Weird week, that one. First, we didn’t get drawn against the shite in the cup and got a trip to the Football Factory instead. Then at our AGM Marcel Brands got promoted to the board for not being Steve Walsh. And now we’ve won a Premier League game at home. Next you’ll be telling me that the players put up a fight and the crowd got behind them at times, the thought!
Yep, after much struggling, we managed to get over the line against a Bournemouth team in dire straits themselves. They went several without a win and have never won at Goodison in a competitive game, so the stars were aligned for another frustrating defeat for the Blues, aired live on Sky Sports punctuated only by the away end and the odd arl arse throwing insults at Seamus Coleman. On an unrelated note, I might have to stop watching Everton with my dad.
Changes for the Walton Warriors saw Ademola Lookman get his second start of the season after a decent game against Lincoln, with the other scorer Bernard on the left. Zouma and Keane started in the back four, alongside Digne and the aforementioned Coleman. Richarlison was up top after Dom’s audition to be Everton’s Next Top Scorer.
Bournemouth remind me a lot of how Everton used to be during the Moyes days, but with more diving as is custom in this modern era. Both Callum Wilson and Poundland Calvert-Lewin were injured. Another ex-kopite, Nathaniel Clyne, started his first game; I don’t mind him, seeing as he swerved Cardiff without even Whatsapping them. Anyone who annoys their hobgoblin of a manager is alright in my book, including the European Union.
First half was about as contrasting as the weather, and twice as messy. Early on, Bournemouth looked more up for the game at “Fortress Goodison”. The first scare came when Brooks hit the bottom of the post after bypassing the defence. That damage to the post gave the crowd even more anxiety than when Morgan Freeman saw ‘Brooks Was Here’. At points, the team looked afraid to tackle, probably no thanks to the efforts of the referee to book every Everton player on the field. This anxiety cycle came to a full panic attack when the biggest cheer of the game so far came with Everton winning a foul, followed by the biggest boo of the game when we inevitably passed it right back to Pickford.
The crowd were angry now, not just desperate. But soon after, Digne got a tackle in helped turn that into motivation. We’ve seen mentioned a few times the Neville tackle that turned a season around, I wouldn’t say this matched it but it seemed to spark something in the crowd and vicariously the team. First Lookman put a great ball into the box which only needed a foot on it to create the opening goal, but no one was there. A few minutes later, Keane was unlucky with his header hitting the post. Everton were starting to make themselves an opponent again, and if it wasn’t for a monsoon hitting Goodison they wouldn’t have wanted the first half to end.
By the time everyone came back from their half time Carling the weather cleared up a bit and the Blues started much more brightly. Richarlison finally appeared on the pitch and his shot was only just cleared off the line. On 62 minutes Digne picked up the overshot corner and like so many times this season belted a much better ball into the box to find the unmarked Zouma to head home. Un-Zéro. Love the fuming celebrations, when the team and the fans unite in righteous anger. Much like a family we both love and hate each other. Also, can we just give Lucas Digne Player of the Season already? Mad that he wasn’t getting more time at Barcelona, he’s an absolute steal.
Unfortunately, after the bedlam came the anxiety again. Keane played really well all game, but he’ll probably be remembered for his cock-up at the back nearly causing a carbon-copy of the Vardy goal on New Year’s Day. Despite Bournemouth getting back into the game after our goal, the crowd were still up for it and a mix of the players putting pressure on anyone with the ball and the antics of one of the worst refereeing performances ever seen here got everyone wound up. Gomes nearly went full Besic, but it says a lot when Davies didn’t get brought on for him.
It was backs to the wall stuff, and Keane redeemed himself after The Ugly Gosling got through on goal. It was scrappy stuff, but it worked. Instead of conceding late on, we managed to score one; Lookman was ace all game, and his tackle got the ball back to Gueye, who passed back into his path, before he found the subbed-on Calvert-Lewin to tuck it past the ‘keeper with a literal helping hand from Ake. Game Over, and everyone’s singing along to the tannoy again.
The folks at the top of the AGM raised the issue of crowd noise, and we got the angry celebrations from the goalscorers reminding us of that. This game was a perfect exhibit of the anxiety cycle and what happens when it’s broken. It doesn’t really matter at this point whether it’s a result of anger or optimism, the fact is we got a much needed win and an even more needed clean sheet. I have an inherent fear of the word ‘character’ but that’s what the players shown and it was recognised by the audience. Time will tell whether or not this will be a regular occurrence during the second half of the season and we actually bring back “Fortress Goodison”, but it’s a start. Up the snide Blues.