Everton 1 - 2 Luton Town

In the words of Bob Dylan… Another year goes by. I left Goodison on Saturday gutted.

I made a late decision. I headed to Uxbridge only to discover that the Metropolitan Line was suspended between Uxbridge and Wembley. So on to Plan B and a quick hop on the bus to the local mainline station. That wasn’t going to make the finishing line, as there was a reduced service, so I opted for the Central Line, changing at Oxford Circus to connect to Euston. I was cutting it fine at this point.

I got to Euston and got waved onto the platform just as the train was ready to depart. The doors were still open, but I was confronted by a train manager who refused to let me on. A scouser too. Gobshite. Probably a Kopite? I thought about just walking past him, but it wouldn’t have been worth the hassle and I would have probably been forcibly removed at Watford Junction.

So, I had to move on to Plan C. There is always a way. There was a Manchester-bound train on the adjacent platform departing in 10 minutes. I took that and then on to Liverpool from Piccadilly. I have to mention the very kind Train Manager (from Manchester) who questioned my ticket, which was booked to Lime Street. I explained the situation and he smiled and gave me advice on which platform to head to at Piccadilly.

There were a few City fans sat with me returning home from their FA Cup fixture at Tottenham on Friday. They were not very conversational despite my efforts so I slept a lot of the way. They actually got off at Macclesfield.

On to Liverpool and Goodison. This time, I ended up with an Afghan taxi driver so we swapped experiences of his homeland as he fought the traffic to get me as close to Goodison as he could given the time constraints. Top man.

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Just in time with enough time for a quick bite to eat before heading to the turnstiles. I have to admit, the queues outside Goodison have been horrendous recently. I use the App for most of my home tickets and it was a bit confusing where to enter.

To their credit, the stewards I asked ushered me in, pointing me to a turnstile. Spirit of the Blues ringing out as I made my way up the stairs and in time for Z-Cars and the team coming onto the pitch. Even by my standards, what an epic journey to watch the blues.

A bit more confusion over seats as someone was sat in mine, but we all re-arranged, re-shuffled and I ended up with another perfect unobstructed few from my position in the Upper Gwladys.

I couldn’t help notice the cloud of smoke that seemed to be coming from the direction of the city centre or that general direction. A random thought crossed my mind. I hoped the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock wasn’t on fire.

Anyway, in terms of the match. In general, it was a tough watch and poor performance. I have commented that I don’t believe 4-4-2 has a place in the current game. It leaves the midfield exposed, especially ours. I don’t always like over-analysing formations but, for those who prefer two strikers, I would opt for 3-5-2, or an adaptation of 4-3-3 with the players we have now. We are definitely missing Gueye and Doucour!.

Calvert-Lewin, in my opinion, put a shift in against a very physical Luton defence. He would have needed an ice bath after that encounter, so I hope he’s ready for when we travel to Fulham. On our forward players, there seemed to be a reluctance to take the chances we did have early. Lack of confidence?

Their first goal? Most of us thought it was a foul. It certainly looked like it at the time and watching it back this morning, Calvert-Lewin is clearly pushed with two hands in the back. It is a foul. Once again, the standard of officials was poor throughout. I made an observation from my seat that the referee was strolling around in the middle of the pitch, almost unaware of the bigger picture of the game. The incompetence is getting ridiculous.

Difficult to pick a player from that. Virginia made a couple of great saves. I’m liking the look of him the more I see him. Branthwaite had a right tussle with their very physical and strong centre-forward, but not his best game. Garner was pretty much left on his own as Onana had one of his drifting games. If I’m pushed, I think I have to go for Tarkowski.  But credit to Patterson for that goalline block and his anticipation. He knew the keeper was committed so instinctively went to the goal line and cleared. Exactly what you are taught as a defender.

Luton had energy and aggression that we struggled to cope with. We were tame and lacked composure or confidence.

On other observations, a nice tribute to John Hurst before the match. I didn’t like the booing of Barkley. Others may disagree, but I’ve long learned that players don’t always get the choice. The club sell them at their convenience. A nice response when Townsend left the pitch and he gave his appreciation back to the Goodison crowd. Nice touch.

So, another year gone and off to the Arkles to toast my Grandfather and, to be honest, it’s easier getting back into town from there as the traffic isn’t as heavy after an Everton match. A few Luton supporters but most of my debate was with gloating Kopites. It got pretty heated, especially when I dropped the Jurgen bomb. Every single one of them. Those who understand know.

A Romanian taxi driver to Lime Street, so we swapped stories about Bucharest and his home city of Iasi (pronounced Yash). He lives in Dovecot and certainly knows his way around the streets of Liverpool to get me there in good time.

Direct train from Lime Street to Euston this time. A few surprisingly quiet Luton supporters, but I was sat with a nice family from Kent who had been up visiting Liverpool and been to the theatre.  

Onto Fulham, the league, the appeal and the political debate around our fate.

See some of you there. I get to attend with my son, so I’m looking forward to it.

Reader Comments (21)

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Larry O'Hara
1 Posted 28/01/2024 at 22:34:17

I admire the lengths you go to to get to the game. I was a bit down about this game and the outcome. Outmuscled by Luton FFS!

