Match Review – Brighton 1-1 Everton

evertonhomereview2017

The Premier League thought that they were showing Brighton v Everton live in India. What they actually did was completely disregard Albion and Evertonian supporters by moving the game to a Sunday lunch time, only to showcase the Michael Oliver show to the subcontinent.

Oliver was absolutely bloody terrible all afternoon, making so many baffling decisions we don’t know where to start. There were the soft fouls he constantly gave against both teams which were then followed by genuine fouls which he waved play on for. Michael Keane practically caught Lewis Dunk’s shot, no penalty. Pascal Gross pulled back Gylfi Siggurdson as the £40m man was about to shoot and then Gross himself got knocked over by Leighton Baines at the other end. Nothing there said Oliver.

The one decision he typically did get right was awarding Everton the 90th minute penalty from which Wayne Rooney equalised. At the time it seemed like the tip of the iceberg in terms of piss poor officiating and a “I want to be the centre of attention” mentality. However even those with the most blue and white tinted of spectacles who have watched it back will see Bruno clearly elbowing Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the face after looking at where the Everton striker was. Bruno was probably lucky to escape with only a booking.

What the hell he was thinking God only knows. You don’t expect your most experienced player, elder statesman and captain to go and throw an elbow into someone’s face in the box in the last minute when you are 1-0 up. It was a moment of madness that effectively cost us two points.

Actually, it could have cost all three were it not for an unreal double save from Maty Ryan from Kevin Mirallas in the final seconds. Think Michel Kuipers away at Wolves and you are getting somewhere near to how good it was. Ryan also made an excellent stop from Idrissa Gueye in the first half on his way to being the Albion’s man of the match, despite what the sponsors may have thought in giving it to Solly March.

There was nothing Ryan could do about Rooney’s penalty as England’s record goalscorer sent him completely the wrong way. Rooney getting booed throughout was a little pathetic from some sections of the Albion fan base, especially given the fact Steven Gerrard for example got applauded when he played at the Amex for Liverpool. Clearly, there are a larger proportion of Liverpool fans than Manchester United supporters in the 20,000 new regulars we’ve picked up since the Withdean days. And if you are going to excuse it by linking it to Rooney’s recent drink driving ban, then we look forward to booing every other opponent this season that has been in trouble with the law, not to mention our own players like Kazenga LuaLua and Rohan Ince if they ever come back.

Aside from those acion packed final 10 minutes, it was actually a pretty boring game. Every time the Albion went forward in the first half, Glenn Murray seemed to have reverted to Withdean Glenn when he was offside more than Elvis Manu. We’ve already mentioned that save from Ryan and Jordan Pickford made a couple of decent stops. Largely though it was ponderous, slow and sloppy.

That was until Anthony Knockaert belatedly got his season up and running. There has been plenty of criticism this season of Chris Hughton not taking up the initiative and making changes to win the game, but José Izquierdo replacing March was a bold gamble which paid off. It was Izquierdo’s shot that was blocked by Keane with Everton just content to watch the loose ball fall to Pascal Gross who found Knockaert to slam home. Yet another assist for the German playmaker.

The roar that greeted that goal was deafening, almost as if we had won the Champions League final rather than scored in a league game one month into the season against struggling opposition. Ryan’s enthusiasm remains an absolute bloody joy and once again he sprinted the length of the pitch to join in the celebrations in front of the North Stand.

Those celebrations were short lived though, Bruno’s moment of madness coming eight minutes later as the spoils were shared. Throwing the game away so late made it fee almost like a defeat at the end, but when you look at that Everton side on paper this was a good point and another sign of how far we have come. Its a little over nine years ago since we lost 1-0 at home to nine man Walsall. Now we are gutted to have drawn with Everton and their £150m squad. Roll on West Ham.

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