Town’s away form is becoming, or has already become, tedious. The travelling support remains loyal and loud even as the hours between goals on foreign soil grows inexorably, the creation of chances remain few, far between and unconvincing and going behind is an inevitable precursor to defeat.
The backing given to the team is admirable but now demands reciprocation before that loyalty starts to feel like naive foolishness, which never ends well.
Losing 5-0 to Arsenal after a reasonable performance in the first hour is one thing; losing to a distinctly average Everton without troubling their goalkeeper is another.
The home side, who should have been buoyed by a 4-0 win over West Ham in midweek and the arrival of a new manager, were lethargic in a first half of limited quality and Town‘s neat and tidy approach play and suppression of the Toffees promised reward at last on the road.
Perhaps nice is the most damning adjective to apply to the visitors’ first half performance. It promised a fair amount and delivered virtually nothing. Malone, Smith, Kachunga and Quaner got themselves in good situations to cross but invariably found a defender rather than the hard working Depoitre, who had often been instrumental in feeding the wings in the first place.
Mooy managed to deliver one looping cross early on but Kachunga couldn’t generate any power and his header fell softly in to Pickford’s arms. The obsession with statistics will put this down as an attempt on target, of course.
Depoitre also had a weak attempt easily saved later in the half and a scramble following an Ince near post corner caused some consternation for the home side following a Schindler flick on, but a goal never looked remotely likely.
For Everton, Martina forced Lössl in to a regulation save but their performance was summed up by 3 shocking free kick deliveries from Sigurdsson which all ended up in Lössl’s clutches under no pressure.
Largely uninspiring, the game lacked any sort of spark but the sight of Palmer clearly warming up with the other subs and dressed for a return to action at half time created a stir amongst the away support. For some time, the lack of a genuine number 10 has been cited as a significant explanation for Town’s poor goal scoring record – not only would creativity increase, Ince could move wide and be more effective. That was the theory, anyway.
Sure enough, Kasey replaced Quaner to line up for the second half and within 45 minutes, the theories looked ridiculous. He will need time to get back up to speed, and he is a genuine talent, but his performance in the second half was pretty damned terrible. Often robbed of possession, his passing was generally woeful and his decision making very suspect. He wasn’t helped by the displays of people around him in a second half Town will want to quickly forget.
They were not helped by yet another early concession in a half – the last 3 games have seen the Terriers caught cold after a kick off (at Arsenal, kick offs seemed to be the catalyst for losing goals). Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton’s best player in their disappointing first half, cleverly released Sigurdsson in the area with a flick and the Icelander proved far more effective with a moving ball than a dead one and beat Lössl for the opener.
It was almost a facsimile of Arsenal’s opening goal in midweek – a touch of quality barely fitting the rest of the game which saw Everton grow in confidence and comfort and finally give home supporters something to shout about occasionally.
Any threat Town carried came from breaks, and one shortly after Everton had taken the lead should have produced an equaliser. Ince was set free down the right and the home side were stretched. Instead of finding one of 3 Town players in the box, loosely marked if at all, he decided to shoot from an angle which while not impossible, certainly unlikely. Desperate for an away goal before snow falls, some Town fans were fooled by the rustling of the side netting.
A decent Kachunga cross was narrowly too far in front of Depoitre, but the visitors’ attacking deteriorated in to incoherence after that and a mix up between Malone and Mooy on the left inadvertently lead to Everton’s second, also assisted by Ince, who was not having his finest three quarters of an hour, being robbed on half way.
With men committed forward, the impressive Calvert-Lewin was set free and despite Zanka’s best efforts to get back, the Everton striker’s shot deflected off him and over Lössl.
Instinctively, the away fans knew that the game had been lost with the first goal, with the second merely sapping them of any vestige of hope foolishly remaining, but they still backed the team throughout.
Town are not the first nor will they be the last to find away games difficult in their first season in the Premier League, but a big opportunity was missed at Goodison Park. Everton will climb the table and finish in the top half given the players they have available to them and Allardyce’s ability to organise which will make them difficult to beat, but they looked vulnerable in a poor first half – a vulnerability Town never really looked capable of exploiting.
With two tough away assignments at Watford and Southampton coming up before the turn of the year, Town’s travelling support will need to exercise even more patience, keep faith with Wagner’s ability to solve problems (however acute) and hope that the home form reverses a run of 4 defeats.
Despite the poor performance of the team, Danny Williams deserves a mention. Easily Town’s man of the match, his energy kept the visitors in the game, with only Depoitre’s first half display making a slight challenge to the German-American.
Otherwise, this was another eminently forgettable away game.