Everton 1 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur
With the rain seemingly endless I was glad that Ste offered to drive to this one. We rolled up near the ground a little after 2pm, meeting Gary and Sue in the pub. The team news came. Tim Howard and Arouna Kone retaining their respective places in the starting XI bringing the most annoyance for most.
We trudged on to Goofison Park in the rain and were in place well in time for Z-Cars to boom out. Gareth Barry led the team out, Everton winning the coin toss and attacking towards the Park End in the first half. Andre Marriner officiated.
The first half in the main belonged to Tottenham who were on the front foot with an energetic start to the game. A cross to the back post was well hacked clear by Seamus Coleman which prevented an almost certain goal. Shortly afterwards Harry Kane drove at goal and was desperately unlucky not to give Tottenham the advantage when his angled effort from distance cannoned away off the inside of the post, across the goal and out of play. Tottenham desperately unlucky.
This was Everton's cue to up the tempo and Gareth Barry carried the fight to the opposition more than most as we tried to get a foothold. As it transpired we got our noses in front with practically our first meaningful attack of the game when a ball by Cleverley was well flicked to Aarron Lennon by Romelu Lukaku. The ex-Spurs winger steadied himself and hit an unstoppable drive past Hugo Lloris. Entirely against the run of play, we found ourselves a goal to the good.
We seemed to gain confidence from this though Tottenham certainly weren't feeling sorry for themselves either and almost equalised when Ben Davies drove from distance with a spectacular effort that came back off the crossbar and away to safety. At the other end Kone headed wide with a half chance.
As the half time break approached you prayed and begged for Everton to for once just see the game out and get to half time with the scoreline intact. Wishful thinking of course and as Everton jittered you sensed a goal may be coming and unfortunately it came far too easily when a hopeful ball was punted forward and was missed by I think John Stones and Seamus Coleman, though was smartly finished by Dele Alli. Tottenham level just on half time. "Typical Everton" is all you could think.
I worried that Spurs may really gain momentum from the equalising goal and take advantage in the second half though it was Everton who made more of a fist of things after the break and we can perhaps count ourselves a shade unlucky not to have taken all three points, though a defeat may have been hard on Tottenham given their first half superiority.
We were defensively much more solid and didn't give much away at the back, whilst pressing for the winner at the other end of the pitch and with better composure as the game stretched we might have got the decisive winning goal. A wonderful effort by substitute Muhamed Besic almost resulted in his first Everton goal though Lloris tipped his effort over the crossbar, whilst right at the death we passed up a couple of decent openings when Romelu Lukaku blazed over the goal under pressure from Jan Vertonghen; and, in a separate opportunity Lukaku's shot was blocked though it fell in the penalty area to Ross Barkley who engineered some space with a fabulously audacious bit of skill, though unfortunately his drive was well stopped by Lloris in the last action of an absorbingly entertaining game.
So another frustrating draw (our third in six games against Spurs, though we lost the other three!) in this maddeningly frustrating season, though performances similar to that of the second half against Manchester City will more than give us a chance of progressing to the Capital One cup final. Let's hope that's the Everton we see on Wednesday evening at what is sure to be a rocking Goodison Park.
Howard: Saved all that was struck at him and was fine other than a few moments of indecision when it came to commanding his penalty area. Distribution not bad. 6
Baines: Did well, always up in support of his teammates and defended pretty well also. 6
Funes Mori: After a hesitant first half he improved in the half and can be satisfied with his days' work. 7
Stones: I think it was his lapse which let Tottenham in for the equaliser but otherwise he was very good and much more fierce in the tackle and dominant that he has been for some time. 7
Coleman: My man of the match. The goal aside, he lead by example at the back and was always helping out Lennon and, later in the game, Deulofeu in attack. 7
Barry: Not everything he does is always the right thing to do but he always takes responsibility and will take one for the team. I think he would benefit from a rest though. Get him through the cup semi-final then let him rest against Dagenham & Redbridge. 6
Cleverley: I was surprised he was available but he did well to last the game. Showed some clever touches though mis-placed a few things late in the game. Given the performance of Muhammed Besic as a substitute, and the performance, or there lack of, of Arouna Kone on the left, I wouldn't be surprised to see him feature on the left against Manchester City. 7
Kone: Hard to fathom how he remains in the team with so many other options available. His contribution with goals and assists is minimal and there are certainly better candidates who deserve an opportunity. 5
Lennon: Seized his opportunity and got around the pitch well with a typically energetic display. So much so that most were rather disappointed to see him substituted on the hour. Will be pleased with his goal against his former employers. 7
Barkley: Worked hard in there and would have brought the house down had he have found the net after his brilliant flick to create an opportunity at the death. I've an inkling he'll come up trumps against Manchester City in the league cup. Don't know why. 7
Lukaku: Perhaps tries to do too much sometimes but has really developed into a genuinely class player. Another excellent performance with an excellent assist to boot. 7
Besic (for Kone): Got stuck in and made a real impact on the game. With McCarthy injured he may be able to seize the opportunity in the middle. Unlucky not to score. 7
Deulofeu (for Lennon): Got involved though didn't quite hit the heights he has done previously this season. 6