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Sunderland AFC v everton (a)...
LINES FROM LONDON: EXILES BLOG

I was watching the highlights of the Everton v Bournemouth match yesterday and I rather wish I hadn’t as Lukaku was in devastating form and if our back four perform like they did against Southampton, we could well be in for another thumping this afternoon. Mind you, I was chatting to an Everton fan on Tuesday night and he said they really blow hot and cold so let’s hope they have a cold day. I was very pleased to find out that Pickford is in contention for a game today and we need him. Vito has had some good games but he’s also made a number of costly mistakes. I’m in Liverpool staying at the house of my Liverpool-supporting mate and we’re off to Goodison soon but there’s only one problem – the tickets I applied for hadn’t arrived by the time I left home yesterday and I’ve heard nothing about what’s happening with them. It looks like I’ll have to throw myself at the mercies of the ticket office at Goodison. If I don’t manage to get in, we’ll find a nearby pub that’ll be screening it. There’s been a lot of goodwill between the Everton fans and ours through the Bradley Lowery appeal and I expect that’ll continue today. I don’t feel at all optimistic about our chances so my match prediction is a 3-1 defeat.

I got to the ground early to try and sort the tickets out but despite the very helpful staff spending twenty-five minutes assisting me, in the end I had to buy two new ones. After a decent bag of chips we had no time for a bev so I had the unusual experience of going to a match in Liverpool without being half-sozzled.

We were in our seats ten minutes before kick-off and discovered that Pickford was starting. Gibson was starting too and when his name was announced he got a lot of applause from the home fans. There was plenty of applause too for Bradley Lowery from both sets of fans. Everton pummelled us for the first fifteen minutes or so but we managed to survive five corners and two free-kicks in dangerous positions. Having weathered that storm we started to put our game together and for the rest of the half we held our own. Pickford made a good stop after twenty minutes saving a low Gueye shot at the second attempt just before it went over the line. We were tackling well, particularly Ndong, but Gibson picked up a yellow card for a really stupid tackle ten minutes before the break. I was beginning to think we’d make it to half-time without conceding but then a long pass over to the Everton right found Coleman ahead of Oviedo and when he crossed into the box, Gueye slammed the ball past Pickford giving him no chance. The Everton fans finally woke up. Davies hit the bar with a good shot but we cleared it and went in 1-0 down.

When we kicked off again we came out fighting and won a couple of corners while putting on our most consistent pressure so far. There were a few appeals for handball in the box during this spell but the ref wasn’t at all interested. Sadly that was pretty much it as far as our attacking was concerned as Everton gradually took over. With their accurate passing, better ball skills and considerable pace they looked much more likely to get another goal. We made some good moves as far as the half-way line but on a number of occasions we messed things up when we got into their half through wayward passes and giving the ball away. Pickford kept us in the game with several impressive saves and then with twelve minutes to go we produced our best shot on goal, a Defoe shot that came back off the underside of the bar and hovered horribly out of touch of our other players for a while before finally going for a corner. Before the corner was taken we made two long-overdue substitutions, taking off Borini and Gibson for Khazri and Honeyman. Almost at once we were 2-0 down when Everton broke very quickly down the right with Lukaku storming beyond Oviedo to shoot low past Pickford. A lot of our fans left pronto but we stayed till the end. We brought Manquillo on for Jones right on time for some reason and I wasn’t too happy about four minutes of stoppage-time being announced as I could see us conceding again. About half of our fans had gone by the end but there was a chant of “There’s only one Bradley Lowery” just before the whistle went.

Another, predictable defeat. See you at the Man City match.

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