Brighton 1-1 Everton

Everton fail to hold late lead against ten-men Brighton​

A late strike from Jarrad Branthwaite looked to have earned Everton a valuable three points on the road but after Gilmour was given a straight red for a bad challenge on Amadou Onana, the home side rallied and dominated the remaining time to earn a point with a Lewis Dunk header deep into added-on time.

This corresponding fixture last season produced one of the biggest upsets in many a year as the Blues travelled to the Amex as sacrificial lambs for the high-flying Brighton to feast upon… Sean Dyche and the Goodison whipping boys though had other ideas and right from the outset gave the Seagulls a lesson in how to eat five helpings of humble pie. Could today’s fixture possibly see a repeat??

Brighton sat seventh in the table prior to kick-off which, if they finished there at season end would see them qualify for Europa Conference League football again next season. Looking to stop Everton from a third successive victory at the Amex Stadium, the Seagulls cause wasn’t helped with the continued absence through injury of Joao Pedro, Jack Hinshelwood and ol’ father time James Milner. In bang up-to-date team news, Albion head coach Roberto De Zerbi advised, “We have a problem with Kaoru Mitoma, he has a problem with his back. I don’t know if he can play. We will analyse the situation on the next day. We are used to playing without important players. Julio Enciso will be on the bench though, it’s great news.”

The Seagulls haven’t lost at home in the Premier League since way back in August when West Ham won 3-1 and have had only one scoreless draw in their last fifteen home games. Looking to continue their excellent home form De Zerbi named his starting line-up: Verbruggen, Lamptey, van Hecke, Dunk (c), Julio, Gross, Gilmour, Adingra, Buonanotte, Welbeck and Ferguson.

Having failed to score in our last four games away from Goodison, Sean Dyche was hoping for a turnaround on form such as we witnessed at the Amex last season. With Seamus Coleman recovering from sickness and Vitalii Mykolenko likely to feature despite a knock sustained in the draw with Crystal Palace, Dyche advised that the only definite absentees from the squad would be Arnaut Danjuma, Andre Gomes and Dele Alli.

Talking of the task facing the Blues, Dyche noted, Most teams who do well against them have worked well on transition, including ourselves, of course, last season. You can’t just rely on that. We have to play as well. We have to work with the ball in possession, as well as getting the tactical framework of the side right. I think [the 5-1 win] was probably a hiccup in their season at that time.”

He added, “We made that happen, don’t get me wrong. I think we focused on our own performance that night. We normally do and we have to do that again because, they’re still a very strong outfit and their home record suggests that.”

Needing a result Dyche named his starting eleven thus: Jordan Pickford, Ben Godfrey, James Tarkowski (c), Jarrad Branthwaite, Vitalii Mykolenko, Jack Harrison, Idrissa Gana Gueye, James Garner, Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Our referee on a bright but, cool south coast afternoon was Tony Harrington.

The Blues once again sported their salmon pink away strip and played towards the massed ranks of travelling Evertonians in the first half but it was Brighton who forced the first corner as Godfrey blocked a cross from Adingra, DCL with a clearing header before Tarkowski put a follow-up cross behind for a second corner. Once again, DCL rose to head clear and moments later, Adingra fed Welbeck but, his attempt to get into the Everton area was stymied. It had been a bright start by the home side and potentially signified a long afternoon of defending for the Blues.

Brighton won a third corner as a flowing Brighton move begun by Welbeck ended with him seeing a shot deflected wide and behind, the Blues playing solidly at the back cleared the set piece but, Brighton came again with Adingra forcing Godfrey into conceding a fourth corner with less than nine minutes played. Tarkowski and then DCL with clearing headers again successfully defended the set piece. A fine ball from Buonanotte found Welbeck and he pushed the ball too strongly past the onrushing Pickford and wide of the goal. Everton had barely crossed halfway line through the opening quarter of an hour, the home team dealing effectively with the few attacking forays by the team in pink.

Garner fouled Welbeck to halt another Brighton attack, the free kick leading to Tarkowski putting another cross from Adingra behind for yet another corner, that Branthwaite headed clear and then good defending by Mykolenko drew a foul from Adingra. Welbeck was causing problems in the centre of the Everton defence and it took an outstretched leg of Ben Godfrey to deflect a short range shot behind for a sixth corner that saw Dunk get a clean header but, straight into the arms of Jordan Pickford.

Brighton were playing with the confidence of a team with an excellent home record, passing the ball quickly and moving with precision to an organised game plan, with Everton defending resolutely, and hoping for an effective counter attack every now and then. And to that effect, Doucoure getting into the Brighton area won a 23rd minute corner off Dunk that came to nothing, and led to a Brighton counter that saw Adingra fire a shot from twelve yards just too high – their best effort of the game so far.

