12/08/2023 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 1 Fulham

Abdoulaye Doucouré wasted an early chance, one of a number of gilt-edged opportunities passed up by Everton before they were punished by Fulham

Everton began the new season the same way they did the last with a 1-0 defeat to a side from West London, but this time they only had themselves to blame as they spurned a hatful of chances and were eventually done by Bobby de Cordova-Reid’s 73rd-minute strike.

Abdoulaye Doucouré’s selfishness cost the Toffees an early opener, Neal Maupay failed to convert either of two good chances, and Nathan Patterson hit the bar when it seemed easier to score but Sean Dyche will feel aggrieved that an Everton goal was ruled out for a questionable foul on goalkeeper Bernd Leno by James Tarkowski.

The manager had left Dominic Calvert-Lewin out of the match-day squad but he eventually introduced Arnaut Danjuma. However, as Everton failed to make the crucial breakthrough, it was Marco Silva’s changes that made the difference almost immediately following the Dutch loanee making his debut when Andreas Pereira set up fellow substitute De Cordova-Reid to slot home the winner.

With Calvert-Lewin having only managed 90 minutes of pre-season football and Youssef Chermiti having only had his protracted move from Sporting CP finalised yesterday, Dyche deployed the unreliable Maupay at centre-forward in front of Doucouré while James Garner and Alex Iwobi lined up on the flanks, Ashley Young made his debut at left-back and Michael Keane was paired with James Tarkowski at the back.

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Everton had struggled for goals in their warm-up matches and finding the net was expected to be an issue once the real business of the Premier League resumed this weekend with Calvert-Lewin still working his way back to fitness and no experienced replacement having been found thus far in the transfer market.

Yet, against an unimpressive Fulham, Dyche’s side could have been out of sight by half-time, should have gone ahead in the second period when Patterson contrived to miss an absolute sitter, but were undone by the first of Londoners' only two shots on target in the entire match.

A brilliant fifth-minute attack by the hosts set the tone for the first half as Amadou Onana threaded Doucouré in between the two visiting centre-halves and with Maupay to his left and James Garner to his right, he had simple options that would surely have guaranteed a goal but he elected to shoot himself and Bernd Leno got a crucial toe to the ball to divert it wide.

Two more counter-attacks midway through the first period provided shooting opportunities for Iwobi but his first was deflected behind and the second he dragged narrowly wide from 18 yards out before Tarkowksi couldn’t get enough purchase on Garner’s free-kick to trouble Leno after the former had been chopped down by Willian’s ugly stamp.

Everton retained the upper hand as the half wore on and when Doucouré nodded Iwobi’s cross from the left down to Maupay, the Frenchman was denied at point-blank range by the keeper. When the ball was hooked back into the box and Keane knocked the loose ball home, referee Stuart Attwell called play back, the official determining that Tarkowski had fouled Leno when it appeared as though he had simply stood his ground as the keeper jumped over him.

Nevertheless, the Blues continued to carve out chances without being threatened at all at the other end, Doucouré testing Leno with a strong shot after superb work by Iwobi and an interception by the Nigerian allowing the Mali international to play Maupay in but he was foiled by the goalkeeper again from close quarters as he tried to prod the ball home.

The second half began in scrappier and more even fashion than had been the pattern in the first but the Cottagers soon began to threaten as Saša Lukić bounced a half-volley wide off a corner and Raul Jimenez saw a shot come back off the base of the upright with what was his last contribution before being replaced by Aleksandar Mitrovic just before the hour mark.

But it was Everton who really should have taken the lead — and, perhaps, the points as a result — when Iwobi fired goal-wards, Leno could only push it into the path of Patterson at the back post and the defender, with almost the entire goal to aim at, planted a first-time effort onto the crossbar instead.

Four minutes later, after Harry Wilson had fizzed an effort inches over at the other end, it was 1-0 to Fulham. Marco Silva’s men had cut their way through Everton’s midfield, dragged Keane out of position outside his box so when the ball was played down the channel to Pereira, the hosts were short-handed in the centre when the Belgian hooked it across the face of goal and De Cordova-Reid just had to tap in at the back stick.

De Cordova-Reid volleyed a gilt-edged chance to kill the contest over the bar four minutes later and Mitrovic’s goal-bound effort was blocked, legally according to Video Assistant Referee Anthony Taylor, by Tarkowski’s arm either side of Dyche’s decision to throw Lewis Dobbin on in place of the unfortunate Garner and switch Iwobi to the right flank.

And Iwobi came close to levelling it in the 85th minute when he arrived to meet Young’s cross but Leno beat it behind at his near post while Tarkowski had the last chance to salvage a point but his stooping header flashed across goal and narrowly missed the far post.

So a disappointing and undeserved defeat to start the new season for Everton who remain in the frustratingly familiar position of waiting on Calvert-Lewin to regain his fitness, continuing to try and find a solution in the transfer market, and hoping that a young striking prospect can perhaps provide an interim solution.


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