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Everton left frustrated despite hard-earned point

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Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Everton fans came away from the Liberty Stadium on Saturday with distinctly mixed feelings, with the nagging sense of what might have been clouding what was largely yet another promising display in south Wales.

The entertaining goalless draw means Everton remain unbeaten on the road this season and have yet to concede a goal away from Goodison.

Their new found solidly, a world away from the calamitous defending we saw at times last year, was built around Phil Jagielka and John Stones, who put in another masterclass of a performance.

They were flanked by two youngsters in Brendan Galloway and Tyias Browning, the latter of whom was making his first league start for the club.

They have yet to develop the offensive skills of senior colleagues Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman, but defensively they did not look out of place. Browning in-particular stood firm despite coming up against tricky winger Jefferson Montero.

Don't forget this was a Swansea side who had won both their previous two home games, including a memorable 2-1 victory over Man Utd.

The point moves Everton onto nine for the season and up to sixth place, a significant improvement on their start last year. And while we are on last season, the equivalent fixtures during 2014/15  yielded two points, this year they have earned eight.

But despite all those positives there is a feeling that this game represents two points dropped given the chances they created.

Everton mustered 17 attempts at goal but crucially only hit the target twice, lacking the kind of ruthless efficiency sides competing at the top end of the Premier League require.

Last week's hat-trick hero Steven Naismith could have capped a fine counter-attacking move midway through the first half, reminiscent of St Mary's last month, but his control let him down at the crucial time and the chance was missed - it was that kind of afternoon.

Romelu Lukaku was perhaps the chief culprit, spurning two glorious chances in the second half from probing Ross Barkley passes. The first he blazed wildly over, the second he took an unnecessary touch that allowed his resultant shot to be blocked.

The impressive Galloway, who is growing in confidence with every match, especially offensively, showed neat close control to spin away from two Swansea defenders in the box and fire a low shot just wide.

Substitute Gerard Deulofeu then showed great skill to dance to the byline and deliver a teasing cross but the ball was inches away from the outstretched boot of Lukaku and Steven Naismith.

Everton looked calm and composed, stroking the ball around nonchalantly, but things would always break down when they reached the Swansea penalty area, proof the issues that hampered them last season have not completely dissipated.

Tim Howard had another solid game, making smart saves from Montero and Bafetimbi Gomis, rare occasions when Swansea made it past the Royal Blue defensive wall.

The afternoon would end on a sour note with Kevin Mirallas' needless red card. It was perhaps a touch harsh but by the letter of the law the tackle can be deemed over-the-top and dangerous.

Mirallas was clearly frustrated at his recent lack of game time and his 90th minute substitution was puzzling. He may well have made an impact had he been introduced earlier. Unfortunately the winger now has three games to sit out and contemplate what might have been.

Taken in isolation it's a game Everton maybe should have won. But in the context of the season so far it's further proof that the future is bright for Roberto Martinez's side and they are ready to bury the disappointing memories of last season.