We all turned up in hot conditions but most must be weather-watchers as showerproofs were accompanying T-Shirts and shorts. The Room of Nonsense was abuzz with transfer speculation. In short the conclusions were that Stones will be kept but apart from that any other incomings or outgoings will not be believed until someone waves the shirt and every Everton member gets the confirming e-mail. Everton and transfers are always treated this way by our gang as years of anticipation at all the rumours have left us a cynical lot.
Teams were announced and no change from last week which left most quite happy. Also, the bench looked quite strong which did not go unnoticed. However, during discussion it was felt that the fit again Mirallas should have been in for Kone.
Time for the walk up and the showerproofs were out as we were having mild drizzle. The protesters were out but this time it wasn’t Everton’s Chairman or board being targeted but rather Mayor Joe was being encouraged to go due to alleged corruption within the council. Rather than a plane they had a big black van with all necessary placards in place.
The drizzle didn’t put anyone off as Spellow Lane was well-populated and on turning into Goodison Road Fat van, chippies and cafÃ© were churning out enough fast food to worry the health police. Talking of police, their horses had been there and their droppings mixed with drizzle is a mixture to avoid for a near sell-out crowd of 38,523 who, after entering the ground, gave a terrific welcome to the players. City had filled their section and were in bullish mood.
The game started in lively fashion with both sides getting into gear. Early doors Lukaku with a lousy touch set City on a break to our goal and but for a fine stop by the foot of Howard Aguero could have turned it into a terrible start. Both teams were getting forward when they could but it was noticeable that City seemed to have the greater threat especially down our left where they seemed to have targeted our left back area. This was borne out when the speedy Navas sped past our left-back and crossed for Aguero to take his time and aim at goal but Howard did a fine block.
The half wore on in a fairly even fashion with both teams playing good joined up stuff yet when it came to final thirds City always looked to have the edge on us. Where they caused good blocks and saves our attacks yet again seemed to lose momentum. Poor first touches and sloppy passes being our downfall. We had one move of note when Coleman hit a long one to Kone who deftly played in Barkley and he played on the ground to Lukaku in the box. He duly netted but rapture turned to sorrow as a lino’s flag ruled it offside. I look forward to seeing that again as it looked right close to me but the lino’s view was far better than mine.
A goal then could well have changed the game but now we will never know. We were awarded a free-kick just outside the box that Barkley took... oh dear, they are still looking for the ball in Stanley Park. Just before the break Galloway went to the turf for a second time and after treatment was led off to be replaced by another rookie in Browning.
Halt time arrived with the game goalless and most seemed pleased with our efforts considering the wealth of talent that was against us. I did think that in that half we should have been a little more adventurous at times instead of giving City as much respect as we did. Easy for me to say, I know, but we just hadn’t fully gone for it when the chance arose which was not that often.
Second half and City looked like a team who had been told to up their game. Ex-red Sterling was booed on his every touch but he seemed untroubled as his link up with Silva got the City man around the back and he smacked a post. A let off and a warning.
City were coming at us more and more now and we seemed a bit in awe of them as we were timid in a lot of our work both attacking and defending. Stones was certainly not playing for away as some of his tackling was strong and was never afraid to put his head in danger but he did give us the jitters by trying to play his way out of trouble and getting in a mess on a few occasions. He has great confidence in himself though. Coleman was our main attacking threat and his buccaneering runs and crosses were reminiscent of a couple of seasons ago.
As the hour mark loomed City were piling it on more and more with our counters sporadic and lacking in craft and guile. Final passes going astray and player misunderstandings ending dangerous looking moves allowing City to break and from one of these the ever raiding Sterling fed Kolarov who got almost to our byline with three Everton bodies in attendance. One of them put his hand up to claim offside but Kolarov had sped in and smashed the ball home between Howard and his near post. Looked like keeper error.
You could see disappointment and disbelief on the players as with shoulders sagging they slowly made their way back into position for the restart. Our manager left it little more than 5 minutes to change Kone who I thought had done OK with Naismith. I was hoping for Mirallas who at least has pace and unpredictability, two qualities that I thought could just unsettle a confident City. We had the comical sight of Stones and Browning chasing the same ball down our left and both attacking the ball at the same time thus tackling one another and allowing Navas a free run on our goal. He hit the ball with power at Howard's legs hoping to get the ball through them but our keeper had none of it and made an excellent block.
At the other end Cleverley and Naismith forced a corner which we attacked and won another one but this time City headed clear and that bit of excitement was gone. But it had got the crowd up and Goodison was ringing out with support and got even louder when Coleman goy the better of Sterling in front of the City fans and headed off down the wing. The Irishman was up for it now and soon forced a corner which was cleared. Coleman attacked again as the clock ticked and from a cross Barry headed goal ward beating the keeper but Kompany headed off the line. Drat, said many!
Although City looked the better side we did attack and although these moves broke down I didn’t think it was all the fault of the players because on a few occasions we just seemed to be having no luck, no rub of the green as good balls would just deflect enough to halt the move if not bad luck it was certainly frustrating players and fans alike.
Just five minutes to go and Deulofeu is brought on in place of Cleverley. I won’t describe his offering instead let’s be charitable and conclude he is rusty after not playing much football in Spain. I sat bemused for a moment contemplating why no Mirallas. I doubt we will ever know.
2 minutes to the 90 and City again targeted our left flank and got Navas in. He strode into the box and from point blank range hammered one in that Howard did well to push away but only to the incoming Nasri and between the hesitant Howard and two other defenders Nasri was allowed a free chip over Howard and into the net. 2-0 down and a mass exodus of fans. The remaining 4 minutes of added were played out and then the final whistle. Many of us were disappointed but in the cold light of day the better team had won but only with two goalkeeping errors.
MotM – Silva... but for Everton, Coleman
Overall a frustrating day out yet one that showed we are looking better than last season and how we look after the window closes will give us a better idea of how we will look by seasons end.
My man in the family enclosure tells me Mirallas when warming up was shaking his head in frustration and when Osman was sent out he threw hands to his head. I reckon he was not happy.
Early in the game at a City corner stewards were called to an incident in the Street end. It turned out someone had taken ill and were eventually carried out of the ground on a stretcher. I hope they have recovered well. It was impressive to see such quick action taken and by the number of official people in attendance – Well done Everton.
Barnsley next on Wednesday night. Now I can’t wait for that team sheet.
Keep the faith for today we could have been beaten by this seasons champions... unless of course we have a great transfer window.
See you soon.
UP THE BLUES!