Everton returned home to the confines of Goodison Park for what was possibly one of their real chances of picking up some points to keep the relegation teams at bay. On Saturday, Luton and Sheffield lost but Burnley picked up three points. This classic six pointer would have given Everton a buffer of 4 points over Forest with a win.

Best not to mention Everton’s last match but they should have been buoyed by the reverse fixture where Everton travelled to Nottingham and returned home after a 1-0 victory. Forest have struggled away from home with only two wins and four draws out of sixteen matches. A response from the team and the continued support of Evertonians was the minimum expectation.

Team News

Everton made four changes for the first time in Sean Dyche’s Everton career. Calvert Lewin was passed fit which was a huge bonus for the team. Idrissa Gueye returns and is partnered with Andre Gomes. Importantly, Jarrad Branthwaite had shaken off a knock but Seamus Coleman missed out with a groin problem. With Nathan Patterson being written off for the rest of the season, it was up to Ashley Young to fill in at right back.

Forest made two changes as Moussa Niakhate replaced Andrew Omobamidele at centre-back and Nicolas Dominguez came in for Ryan Yates. Anthony Elanga was fit enough to take a spot on the substitutes’ bench, having recovered from a slight knock.

Match Review

Goodison Park was rocking as the teams emerged from the tunnel as Z Cars played. The twelfth man was in the building. The first of three matches in eight days for Everton as Anthony Taylor blew his whistle to get the game under way. Two teams desperate to win and scared to lose traded fouls in the early moments as they tried to settle down with little success.

Forest were the first to get the ball into an attacking position with Williams attacking down the right but the defense held firm. Pickford was called upon to make his first save when Williams’ low shot was well held. Everton’s first corner that was going to challenge the Forest goal but the extreme jostling was too much for Taylor who called a foul on Tarkowski.

Everton were struggling to get any good deliveries from their corners with both McNeil and Gomes unable to get the ball past the first defenders. It took twelve minutes for Everton to start to control the play. A free kick on the edge of the box from Gomes was poorly delivered and went over the bar.

Jarrad Branthwaite was marshalling the back line and his driving run forward got the fans on their feet. Another free kick from Gomes was driven into the wall and the groans rained down. An attempt at goal from Mykolenko was skied into the Park End which didn’t help. A nice string of passes ended with Doucoure lobbing the ball over the top for Calvert Lewin but it was just out of his reach.

A VAR check was needed when Reyna went down in the box and was tackled by Young but he got the ball and the all clear was given. A poor clearance from Pickford was given straight to Forest but Mykolenko spared his blushes.....again!

Calvert Lewin got his first touch of the match but the header lacked pace. Evertonian hearts were in their mouths again when Pickford spilled a shot from Hudson Odoi but he recovered to smother the ball and prevent Chris Wood from pouncing.

The first goal of the match was scored by Idrissa Gana Gueye when the ball was poorly cleared by Forest and the little midfielder celebrated the birth of his new baby with a low drive that found the corner of the net. It was his 100th shot from outside of the box and only his second goal. Evertonians rejoiced. Tension reduced. Sixty minutes left in the match!

Everton continued to press forward and a nice ball into Calvert Lwin was knocked away by Murillo to prevent the chance. Pickford earned his pay when Chris Wood was inside the six yard box and his volleyed shot was beautifully blocked by the England keeper and a nice clearance by Tarkowski to keep the lead intact.

Forest were ending the half well and Everton were under pressure for the first time in the match. Everton were dropping deeper and were not challenging the ball higher. VAR was on call again when Hudson Odoi sent the ball goalward and the ball struck Young’s arm. Thankfully, the check was complete and play continued. Two minutes of extra time was announced as one of the Forest coaches were given a yellow card for dissent. Two Forest corners were cleared by Calvert Lewin before the whistle was blown to end the half.

The second half kicked off with Everton kicking towards the Gwladys Street End. Jarrad Branthwaite started the half with a crunching tackle that got the Goodison crowd right into it. lt was clear that the visitors were wanting to get forward and this was confirmed when Wolves took no time to make a change with Antony Elanga coming on for Reyna.

