What a Night!

Paul Traill 20/05/2022 22comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 3 - 2 Crystal Palace

I managed to get out of work a few hours early, and headed over to Liverpool on the bus. Excited, apprehensive yet optimistic, I was nervous of what the evening had in store.

Lyndon had already suffered quite the ordeal with his luggage going missing during his flight over the pond. “Hopefully that’s the worst thing that happens to you today” I said.

Conscious of how the evening may pan out, we grabbed some food at Thomas Rigby’s as we figured we might not get the chance later. Lyndon and I then chatted for an hour or so about pretty much everything and anything but Everton. Whether that was subconsciously deliberate given what was at stake in the evening, I don’t know, but it was great to catch up with Lyndon. A little after 5pm Matt Jones from The Blue Room joined us for a jar or two, and as we ticked around 6pm we felt it was time to make a move towards Goodison Park. We were talking nothing but Everton at this point.

Lyndon and I were lucky enough to find a taxi pretty quickly and made the quick dart towards Goodison Park. We then went separate ways, Lyndon to go and catch up with Ell Bretland, myself to catch up with Steve and Thomas for a pint, two Dutch Evertonians who had also travelled in for the big game. It’s always good to catch up with them fellas. As we walked down Goodison Road and took in the electric atmosphere Steve commented “it feels like Everton are wining the league, but this is just to stay in the league”. He was correct. The support Evertonians have produced in the club’s hour of need has been as outstanding as it has extraordinary.

I was in my seat with about 20 minutes to go until kick off. It felt like a very protracted, though thoroughly enjoyable build up to the game, but now we were here. This is it.

The roar that greeted the players as they took to the field was breathtaking, truly phenomenal. I hadn’t seen the team news yet, and was baffled to see Andre Gomes again preferred to Allan. As expected, Michael Keane was recalled to the team following his sickness bout.

Seamus Coleman won the toss. The noise was deafening. And just when we were wondering where Gary was he appeared. “I didn’t want to come” he said. “I can’t face it”. You won’t meet many bigger Evertonians than Gary. I’m glad he was with us. It was a cagey beginning to the game. I thought the players looked visibly nervous and really struggled to take the game to Crystal Palace in the opening exchanges, indeed the Eagles settled far quicker into the game.

Richarlison has never scored a free kick for Everton though I doubt he has ever come closer than with his 25 yard effort which struck the Crystal Palace crossbar. That was a little unlucky, but that was about all we had in terms of opportunities in the opening spell, and indeed Crystal Palace opened the scoring quite easily when Eberechi Eze’s good ball into the box was well met by Jean-Phillipe Mateta.

Usually a crowd’s nervousness can transfer to the players though in this instance it felt the other way round, everyone, rightly became increasingly nervous, worried, agitated, and a little bit angry. A lot of this ire was directed at Andre Gomes who was producing an impact-less display. I felt for the Portuguese’, he was trying, but couldn’t get on the ball, and his efforts to win it back were in vain.

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On 34 minutes Anthony Gordon was lucky not to have broken his leg, not for the first time this season, following a rotten challenge by an opponent, this time Jordan Ayew. Why he wasn’t shown a red card I don’t know. Such is schadenfreude, Ayew had the last wicked laugh when he finally scored with his collarbone following a series of ridiculous Everton mistakes. More than a few people both at half time and later in the pub compared it to the Gary Ablett own goal in 1994. They weren’t wrong, it was terrible.

We were all a bit disconsolate at the break. I was stunned with the position we’d found ourselves in and didn’t know what to say or do. I remember Gary talking at me and I could barely reply to him, I was lost. Ste said “Well we’re either going down or we’re going to witness one of the greatest ever Goodison nights” or something to that effect.

Each match day the fella at the end of the row and I, I’ve no idea what his name is, say hello and pat each other on the back as I shuffle past him. We barely ever say anything to each other apart from “alright mate”, but I always like seeing him on match day. As I came back from the loo at half time we looked at each and we probably both looked as crestfallen as each other. He looked incredibly sad, as probably did I, as we gave each other a sorry nod. All this time we’ve been awful this season, I hadn’t at any point believed we were going down until this moment then. Despite still having another game, I felt we were now on that spiral. We are going to be relegated.

