of the Match from both teams. Contradictory moment. Keep it going Jarrad. But stop it!!!! Those who understand know what I mean.

On the Villa goal that was ruled out. Many don’t agree, but I’m okay with the principle of the VAR. I am just frustrated with the implementation and execution in the way football has done so. I haven’t looked at any highlights, but the time it took to make that decision either way, was painful. I could have made a quicker decision in my living room. Get it on the screens and be transparent and audible. Explain yourselves and be accountable for your decisions.

How we kept out that goalmouth scramble gave me another stop breathing moment for about 30 seconds and I didn’t have my inhaler. A terrific block from Mykolenko. Jordan racing to the charge like a boxer coming out of the corner, and I think Seamus eventually clearing the ball to safety.  I think Tarkowski may have been involved, but it was difficult to see because of one of the posts obstructing the view. I was convinced it was going in. But it didn’t. Great commitment and desire from the defenders.

Although a great finish by Doucoure, I was right in line from my vantage point in the Main Stand. It was clearly offside and I called it straight away, so I knew it wouldn’t stand. I didn’t even cheer as I knew what was coming and it didn’t need the VAR.

Random recollection: my son’s first match at Goodison was a 0-0 draw against Villa. We were sat in the Enclosure on the front row. I literally turned my back for 10 seconds and then he’s made his way onto the pitch. A kind steward escorted him back to take his seat!! I think it was the opening game in the 1998-99 season.

Credit to the Villa supporters, they came in numbers and were noisy. It tends to be the way with the away following. We are the same. Following some conversations, as of yesterday, Palace have only sold 150 tickets for the replay. That will mean more available for Evertonians if that’s the case.

A good point against a side that has been in form and arguably the surprise package so far this season. 

I watched them all off the pitch as always. Branthwaite giving his shirt to a young supporter in the Lower Gwladys and Onana to another close to the dugout. It might not have been the victory we always want, but they deserved the plaudits for the sheer effort they put in against one of the in-form teams in the country right now. They held their nerve and earned a well-deserved point. 

Next stop: the Arkles. Surprisingly, there were a lot of Everton supporters mixing with the Villa fans. Normally I’m one of the few amongst the away supporters. All good discussion and humour with both sets of supporters sat on the same tables. 

Back to Lime Street for the trip home. A good discussion with two gentlemen who had travelled from Edinburgh. One was an Evertonian, the other wasn’t and just went to the match with his mate. As well as all things football, we talked a lot about Goodison and the new Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock. I’m going to miss that place when we go. I’ll leave it there.

Trains again. I asked why there wasn’t a direct one, considering we were with the same company but having to travel from Lime Street to Crewe and change even though it is the same line into Euston. The steward just shrugged. Anyway, enough of my first-world problems. I slept all the way to Euston once I got on at Crewe.

I put the miles in to watch Everton. But many go above and beyond, more than I do. I hope the West Country Blues got home safely. And those who made the trip from Edinburgh. And Mark Murphy up from Kent. Respect to all of you

On to the FA Cup replay and then Fulham.

Whatever they decide to do to us, we shall never be moved, or stopped.

Reader Comments (11)

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Jay Harris
1 Posted 15/01/2024 at 15:44:07
Danny very enjoyable report as always bt on a very sobering day with the threat of more points deduction hanging over the club.

I agree with your report but not MOTM who for me was HArrison. I am normally his biggest critic but he really put a shift in.

Being exiled in the States I watch all our games on TV now but it seemed to me the boisterous support so evident in away games was absent for virtually the whole game. I didnt hear spirit of the blues once.

Was this just the broadcast or was it the limp performance we put in against a very good Villa side that made the support nervous.

Mark Murphy
2 Posted 15/01/2024 at 22:31:53
Kent? KENT????

West Sussex, if you don't mind!!


Dale Self
3 Posted 15/01/2024 at 22:40:55
Wasn't that a QI bit where Stephen Fry asks Alan Davies where Neanderthals on a screen were from?

His response: Kent?

Danny O’Neill
4 Posted 16/01/2024 at 06:48:53
Forgive me, Father Mark, for I have sinned!

I shall take my Geography Hail Marys!

I mentioned how long it took to make that decision on the phantom Villa goal at the weekend. Not that I agree with the current offside rule, but based on it, I could have made that decision within 30 seconds from my living room. But I was in the Main Stand so had to wait anxiously. It's always the case.<

James Hughes
5 Posted 16/01/2024 at 07:07:12
I believed VAR would improve the game and remove mistakes and bias; it's not happened.

The ridiculous wait for the decision on Sunday showed the VAR, just like Masters, is not fit for purpose.

Danjuma was being held back and unable to clear his lines, a blatant foul. However, the VAR ignored that and even Redknap was dismayed and he doesn't normally give us the time of day.

Time for a change at the top for the Premier League and for Everton FC.

Mark Murphy
6 Posted 16/01/2024 at 07:08:38
Danny, when that Villa goal went in, I told the bloke next to me that it would be disallowed for offside and went to the loo. The decision still hadn't been made when I got back to my seat, but I knew it would be chalked off.

I've got to say the VAR made it look closer than I thought it was but the guy looked well off from my seat.

Rob Halligan
7 Posted 16/01/2024 at 07:10:09
Danny, I don’t know why teams have goalkeepers, as so many seem to think they are not allowed to make saves!!!
David Bromwell
8 Posted 16/01/2024 at 08:55:57
Love your reports, Danny, and I have much admiration for your dedication.

I thought it was an awful game, partly as a direct result of our spoiling tactics, which worked well and yes we came away with a very hard-earned point.

Seemingly at the moment we only have the one game plan, and, in fairness to the manager, he has so few options. But perhaps, when we get to 70 minutes in games without scoring, he could try playing with two strikers rather than sticking to the same formation?

And please could we occasionally vary the delivery from corners? Villa's short corner routines caused us problems and must be worth a try.

Ian Jones
9 Posted 16/01/2024 at 09:12:15
Good report as ever.

Just one thing to add re short corners. Villa used them.

With Martinez beng such an imposing goalie and catching a few of our corners, it might have been worthwhile us doing the same tactic at corners.

Steve Carse
10 Posted 16/01/2024 at 11:27:17
Jay (1), I'd agree with the dip in the level of the vocal support at Goodison this season – exhaustion perhaps from last season's exertions?

Ian (7), there is a simple solution to the problem of an opposition goalkeeper with a good capability on corners – do what every other team does: put someone to stand directly in front of him.

Paul Kossoff
11 Posted 17/01/2024 at 15:58:38

"But the plaudits once again have to go to young Branthwaite. His composure and ability defy his young years. Magnificent throughout and without doubt our Man of the Match. The Man of the Match "

Did you miss the part when for some unknown reason he was 15 yards into the Villa half, went in two-footed and landed on his arse, looking up with his tongue hanging out, asking "Which way did he go, George, which way did he go?" While the villa player, untouched, waltzed away.

Apart from him being young and very tall, he's nowhere near quality that is being leveled at him. Mind you, the quality of the defenders in the Premier League is so poor he's not got much to aspire to.

What's his name, Jarrad? Well just call me jaded, I've near had enough of the Premier League, football and all the utter shite that goes with it.

Danny, I admire you and all the Everton supporters who put the effort and pay the hard-earned money into what is basically a fixed set up, designed to keep the elite where they are and us lot thrown to the kerb, I don't know how you do it son, well-done.

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