Everton 1-0 Crystal Palace

Andre Gomes beauty sends Blues through​

A delightful free kick from Andre Gomes after he himself had been fouled settled this rather dour FA Cup replay in the Blues favour. Everton will now face Luton Town in the fourth round after they won at Bolton on Tuesday evening. Not a great game but, on the road to Wembley, its all about victories.

A fourth round home tie against Luton Town awaited the winners of this third round FA Cup replay following the scoreless game at Selhurst Park that saw the shameful, but thankfully overturned, red card shown to Dominic Calvert-Lewin after a pathetic and needless VAR intervention.

Inevitably, Blues boss Sean Dyche was asked about the second charges levied against the club by the Premier League on Monday and he responded by concentrating on matters he has the ability to influence saying, “We stay focused. I think we’ve done a good job of doing that and the players deserve a lot of credit so far because they have stayed focused. I think the on-pitch situation has remained strong. I think the performances have remained strong. [We had] a really great run of performances that got wins, and a good run of performances that didn’t, but that’s the Premier League. We’ve continued that process under some testing, challenging times but, they are still there. So, therefore, kind of weirdly, it’s becoming a norm, which is not a norm I was hoping for, but these are the circumstances. The players have to get on with it and so have I.”

In the full knowledge that a win and a home tie in the next round would be a great boost for everyone, Dyche selected his starting eleven that read: Joao Virginia, Nathan Patterson, James Tarkowski (c), Jarrad Branthwaite, Vitalii Mykolenko, Jack Harrison, James Garner, Amadou Onana, Andre Gomes, Dwight McNeil and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Speculation has been growing in recent weeks around the future of veteran manager Roy Hodgson with Palace, speculation that someone of his experience and stature takes in his stride, and like Sean Dyche, he prefers to stay focussed on his job of managing the team. When asked about whether the second charges against his opponents would have an effect upon his thinking he commented, “Well, it shouldn’t [have an effect on the teams around Everton] because the fact is we should work on the basis that they haven’t broken any rules, and there is no threat of sanctions, and that they’ve got the number of points they’ve got and we need to get more than those points.” With Forest also charged and facing potential punishment, Hodgson added pointedly, “It really is purely a matter for those two football clubs and the Premier League, and the people who are looking into the matter and making decisions about what the right punishment is. That’s something really purely for them and I think we, who are not absolutely involved in it, because it’s not our club that’s being looked into or judged in this way, should mind our own business and get on with our game, and keep trying to win our games and let them find a solution to whatever problems that they’ve created for themselves.”

With Jordan Ayew away at the AFCON Cup, and Joel Ward definitely out with a thigh strain, Hodgson had fitness concerns over Michael Olise, Rob Holding and goalie Sam Johnstone. After weighing up his options he named his line-up: Johnstone, Clyne, Andersen, Guehi (c), Mitchell, Richards, Lerma, Eze, Hughes, Schlupp and Edouard.

Under the Goodison lights on a bitterly cold evening, our referee was Tony Harrington.

Andre Gomes tried an early shot from outside the Palace area that Johnstone dealt with easily before a period of stop-start play with a series of free kicks to both sides. A nice move just before the quarter hour mark saw Tarkowski find Patterson to release DCL with a fine ball, the Blues number 9 drawing a good save for a corner from Johnstone with Andersen conceding a quick second – neither of which overly troubled the visitors defence. Palace responded with Lerma firing a shot across the face of goal and wide.

Eze failed to make the most of a poor ball by Andre Gomes and the Blues cleared the threat and Amadou Onana went down with a suspected knock on the head. A good burst forward by Clyne came to nothing as Mitchell made a hash of his attempted shot sending it high over the target. Everton got the ball forward quickly through Harrison who gained the Palace areas before appearing to be fouled with the crowd and players howling for a penalty that VAR didn’t seem interested in reviewing.

Joao Virginia saw his first action around 27 minutes making a decent save from Eze as Palace looked to pressure the Blues goal. Everton had had a fair amount of the ball but, as has been the story of so much of the season so far, were finding it hard to carve out clear cut chances and another attack by the visitors saw Schlupp send a shot high over the target with no concern for Virginia. Palace were beginning to grow in confidence and they snuffed out the next Blues raid and Sean Dyche told Harrison and McNeil to swop flanks for the latter stages of the first half.

Another Palace attack involving Eze and Schlupp ended with Virginia making a confident save on a rising shot from Hughes, and Everton needed to get a grip of the midfield and re-impose themselves on the game. Everton won a free kick that Gomes overhit with Patterson unable to keep in play, an indication maybe of the lack of cohesion and sensible ideas within the team on a cold night. Patterson tried to get something going but poor control by Harrison brought some groans from the Main Stand faithful. Into the final five minutes of the first half and we were closing in on two and half games without a goal being scored for or against.