All you could do was get behind the lads, and the sight of Dele Alli warming up and ready to go in full kit gave everyone a lift. The crowd did their bit, no question. We needed an early goal in the second half. It certainly felt like a long nine minutes until we got it, and in truth ‘til that point we didn’t look like getting it, and then out of nothing, a determined knock down from Mason Holgate fell to Michael Keane who took a touch and nonchalantly volleyed into the corner on his left foot. A lifeline for Everton. Back in the game. The atmosphere cranked up a notch.

The players grew in confidence, aided by a touch of class and calmness in possession from Dele Alli. And less than ten minutes later 1-2 became 2-2 when Richarlison’s scuffed effort somehow found the corner. You suddenly believed. It was incredible.

The important goal came of course, and what a header it was from Dominic Calvert-Lewin. A delicious free kick from substitute Demarai Gray, a bullet diving header from Dominic, and Everton had done it. We all hugged and held for dear life. Amazing. Some fans spilled onto the pitch, which wasn’t particularly helpful, as it meant we had to navigate seven minutes of stoppage time. It felt like a chunk of it had gone and I said to Ste “we must have used up five minutes of stoppage time by now surely?”. Ste, who had set his stopwatch, shook his head dismissively and said “two”. Two! Jesus, still five minutes to go.

Though tense, we negotiated it pretty well and were seldom in danger. Crystal Palace just wanted out of there and it was hard to blame them. Anthony Taylor started giving us all the 50/50 decisions, and who could blame him with the baying Goodison mob?

The whistle finally went. Anthony Taylor already making a hasty retreat across the pitch as he blew for full time. Evertonians, naturally ran onto the pitch. Once it got to the point of anybody being allowed on, which didn’t take long, Gary and Ste went onto the pitch. I stayed put for a while, taking it all in. Though then I saw Gary and Ste on the pitch having the time of their lives, and I got envious and went on the pitch myself. I saw the guy at the end of the row and we gave each other a big bear hug. To think at half time we were disconsolate.

On the pitch everyone was celebrating, hugging each other, singing, dancing, some lads were even having a kick around. I could do nothing. I was so stunned, totally beaten by this season from Hell, I just walked around speechless. A crowd began forming towards the players entrance. I had no idea what for, I couldn’t see Frank Lampard jumping up and dwn. People were beginning to leave and I did too, finally meeting Lyndon and Ste back at the statue. We were all rather speechless, unable to put what happened into words. We got the train to Moorfields and went to the Denbigh Castle pub (it’s great fun in there) to carry on the party…which we later finished off at Matthew Street. I got home not long before 4am. Not my most productive day of work today I must admit.

So that’s it for me this season. I’ll obviously take a passing interest in our game at Arsenal on Sunday, but am not bothered about watching it, I’ll be going to watch some cricket, with no TV in sight. I don’t care much for who wins the league, or who gets relegated. We’re safe, that’s all that matters. This season has been wretched, and I’m looking forward to not caring about the football for one weekend. A lot of comings and goings are required over the Summer, and we’ll have to do it on a shoestring it seems, but now isn’t the time to think about that.

Right now, relax. You’ve earned it. UTFT.