Ashley Young was getting the ball wide to Jack Harrison resulted in a corner that saw Calvert Lewin shoot narrowly wide after the header from Tarkowski. Young was again on the hot seat as he intercepted a pass to Hudson Odoi but VAR determined that he got enough of the ball. The veteran player was lucky all three times as we've seen those given often.

Jarrad Branthwaite was caught on the back of the ankle and lay in a heap. He was in some discomfort and limped off but he returned after a couple of minutes. Forest continued to push forward and when the ball fell to Gibbs White with Pickford in no mans land it was surprising when he curled the ball wide.

Calvert Lewin was on the ground with the physio helping to keep him on the pitch. Beto was warming up but Calvert Lewin was itching to stay in the match and that wish was granted. Forest were controlling the play and Everton were retreating as the final thirty minutes arrived. Everton had not had a shot on net since their goal which was worrying.

Beto was finally brought on in place of Calvert Lewin as James Garner replaced Gomes who had faded as the match progressed. The tension was building and Everton were attempting to slow the match down. Some nice hold up play by Beto saw Everton gain control of the ball but they were hesitant to attack. The 70th minute arrived and it was Beto who was creating difficulties for Forest.

A nice defensive play by Williams prevented Everton from stretching the lead. Doucoure was given a yellow card for a high boot on Williams. It was another shot from well outside of the box that doubled Everton’s lead. This time it was Dwight McNeil who was given the ball by Doucoure and the shot went through legs and bounced into the net off the post! The Gwladys Street End sucked the ball into the net once again. Goodison Park erupted as McNeil took the accolades for his second goal against Forest this season.

The Spirit of the Blues was being sung proudly as VAR was being checked for a possible handball on Tarkowski but it was turned down again. Forest needed something different so Origi, Ribeiro and Yates being brought on. As the changes were made Everton had a free kick and it was Branthwaite who was creating havoc for Forest.

Play was stopped as Neco Williams crashed into the hoardings and flipped into the front row of the family enclosure. The fourth official raised his board and the number nine was on it so the match had lots of time left for something to happen. Forest were throwing men forward and a challenge between Gibbs White and Beto stopped the play for several minutes after they banged heads. The big man was stretchered off with Chermiti coming on for the final seven minutes.

The stoppage had caused Forest to lose the flow and Everton were happy to continue to thwart their efforts going forward. The Goodison crowd was enjoying their day and the calls for the final whistle were being heard around the ground. Anthony Taylor blew his whistle and a huge victory was ours!

Man of the Match - Idrissa Gana Gueye scored his first goal at Goodison in seven years to give Everton the lead in the match. That was critical but it was his calm control in the middle of the park that was just as critical in the match. He now has two goals in one hundred shots from outside the box. Decent odds?

Jarrad Branthwaite was imperious throughout and is now the leader at the back. Today was a commanding performance but this team needed goals to win and Gueye provided exactly what was needed.

Instant Reaction

From the very start of the match there was trepidation oozing from the blue shirts all over the pitch. The early control that Everton had in the match was being hampered by poor passing in the final third. It was only when Gueye scored the goal did the team settle down. Goals win games but for this team, goals gave confidence and today it was the key to allowing the team to kick on and get the points.

The result on Monday night was the low point of the season for Everton. In the aftermath, Sean Dyche described it as his worst match ever and he said that the players let the fans down by lacking conviction and passion. A response was needed by the players and today that is exactly what they did. Today was a solid team performance from back to front. The result moved Everton four above Forest and more importantly, five above Luton.

Beto came on in the second half and played his best game for quite a while. He held up play, harried the Forest back line and gave his team a chance to organize in the final third. The second goal was scored after Beto’s hold up play forced Forest to scramble and lose their shape. It was unfortunate to see him go down late in the match and we hope for a quick recovery. It was great to see him raise his thumb as he was given a rousing cheer as he was stretchered off the field.

Interesting that Forest were pretty livid about the refereeing decisions that went against them, including publishing this statement right after the final whistle. We've certainly never seen this before, and we're not surprised that it's come to this, the refereeing has been so inconsistent over the last few years.

At least Mark Clattenburg can justify his fees as Forest’s referee consultant. When he was a referee he would never have given any of those penalties.

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