Everton made just one change to the team that lost at home to Manchester City, with Amadou Onana replacing Mason Holgate. Dominic Calvert-Lewin had recovered in time after suffering a groin problem and coming off at half time last Sunday. Vitalii Mykolenko remained out with a thigh injury and Conor Coady was ineligible to face his parent club.
Wolves made six changes to the side beaten by Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend. Nathan Collins, Joao Gomes, Daniel Podence, Adama Traore, Pablo Sarabia and Hwang Hee-chan all came in. Mario Lemina, Matheus Cunha, Max Kilman, Matheus Nunes, Diego Costa was among the substitutes, while Pedro Neto missed out altogether.
A sigh of relief was heard around Molineux as the team news was released and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was in the starting lineup. The big question had to be about how the team would set up without Mykolenko or Coleman and not having Coady available. As the game kicked off it was Dwight McNeil slotting into the left full back role in a back four and he would be up against the speedy Adama Traore.
It was Wolves on the front foot but DCL had the first clear chance when he shot narrowly wide. McNeil showed early that he would be happy to bomb forward which only raised the worry of who would track back although it has to be said that if anyone has legs in this team it is McNeil.
Calvert Lewin had two more chances with his head after crosses from Doucoure and Iwobi but both went just wide. A promising start and the first goal would be massive. The Evertonians were in full voice and the attack was coming from both sides. Traore was given a yellow card for a late challenge on Onana. Wolves had their first chance with crosses from both sides but they could not get on the end of either one. Calvert-Lewin was then looking for a foul on the edge of the box but refereee David Coote missed it. Yerry Mina was next up but headed the ball over the top.
The full back saga continued when Nathan Patterson was forced off with an injury. Michael Keane was brought on and he took up his place at right back. The game started to get scrappy which suited Wolves as the momentum that Everton had built up faded. In fact, it was a counter attack by Adama Traore that undid the Blues. A shot from Traore was parried by Pickford but Huang Hee Chan was there unmarked to slot it home. Totally against the run of play. Almost immediately Wolves were on the front foot and Pickford was required to make a save to deny João Gomes.
Idrissa Gueye had hearts in mouths when he lost the ball on the edge of the box and took down the Wolves player but David Coote felt he had got enough of the ball. Moments later, Calvert-Lewin was on the ground and had his head in hands. The worried looks of the Everton fans was even more grim. He was replaced by Demarai Gray just before the half came to an end.
The second half kicked off and Everton took some time to settle but Demarai Gray was a willing runner. Keane nearly had the ball in the net but he couldn’t get it under control to put on the finishing touch. Nelson Semedo was yellow carded for a late tackle on Gueye. The pressure was being applied and a move by Iwobi forced a save from Bentley.
A nice move from Demarai Gray ended with a whipped cross which flew through the box with no one able to get on the end of it. A quick counter attack saw Sarabi curl his shot just wide and then Nelson Semedo blasted the ball wide. Everton were playing with fire and too often were giving the ball away in their own end of the pitch. It was then Daniel Podence who took a cross from Semedo and volleyed it just wide. Thankfully, Wolves have the worst conversion rate in the Premier League.
Everton finally got the ball down the pitch and a hopeful shot from Iwobi went just wide. Michael Keane was then taken down outside the box and it was Dwight McNeil and Andre Gray who lined up the shot. Gray took the shot but it was blocked by the wall. Moments later it was Gray who cut inside and gorced a good save from Bently which was heading goalward.
With twenty minutes to go Everton were getting more of the possession but couldn’t create any real chances. Wolves were happy to keep the ball and pass it around which ate up the clock. Dyche was trying to come up with something different and that turned out to be Neal Maupay and Mason Holgate. Audible groans were heard as they came on for Gueye and Onana. Could they surprise everyone?
A long throw from Keane was met by Iwobi who’s shot was deflected wide. Wolves then broke forward but great work from Tarkowski prevented the chance. It was desperation time. Maupay had a moment to shine but bicycle kicked the ball over the bar. The game had never been free flowing and the number of stops created 9 minutes of extra time that was welcomed by Evertonians everywhere.
The first chance of that time went to Joao Gomes who was stopped brilliantly by Pickford. Keane was playing as a centre forward and Yerry Mina was seen breaking down the right wing only to be hacked down. Desperate times..... Pickford was sent forward for a corner. Incredibly, that corner led to a scramble in the goal and Keane’s pass into the middle was met by Mina who put it into the corner. Wow! The LATEST goal in the Premier League this season......
Everton Man of the Match: Alex Iwobi until Yerry Mina saves the day
For the second week in a row, a very good start lacked the finish and the first goal turned the tide. The response when going down the goal was hampered by the injuries to both Calvert-Lewin and Patterson. The last minute goal saved the day and gave us greater hope for the remainder of the season. Results from around the league did not really change things other than the fact that Everton only have one game left to get something to save their Premier League status. Today that status could have been secured but the valuable point will only help to build confidence for next week.
The support from Evertonians has been incredible. Today, they filled the entire side of the pitch and were in full voice from start to finish. No matter how this season ends there can never be any doubt about the passion and commitment from our supporters. Whether home or away the fans should be proud of their support. They deserved the goal that eventually arrived! Next week the Grand Old Lady will be rocking.
The lack of full backs continues to put pressure on a team that doesn’t need any more. With Coleman and Mykolenko out, the lack of replacement options is another area that needs to be addressed moving forward. The injury to Nathan Patterson turned the game today when Keane was called on to fill in at right back. Holgate is a centre back and as a full back has clearly lost the confidence of Dyche. Ruben Vinagre was brought in last July but has only managed 4 matches this season. Today, Reece Welch was the only youngster on the bench and he is a centre back so a fullback from the U21’s doesn’t appear to be an option. One solution, other than the transfer market, would be bringing back Niels Nkounkou who has had an impressive season at Saint-Étienne.
How will they set up next week with everything on the line. Today created issues for the squad. Over to you Mr. Dyche.