Player ratings:

Jordan Pickford: Having seen it again since, I have to feel Jordan was one of the many at fault for Crystal Palace’s second goal, though he was otherwise OK. His kicking was poor for a lot of the first half but he was improved after the break. Our player of the season. 6

Vitalii Mykolenko: He was OK, kept at it. 6

Mason Holgate: As an ever-present in our last six games, in which we have picked up 10 points, Mason has been an ever present, and thus an unsung hero in my book. Two clean sheets and his two goals and one assist far outshine nearly all of his outfield compatriots. He’s dug in when it mattered. He cares about our club, and if finances are on them wires for the foreseeable future, lads like Mason, who will go out there and give their best are invaluable. Well done Mason. 7

Michael Keane: A very welcome return to the team, and had he not have become sick ahead of the Brentford match maybe we would have got the job done then. Like Mason, he has also stood up to be counted, especially as he’s had to come into games as a last minute swap, or replacing players early in games. We were saying in the pub after the game that he’s quite a classy player Michael, pretty cultured at times, and thus we weren’t incredibly shocked by his well-taken goal. A good player, we could do a lot worse. 8

Seamus Coleman: Made a big error ahead of the second Crystal Palace goal, but he didn’t let it faze him and he kept on going. He had a tough job up against Wilfred Zaha but he came through it very well. 7

Alex Iwobi: He began at right back but at 0-2 down was pushed further forward. In the second half he never stopped trying. He never stopped believing. He wasn’t going to give this up. From zero to hero in a matter of months. Well done Alex. 8

Andre Gomes: I felt sorry for Andre, because his failings were not due to a lack of effort, it just didn’t work for him. He had to come off. 5

Abdoulaye Doucoure: He was a bit frustrating in the first half but he certainly upped his game in the second half and had a big impact. 7

Anthony Gordon: Not his best game, but not due to lack of effort. He’ll be jaded after a long slog of a breakthrough season. One of the few positives from the season. 5

Richarlison: Wasn’t quite at his best, presumably due to carrying an injury, but he got through 91 minutes and scored a vital goal of course. 7

Dominic Calvert-Lewin: He was colossal in the second half. He brought aggression to the party and Crystal Palace weren’t ready for it. His goal was a brilliant header, but his fight was just as important. A great effort. My man of the match. 9

Substitutes:

Dele Alli (for Andre Gomes): Cometh the hour, etc. Dele settled into the game quickly and helped get us up the pitch. An Important introduction. 8

Demarai Gray (for Anthony Gordon): He also got into the swing of things quickly and put in a delicious ball for our winning goal. 7

Jonjoe Kenny (for Richarlison): Such is the blur of them final seven minutes, I really can’t remember anything Jonjoe did so can’t grade him.

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Reader Comments (22)

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Graeme Beresford
1 Posted 21/05/2022 at 07:37:16
Summed up to perfection! I laughed, I cried, I sang, I danced, I’m still tired and have a sore throat! I went from not being able to say a word to my best mate, to feeling him hug me like I’ve never been hugged before! It was incredible! I’ve never seen anything like it. What a day. What an experience. What an Everton.
Steve Hogan
2 Posted 21/05/2022 at 10:06:35
Good report Paul, I've been going to Goodison for over 50 years, and I'm not sure I've ever seen the crowd as 'one'. Outside the Everton family, some of the sniping and comments from around the football world at our survival in the Prem, particularly from some journo's I had previously respected, has been disappointing, but maybe that is football now, as sports writer's seek the headlines to stay in a job.

Across the park, the media's favourite son, can't help himself either, questioning the Everton crowd in particular, for the pitch invasion, quickly forgetting the one man pitch encroachment by himself following the Origi last minute Derby winner a few years ago.

Maybe he's forgotten.

On the player front, much as I respect the efforts of the current squad over the last few traumatic weeks, Frank needs to be ruthless. In midfield, we have 'no legs' and are often overrun.

Massive clear out of the deadwood (not going to be easy I know), but we need young hungry players with potential, to really move this club forward.

Peter Mills
3 Posted 21/05/2022 at 10:08:37
Thanks for your reports all season, Paul. I’m made up that Lyndon managed to get over here to experience the night.
Danny O’Neill
4 Posted 21/05/2022 at 10:40:18
Have good and much needed rest Paul.

I can't add anything that hasn't been said about the night.

Your player ratings are there or thereabouts as I saw it. Maybe a bit harsh on Pickford given that vital save when it was still 2-1?

