Everton 3-1 Saints
It’s been a long time since we last went to Everton – and, of course, even longer since we won there. In the past, Saints were always ill-equipped to deal with the Toffees’ in-your-face midfielders, and on one notorious occasion, with an in-form Andrei Kanchelskis.
This time Saints had trouble with Marouane Fellaini in particular, but the adventurous line-up seemed ill equipped to withstand the home team’s own attacking play. This was despite an early lift when Howard made a mess of a corner, leaving Ramirez to head Saints in front. The ploy of playing two front men as well as Ramirez and Lallana might have paid off had Rodriguez done better with an opportunity for 0-2 on just 11 minutes – because everything had to be executed at pace, I don’t think it was an easy chance, but it would have been nice to have drawn a save.
Then problems began at the other end, and it was clear that we would need a fair amount of luck to survive as skill alone was not proving sufficient. Sure enough, Osman equalised midway through the half, and then when Fonte conceded possession on a forward venture, Everton moved the ball swiftly downfield for Jelavic to drill it past Gazzaniga who seemed to be positioned too close to the near post. Gazza made what I thought to be an unnecessarily spectacular save from Jelavic just before he failed to get across goal quickly enough to deal with a header from the same player for three goals in 13 minutes – it could have been worse, but for the crossbar saving Fellaini’s header on the stroke of half time.
Whether Everton eased up or whether Saints organised better for the second half is hard to say, but there was more of a semblance of control after the break, with Ward-Prowse occupying the slot in front of the back line that was left vacant by an injury to Schneiderlin and had been exploited by Fellaini. If Ramirez had done better when set up by Lambert, we might even have had a competitive element to the finish, but as it was, Everton were able to stroll home against a team wearing a Liverpool like-alike kit.
LSSC Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse on a majority vote, and despite three of our travellers having the same amusing idea of nominating Lee Barnard after Goodison’s big screen had attributed the substitution of Rodriguez to him.