Under the lights at Goodison, Everton welcomed Fulham to play the quarter final match in the Carabao Cup. The good times are here in L4 after four shutout victories and a night under the lights would be one to savor for any Evertonian and the 39,000 on hand were ready to show their support. Interestingly, tonight is Sean Dyche’s first quarter-final as a manager.
Fulham got through a tricky 2nd round tie with Tottenham, winning on penalties, and then had victories over Norwich and Ipswich to set up the tie with Everton. Fulham have had some good results recently including two 5-0 victories over Forest and West Ham. They currently sit in 11th place in the Premier League with 6 wins out of their 17 games. The first victory was when Bobby de Cordova-Reid scored the winning goal as Fulham edged to victory over a wasteful Everton side in the opening game of the season.
Dyche named a strong Everton starting line-up for the match. Jarrad Branthwaite and Idrissa Gueye return to the starting lineup. Ben Godfrey droped to the bench but Michael Keane retained his spot which probably meant a back three. Abdoulaye Doucoure, who has a hamstring injury, dropped out completely.
Fulham made five changes to the side beaten 3-0 at Newcastle at the weekend. Kenny Tete, Calvin Bassey, Harrison Reed, Willian and Rodrigo Muniz come in to the side. Timothy Castagne, Issa Diop, Tom Cairney, Andreas Pereira are on the bench and the suspended Raul Jimenez missed out.
Alex Iwobi started against his old club after joining on deadline day in the summer.
The match kicked off with Fulham kicking towards the Gwladys Street End. It took a few minutes to settle down but Everton started to press the ball high up the pitch. Fulham were using a long ball over the top to break the press but Branthwaite was positioned appropriately to mop up.
Gana Gueye broke down the right and was able to lay the ball back into the box but it was behind Calvert Lewin and McNeil. The normally raucous Goodison crowd was somewhat antsy. The match ebbed and flowed but there was no success in the final third.
Fulham were struggling to get out but Everton were unable to take advantage. The first real chance fell to Dwight McNeil who was given the chance through the nice work of Garner and Calvert Lewin. Unfortunately, his shot was blasted well over the net.
The pressure continued and Branthwaite was all over the place. On two occasions he was on the byline crossing the ball into the six yard box. Gueye and Onana were bossing the middle. Incredibly, Branthwaite had the next chance after ghosting in at the back post from a Harrison cross but the header was well handled by Leno.
Crosses from the left and right side were raining in but there was no one getting on the end of them. A long ball over the top forced Patterson into panic mode and a handball was given but the resulting free kick was well defended. Moments later, Keane was judged to have fouled Muniz on the edge of the box. Willian and Wilson lined it up and it was the former Chelsea player who blasted the shot under the wall. Pickford was rooted to the ground but the shot was wide.
Five minutes before half time Willian laid the ball off for Antonee Robinson whose cross was deflected into the net off both Patterson and Keane. Everton were behind for the first time since late November. Everton immediately pushed forward and they had their own free kick. Garner floated the ball into the box and Tarkowski could not get enough on to it and the ball went narrowly wide.
The half ended with some groans ringing out around Goodison. A fairly even half was had a greater amount of play in the Fulham end but the final touch was missing from Everton except when Keane redirected it into his own net.
The second half kicked off and once again both teams were struggling to gain control. On two occasions passes went straight to Fulham players. Nathan Patterson was in the referee’s book after a clash with Willian. It took a while for the Fulham midfielder to get up. Everton’s first real chance fell to Harrison who laced the ball just wide of the post.
The Goodison crowd was getting restless and the chances were few and far between. A wayward pass back to Robinson was misplaced and Calvert Lewin raced to get onto it but Leno was quick to the ball and snuffed out the chance. Changes were needed to spark a comeback and it was Calvert Lewin who was replaced by the big Portuguese, Beto. Fulham brought on Tom Cairney for the struggling Willian.
A scramble in front of the Fulham goal headed clear by Tosun Adebayo who had played very well throughout the match. Fulham had the ball in the Everton end and the interest in slowing down the game was apparent but the ball fell to Iwobi who tested Pickford but the keeper was up to the task.
Moments later, Beto was on the ground in the box but it was overlooked by the referee. Everton started to build ahead of steam and the Goodison crowd started to get louder. A corner was swung in and a quick break from Fulham was expertly snuffed out by Tarkowski. Harrison was then withdrawn with Arnaut Danjuma taking over on the left side. Patterson was sent wide and a beautiful cross was blocked by Tosin Adarabioyo....again!
The Fulham defenders were standing up like we have been doing for the last two months. The final fifteen minutes arrived and Fulham freshened things up with the arrival of Andreas Perreira and Bobby Decordoba Reid. Dyche was on the sideline trying to sort out the next move. Nothing was going Everton’s way and the Goodison crowd was getting more restless and upset at the time wasting of Fulham.
Dyche’s plan was clearly to throw the kitchen sink and another scramble had McNeil drove the ball goalward and it was the substitute, Beto, who was able to head the rebound into the net. Goodison rose as one. Game on and with six minutes left the possibility of penalties was a very real possibility.
The game started to boil and at one moment both Garner and Tarkowski were on the ground claiming that there was off the ball fouls from Fulham players. Silva took the opportunity to bring on Vinicius and Diop. Everton were struggling to get things moving forward. Finally, the ball was lobbed over the top and the ball fell to Danjuma who volleyed the ball which went narrowly wide.
Fulham were the more likely to score and Antonee Robinson had a great chance blocked by the onrushing Patterson who made a brave block. Scrambling action was constnat and when the ball dropped to Decordoba Reid, visions of a last minute winning goal flashed through Evertonian minds. Thankfully, another block was made and moments later the whistle blew and penalties were required. Everton shot first at the Gwlady Street End.
Beto - goal, Perreira - goal, McNeil - goal, Cairney - goal...just, Keane - goal, Palinha - goal with a hand by Pickford, Danjuma - goal, DeCordoba Reid - SAVED SAVED SAVED, Onana - an awful miss, Vinicius - goal.............Sudden Death
Tarkowski - GOAL, Tete - Goal, Garner - GOAL, Robinson - Goal, Gueye - hit the post and missed, Tosin Adarabioyo - GOAL. Fulham win.
Everton Man of the Match: On Saturday, it was hard to pick a player because of the number of players who were outstanding. Today, it was hard to pick a player because the quality was not on show. Ultimately, Beto scored the goal that was required to get them to penalties. Pickford would have been the choice if Onana had sealed the deal.
It had been a good run and after more than 400 hours of football, Everton finally conceded a goal which put them behind just before half time. Sean Dyche walked into the dressing room with purpose and the team received his message. Backs to the wall and all that. The second half was as tedious as the first for Everton. Once again Dyche was slow to ring in the changes and when he did it was a like for like substitution up top. Thankfully, Beto did the trick and sent the match to penalties. The team looked tired tonight and the injuries and lack of rotation finally caught up with us.
Jarrad Branthwaite returned to the starting lineup today and was refreshed and ready to contribute. He was on the left side of a back four and took the opportunity to show that he could bomb down the wing. He was really good and we have to keep him when January arrives.....no matter what.
In our current situation, the beauty of a cup run in either the FA Cup or this League Cup would be another lift for the Everton faithful. Our history is replete with moments that are cherished and remembered for years. Mike Trebilcock scoring two goals which brought the Cup back up to Liverpool or Paul Rideout’s solitary goal in 1995 which is our most recent victory; both are warmly remembered and a new memory would be great to add. A two leg semi final was on the horizon but we could not get over the line and the penalty loss was cruel. Bring on Crystal Palace on January 4th.