Forgetting the debacle of their second, I thought Holgate played possibly one of his best games. Something has changed in him. He looks more assured and is taking responsibility. A different player from earlier in the season. Keane was also immense. Richarlison gave everything as always and a special mention has to go to the much maligned Iwobi.

It's not the only reason, but that header alone earns man of the match.

Brian Harrison
5 Posted 21/05/2022 at 10:56:37
Danny

I know you have been a critic of our CBs all season and with good reason at times but I agree with the part that both Holgate and Keane have played in our last 8 or 9 games. I definitely think there has been a completely different mindset from Holgate who looks more assured than he has ever done, and he is a lot more dependable than he has been previous. Likewise Keane, I think with the mindset of the fans not to criticize any mistakes from any player in the run in has helped Keane probably more than any other player apart from Iwobi. I also think that we will need another CB for next season as Branthwaite still looks raw and needs to be sent out on loan to a championship side to help him progress.

I was delighted with Frank making Dele his first sub on Thursday, I think Dele was taken back by the reception he got when he came on to warm up at half time. I cant for the life of me understand why Frank put his trust in Gomes starting the last 2 games, and Allan not making an appearance in the last few games despite Frank calling him a warrior only 6 weeks back. I think Dele brought a calmness and a composure to our play when he came on, maybe dele is like some top class racehorses show nothing on the training ground but on the course come alive.

I do think Franks biggest job before the start of next season is to somehow get more goals from this side, and especially from midfield which have been sadly lacking in goals all season.

Henrik Lyngsie
6 Posted 21/05/2022 at 11:10:40
Well Keane and Holgate did fine in the defence and they were not part of the build up play since the gameplan was that Pickford just played long balls all the time.
This gameplan which was introduced the last part of the season has saved us from relegation and Keane and Holgate is fine with that.
However I am convinced that Lampard wants to play more modern football and I am sure that a ball playing centre half is a priority in the transfer window.
Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 21/05/2022 at 11:27:21
You reminded me Brian. I know hindsight is a great thing, but that substitution at half time deserves credit. At times in the first half it was like we had no midfield.

Unlike at Watford where he waited until I think the 75th minute, the manager spotted it and made a decisive change early. I know the circumstances were different, but credit where due.

Jerome Shields
8 Posted 21/05/2022 at 11:34:04
It could be that Gomes problem is that he does not have the confidence of the Everton players to receive the ball from them. When he is given the ball he often gives it away even when he gets a second chance.His pass completion are poor and he is not going to score.He is also easily disposed under pressure.He is just not good under pressure at all.This all results in him running about coming deep looking for a breaking ball, often kicking he was just was getting in the way of Everton players.Some good link.passing is all you get from Gomes.

Calvert Lewin was a yard short most of the night and Gray played a big part in his goal with a pin pint accurate cross.Calvert Lewin was a yard behind the defensive line.

Tony Abrahams
9 Posted 21/05/2022 at 11:48:13
Good point about the change in the stadium possibly helping Michael Keane more than any other player Brian H, and the way he took his goal, doing everything on his wrong foot, reminded me of Dennis Bergkamp, in his pomp!

I also thought DCL had a very good game, and I thought getting Iwobi’s energy into the midfield, and Deli Ali, closer to Richarlison and Dominic, made us so much more effective, and rather than blaming Gomes, I just hope Lampard continues to learn from his mistakes!

Brent Stephens
10 Posted 21/05/2022 at 11:50:29
Can't wait for the official Betamax compilation of Thursday's events.
Ernie Baywood
11 Posted 21/05/2022 at 13:17:11
2 days on... and it's occurred to me that game might have been Goodison's last big occasion (maybe except the big farewell).

A sobering thought. So many great memories that will differ depending on your vintage. But that match will, I'm sure, make the shortlist.

We're not always going to have the Grand Old Lady. Jeez I love her.

John Raftery
12 Posted 21/05/2022 at 16:44:27
Excellent report, Paul. Really pleased Lyndon was able to make it. Hope his luggage turned up! The rollercoaster of emotions you and your mates went through on Thursday night was mirrored all around the old ground. Let's hope it is the last such night we endure at Goodison.