Lerma was rightly booked for a foul on Gomes as the Portuguese tried to force his way forward towards the edge of the Palace area, the free kick seeing Andre Gomes take control and strike an absolutely superb curling shot around the Palace wall to beat the keeper and in off the near post on 41 minutes.

Palace tried to respond quickly and Virginia made a fine stop, at the expense of a corner, to deny Mitchell set up by Eze who had got away too easily from Onana in the build-up. The corner was wasted with an effort more akin to a rugby conversion as it hit the roof of the Street End Stand. DCL forced and error in the Palace defence but, couldn’t beat the keeper from a tight angle.

Three added minutes saw precious little else happen and the referee called time on a half that had lacked any real quality from either side bar the stunning Andre Gomes free kick that illuminated an otherwise mundane forty-five minutes.

Half Time: 1-0

No changes by either manager for the second half that saw Harrison do well to control a long ball from Branthwaite and win a free kick that Palace defended. Palace wasted a free kick of their own as both sides tried to establish themselves in the early stages. Garner was hurt and Gomes put the ball out of play so he could receive some attention to a possible hamstring strain. Palace returned the ball long to Virginia and James Garner looked to play on, the magic spray having done its job.

Something of a mishit cross from Clyne nearly caught Virginia by surprise, the Everton goalie remaining alert and keeping the ball out. Palace came again through Eze and Edouard and it was Gomes getting back with a good challenge to break up the attack before looking to find DCL who was inevitably isolated and easily dispossessed by the Palace rearguard.

A clearance by Tarkowski was did off for Harrison by DCL and his ball for Gomes was just too strong and Palace looked to rebuild again as we passed the hour mark with the teams still separated by that first half strike from Gomes. A knockdown by DCL found McNeil who tested Johnstone with a quick shot that the Palace keeper held. Palace countered with Clyne feeding Lerma for another wild shot that flew high into the Park End.

Palace prepared to make changes to try and shake things up as they were chasing an equaliser, and a foul by Hughes on Virginia saw Roy Hodgson replace Eze, Mitchell and Clyne with Oliveira, Riedewald and Ahamada all on 64 minutes.

Everton had another penalty appeal ignored after a Garner shot appeared to strike a hand, and Palace quickly got forward on a McNeil giveaway that saw Virginia save well from Ahamada. Palace were beginning to get the upper hand as Everton sat deeper almost inviting the visitors to come forward, maybe to try and catch them on a quick counter. A late offside flag denied Everton a corner, this offside ruling is just baffling and potentially dangerous.

Another double Palace change saw Lerma and Edouard replaced by Ozoh and Mateta respectively on 71 minutes, and a few minutes later, Everton made their first change with Lewis Dobbin coming on for Andre Gomes to give them some additional pace in attack.

A good ball from Onana picked out DCL and he made space for a shot that flew across the face of goal and just wide. The first involvement for Dobbin saw him win a corner that Palace put behind for another from the Everton left. Andersen cleared the cross with Johnstone flapping at it and Everton forced a third corner in quick succession as a header from Dobbin was turned behind, a Branthwaite flick on going behind and Palace breathed a sigh of relief.

Into the final ten minutes and absolutely nobody, possibly not even Palace wanted an equaliser that could force extra time, and Sean Dyche looked to make another change as Mykolenko, having another solid game, won a free kick. Wth Beto waiting on the touchline Andersen climbed all over DCL with the referee bizarrely deciding against an Everton free kick but, eventually saw a foul on Harrison. A long ball from Virginia saw Andersen and DCL exchange unpleasantries with both being yellow carded before DCL left the field to be replaced by Beto for the final five minutes.

Dobbin shot wide from a difficult angle as the Blues tried to find a way through to goal as time ticked away. Everton were doing well to retain possession and we reached 90 minutes before the fourth official raised the board to indicate a minimum of six added minutes.

Onana cleared from Mateta as Palace lumped the ball in to the Everton area and the crowd raised its voice again to try and lift the Blues as Palace came again with a late flurry of attacks. Branthwaite hooked a ball clear the Everton counter saw poor ball played behind Dobbin and that gave Johnstone time to make the save, and eventually, Beto conceded a goal kick.

Palace looked to get it forward quickly and Ahamada found Hughes before first Branthwaite and Mykolenko went down with a free kick to the Blues. Onana hurried Ahamada into a mistake and give the Blues a throw-in to while away a few more seconds before Johnstone launched a free kick long that Onana cleared. Palace now threw everyone forward and when McNeil lost the ball, thankfully Mateta was offside and the referee called time and the Blues were through to face Luton.

Full Time: 1-0

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