Everton 1-0 Leeds United

Coleman super strike secures vital win​

An extraordinary finish from Blues skipper Seamus Coleman stunned Leeds and just about every one of the 39,000 plus crowd inside Goodison, and secured a second home win on the bounce under Sean Dyche. It wasn’t a pretty affair by any stretch of the imagination but, that goal will live long in the memory.

Victory over Arsenal but another loss across the park saw Everton remain in the bottom three a point behind the club one place above them, Leeds United… who fate saw as today’s visitors to the Grand Old Lady. It’s a much used cliche in sport but if ever there was a six-pointer, this surely had to be it. Everton, who were without Dominic Calvert-Lewin to lead the line again, were in dire need of a morale-boosting win that would leapfrog them over the Yorkshire outfit and above West Ham before their trip to Spurs on Sunday.

Addressing his sides meagre return of goals this season, Blues boss Sean Dyche noted, “we’ve got other good players here. I think it’s more important to focus on them at this stage because, facts are facts and Dom’s not available. Until then, my focus is on the players who are available, and the team unit.”

He went on to add, “The mentality has to be that we score as a team and defend as a team. The whole team has a responsibility to score, as we showed against Arsenal with a good set piece. It’s the mentality of the group that’s important, it’s not just about the side that’s played, it’s about the squad.”

Asked about his preparations to combat Leeds, he commented, “My focus for the next game is the same, regardless of who it’s against. We want to keep performing at a consistent level. Something I’ve been obsessed with for many years is raising the minimum. Home games will be important because of the way Goodison feels. I saw it against Arsenal, and we have to take some of that feeling and ingrain it within the group so when we go away, we have that feeling of a home game and that same mentality.”

Knowing victory and three points would be invaluable, he named his starting eleven: Pickford, Coleman (c), Coady, Tarkowski, Mykolenko, Iwobi, Doucoure, Gana Gueye, Onana, McNeil and Maupay.

Having dispensed with the services of American Jesse Marsch, Leeds are under the temporary leadership of Michael Skubala, an experienced academy level coach, and he’s being aided by Paco Gallardo and Chris Armes as the club look to cling onto Premier League status after another turbulent season.

“I didn’t expect to be here to be honest,” he told The Guardian adding, “I’m happy in my role as the U21 coach. Rightly or wrongly, I have no planned route in coaching. I just enjoy the job, trying to get the best out of the players.”

With an away draw and a home loss to in-form Manchester United in his first two games in the Elland Road hot seat, Skubala recognised the importance of todays visit to Goodison when he said, “It’s an opportunity for us to try and get another three points and that’s all I’m focused on. I’m focused on Everton and then if we do well, I’ll focus on the next game. The players are excited to go to Goodison and try to get the points.”

On his squad availability for the cross Pennine clash he advised, “we still have the long term absentees which we are trying to work hard on to get back fit. Pascal Struijk has been training after his concussion, so that’s a positive. Liam Cooper and Marc Roca are touch and go and we could see them on Saturday.”

Ultimately, Skubala named his starting line-up: Meslier, Ayling (c) Koch, Wober, Firpo, Adams, Harrison, McKennie, Summerville, Gnonto and Bamford,

On a breezy, cool afternoon in front of another full house, our referee was Andy Madley.

An early cross from the left was too high for Maupay, Koch easily clearing for the visitors who countered to win two quick corners that were defended. Wober took a tumble after a collision with Maupay and needed some treatment before resuming. Coady got back quickly after a no look pass by Gana Gueye was picked off by Bamford and Coleman finally cleared the ball with an almighty hoof downfield.

Mykolenko on a foray forward got between two defenders and into the area before going down, the referee waving away half hearted appeals for a penalty before the first Everton corner was well taken by Meslier in the visitors goal. Fifteen minutes had gone by with both sides struggling to establish any real cohesion or pattern of play before good by by Doucoure played Iwobi in for a right flank cross that Leeds managed to clear.

A reasonable move by the Blues came to nothing as a left wing cross from McNeil was easily taken by Meslier again. Everton were beginning to gain the upper hand with Mykolenko and McNeil causing the Leeds defence some problems on their right. But it was a deep cross by Coady that nearly brought a reward as Meslier came miles off his line to mishandle the ball with his defence funnelling back quickly as the Blues tried desperately to find a shot on target.

Another cross from McNeil ran through the six yard area with Alex Iwobi unable to reach it and a foul by Harrison on Gana Gueye gave the Blues a free kick in a good position on the right… that was totally wasted first by McNeil and then Iwobi. Amadou Onana went down on 25 minutes and needed some treatment while Demarai Gray warmed up just in case, Conor Coady audibly (from the back of the Main Stand) encouraged the Blues to a greater effort.

A nice pass from Iwobi played Gana Gueye in on the right only for his cutback cross to be blazed high and wide by Onana, and Leeds got down the other end with Bamford putting a shot wide of the target. Iwobi next played Doucoure in on the right and he won a corner off Wober, that McNeil swung to the back post and efforts by Doucoure and Maupay were cleared off the line by desperate Leeds defending.

The home crowd were playing their part in supporting the players on the park, hoping for a strong final ten minutes to half that the Blues were having the better of but, without completely dominating or creating too many goal scoring chances. A deflected Iwobi cross won another right wing corner, again swung deep for Tarkowski to head and Meslier react quickly to turn the ball behind for a left wing corner that failed to produce.

Onana and AmcNeil combined on the left with the latter crossing and Firpo hurriedly conceding a corner that Meslier punched clear, the follow-up cross being too deep for Tarkowski to do anything with.

Tempers flared on 41 minutes as Adams and McNeil squared up to each other and everybody rushed in as things threatened to get out of hand, the original two protagonists both seeing yellow cards for their troubles, together with Doucoure for speaking out of turn.

Two added minutes were announced before a quick throw-in by Gnonto gave Firpo the chance to cross deep where Summerville couldn’t keep his header down and it landed on top of Jordan Pickfords goal. Scoreless at the break summed up the meeting of two teams lacking real confidence, ideas and both clearly short of a dominant attacking figurehead.

Half Time: 0-0

A change by Leeds for the start of the second half saw Kristensen replace Wober. Iwobi and Maupay exchanged passé with Iwobi crossing deep for McNeil to volley, his shot going wide with nobody in the area looking to get any kind of deflection on it. Bamford on a break found Gnonto and his low cross went behind both Bamford and Summerville, Pickford racing from his line to clear to halfway.

Koch climbing all over Maupay saw the Blues awarded a free kick that Ayling cleared far too easily, another set piece failure. A decent cross from Mykolenko was only half cleared but when Iwobi tried to play Gana Gueye in, his pass was too strong and went out for a goal kick. McNeil spread the ball wide for Mykolenko again and his cross found Maupay who’s shot on the turn lacked power.

Goodison again raised its voice as we approached the hour mark with both benches preparing changes. Leeds acted first with Aaronson replacing Summerville on 61 minutes.

Another good foray forward by Mykolenko saw him exchange passes with Doucoure before seeing his shot go straight at Meslier.

An amazing strike that came from nowhere gout the Blues in front on 64 minutes, Iwobi chipping the ball forward for Seamus Coleman to chase and with nobody in support for a cross he took on an audacious shot having looked up and seeing Meslier leaving his near post unguarded – an outstanding finish, that nobody except the veteran Irish international could have predicted… Goal of the Season ??

Goodison was now vocal and persistence from Maupay earned a right wing corner that saw Tarkowski head wide at the near post. Aaronson won a corner off Gana Gueye as Leeds tried to hit back, and his cross was easily gathered by Pickford. Onana again went down off the ball and needed some more treatment before being replaced by Tom Davies on 73 minutes.

Meslier held onto a deep cross from McNeil after Davies had beaten Kristensen to a long ball from Pickford. A harsh free kick against Gana Gueye gave a Leeds a free kick 35 yards out and Harrison made a complete town halls of it. And on 78 minutes, Leeds replaced McKennie with Rutter. Another Leeds free kick was wasted by Harrison as Everton prepared their second change, Ellis Simms replacing the game Neil Maupay in the 81st minute after he’d run himself almost into the ground.

Meslier, under pressure from Tarkowski, gathered a McNeil free kick from the right wing and Leeds countered to win a right wing corner of their own, that was taken after Greenwood replaced Harrison, Mykolenko clearing the ball to halfway. Into the final five minutes and Leeds were now throwing everything they could at Everton in search of an equaliser.

Coleman and Iwobi combined to find Simms and his inside ball to Doucoure had the crowd on its feet but, Leeds got bodies back and the chance was lost. Four added minutes were signalled and a good turn by Davies saw him find Simms to take the ball on and win a throw-in to eat up some valuable seconds. McNeil latched onto a poor clearance and should have fed Simms but chose to go alone, and at least kept the ball down the Leeds end.

At the final whistle, it was Everton who had prevailed and on the balance of play thoroughly deserved it… and my Man of the Match vote goes to Vitalii Mykolenko who kept both Summerville and Gnonto under control, and got forward effectively whenever he could but, the finish from Seamus and his post-match celebrations will probably see him clinch a fair few votes.

Full Time: 1-0

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