The next Brighton attack saw Welbeck find Adingra and his shot from outside the area was headed up and over for a corner by Tarkowski, and another free header saw van Hecke only find the waiting arms of Jordan Pickford. A 50-50 won by Gana Gueye in midfield saw DCL spread the ball wide to McNeil for a cross that came out at Harrison, the second cross then cleared by Brighton before Everton came again with Mykolenko crossing too strongly from the left flank.

Half an hour played and whilst Brighton had dominated the possession and heavily outnumbered Everton in the corner count, Jordan Pickford hadn’t had a serious save to make and the Blues almost forced the opening goal as a great cross from Mykolenko saw Dunk concede a corner that Verbruggen easily claimed. James Tarkowski picked up the first yellow card of the game for taking Welbeck down – no argument from the Everton captain as Welbeck received some treatment after feeling the full weight of the challenge on his right knee.

Mykolenko defended a Lamptey cross at the expense of another corner that once again, the Blues defended comfortably and we passed the 40-minute mark with the scoreboard still blank. Referee Harrington awarded Brighton a free kick a couple of yards outside the Everton area after Garner bumped into Gross and the set piece effort by Welbeck was more akin to a rugby conversion, clearing the wall and the cross bar by some margin.

Two added minutes were announced and the best Everton attack of the first half saw Doucoure and McNeil exchange passes before a low ball for DCL saw Dunk concede another corner that was defended and the teams retired to their respective dressing rooms for a metaphorical slice of orange and cup of tea.

Half Time: 0-0

Both teams had played their Plan A in the first half and at nil-nil, the Blues Plan A had triumphed, would the second half see changes and Plan B incorporated by either side to break the deadlock. Brighton had looked the more fluent in their football but, Everton were proving a tough nut to crack and had posted a couple of warnings to the home side that they could yet spring a surprise. No changes by either manager for the second half as Everton kicked off defending the end where they could rely upon vocal support from familiar faces and voices.

DCL won an early free kick despite having caught Julio with his elbow and meanwhile Amadou Onana stripped off to replace Idrissa Gana Gueye with just over three minutes of the half played. A deep cross from Mykolenko found Tarkowski to head across the area for Branthwaite to turn back towards DCL who went down claiming he’d been impeded with the referee having nothing of his appeal.

The travelling support were doing their best to lift the players as Brighton players tried to influence the referee to issue a second yellow to James Tarkowski. De Zerbi also voiced his opinion to the fourth official and he saw yellow for his troubles. A cross from Gross saw Mykolenko climb to prevent the ball reaching Ferguson at the expense of another corner that failed to overly trouble the Everton defence. Everton countered and it took a goal line clearance from Lamptey to deny Doucoure on the volley to a cross from McNeil found by a long ball from Pickford.

The game was beginning to get a bit more physical as we approached the hour mark and Brighton prepared a treble change to try and force the game their way. Estupinan for Julio, Veltman for Lamptey and Fati for Welbeck were the changes made by De Zerbi on the hour.

Brighton were now looking to force the game and Everton made a change on 66 minutes with Beto replacing DCL before van Hecke was booked. Brighton made a fourth change with Enciso replacing Buonanotte and then incredibly, it was Everton who opened the scoring from a set piece as the ball fell nicely for Jarrad Branthwaite to smash it high into the top corner and lift the roof off the visitors end of the ground.

Gross was booked and Lallana replaced Ferguson with a last throw of the dice by De Zerbi and some desperate defending and needless over elaborating at the back by the Blues managed to keep the home side at bay before Adingra saw a shot go wide. Into the final ten minutes and Brighton were reduced to ten men as Gilmour went high on Amadou Onana and the referee didn’t hesitate to show a straight red card.

Brighton were straining forward for an equaliser despite being down to ten men and Everton needed to concentrate even harder, having stolen the lead, defending it was even more important. Clearing their own half, the Blues through Garner fed Beto who had stayed onside and he made ground before seeing his shot go too high. Adingra had switched to the right and Mykolenko was playing him really well as the home side continued to pour forward. Some desperate defending by the Blues saw them eat up valuable seconds and minutes and Everton sent Ashley Young on for the remaining moments and added-on time replacing Abdoulaye Doucoure. A Brighton free kick nearly caused mayhem in the Everton area before Godfrey cleared with the home side screaming for a handball and then an incredible nine added minutes were announced.

Beto was booked for a clumsy challenge while the Everton bench queried the length of the added-no time with the fourth official. Amadou Onana also picked up a soft yellow card and Everton again overplayed at the back, Onana needed to do the simple thing instead of trying to be clever. McNeil headed a cross behind for another Brighton corner from the right, Branthwaite with the initial clearance and the follow-up cross from Gross found Dunk and Brighton were level.

Everton were now hanging on under increasing pressure from Brighton but, countered to see a shot from Harrison go wide of the target. On the balance of the game, Brighton deserved their point but, Everton will be kicking themselves for being unable to defend that late lead and likely consider this to be two points dropped rather than a good point on the road.

Full Time: 1-1

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