Fulham: we owe them one, sort that and the show's back on the road, so we can crawl to season's end and reset...

Kieran Kinsella
2 Posted 29/01/2024 at 01:00:41

Thanks for mentioning Afghanistan and Romania I’ve friends from both so it reminds me to have some perspective about our tragedy. Also, Kansas City Chiefs just won so they’re going to the Super Bowl. I live in KC and know a couple of the players personally. No I don’t support them because A) I’m not interested in fake rugby and more importantly b) they wear red. But between your Afghan perspective and being neighborly I’m trying to convince myself the weekend wasn’t so bad (but honestly it’s not working mate).

John Wignall
3 Posted 29/01/2024 at 06:12:18
Danny love reading your reports how you get to the match and back home these players should read what you go through to watch the blues love your positivity about the blues good luck for the Fulham and the rest of the season utft
Danny O’Neill
4 Posted 29/01/2024 at 07:20:14

I saw that on the new this morning.

I don't claim to know too much about American fake Rugby, but having spent a lot of time in the States (30 of the 50 and still counting), I've watched a lot of it.

I was in Annapolis when the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. All the bar staff were clad in Washington shirts!

Great night. One of my favourite cities Annapolis. Great bars, great live music.

Roy Johnstone
5 Posted 29/01/2024 at 10:01:34
Totally agree with your comments about the ref. Carlton Morris took 5 minutes to realise he could get away with murder, and he did. Had his hands all over Patterson's face at one point.

We were awful, but a different game if they weren't allowed the levels of contact that they thrived on last year. Alehouse football all round.

Christopher Timmins
6 Posted 29/01/2024 at 10:04:36

Your travel schedule is just amazing. Enjoy the easier trip to Fulham tomorrow, we could do with a lift.

Mark Murphy
7 Posted 29/01/2024 at 10:22:13
Chris, I’m driving up to Ealing - I can give you a lift…
Brian Harrison
8 Posted 29/01/2024 at 10:50:03
So twice already Luton have come here and won, and on both occasions the goals came from set pieces. But to be fair they created the best chances so we can have no complaints about the result.
We cant even use the excuse that we played a weakened team as apart from Doucoure and Coleman who are both injured and given Gueye is at the AFCON this was our strongest side, that for me is the most worrying thing.
The crowd were unusually quiet but they get no criticism from me, they have had to rally this team with their fantastic support avoiding relegation for the last 2 seasons by the skin of our teeth. Now they have had a 10 point deduction thrown at them and another commission to deal with yet another transgression of the P&S rules. The crowd is now like a boxer that is taking to much punishment and is out on its feet.

The truth is we lack quality all over the park and its really beginning to effect us, just putting a lot of effort in doesnt get the job done against even one of the weakest Premier league sides.
We don't look like a side that will take the opposition to the cleaners, we have very few goal scorers in the side. I also think our main threat of attack the long ball is starting to wear thin with many in the crowd. For whatever reason the 4-4-2 didnt work and as usual it took Dyche 75 minutes to realize it. I know Harrison scored but for me he doesnt do enough, loses the ball a lot and his pass completion is very poor. The midfield of Onana and Garner look as if they would look better if they played with another in a 3 as they are continually over run in midfield, which allows the opposition to get at our back 4. Also since he has come back from injury McNeil doesnt look the same player.

But to end on a plus Virginia impresses me the more I see of him and apart from the one slip Branthwaite also impresses. Dont know what will happen against Fulham tomorrow but there will have to be a massive improvement to get anything from the game.

Lynn Maher
9 Posted 29/01/2024 at 11:17:51
Danny. I don't know how you do it, but so glad you do.

I'm still feeling numb after Saturday's lack of performance. The team seemed to be unable to get out of first gear.

As usual poor officiating. At one point I'm sure the linesman asked the ref, “What's this flag for?”

I'm starting to wonder if the second round of this PSR farce is starting to really affect the players. It's not doing me much good!

Jon Harding
10 Posted 29/01/2024 at 11:43:30
Agree with all your comments on the players, Danny – from watching in the Lower Gwladys.
Dom tried hard but no end product whatsoever and failed to link up with Beto (who sadly reminded me of Niasse). Everything went through the middle where Luton had plenty of bodies.
Onana underwhelming and selfishly left much of the battle to Jimmy G.
Was the ref John Moss? Stand in the middle most of the game and then blow for a foul when you need a rest!
We decided we couldn’t outplay Luton so foolishly tried to outmuscle them – and lost.
I can’t remember a weaker Everton right side than Patterson/Harrison. But how come they were outnumbered 3 to 2 so often? Luton’s most creative player was our Harrison – liability. Time for Dobbin?
At 75 mins we were losing the subs battle 5-0. No surprise Luton finished more strongly, is it.
Unlike you though, I had a smooth journey up from Bristol (M5/M6) and Merseyrail did not let me down. I followed the crowds from Kirkdale to the Harlech Castle and enjoyed a lovely pint with Derek K, Neil C, Stephen V and (very smart in his flat cap) John Mac Snr. That was the highlight of my day.
How Neil and Stephen can raise the energy to travel to Fulham tomorrow is beyond me. But as we agreed, things could be worse – we could be Bristol Rovers fans!
Dave Abrahams
11 Posted 29/01/2024 at 12:18:24
You meet some cracking people on your journeys Danny, one or two not so good, and taxi drivers in Liverpool, same dance, some good who you can have a good laugh and conversation with and coming from all over the world,and some you wander how the fuck they ever got a licence, bleedin’ clueless and that’s with a sav naf! On to to all that smoke in Fox St. right next to my old church, St. Mary of the Angels, better known as The Friary, it is now a listed building and still standing after that fire.

