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It was Burnley’s ninth home game of the season yesterday when Everton pitched up at Turf Moor and like seven of the previous eight, Everton went home with all three points having beaten us 2-0.

The game was all over as a contest after 25 minutes when former Burnley defender Michael Keane added to Amadou Onana’s goal six minutes earlier. There never remotely looked as thought there would be a comeback from that and it allowed Everton to stroll to victory with us hardly laying a glove on them.

It was match day for me again after two weeks. I don’t like having to miss games but illness had prevented me from making the trips to both Wolves and Brighton. While definitely still not up to an away trip, I was able to get to the Turf. Speaking to friends before the game, I was the most negative of them, daring to suggest that Everton wouldn’t need to do much to beat us, just as had been the case in the League Cup tie at Goodison Park earlier in the season.

It was pointed out to me very clearly that they were depleted, particularly defensively with Jarrad Branthwaite suspended and all of Séamus Coleman, Ashley Young and Vitalii Mykolenko ruled out with injury. To add to that, Idrissa Gueye was also out suspended.

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There were some surprises in our squad. We knew a replacement had to be found for Charlie Taylor at left-back and we know we don’t have one. Hannes Delcroix was drafted in with the only other change to the starting line-up from Brighton seeing Jacob Bruun Larsen back in for Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson who wasn’t even on the bench.

The surprises though were on the bench. Josh Cullen, we were told, was ruled out but he was there although the biggest surprise, and the highlight of the entire day from our point of view, was to see Lyle Foster’s name listed.

On the day before the game, I read on Everton’s official website that they’d been informed by Burnley Football Club that flags are not permitted inside Turf Moor. That must be why our club’s flag waving exercise to improve the atmosphere hasn’t worked I thought. Our club also informed Everton that any A4 cards attempted to be taken into the ground would be confiscated. Judging by the numbers held up in the away end, that clearly didn’t work.

Sometimes, a football club shows a little bit of class and, sadly, sometimes a football club shows a lack of it. Yesterday was our chance to say thankyou to former manager Sean Dyche and there is no doubt that the Burnley fans took that opportunity to do so from the second he emerged from the tunnel. Was there really any need for our PA announcer to take that moment to bellow out the team news? Could he not have waited to allow Dyche to make his way across the pitch to take the applause?

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Not too much happened in the opening stages although Dwight McNeil, one of three former Clarets on the pitch for Everton, got in one cross from the left and then almost scored with a header as difficult as that is to believe.

But then the game turned Everton’s way when Wilson Odobert gave the ball away down our left hand side. Everton got forward with Nathan Patterson and Jack Harrison with the former’s cross met by Dominic Calvert-Lewin whose header was kept out by a magnificent James Trafford save. Man of the match at Brighton last week, this was an even better save than any of those at the Amex. Unfortunately, for Trafford and Burnley, his good fortune was about to end.

McNeil went to take the corner in front of the Burnley fans at the cricket field end and he received some warm applause from them, so refreshing to see after the total nonsense at Goodison. Maybe those Burnley fans wouldn’t had they known what was to happen.

Everton are masters of the set-piece, we are often found wanting in these situations. Put the two together and it was perhaps no surprise to know that we went behind from this corner. Trafford came and didn’t get a glove on the ball as Amadou Onana stormed past his marker Josh Brownhill to head home. Brownhill was not equipped physically to deal with Onana but had it gone past them then it would have been a James Tarkowski v Vitinho mismatch.

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Worse was to come. Soon afterwards Vitinho gave away a needless free kick not too far inside the Everton half. Jordan Pickford came out to take it, in much the same way as we often saw Tom Heaton take our free kicks out wide and just inside our own half. Pickford’s kick found Tarkowski who beat Decroix in the air to head down for Keane who had just run off Jordan Beyer far too comfortably. Keane got in a first time shot that was saved by Trafford, but he could do no more than parry it onto Dara O’Shea from where it went straight back to the still unmarked Keane who this time made no mistake.