I agree with your player ratings and Man of the Match selection. It has taken Calvert-Lewin 5 months to return to full fitness. He could not have chosen a more timely game to prove it.

I thought Frank should have switched to a back four the moment the first Palace goal went in. It was clear we were short in midfield with both Gomes and Doucouré chasing shadows.

Unless a team has two highly mobile central midfielders capable of covering the ground, 3-4-3 usually becomes 5-2-3 with the wingbacks dragged into the back line. That allows the opposition to control possession and territory.

Danny O’Neill
13 Posted 21/05/2022 at 17:33:19
Brent and all, if you have the club App watch the Tunnel Access video all the way through.

Health warning. Get some tissues on hand.

Jay Harris
14 Posted 21/05/2022 at 18:10:35
Great read, Paul. I still can't get enough of Thursdays news and videos.

Thoughts must quickly be turned to next season and a few positions filled asap and hopefully the importance of the goals from Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison who we must keep as a priority.

I am ambivalent about Pickford. Yes, he has made some great saves but, for me, he introduces panic and uncertainty in defence and there are plenty of good keepers about.

Must go = Gomes, Allan (legs are gone), Tosun, Townsend, Mina, Delph and Rondon hopefully generating some cash and reducing the wage bill. In addition, we should get around £25M for Kean.

Then, as Brian #5 said, we need a goalscoring midfielder (Conor Gallagher on loan would do).

In addition, we need a top defensive midfielder (I don't think Gbamin is that man), a top centre-back and leader (Rudiger would be ideal but he won't come here for obvious reasons) and promote some of the U23s.

Kunal Desai
15 Posted 21/05/2022 at 19:58:33
The Tunnel Access video where Lampard salutes Coleman. A very emotional scene.
David Currie
16 Posted 21/05/2022 at 00:03:51
Paul, Good reports and I think both Keane and Holgate deserve praise for the way they both finished the season. With both Mina and Godfrey injured and probably both first choice centre-backs, they have both stepped up and the first goal we scored was down to them both.
Bernie Quinn
17 Posted 22/05/2022 at 08:15:31
Ernie @11 - I wish you hadn't said that! I was just becoming very joyful again then I read your comment. I've said on another thread what the Grand Old Lady means to be - and now you have me welling up again. By the way - a great report Paul; enjoy your cricket.
Dale Rose
18 Posted 22/05/2022 at 11:37:18
Really love these reports. Great night.
Jamie Sweet
19 Posted 22/05/2022 at 22:33:51
Logged onto ToffeeWeb, and decided to ignore the Arsenal report and just read this one instead.

I advise everyone to do the same.

Thanks for all your reports this year Paul. Always one I look out for. Enjoy the break. I'm sure we'll be ready to do it all again by August.

Paul Traill
20 Posted 23/05/2022 at 08:38:15
Thank you for all your nice comments guys. I don't want to go through a season like that again. It feels like it's put years on me. Take care Toffees, enjoy your summer and catch you next season. UTFT.
Stephen Vincent
21 Posted 25/05/2022 at 14:41:15
Ernie #11,

The same thing occurred to me, after the game my son and I walked right round the ground, she has just been such a huge part of my life. Some of my very best memories happened within her confines and, no matter how hard the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock tries, it will never replace those.

I guess new generations will be able to make their own memories there but, for me, The Old Lady will never be replaced and I suspect that I will shed a huge tear the day the inevitable happens.

Bill Gall
22 Posted 25/05/2022 at 15:49:23
Nice to read reports from supporters who were actually at the game as they are able to provide the atmosphere in the ground and the individual emotions of supporters with each other that watching on TV we can only imagine going on our own reactions.

The one thing that made me happy about the winning goal and no one seems to have mentioned it. The foul for the free-kick was given away by Zaha. against Coleman who had been battling against him all night with Zaha moaning to the ref.

Here is to next season, only with the emotions at the top end of the league.


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