Life can get in the way, and while each week I make time to record the ToffeeWeb podcast with Lyndon, Adam and Andy; I find less time to sit and metaphorically put pen to paper on match reports. And with three games in a week, that would have been a big ask.

Though with how the week has gone, I wanted to write something, and so here’s my recap of the week just gone.

On Sunday 21st April, I was fortunate enough to be invited into the Dixie Dean suite at Goodison Park, and enjoyed great food, drink and company, and also heard from Gareth Farrelly, who was on post-match speaking duties.

Ordinarily I’m in the Lower Gwladys Street and don’t really get the benefit of seeing how the flags and banners organised by the 1878s look as I’m in amongst it. Though my very central view in this instance gave me a chance to have a good look at this, and it blew me away quite frankly. Both the Gwladys Street and the Park End looked fabulous. A huge well done to all involved.

It’s fair to say that there was a fair bit of trepidation going into the game as it followed our what-now-seems-ages-ago hammering at Chelsea. From my vantage point I felt our shape looked very good, though penetration into the final third very poor. It felt like Nottingham Forest, probably quite content with the draw, were quite happy to sit in and let Everton try, and fail, to break through.

And just as the locals were beginning to get restless, up stepped Idrissa Gueye who took control of the situation and took a punt at goal. Now we’ve all seen Idrissa shoot, so the ball going in off the post from his edge of the box shot was quite the surprise. The ball bounced a few times on its way, but it found its way which is the most important thing of course. In real-time the first two of the three penalty calls against Ashley Young came and went quickly, as they both seemed like nothing incidents and I don’t think even got a mention as we congregated at half time.

Quite early in the second half we saw what looked like it could have been a penalty call against Ashley Young but went in our favour with Anthony Taylor feeling there wasn’t enough in it, and the guys at VAR not feeling there was enough to overturn it.

A few rows ahead of us sat, everyone’s favourite referee in these parts, Mark Clattenburg. He was in constant dialogue with one of his colleagues who kept on darting back up and down the stairs. Other than feeling he came across incredibly obnoxious throughout, I thought nothing of this, though in hindsight I imagine he was rather complicit with the ridiculous tweet Nottingham Forest sent out. And then he had his piece in the Daily Mail later that evening of course.

Nottingham Forest are winning few friends, though Everton are very much winning hearts, both within and externally, and our second goal was a joy to behold. It was a beautiful sweeping move, and when Dwight McNeil lasered home from distance, we jumped for joy as it felt the job was done. Nottingham Forest for their part, other than a good opportunity missed by Morgan Gibbs-White, were really poor, as we expected the kitchen sink to be thrown at us.

Following the game we drank, went across the road to the Winslow, and then ended up catching a few other mates in the Denbigh Caste. We celebrated Coventry City’s winner against Manchester United until it wasn’t, before eventually tailing off home.

So that was the first bit of business taken care of and come Wednesday nobody expected a win. Moreover, many of us, certainly myself, were advocating to leave Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and anyone else important who was touch-and-go, out of the team and save them for the Brentford match. I was in the office in Bolton that day so drove straight from work and met the fellas in the pub, or outside the pub even as we enjoyed a bit of late sunshine.

And while it felt like a bit of a write off, or free hit or whatever you want to call it with the next game feeling more important, nevertheless it was a Merseyside derby, and as we got to our seats and kick off neared, you began to hope a lot more.

As usual in a Merseyside derby, the atmosphere was electric. This was matched with blood and thunder from the players. We began the game very much on the front foot, which may have surprised Liverpool a little bit. When we were awarded the penalty and it was then, rightly, overturned for offside, I felt that might have been the kick up the backside Liverpool needed to get into the game. Though a goal-saving intervention from Ben Godfrey aside, this didn’t happen, and Everton continued to work at what we do best. We targeted that back post with free kicks and corners time and again, and got our rewards on 27 minutes when Jarred Branthwaite finally tucked it home following abysmal defending by Liverpool.

The wait for the goal confirmation was agonising. As Dominic had followed the ball in, from the Gwladys Street we couldn’t tell that the ball had already crossed the line. We also didn’t know who was deemed to be offside, or where about this was. My big fear at the time was that Dominic had poked the ball over the goal line having followed in from an offside position. I was looking at the players and Ben Godfrey was I think looking at a replay of it with Sean Dyche and co, and he ran back onto the pitch seemingly gesticulating that he thought the goal was fine. It was with huge relief when it was finally given. And with their being so much water between the offside that was being checked and when the ball finally found the net, what a travesty it would have been had that have been disallowed for offside.

This WAS the kick up the backside Liverpool needed, and they had a good go in the remainder of the half. Jordan made two excellent saves to maintain the clean sheet. The six minutes of stoppage time was agonizing, and it was crucial that we got through it.

As defeatist as it sounds, a couple of us were saying at the break that we’d still take a draw even then. I was concerned that if Liverpool scored early in the second half, they may have gathered momentum and ran away with it. But Everton defended superbly. We stayed disciplined defending set-pieces and kept most things in front of us.

Indeed, we broke forward ourselves when we could. Jack Harrison, who like them all was excellent all evening, did a good job of bringing the ball forward and playing it inside to Dwight McNeil who had drifted in-field. He hit a swirling effort at goal which Alisson parried over the crossbar. We all know what happened next. From the corner, Dominic sprung majestically and slammed his header into the net. When Andrew Madley signalled a goal you knew there was no way it was being overturned. We went wild, yet I still had to be a killjoy warning to the others “there’s still a long way to go”.

