Everton twice blew the lead away at Nottingham Forest to come back with just one point for their endeavours despite finally scoring more than once since late October. Demarai Gray tucked away a penalty early on after Dwight McNeil was tripped up in the box. However, Brennan Johnson put home the rebound from a save by Jordan Pickford off a Morgan Gibbs-White shot to make it level after just twenty minutes.
Ten minutes later though against the run of play Abdoulaye Doucoure got on the end of a freekick headed into the box to make it 2-1, a lead that the Blues fought hard to hold until late on when the Everton midfielder’s turnover allowed a counter attack from which Johnson made it level again.
The home side pressed forward looking for the winner, but in the end it was a fair result for the effort put in by both sides. Sean Dyche will be frustrated by his side’s inability to hold on to a lead despite playing well, with mistakes once again accounting for both goals conceded.
Changes were in the air as Sean Dyche rolled the dice and came up with a couple of changes. The inclusion of Demarai Gray had been called for by Everton’s arm chair critics. His pace and ability to deliver from set pieces was obvious from the start of the match. His well taken calm finish on the penalty set the team on their way. Even with his lack of playing time he is still the team’s leading scorer. His inclusion also saw the team become more fluid and less laboured than when Maupay was leading the line.
Rarely scoring goals has been the downfall for Everton this season and as we head down the stretch it will be necessary to turn the increasing expected goals into actual goals. When Demarai Gray scored the penalty Everton had been controlling the play with 68% possession. Immediately after the goal, the Blues capitulated and gave Forest all of the ball. The lead only lasted 8 minutes and Forest’s pressure continued. How we respond to conceding goals has been problematic but today’s second goal was important.
It was great to see the team get back in the match and the goal from Abdoulaye Doucoure was timely. It was an example of how the second and third balls need to be won in order to be successful. It also shows that getting someone around the striker to pick up the second ball is critical. Doucoure has been playing off the striker for the last few games and it is nice to see him get off the mark for the season.
With Brentford, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United on the horizon, today’s game was critical. The game was combative and the Everton players were more than willing to stand up for each other when it was needed. The point that was won should have been three and Everton’s inability to protect a lead was again on show. Everton have now had five games where they had the lead and only once were able to see out the match.
Having Godfrey at the back in place of Mykolenko provided the team with a more solid back four and a greater physical presence. Godfrey was required to cover the always dangerous Brennan Johnson but was unable to keep him from scoring twice, losing the pacy forward both times. In the second half though, Coleman was caught up field and it was beautifully covered by Godfrey. He has pace and he has presence, two things that would have me putting him back in the team for the Brentford match despite the errors which no Everton player seems immune to right now.