Everton 1 - 1 Liverpool
Derby day upon us once again and with L4 bathed in bright light we made our way to the Room of Nonsense as the first part of a journey that we hoped, as we usually do, would at last see a Blue win. It’s something like ten games have passed against our cousins without being able to celebrate a win. The teams came through and the talking point was that with Stones and Coleman out we had three derby debutants and all in the back four. Would they have the experience to handle such a game?
The room was quite quiet today as it often is on derby days as the tension that is in these games starts to kick in. The fear of losing is a powerful joy breaker. The walk up is much the same, not a song or chant to be heard just the buzz of fans contemplating possible outcomes with their mates and, depending on result, the arrangements for the rest of the day. Into the ground and the club had done their best to generate an atmosphere with re-runs of past victories on the big screen along with some extremely loud sound effects. Grand Old Team was given extra airings and one way or another the time went and Z-Cars signalled the entry of the gladiators. There was a tumultuous reception and it transpired it was them to kick off.
We had a decent start to the game as both teams pushed on but invariably gave the ball away so an end-to-end start with neither team wanting to concede anything. Both teams had shots either wide, saved or blocked but not a lot of conviction in anything. Browning did give a free kick away which resulted in a cross from Skrtel that Jags beat Sturridge to and gave away a corner; a timely intervention that.
The half moving on saw Liverpool gaining the upper hand as far as attacks went and forcing quite a few corners whilst raising anxiety levels of many Blues present in the sell-out crowd. We attacked when we could but the joined-up stuff was stifled as players seemed afraid of expanding their repertoire. But at the same time I noted that Lukaku was more and more using his strength and stature to get amongst their defenders and unsettle them as well as winning a good few headers – our problem was we didn’t have anyone taking a chance on winning second ball.
The crowd at last let off some steam as our Ref Martin Atkinson seemed to be letting Liverpool fouls go and blowing up for many of our tackles. Whether there is anything in it or not I don’t know but it did seem like a bit of bias toward the Reds, but there again it seems this way every derby game. Where our young lads at the back were performing very well under the expert tutelage of Jags our young Spaniard was not having one of his better games with very little coming off for him and murmurings being heard from the faithful. With Lukaku dominating the Liverpool centre backs in aerial duals the attempted crosses were just what was needed but although we got him in down the right a good few times Deulofeu could just not find his touch and his efforts were rendered useless.
Liverpool did seem on top as the half wore on until Barkley was fouled, he took the free kick himself and sent an arcing beauty across the box which the livewire Naismith got in a powerful header that had ‘bums off seats’ until the keeper managed to throw up an arm and tip it over. Oh the groans but it did look a great save.
Within minutes their keeper was at it again as McCarthy got a great contact on the ball and sent a screamer toward the net but groans again as the keeper diving to his right diverted the ball wide. We may have been on the back foot a bit but those two strikes perked everyone up and the crowd responded with some songs and chants. Barkley and Can had a bit of a set to and both got booked. Sturridge came forward and looked a danger until Mori showed him who was boss. Then Can had some sort of overhead kick that was high and dangerous leaving Barry on the deck but the Ref was consistent and bottled the second yellow that Can deserved.
Coming up to half time and Deulofeu made another blunder gifting the ball to his marker who put Milner clear up the left channel. Mori was off like a robber's dog to intercept this dangerous move at the expense of a corner. The kick came in toward our back post and looked no more than regulation but both Howard and Barkley one way or another left Ings, who had done little this half, to tap home. The phrase ‘Here we go again’ was on many a tongue. 3 minutes to the break, what a downer. But wait, the Ref adds four more just as Deulofeu gets his first cross in past his immediate marker and we at last get some luck. It happened that fast my best description is that a Liverpool defender whacked clear but the ball hit Skrtel cannoned onto Sakho and into the path of Lukaku who made little fuss of hitting home. Cue celebrations and a very loud rendition of ‘Rom's Song’
We kept them waiting for us to emerge after the break I hoped it was because Roberto had devised a cunning plan for the second period. Nothing seemed to have changed and the half trundled on in derby fashion so with little happening on the pitch I had a look around at how individual players were doing and Galloway was looking a class act at left back, look out Bainsy. Mori was looking more assured and at home as the game was progressing, could have a Gud Un here and Browning was looking less nervous than previously.
The game trundled on and on the hour mark the out of sorts Deulofeu was replaced by Lennon. The crowd gave Gerry a good loud send-off though. Lennon was soon in the game speeding about in his own familiar style and getting a few crosses in. We were still trying to get Lukaku more into the game as he was on fire today and much appreciated by the faithful who roared him on as he gave Skrtel and the odious Sakho a torrid time. Lucas got a yellow for a foul from the rear on Barkley. We then had a touch of joined-up stuff that saw Mori stride forward and shoot but his effort was blocked but fell for Lukaku but his reaction was rather hurried and instead of going for the corner of the goal he hit it straight at the keeper and that was that chance gone.
Everton seemed on top now with Liverpool restricted to the odd shot the best of which saw Howard save from Coutinho. Lucas then stopped McCarthy in his tracks by clipping his heels from behind, a definite yellow card that Atkinson refused to give. Can you blame Evertonians for more than querying why this seems to happen more against them than any other team. Rogers then took him off as surly the Ref could not let him off again.
With ten to go Kone replaced Naismith who, along with McCarthy, had been the legs of the team. Could him and Rom craft a winner, we wondered? Well, no was to be the answer but in those last minutes we seemed to take one set of chains off and have a right go at last but it was always a nearly situation as Lennon, Kone and Lukaku strived to create something but always failing at the last. Jags and Mori saw off a couple of Liverpool attacks. Galloway and now Browning were in winger mode. We gained a free kick out wide left and while waiting for the kick a flare up between Rom and Sakho saw both receive yellow. Whilst the Ref spoke to both players the ‘Rom Song’ was belted out very loudly in a fierce show of support. The kick was taken and came to nought. Just before the whistle it was ‘Bums half off seats’ as Lennon got down the flank fired in a low one to the feet of Lukaku but in keeping with the fact little went right for us today the ball seemed to ricochet off both his lower legs and the chance was gone and the final whistle saw us all file away muttering about another typical Derby.
Well that’s this seasons home Derby out of the way with bragging rights shared from a game that was frustrating and lacking in craft and guile. Although hardly mentioned in this report I thought Barry had an outstanding game in terms of being a calming influence as well as showing the experience to spot danger and cut it out also his constant talking and directing other less experienced players.
Walking out of the ground Goodison Road and Spellow lane were chocca it was a quiet orderly walk back for the inquest just odd snatches of conversation were heard along the lines of ‘Another derby without a win’ – ‘Same old same old’ –‘Another biased Ref, but the sun was shining and it was quite warm so we held the inquest outside but we are still no nearer to finding out why in derby games neither team seems to play their normal game also why do the Refs always favour them. So after watching many-many of these games I can safely say that this was a truly ‘Typical ‘derby’
International break now and then Man U at home. I wonder how many will go on International duty and how many will be fit and raring to go on their return--- all of them I hope. See you then.
PS Rogers sacked. Bit of a shame that.
UP THE BLUES