Now the match, very disappointing as you say, worse for you after all the hassle you faced getting here. The referee was John Smith, I believe, doubt if he is a premier league referee, mind you that wouldn’t make a lot of difference, as Roy (5) says the more he let the Luton players get away with their fouls the more they committed them.

Hardly any of our players played well, I already praised Virginia and Tarkowski on another thread but the midfield was a let especially when there was only two of them, well supposed to be two, I’ve said enough about the part time player in the past, so leave it there.

We badly need the injured players, and the one away playing for his country, back and continue are fight to stay up, despite what is all being thrown at us from all angles starting at Fulham tomorrow.

If Everton had a supporter of the year Danny you’d definitely be in the running!

Danny O’Neill
12 Posted 29/01/2024 at 12:39:51
Thank you all, for the very kind comments.

I'm sorry I didn't get to meet some of you but hopefully tomorrow at the Cottage.

I / we don't always do it for the result. Of course we want the win. But I'd follow that club anywhere, just as I have done all my life.

Be that at Goodison, the aways stadiums, listening in from foreign countries or even being sent radio messages conflict zones as the lad & lasses knew I needed to now the Everton result.

I will follow them for the rest of my life.

On we march to a day on the Thames and then get back to Goodison.

We are still in the fight.

Peter Mills
13 Posted 29/01/2024 at 13:55:49
Dave #11, your man Onana was, once again, in and out of the game on Saturday, and we need more than that.

However, when he was in it, he demonstrated why people are talking about his potential. I think he is one who could definitely improve with better players alongside him.

Dave Abrahams
14 Posted 29/01/2024 at 14:29:03
Peter (@13),

Fair enough, although I have to say I have never missed his potential, it's always been there, I think you might agree it wouldn't be all that hard to add effort and sweat to his ability with or without better players and give 100% like he's being paid to do.

And it is the one thing I've been consistent in criticising him for; a team player would do this without thinking about it.

Peter Mills
15 Posted 29/01/2024 at 14:34:04
Agreed, Dave. It's frustrating, because I think he will go elsewhere and become the player he should be.

We all suspect Branthwaite will move as well, but at least we are getting very good service from him while he's with us.

John Burns
16 Posted 29/01/2024 at 16:03:56
Sincerely Danny, you have become a legend on this site. Your description of how you eventually got to Goodison was far more focused and entertaining than the match itself.

To say the club doesn't deserve the fans it's got, is an understatement. Thanks, Danny.

Jay Harris
17 Posted 29/01/2024 at 16:21:12
Brian #8 I agree with you about our midfield.

Luton played a 3-5-2 so our two in midfield were totally overrun and, with the poor performances in front of them from Harrison, McNeil, Calvert-Lewin and Beto, it meant Luton could dominate the ball.

Although I never thought I would hear myself say this, but this was a day for a 3-man defense and extra help in midfield.

I'm assuming the academy kid, McKenzie Hunt, is deemed not to be good enough and likewise Lewis Dobbin but surely we could put a man in front of the defense who could beef the midfield up and enable Garner and Onana to be further up the pitch.

In the absence of Doucouré, it has to be 4-5-1 for me until we get some confidence back.

Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 29/01/2024 at 19:51:41
Jay (17)

McKenzie Hunt is 22 and his contract is up this summer, he was given a new 12-month contract last summer because he had suffered a bad injury the year before which spoiled his prospects.

He had been a very good midfielder from when he joined the club very young, then had a spell away from the club for family reasons.

He has many good qualities which should stand him in good stead for a career in football but, unless Everton give him another contract, I doubt it will be in the top tier of English football.

He might succeed better in Italy, Spain or Portugal which might suit him for football and family reasons.

Geoff Cadman
19 Posted 29/01/2024 at 20:58:27
Danny I always enjoy the lengths you go to to follow our club.
Regarding Barkley I think he deserved everything he received on Saturday. I know his treatment under Koeman was wrong, but he could have left in the summer, with a year on his contract for £35 million.
He chose to stay with Everton paying his salary until the January where the fee was less than half at 15 million.
Brian Williams
20 Posted 29/01/2024 at 21:18:43

I agree 100%

Townsend deserved his applause. Barkley deserved the boos. He showed loyalty to a club he'd yet to sign for and fucked over his boyhood club.

Koeman wasn't the club he was just the manager.

Geoff Cadman
21 Posted 29/01/2024 at 22:18:17

Plus the fact Koeman had been sacked well before he left and Fat Sam wanted him to stay.

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