IBO Reporter : channonite
|I have to be honest here, in spite of their lofty position in the League and their manager, who I have a lot of time for, I do not actually rate this Everton side. Their tactics seem to consist of lumping the ball up to the big two men at the front, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. I also think Saints are a better side than their calamitous results suggest. Obviously the injury situation hasn't helped, but Saints fans seem to have got themselves into a tailspin of despair. There is no doubt that the players are short on confidence at the moment, but to be honest, that shouldn't really be a surprise.
The first couple of minutes saw the visitors looking a bit tentative, but Forster looked confident and came off his line early on to take the ball off the feet of Calvert-Lewin. That was a sign that the big man has shaken off his habit of former years of staying rooted to the spot on his line and he for one wasn't going to be intimidated.
As if to underline my contention that Everton are a long ball team at the moment, Pickford picked up the ball in defence and booted it way upfield, deep into the opposition half, where Calvert-Lewin played it short to Sigurdsson, who in turn slotted it through to Richarlison. The Brazilian rounded Forster and from a very acute angle, showed considerable skill in rifling the ball home. 1-0 and only 9 minutes gone. This looked like it was going to be a long game...
Before too long it looked like it was going to be 2-0, when Calvert-Lewin wan a free kick against Salisu and Sigurdsson took the kick, with his shot dropping beyond the wall and away from Forster. Richarlison reacted quickly, but Forster was even quicker, getting a foot in the way of the Brazilian's diving header. The linesman had his flag up straight away for offside. When you saw the replay, it was obvious and at least three Everton players were in an offside position. The Saints players showing great self discipline in holding their line.
Looking back on it later, that was a mental turning point for the visitors and from that point on, they looked way more determined and positive. Unfortunately the damage was already done.
Not very much later there was an almost carbon copy situation, where the free kick was taken by Everton and Keane managed to bundle the ball in the net, initially it looked as if the ball was going to be given, but it went to VAR, who concluded (correctly) that there had been two players offside this time and the goal was disallowed.
The rejuvenated Saints side started going forward themselves and won a free kick, which was turned behind for a corner and the resulting corner was cleared, but only as far as Djenepo. It looked as though he had got himself boxed into the corner, but somehow he mad his way along the byeline and in the resulting melee, involving several players, Pickford threw himself on the ball to smother the danger. That was more like it Saints.
There was a further moment when it looked as if Saints might get a penalty, when Adams and Godfrey went down together, but that was probably wishful thinking on my part.
We reached half-time, without any further action, but Saints had definitely clawed their way back into the game and it was still only 1-0.
The second half started with Everton looking like they were going to score from anther Sigurdsson free-kick, but a combination of poor finishing and good defending saw the ball go wide of Forster's goal.
The game was going end to end and Saints won another corner and Ward-Prowse sent in a perfect cross, which Salisu got his head to, but it went over the bar.
That was the Ghanaian's final contribution, as he was replaced by Nathan Tella and Saints adjusted their shape. Adams followed Salisu ten minutes later and was replaced by N'Lundulu.
The visitors then fashioned their best chance of the match so far, in a move started and finished by Djenepo, who was having probably the best overall game he has had in a Saints shirt. The Malian, out on the wing and under pressure passed back to Ward-Prowse. The Saints captain found Tella, who showed not a little skill in avoiding the close attention of three Everton players and finding Armstrong out on the left wing. The Scot and Tella played a neat bit of football around several players, which culminated in Armstrong threading the ball through the defence out to the unmarked Djenepo. I think the Saints player had rather more time than he thought, but the end result was a great chance was blazed over the bar.
Saints were really pressing now and the final change came on 88 minutes with the lacklustre Redmond (he did truly have an awful game) replaced by the young Australian, Watts.
In the final minute of normal time Saints won yet another corner. Up stepped Ward-Prowse once again. The corner was punched away by Pickford, Ings was the first to react, but couldn't connect. Djenepo shot, but the ball hit a defender. Armstrong shot and hit several players, the ball fell to Vestergaard who was off balance but managed a shot, which a sprawling Pickford somehow managed to clear behind at the expense of yet another corner. Unfortunately that came to nothing. Phew! Saints were putting absolutely everything into this.
It was still not done though, in extra time Saints threw everything at Everton and some of the defending was both ragged and desperate. Somehow though the home side hung on and although it was yet another defeat for Saints, this time there was more than a bit of fight there. At the end of the day, we have to score goals if we want to win games.
Man of the Match
No doubt in my mind this week. James Ward-Prowse was everywhere, probing, passing, tackling like a man possessed and of course taking free kicks and corners. What the hell would we do without him. The man is awesome.