Not a good night at Goodison
It very definitely wasn’t our night at Goodison on Friday where Everton swept us away in the first half hour to ensure victory on a night when they celebrated the careers of three of their finest players from the 1960s.
It was an awful watch in that opening thirty minutes or so with Everton, who have been in outstanding form at home recently against the top six clubs, so much on top against us with some of our players looking as though they might have their suitcases packed for the holidays. That they didn’t score again after the first twenty minutes is of some credit to us and, despite not contesting that the defeat was the correct result, we might just have got back into it on a couple of occasions.
Goodison Park it was for our final away game of a season that’s ended far better than we thought it might when the two sides clashed at the Turf on Boxing Day and it’s one of my favourite grounds even though it leaves much to be desired in terms of modern football.
It’s what I call a proper ground. I’ve been told the new stadium at Spurs will blow me away it’s that good, but this still has that feel to it with not much change made since they built the new Park End Stand, now given the name of former chairman Sir Philip Carter. Last season I had a shocking view; this season it was much better.
There’s so much about Everton that remains traditional and they chose yesterday to unveil a stature of their Holy Trinity, the midfield trio of Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey, once assistant manager at Burnley, and Alan Ball. Ahead of kick off, Harvey, the only one of the three still with us, led members of all three families onto the Goodison pitch following the unveiling earlier in the evening.
The tradition continues with the same music being played as it was back in the day when I first went and that includes Z Cars as the team comes out. Our team, surprisingly playing in black after we’d opted to play at Chelsea in the home shirt, saw two changes from the team beaten by Manchester City with Jeff Hendrick and Dwight McNeil giving way to Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson and Robbie Brady. Other than that, there were no other changes other than the return of Peter Crouch on the bench.
What a start to the game. We were bombarded in the early stages at Chelsea in the last away game yet came out of it with the score at 2-2; here we again conceded twice but I don’t think we ever got within thirty yards of their goal as Everton totally dominated.
Was that us on the beach, being caught out early, or was it Everton starting particularly well? I’d suggest a bit of both but there was no doubt that Everton did look an outstanding team in that opening period.
From our vantage point we thought Richarlison has scored Everton’s opener but then saw the pictures on the big screen of the Brazilian’s shot going wide until it got an unfortunate deflection off Ben Mee for an own goal. Three minutes later and their lead was doubled. Tom Heaton could only parry Lucas Digne’s shot right into the path of Seamus Coleman who headed in from close range.
That sort of blistering start from the home side really couldn’t continue and it didn’t although by the time it eased off they’d done enough to win the game. By half time we’d had a couple of chances to get back into the game too. Ashley Barnes scored from a Brady pass but was, quite rightly, flagged offside and then Brady himself headed wide from a ball in from the right. Brady was probably our one shining light. He was involved in much of our better play and, on a night when the quality of our passing was nothing like we are used to, he stood out at times.
Two goals down at half time and we might have been a man down too. Ashley Westwood was yellow carded for a foul on Morgan Schneiderlin which could have been red. Bizarrely, referee Chris Kavanagh, who had a poor game all round, spoke to Westwood and took no action but then could be seen talking to one of the other officials before going back to the Burnley midfielder and showing him the card.
We had some opportunities in a more even second half. Chris Wood failed to bring down one ball that might have led to a shot and then could only hit another straight at Jordan Pickford. Another Brady cross reached Guðmundsson at the far post but it just came to him awkwardly and he couldn’t finish.
We weren’t on top though, Everton were also having opportunities but a goal for us might have made it a very interesting contest and that goal might have come when Matěj Vydra, on for Wood, was pushed down by former Claret Michael Keane. There is some argument as to whether it is inside or outside the box; pictures show that any award would have been a penalty. Incredibly, Kavanagh and his assistant gave absolutely nothing. Keane had got away with one and with it our one real chance of getting back in had gone.
Everton were so close to a third when Ademola Lookman hit the bar and, in truth, anything but an Everton win would have been an injustice, certainly after that start which we were just unable to deal with.
With our Premier League place assured, it means another trip to Goodison next season. I don’t know how many more times we’ll go there but when we do we’ll need to make a better start than we did on Friday.
The teams were;
Everton: Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman, Kurt Zouma, Michael Keane, Lucas Digne, Idrissa Gueye, Morgan Schneiderlin, Richarlison (Theo Walcott 49), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Phil Jagielka 90+1), Bernard (Ademola Lookman 73), Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Subs not used: Maarten Stekelenburg, Leighton Baines, Tom Davies, Cenk Tosun.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Dwight McNeil 69), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Robbie Brady (Jeff Hendrick 80), Ashley Barnes (Matěj Vydra 72), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Peter Crouch.
Yellow Cards: Ashley Westwood, James Tarkowski.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Manchester).
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