There was, but Everton withstood it, and on another day may have added more gloss to the scoreline. This didn’t make it less nervy of course. Ste and I literally couldn’t believe how long it took the for the time to tick from 60 to 70 minutes, though once we overcame that hurdle, time seemed to accelerate, and before long it was 80 minutes.

Still, it wasn’t until perhaps the 93rd minute with a couple of minutes of stoppage time still to play that we finally felt we’d done it. The scenes were marvellous and will live with us forever. A first Goodison Park derby win for 14 years! Fourteen! The first time supporters have been able to see us win a derby in the flesh for 14 years. That’s a big generation of Evertonians who, until Wednesday evening, had never seen us win a Merseyside derby. Let that never be the case again. This is folklore. One of the last, maybe THE last great night at Goodison Park.

Even the closure of a key road away from Everton couldn’t harm our mood. We managed to go quite a long way round, thereby skipping traffic and were back over the water for around 11pm, and made a beeline straight for the pub to enjoy a few celebratory pints. The landlord, an Evertonian, returned back from the game himself nearer midnight and a lock-in was in order, albeit I didn’t stay long. Even once I got home, I was just buzzing with adrenaline. I watched as much highlights, interviews and content as I could until I finally dropped off at around 2am.

It's safe to say that the days between then and the Brentford match have been very enjoyable. It’s been difficult to take that smirk off your face hasn’t it? I’m still buzzing about the derby a bit now! It’s been so, so long since we’ve come out on top in this fixture, that why not enjoy the moment? We’ve sure suffered enough. And it as good as secured our Premier League status.

This was secured against Brentford. Gaz drove over for this one. The pub we usually go to ordinarily provides free hot dogs though this time provided free doner kebabs, which was quite the game-changer! It was enjoyable watching the scores come through in the pub with everyone in good spirits. Luton Town’s defeat spelt that a draw would keep us up, with Brentford already safe.

I fully expected a draw to be the result, as I figured it would kind of suit both teams – Everon stay safe, and Brentford hold their league position, nobody gets injured, happy days.

At half time you could well expect this to be the case with a jaded Everton doing just about enough to keep it a contest, and Brentford doing about the same. We did get to have a good look at Youssef Chermiti who did OK in the main, though I felt you could well see why he hasn’t had the opportunities ahead of Dominic or Beto. That’ll come with time.

At the break I fully expected the game to dwindle to an inevitable draw, but fair play to both teams in the second half for making much more of a game of it. In the 10 minutes or so up until Idrissa Gueye’s excellent hit, Everton had really cranked it up. Dwight McNeil had already hit the crossbar with an excellent attempt by this point, and such was the pressure we exerted we deserved to get ahead.

Brentford responded well, though Jordan made a couple of very good saves to keep us ahead. If he doesn’t get in the PFA Team of the Season it’ll be a debacle in my opinion.

A good win that confirmed our safety and had us leaving Goodison Park with smiles and optimism, topping off a week which has been about as good as it gets.

Keep on smiling. UTFT!

Reader Comments (8)

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer ()

Jerome Shields
1 Posted 28/04/2024 at 22:53:44
Just rewatched the three games. Everton were superb. They look suddenly a whole lot better. Continue playing like that they will move up the table and probably have a say in the title race.

Just a pity they are not playing Man City. Were they lucky against Forest?

James Flynn
2 Posted 29/04/2024 at 03:18:15
Thanks, Paul,

I rarely comment on your reports, but always look forward to them.

Thanks again.

Jack Convery
3 Posted 29/04/2024 at 04:38:23
Thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts and memories of a great week.

Coming soon: A Great Season. Well… one can hope.

Derek Knox
4 Posted 29/04/2024 at 07:51:48
Great read, Paul, which evoked still recent euphoric memories, I haven't quite programmed it all myself fully. Phenomenal (sorry to use Bobby Brown Shoes adjective) 9 points in 6 days, which very few Premier League sides could emulate.

We are not there yet as a club, having both ownership and appeal (PSR) issues to be decided upon. However, Dyche has proved that he is a decent Manager and could get even better with the right circumstances and some financial backing to bolster or revamp the squad.

We can only speculate at this stage what personnel we have to work with before the serious work of pre-season starts. I do however believe that our performances, just this week alone (guaranteeing survival) even surpassing the most optimistic predictions point-wise, will make both investors and potential player transfers take note.

Danny O’Neill
5 Posted 29/04/2024 at 08:09:02
You sum it up perfectly, Paul.

What a week indeed.

I was exhausted after the Brentford match, sat there staring at the pitch long after the players had gone down the tunnel!

Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 29/04/2024 at 08:11:22
Goodison will get more special nights, Paul,

Like I said to a few younger Evertonians who suddenly began to sing the Andy King song in my taxi, Wednesday night was our children's Andy King night.

God bless, Andy, I had you up the wall one night but it was all in good jest because you once gave us all a moment we have never forgotten. 💙

Ben King
7 Posted 29/04/2024 at 15:09:49
Really good write-up.

Best week in the life of an Evertonian for 35 years.

Dyche has genuinely performed miracles: to be safe with 3 games to go after an 8-point deduction with a threadbare squad is not to be sniffed at.

The win versus Liverpool will live long in the memory – confirmed our safety and ended their title hopes – unbelievable!

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been involved in a few iconic moments now – he should go down as a modern day Everton great and he deserves a new contract.

Andy McNabb
8 Posted 01/05/2024 at 22:32:56
Thanks, Paul. We have to make the most of these positives, as they haven't come around too often.

Appreciate all your efforts on ToffeeWeb. Now we just have to sort the financial mess off the field – oh, and world peace while we are at it.

Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

» Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.

How to get rid of these ads and support TW

© ToffeeWeb