Everton 1-0 Sheffield United

A first half goal from Abdoulaye Doucoure was enough to beat relegated Sheffield United and see the Blues record a fifth successive home win with a clean sheet – making it 13 for the season so far for Jordan Pickford.

With top flight footie secured for the final season at Goodison, the Blues were able to breathe a tad easier for the final home game of another roller-coaster, tumultuous campaign – nobody, but nobody does football like Everton Football Club.

Already relegated Sheffield United tipped up at the Grand Old Lady and newly and rightly acclaimed as Manager of the Month for April, Sean Dyche commented, “We’ve had a run of really strong home games – not just performances – because they weren’t as important as the outcomes, and they were wins. Whatever way it comes around, we want to reward all of us, really – the players, the staff and the fans for what ends up being a positive season, after some very tricky times. We want to finish off with a win.”

He continued adding, “You just have to focus on the players and remind them of the fact that, as mentioned earlier, the pride and consistency we have in our values as a group to go and perform. We want to give a performance; we want to win. Afterwards, it’ll be the first time in a number of years we can have a walk around in a fashion that is rewarding for the players and the fans. I think that’s a nice sign-off for the players and the fans, and hopefully, do that on the back of a win, as well.”

And on his award for overseeing an excellent April he noted, “The derby win is the one that stands out. To come off the back of a very important win against Nottingham Forest and then to go into that game. You know what it’s like with all the old stories, after the Lord Mayor’s show and that sort of thing.”

He reminisced further, “To deliver such a tactically strong performance and find the big moments in front of the fans at Goodison and the recent history of that game was pleasing. I think that’s the performance that stands out from April, without a doubt.”

Hoping the end the home campaign on a high, the boss named two changes to the side that started at Luton as he selected his penultimate starting eleven thus: Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman (c), James Tarkowski, Jarrad Branthwaite, Ashley Young, James Garner, Amadou Onana, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

The Blades have had a tough season on their return to the top flight and even from fairly early on, the struggle to survive looked to be beyond them, and so it has proved to be. For this final away game, the South Yorkshire outfit were without Anel Ahmedhodzic, suspended after being sent off last weekend, while Mason Holgate is ineligible to face the Blues due to the terms of his season-long loan deal. Manager Chris Wilder advised that whilst former Everton midfield Tom Davies, John Egan and Daniel Jebbison are back in training, they probably not play until next season.

On a run of twelve consecutive games without a win, the inevitable drop back into the Championship was confirmed with a heavy defeat at St.James’s Park and Wilder was typically honest and forthright when he admitted afterwards, “It’s been a poor season. The fans have been magnificent throughout and it’s down to myself and the players who’ll be lucky to wear the red and white stripes to do much, much better next season, to turn the club’s fortunes around.”

Looking to spoil the Blues home finale, Wilder named his starting line-up: Foderingham, Bogle, Trusty, Robinson (c), Larouci, Souza, Hamer, Brooks, Brereton-Diaz, Archer and Arblaster.

With the sun shining on a shirt-sleeved full house, proceedings were in the hands of referee Stuart Attwell.

The visitors in an all yellow kit kicked off and an early long throw-in led to them winning the first corner off Branthwaite, and which was successfully cleared by Tarkowski. Garner got the Blues moving forward in finding DCL who get past the first defender to send in a shot that Foderingham dealt with comfortably enough. Early pressure by the Blues then saw a shot from Onana blocked and cleared with Young unsuccessfully claiming a corner as he clipped the ball past Bogle.

Hamer brought down McNeil in midfield to give the Blues the chance to launch the ball deep for Tarkowski and a second ball in from McNeil found Doucoure but, his weak header came in from an offside position. Some good movement and one-touch passing saw Onana gain the visitors penalty area before over running the ball out of play. A long ball from Coleman picked put DCL and his ball inside for Doucoure saw Foderingham make a fine save and then tip the ball over for a corner that was played too strongly to the back post and out for a goal kick.

Fifteen minutes gone and a decent start by the Blues saw them enjoying more possession than we’re used to seeing. Brooks on Onana gave the Blues another free kick opportunity but, it was very poorly executed and easily cleared, and we went through a scrappy period of play with neither side really getting to grips with the game. McNeil spread a ball wide left for Young to cross deep but, too close to and easily gathered by Foderingham.

United defended another Everton attack to break out with Brereton-Diaz, Branthwaite stretching his legs to easily cover, win the ball and find Pickford – making it look ridiculously easy. The Blues got down the other end with DCL, found by McNeil, seeing a shot deflected and saved low to his left by Foderingham. Archer got away from Coleman and tried his luck from 25 yards, sending his curling shot beyond the far post and not unduly troubling Jordan Pickford and on the half hour, the Blues opened their account. McNeil latched onto a knockdown header from DCL to then play him in down the left channel and with Foderingham rushing from his line, DCL chipped the ball back into the six yard area where Abdoulaye Doucoure easily nodded home.

