Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton

Red card fiasco as DCL dismissed

The credibility of the game was once again called into question as VAR reviewed what the vast majority of observers considered a perfectly good challenge by Dominic Calvert-Lewin and referee Chris Kavanagh who hadn’t even given a free kick decided the slightest of contact was worthy of a red card – and people wonder why so many Evertonians feel there’s an agenda against the club.

The road to Wembley saw the Blues embark upon their FA Cup campaign at Selhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace, where on our last FA Cup visit under Frank Lampard, we were royally spanked 4-0.

Roy Hodgson’s Eagles went into Thursday evenings tie without Michael Olise who incurred a hamstring injury in their 3-1 victory over Brentford last week, the veteran manager commenting, “Michael Olise had to come off right at the end as he felt his hamstring with the last sprint he made in the game. He won’t take part. We have to nurse him through and hope he comes back as quickly as possible.” And on the prospect of a cup run he added, “It would be nice to have a cup run and it would be nice to do well. We’re certainly going to have a go at it.”

Looking for revenge for the Blues having won in the Premier League fixture in mid-November, one of the games true gentleman named his starting line-up: Henderson, Clyne, Guehi (c), Andersen, Mitchell, Richards, Lerma, Franca, Eze, Schlupp and Mateta.

Having suffered three straight losses in the league since the penalty shootout loss to Fulham, Sean Dyche spoke boldly about his thoughts on the FA Cup campaign saying, “I’ve made it clear that we want to win every game, we want to put a team out that can win every game. There are certain parts of the team that have been very successful in terms of the way they are playing as individuals and as a collective. We want to put out a side that I believe can win, that’s certainly our mentality and viewpoint.”

With a heavy December programme just completed, the boss opted for some squad rotation for this trip to a wet and windy Selhurst Park giving both Jordan Pickford and Nathan Patterson a rest and delaying the return from injury of Abdoulaye Doucoure. With Idrissa Gana Gueye away to the African Cup of Nations, Dyche went with a starting eleven that read: Joao Virginia, Seamus Coleman (c), James Tarkowski, Jarrad Branthwaite, Vitalii Mykolenko, Jack Harrison, James Garner, Amadou Onana, Dwight McNeil, Arnaut Danjuma and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Entrusted with maintaining order, our referee was Chris Kavanagh.

The third round of the FA Cup used to be one of the great Saturday afternoon football traditions but, the authorities these days pay little heed to tradition and to appease television companies, this tie was ‘picked’ for Thursday evening live viewing on ITV4. However, that and appalling weather didn’t deter another outstanding show of support as over 4,000 Blues made the midweek trek to South London to roar on the team.

With rain falling, Everton in their change grey strip kicked off with Danjuma playing wide left with McNeil taking up station on the right flank and Joao Virginia dealt comfortable with an early effort from Schlupp that was going wide, a good early touch for the goalie on his first start for three years. Overall, a quiet opening as both sides looked to master the wet pitch that was getting wetter by the minute – surely the tactic would be to shoot on sight and put the goalie under pressure?

Lerma drew a free kick from Onana that led to Eze going down over the leg of Onana and referee Kavanagh rightly showed the Palace plunger a yellow card for simulation. A good attack by Everton with Seamus Coleman playing a leading part ended with Danjuma seeing his shot from the left deflected into the side netting for a corner that failed to trouble the Palace defence.

Everton were looking the more likely and a good ball from Harrison down the left flank for Danjuma saw his shot pawed away for another corner by Henderson. Mateta conceded a third corner that Henderson dropped and gathered under pressure from Tarkowski and through twenty minutes, Everton had been the better side. That said, a flowing move by Palace saw them get forward in numbers before a foul by Tarkowski on Franca on the edge of the Everton penalty area gave the home side a real chance… that Eze lofted over the six-man wall, the goal frame and halfway back into the Holmesdale Road seating.

Danjuma won a fourth Everton corner after Mykolenko had got up in support, Garner taking and Henderson was fortunate to kick it away at his near post. Passing the half hour mark and mercifully, the rain had abated as Everton knocked the ball around looking for an opening and in the process quietening the home crowd with more of the possession before Coleman strayed offside. Palace won their first corner as Branthwaite defended a low cross from Mateta with the initial cross defended, a second cross hooked clear by Mykolenko and Tarkowski did enough to prevent a third from Schlupp.

DCL got ahead of Guehi to reach a cross from Mykolenko as the Blues looked to get forward again but disappointingly, his header went wide of the near post. A decent Palace move saw Eze take a ball from Mateta to set up Lerma for a shot that whilst powerful was always going wide and rising. A partial clearance by Andersen fell to Garner to strike a good shot, Andersen getting a good block and clearing.

Into the final five minutes of the first half and Onana took a knock from Lerma to win a free kick that Joao Virginia hoisted toward DCL who couldn’t do anything with the long ball. Good defending by Seamus Coleman prevented Mateta getting onto a ball through the middle of the Blues rearguard by Schlupp. The fourth official indicated just one minute of added on time as Franca fired a cross though the Everton six-yard area and at the break, Sean Dyche was probably the happier of the two managers but, his side need to find a way to convert possession into meaningful attempts on goal.

Half Time: 0-0

The same starting elevens took to the pitch for the second half which hopefully, would see more goalmouth action than the first, preferably with Everton the more incisive as I doubt either manager wanted to see this game end level and need a replay to further congest fixture scheduling.

Everton worked their way don the right flank before switching the ball centrally and on to Garner via Mykolenko to curl a shot wide of the far post. Palace countered and Virginia turned a powerful shot away for a corner and then comfortably held a header from Lerma from the set piece. The rain was falling again as both sides struggled to take a stranglehold on the game, too many passes being either overhit or simply going astray off the wet pitch.

Approaching the hour mark, Everton were still enjoying more of the ball but, not really hurting Palace and a foul by Onana gave Eze the chance to swing a cross into the Blues area with Virginia punching the ball clear after the ball bounced nicely for him off the head of DCL. McNeil blocked a Palace pass and the ball fell nicely for DCL to run onto – minus his hairband – only to shoot weakly and far too easily for Henderson to deal with. Everton came again to win a corner from the left that Mateta headed behind for another from the right that McNeil swung to the back post where Onana could only put the ball out for a goal kick.

Lerma went down after a challenge by Branthwaite, the ref played on and Everton got forward to win another corner conceded by Andersen. McNeil again sent it long to the back post for Tarkowski to head back across for Onana to climb but, send his header over the crossbar. Attempts on target were almost non-existent and it was beginning to look as though one decent strike by either side could settle the outcome.

A deep cross by Harrison from the elft was hooked clear and Guehi sent a low cross from Garner out for a throw-in. Everton were on top and Henderson was decisive in punching a McNeil cross to safety and we passed 70 minutes with the home crowd getting frustrated and Harrison sending a low shot wide of the target having been found by Mykolenko.

Roy Hodgson and Palace were the first to blink, making a double change on 71 minutes, Ahamada and Hughes replacing Franca and Schlupp respectively.

Tarkowski broke up a Palace attack to find Onana and his through ball for DCL fell for Danjuma, his shot though was straight at and easily held by Henderson. Good work by DCL to control a long ball though saw VAR review the challenge with the idiot Craig Pawson advising the referee to look again at the challenge by DCL and incredibly, the referee showed the Blues striker a straight red card, the first of his career.

Ten minutes to play and the Blues down to ten men with the bench and the travelling fans absolutely furious at the decision on the back of the inane Craig Pawson on VAR duty, and Beto replaced Arnaut Danjuma.

Ahamada sent a shot wide across the face of goal as Palace looked to make the man advantage count but, it was a glorious chance for Everton as Beto put a good cross into the Palace area and James Garner, falling backwards put his effort over the bar.

Further Palace changes saw Edouard and Ozoh replace Lerma and Clyne after a long ball over the top for Eze saw Tarkowski block the shot out for a corner that failed to produce. Dwight McNeil was hurt and stayed down to received treatment while the game continued before Andre Gomes made a cameo appearance from the bench with just over a minute of normal time to play. A stretcher was called for to take McNeil away for further medical assistance, and NINE added minutes were announced with Harrison blazing a shot over the target.

Palace were now pushing forward to try and snatch a late winner, with Everton now defending stoutly to get the draw and replay that their performance certainly warranted. On a break, Beto went down in the Palace area after a tangle with Andersen with the referee waving away half-hearted penalty appeals. Edouard fed a ball into the path of Eze and Virginia did enough to turn the shot away for a corner that Tarkowski headed clear.

The game ended in a goalless draw meaning the teams will meet again in a Goodison Park replay but, all the post game analysis will revolve around the incredulous decision that saw DCL red carded.

Full Time: 0-0

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