|After the strength and emotion sapping win against Manchester City last Sunday, the team travelled up to Liverpool to play an Everton team at Goodison Park, which has been anything other than a happy hunting ground for Saints as far back as I can remember. One game sticks in my memory, when both Stevie Williams and Peter Osgood managed to get themselves sent off. The Everton full back that night was John Bailey and he was generally blamed for the sendings off and was villified by Saints crowds for years afterwards. But, I am showing my age there! This game was live on Amazon and they were happily telling us before the game, that it has been more than 20 years since Saints won at Goodison Park.
Ralph Hasenhüttl kept faith with the victorious starting line up from Sunday's game. Højbjerg returned from injury, but could only make the bench.
It's that man again - Danny Ings scored Saints goal in the 31st minute
IBO Reporter : channonite
|After the euphoria of the Manchester City game at St.Mary's, it was back to reality at Goodison Park. Everton, 11th in the league against Saints, 12th. The fact that it ended as a draw really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. What was a surprise, was just how much Saints were on top in the first half. Even after the break, when Everton made adjustments and saw the ball more than in the first 45 minutes, they just couldn't make it count.
I expected Everton to come at Saints in the first 45 minutes, but it was very much the other way around, with the away team playing some lovely, accurate passing and the home side hardly had a chance to get involved. On the rare occasions they managed to win possession, Saints simply took it away from them again.
After one passage of play, involving Ings, Adams and Armstrong, the Scot looked to have scored, but the linesman had his flag up straight away and it was clear that Saints No.17 had strayed offside. No goal.
Such was the measure of Saints superiority, that you felt it was only putting off the inevitable. Complacency looked like the only thing that could trip them up.
Everton than had a decent chance when a superb cross was flicked on in the penalty area and found Iwobi, who managed a snap shot, but it was well parried by McCarthy. It was a warning. Concentrate.
Pressing quickly upfield, Ings who was causing the Everton defence all sorts of problems, was caught in a blue pincer movement and the ref awarded a free kick. Ward-Prowse curled his shot over the wall, such as it was and it was just dropping under the bar, when Pickford got a finger tip to it and pushed it over. The resulting corner was taken by JWP and Danny Ings headed what looked like a goal. Replays though, showed that a combination of both of Pickfords flailing arms and a defenders boot, just kept it out. However, Everton failed to clear their lines and eventually JWP appeared to have been unceremoniously upended in the box. Straight away referee, Lee Mason pointed to the spot. Up stepped Ward-Prowse, who is apparently the designated penalty taker, and blazed his shot against the crossbar, before it bounced harmlessly over.
The respite for Everton didn't last long and Saints were at them again. Romeu found Armstrong who, before falling over, managed to thread a pass through to Danny Ings, who, twisting and turning, with Pickford trying to dispossess him, side footed the ball into the net. Although it went to VAR, there was never really any doubt. 0-1 Saints. Although Everton couldn't really have complained if they had been 0-3 down and there was still only half an hour gone.
Saints had something in excess of 70% possession according to Amazon, but were only 1 goal up and with all the missed chances, you just had that nagging feeling that they would regret not taking them.
The equaliser, when it came, was completely unexpected and completely against the run of play. A long cross-field ball from the halfway line found Richarlison between Bednarek and Bertrand. Before you could register the fact, the Brazilian had shot past McCarthy to make it 1-1, almost on the stroke of halftime. Saints were stunned.
So, to the second half. From the kickoff, Adams had a fleeting chance, with a shot on target, which was parried by Pickford. The sad thing was, this was Saints only shot on target in the whole of the second half.
One thing that concerns me slightly about Ralph, is that sometimes he is unable to react to the opposing manager changing tactics and this happened again in this match, with Carlo Ancelotti re-organising his team to counter Saints domination. Although, Everton just were not able to turn the improvement into anything tangible.
There was a controversial moment when Richarlison was almost clean through, before Bednarek tackled him, just outside the penalty area, getting the ball before the man. Lee Mason blew and showed the Pole a yellow card. The incident then went to VAR to rule on whether it was a red card for "denial of a goalscoring opportunity", not on whether there was actually no offence in the first place. VAR duly ruled that there was no red card, but the original yellow card stood. Everton then had a free kick on the edge of the area, right in front of Saints goal. What a farce. There are so many things the Premier League need to sort out with VAR, mostly about daft interpretations of the rules.
Fortunately the free kick came to nothing, ending with McCarthy making a routine stop.
The game then petered out, with only a couple of missed chances for Saints to speak of.
This was definitely a case of two points dropped, such was the level of Saints superiority in the first half. The wait for a win at Goodison Park continues. I suppose that it is a measure of how Ralph has turned the team around this season, from the depths of October/November last year, that we are even looking at the match in these terms, rather than being grateful of an away point.
For all the talk of Everton's ambition, there was precious sign of anything for their fans to get excited about.