A free kick for the visitors was cleared by Coleman and a clash on the halfway line saw Robinson push DCL over and both players were yellow carded, much to the bemusement of Sean Dyche who clearly felt former RS player Robinson was the aggressor. VAR reviewed the incident and deemed referee Attwell had taken the appropriate action… the home crowd naturally disagreed.

Everton defended a Sheffield attack involving Archer, Hamer and Brereton-Diaz with Pickford quick off his line to tackle Archer and we entered the final five minutes of the half with Pickford making a good save from Brooks who had cut inside Young to open up the shooting lane. A long ball from Tarkowski found Doucoure on the left and his first time ball back into the area for DCL went behind him. Everton were looking to finish the half strongly but another ball from Tarkowski for DCL saw a poor header easily gathered by Foderingham.

Sheffield broke down the other end and Archer won a late corner off Tarkowski that McNeil eventually cleared before a minimum of three added minutes was announced. Seamus Coleman on an overlap won a late right wing corner that McNeil swung in with Foderingham punching the ball up in the air to gather at the second attempt… and at the break, the Blues went to the dressing room with the lead.

Half Time: 1-0

No changes by either manager for the start of the second half that saw the Blues attacking the Gwladys Street End of Goodison and looking to get forward straight away with Foderingham claiming a cross from McNeil aimed towards DCL. Gana Gueye threaded a ball through for Coleman who thought he’d won a corner off Larouci before referee Attwell ruled for a free kick to the visitors. Onana picked out Garner down the right wing and Trusty defended well when the ball was played in for DCL.

The next Everton attack saw Gana Gueye heavily involved and it eventually led to him setting up Onana for a shot that was deflected behind for a corner that saw Gana Gueye fire in a shot that was clearly deflected behind, the referee though deemed it a goal kick. Nice interplay down the right between Doucoure and Garner saw a shot from the latter blocked and cleared. Arblaster was booked for a stiff challenge on James Garner and the first changes came on 55 minutes with Larouci and Brooks withdrawn to be replaced by Lowe and Slimane for the visitors.

Everton worked another opportunity and it went begging as nobody seemed willing to take a shot and the final ball into the area by Doucoure was easily claimed by Foderingham. Brereton-Diaz blazed a wild shot high over the target and Hamer then saw a shot blocked by Tarkowski as Sheffield United tried to get back into the game. Tarkowski conceded a corner that was defended and hoofed clear by Garner, with some of the home fans getting a touch concerned that the Blues were losing what grip they had on the game.

An hour gone and the Blues still led but, ideally really needed to get back on top and put the game to bed. Onana went down after a challenge by Slimane and a third change by Chris Wilder saw a debut for Sam Curtis as he replaced Arblaster on 63 minutes. A cross from Lowe saw Young do enough to deny Brereton-Diaz a clear header as the relegated side continued to look the more likely – maybe Everton needed some fresh legs too?

Another foul on Onana by Brereton-Diaz saw him lectured without a card being shown and on 68 minutes, we saw a double change by the track-suited Sean Dyche with Lewis Dobbin and Andre Gomes replacing Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dwight McNeil respectively.

Everton needlessly conceded a corner as Archer caused some disarray at the back, it was played long to Robinson who smashed in a shot that took a slight deflection before Onana stooped to head it behind for another corner that DCL headed clear. Young was unceremoniously bundled over in midfield with no free kick given and when Sheffield came forward again, a shot by Archer was delfected behind off Tarkowski, DCL again rising highest to head the set piece clear. Foderingham raced miles off his line to prevent DCL reaching a ball from Garner and we passed the 75-minute mark with the game still on something of a knife edge.

Most of the noise was coming from the Yorkshire clubs fans trying to will their team on as Garner broke with Gomes on his right hand side, Garner choosing to take the shot and he sent it wide across the face of goal.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was withdrawn on 79 minutes to be replaced by Youssef Chermiti. Archer turned in space to send a low shot across the face of goal before being substituted moments later by another former RS, Rhian Brewster. Foderingham was again quick off his line to get to the ball just before Chermiti before another half decent counter attack by Sheffield saw a cross played too strongly by Brewster.

The game was petering out rather tamely – hardly surprising given one team was safe, one relegated and the temperature pitch side was more Mediterranean than Merseyside. Five minutes left in normal time and Onana raised a cheer with some good footwork and the next Everton chance came as Garner fed Chermiti and he smashed a rising shot just wide of the near post. A foul by Souza on Gomes gave the Portuguese the chance to cross deep for Branthwaite with Sheffield hurriedly hoofing it clear.

Slimane saw a late shot blocked and Hamer headed over as Sheffield again looked for a late equaliser and an Everton attack saw Foderingham punch clear a Gana Gueye cross under pressure from Chermiti and Andre Gomes was unintentionally caught in the face by Slimane and needed treatment as four added minutes were announced. Andre Gomes was replaced for a cameo appearance and Premier League debut by Lewis Warrington.

Another late effort by the Blues saw Foderingham save from Chermiti and then excellent footwork by Chermiti created a good chance for Garner, his rising shot clearing the crossbar… and that was that for the 2023/24 home campaign.

Full Time: 1-0

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop