Evertonians were left desperately disappointed again as a late penalty was needed to snatch a point from the South coast.
Everton didn’t start too badly and put the home side under some early pressure. Nikola Vlasic and Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s movement was causing problems, with DCL working hard to find Wayne Rooney who laid it off for Gylfi Sigurdsson to get a shot off on the edge of the box, but his effort was blocked. The Blues best chance of the first period came just before the 20 minute mark. Sigurdsson worked himself some space and found Nikola Vlasic who in turn gave it to Idrissa Gueye to smash a low drive towards the bottom corner, but Australian stopper Matthew Ryan got down well to turn the shot wide of the mark.
Brighton grew into the game however and were starting to dominate proceedings. They were showing more fight, determination and willingness to get forward than Everton and the lack of confidence in the Blues side was beginning to show. Possession was continually being given away cheaply and attacks were breaking down before they had even begun. The Seagulls should really have opened the scoring with ten minutes left in the first half. From a free kick the ball bounced out to the edge of the box for their talisman Anthony Knockaert who smashed a half volley at goal. The strike cannoned off Mason Holgate into the path off centre back Lewis Dunk who from six yards out smashed the ball towards goal but Michael Keane got across to make a vital block and turn it behind for a corner. Brighton claimed hand ball however the ball had bounced off his hip into his arm which was tucked in towards his body, never a penalty.
Gueye had another close call as he curled one just wide of the upright but Everton got worse as the half wore on, losing possession almost immediately after gaining it and looking completely bereft of any guile in the final third.
The saying ‘Things can only get better’ doesn’t seem to apply to Everton and that theory rang true in the 2nd period. Nikola Vlasic was the only player with any cutting edge and forcefulness in attack. Him and Holgate played a neat one two allowing Holgate to enter the box. He beat his man leathered a shot at Ryan’s goal, but the Seagulls keeper parried it clear. Just a minute later Vlasic was involved again as he found crossing room and picked out DCL at the far post. The young forward got up well but his header was right at Ryan. Shortly after that Vlasic again was causing Brighton problems as he turned his man superbly and had a great chance to score, however he slipped at the key moment and skewed his effort wide. The young Croat was singlehandedly taking the fight to the home side but he couldn’t do it all alone and his early 2
Under Ronald Koeman, Everton have won just 4 out of 22 games away from home and have scored just 6 goals in the last 12 matches, failing to score in 7 of them. These stats made for worrying reading for Blues fans as Brighton began to dominate proceedings. The Toffees were limited to tame counter attacks as Brighton camped in the Everton half, with Knockaert the main architect of the home side’s attacks. Everton did however defend pretty well for the most part and they were frustrating a Brighton side who, like Everton, don’t have a really dangerous centre forward. Oumar Niasse was brought on to replace Gueye with 20 minutes remaining in an attempt to strengthen the lame attack. The Blues won a free kick in the perfect territory for Sigurdsson and the travelling blue army was expectant, but he floated it well wide. On the 75th minute mark Rooney picked out DCL at the far post who did well to bring the ball down and had the goal at his mercy but he didn’t connect properly with his effort and it was a pretty simple save for Ryan. Any decent connection there and the Blues would have had the lead.
Jose Izquierdo was brought on by Chris Hughton and his pace and direct running began causing Everton problems. He was involved as Brighton took a deserved lead with less than ten minutes remaining. Everton had defended quite well up until this point but they completely fell apart as Bruno glided past Holgate, who sold himself, then cut it back expertly for Izquierdo. The Colombian had the time and space to pick his spot but Jordan Pickford got down well to keep it out. Morgan Schneiderlin however completely fell asleep and failed to clear the rebound allowing Knockaert to steal in and prod home to give the Seagulls a crucial lead.
Everton, once again, had completely capitulated. It was another embarrassing performance from a team whose confidence is at rock bottom and they were bracing themselves for yet another crushing defeat. However with just minutes remaining they were given a gift by Bruno. Sigurdsson floated a free kick deep into the box and the 37 year old Spaniard inexplicably elbowed DCL in the face. Michael Oliver spotted it and pointed to the spot, booking Bruno when a red card would have been more appropriate. Wayne Rooney stepped up and coolly dispatched the spot kick giving Everton an unlikely point. The Blues could have actually won the match as well, with stoppage time almost up, Holgate wriggled free of his man and cut the ball back for DCL who had not one but two shots brilliantly saved by Ryan. In the end it finished all square; it’s hard to work out which side was more disappointed with the result.
Just one away win in 2017, ONE. Everton’s troubles grow with every week and the performances are getting worse, the manager can’t see what is going wrong and the players look totally disillusioned. When you compare our squad with Burnley and Brighton’s we should be beating these sides comfortably. Fans can forgive poor results if it comes down to a moment of magic, an uncharacteristic error or a poor referee decision but we simply cannot stand for performances like we have witnessed this season. When you have spent the money Koeman has at a club as big as Everton the fans demand results and at the very least some desire and fight. There is no intensity, there is no creativity and there is no will to win. The opposition sides want it more and it shows. We are streets ahead of most teams bar the top 6 in this league ability wise yet we are currently playing the worst football in the league. Fans can forgive bad luck and off days, what they can’t forgive is consistent sub standard performances and being out completely out battled and that is why time is very quickly running out for Ronald Koeman.