We were 2-0 down and this game really was over as far as the points were concerned although I’m not sure Everton created any more chances of note. They just did what they had to for the most part, keeping us at bay and coasting to what really was a comfortable win for them. The closest they came to adding a third goal, hardly surprisingly, came from a second half corner from which they twice hit the post, firstly from Keane and then from Vitinho on the rebound.

We did have our opportunities. Right on half time it looked as though Zeki Amdouni was a certain scorer from a Vitinho cross but Ben Godfrey got a touch just in time to get the ball away. In the second half, Pickford made a TV camera save to deny Amdouni and closing in on the end of the game, Sander Berge thundered a shot against the bar although assistant referee Gary Beswick had his flag raised for Bruun Larsen being offside before he’d pulled the ball back for Berge. Television pictures show it was very close, maybe it would have taken VAR around five minutes to rule it out.

Foster had come on at half time for Jay Rod. He looked well short to be honest, nothing like the player we saw earlier in the season, but that was no surprise at all. With twenty minutes remaining, we mercifully got Delcroix off. Vitinho moved to the left but it wasn’t Connor Roberts coming on; Ameen Al-Dakhil was the preferred option at right-back.

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The other three changes were something of a nonsense, all coming in the closing minutes. The appearance of Manuel Benson temporarily lifted the crowd but again I was baffled with a double substitution on 87 minutes with the game, by then, well and truly gone.

Referee Anthony Taylor finally brought it all to an end after three minutes of stoppage time to signal another defeat, the only consolation coming early in the day with Sheffield United’s defeat ensuring we didn’t drop to the very bottom of the league..

We’ve now lost eight out of nine home games; we’ve now lost thirteen of seventeen Premier League games played in total. Our two wins have come against the two others who sit in the bottom three with us and only the point gained last week at Brighton has come against a team currently outside the bottom four.

“It’s going to be difficult to stay up,” I heard one Burnley fan say as we left the ground. I think it is close to being beyond difficult now. To reach 35 points, plucking a figure out of the air that often wins you safety, we would need 27 more points from our 21 remaining games. Just to equal our worst ever Premier League season of 2009/10, we would need a further 22 points from those games.

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Can anyone see that happening? For me, we clearly look a side so ill equipped to play at this level. All the euphoria of last season’s triumphant promotion season has gone. I just don’t see how we stay up now although I so hope I’ll be proved wrong come the end of the season.

We were led to believe that things were improving when Crystal Palace beat us 2-0 a few weeks ago. I didn’t think so. Yes, we should then have beaten West Ham, before the defensive frailties appeared late in the game, and yes, we murdered Sheffield United but since then, either side of the creditable Brighton draw, we’ve had the inept performances against Wolves and now Everton.

Everton are a decent side, undoubtedly, and they are in a rich vein of form, but they were forced into changes yesterday that necessitated them playing in a different formation and they beat us with consummate ease.

I’ll be at Fulham next Saturday, health issues permitting, and willing us to win the game although right now it is difficult to go with too much confidence. It reminds me of a conversation I had with Billy Rodaway back in late 1977 when he asked why I was still going when we were so poor. My reply was: “Because you never know when we’ll be good.” We were bottom of the league and in the next away game we played top of the league Bolton at Burnden Park and won 2-1 with a superb display. “That’s why,” I said to Billy Rod in the following week.

The teams were;

Burnley: James Trafford, Vitinho (Nathan Redmond 87), Dara O’Shea, Jordan Beyer, Hannes Delcroix (Ameen Al-Dakhil 70), Jacob Bruun Larsen (Manuel Benson 82), Josh Brownhill, Sander Berge, Wilson Odobert (Mike Trésor 87), Zeki Amdouni, Jay Rodriguez (Lyle Foster ht). Subs not used: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Josh Cullen, Michael Obafemi.

Everton: Jordan Pickford, Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane, James Tarkowski, Nathan Patterson, Jack Harrison, Amadou Onana, James Garner, Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucouré (Lewis Dobbin ht), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Beto 82). Subs not used: João Virgínia, Andy Lonergan, Arnaut Danjuma, Youssef Chermiti, Mackenzie Hunt, Elijah Campbell, Jenson Metcalfe.
Yellow Card: James Garner.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe).

Attendance: 21,413.

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