Everton showed great resilience yesterday at a stadium where they have more often than not folded meekly over the years, coming back from behind twice at Chelsea to come away with a valuable point.
Abdoulaye Doucoure had pulled the Toffees level first in the 69th minute, but it was second half substitute young Ellis Simms who put on the real late show. He controlled a brilliant pass from the aforementioned Doucoure to get into space and then leave Kalidou Koulibaly for dead, and then followed that up with a strong finish that beat Kepa Arrizabalaga low to his left to tie the game with just a couple of minutes left in regulation.
Speaking after the game, manager Sean Dyche was full of praise for the Academy product who saw a successful loan in the Championship terminated prematurely due the club’s paucity of striking resources.
“A young player coming on and earning his spurs. We know he’s got power and pace, then a fine finish under the keeper.
“I’m really pleased for him. He spoke to me last week, I told him to tell me where he needs to get better. He told me four things and I said ‘you’re right’ - one of them was playing stronger and he did that today.”
Criticism of Ellis’ ability has always revolved around his finishing, but he certainly showed a lot more aplomb than we have gotten used in recent weeks with Dominic Calvert-Lewin still out.
For his part, Simms wasn’t playing down the importance of the milestone.
“It was the moment of my career, so far. It was a great occasion to do it, an equaliser, too.
“I am delighted for the team, as well. It’s a massive point against a tough opponent, we’re delighted.”
The enormity of his achievement did not pass him by.
“Honestly, I can’t put it into words. I have been working hard to come up with this. It’s a dream come true to score my first Premier League goal.
“It’s been about patience. I’ve had to wait for my chance. Obviously, we have top players, so I am not just going to walk straight into the team. I have to work hard in training and when I get the opportunity, I have to take it with both hands.”
The Blues now go into an international break which will give the manager more time to keep working on the defensive solidity that we are seeing. And while Calvert-Lewin remains out, an in-house replacement for his goals (in Simms) would certainly be most welcome as the Blues look to extract themselves from what could possibly be the closest relegation battle in living memory.