Everton vs Crystal Palace match report: Palace take advantage of Tim Howard's mistakes as Neil Warnock punches back

Everton 2 Crystal Palace 3

Click to follow

After he had produced one of the great goalkeeping performances in the history of the World Cup, Tim Howard found himself on the phone to Barack Obama. Now, the mayor of Dry Gulch, Oklahoma, might pass up the chance of a photo opportunity.

On Thursday night Howard had delivered a near-immaculate display in the Europa League as Wolfsburg aimed 24 shots at his goal and found themselves 4-1 losers. Now, Everton were beaten despite enjoying 76 per cent of possession, with Howard at fault for two of Crystal Palace’s goals.

His manager, Roberto Martinez, as he always will, accentuated the positives in Everton’s display but the fact remains that they have now lost twice in succession at Goodison and conceded 11 times in three matches there.

For Neil Warnock and Crystal Palace, this was a third game without defeat and the one that takes them clear of the relegation zone.

Campbell.jpg
Frazier Campbell celebrates scoring for Palace

“It was a strange match,” said Martinez. “They had three shots on target and scored three goals. But we should be able to defend a lot better. It shows that this league is ruthless and we need to be perfect. We were perfect for the first 15 minutes and it was not enough.”

Football is a cruel sport but it is at its most spiteful when you wear a goalkeeper’s jersey as Howard made two calls that were to give Crystal Palace their first win of what  had looked a very unpromising season.

 

Everton were a goal up and cruising, perhaps a little too serenely, when Sylvain Distin and John Stones attempted to shepherd the ball back to their keeper from James McArthur. Howard came to collect it and succeeded only in bundling the Palace midfielder over. There was no question of a red card but the penalty, converted emphatically by Mile Jedinak, was an inevitability.

Lukaku.jpg
Lukaku wheels away after putting Everton in front

Martinez pointed out that the move had begun with a long, downfield punt from Julian Speroni “which we should have dealt with easily”. He added that, mentally, Everton took far too long to recover from it.

And yet, it was a moment that appeared would not disturb the rhythm of the game which Everton, who had gone ahead when Leon Osman slipped Romelu Lukaku through, were dictating comfortably.

However, nine minutes after the interval Howard went up with Fraizer Campbell to take a routine cross and saw the ball strike the forward’s shoulder and loop into the net, defying Phil Jagielka’s attempt to scoop it clear.

The third, killer goal was also the result of an error but this time it was Osman’s mistake, not Howard’s. The veteran midfielder allowed himself to be dispossessed by Jason Puncheon, who excelled up against Leighton Baines, and now drove forward before producing a diagonal pass for Yannick Bolasie.

Warnock remarked that what he liked about the Frenchman was the certainty that you were never quite certain what he would do next. Some of the Everton back four are still wondering.

In the first half his shot, deflected off Stones’ boot, had struck the intersection of bar and post. This time there was no argument.

Warnock.jpg
Palace's win was their first under Warnock

Suddenly, shockingly, Everton found themselves 3-1 down. They threw themselves forward to the extent that, by the end, Martinez had two specialist defenders left on the pitch.

Scott Dann, at the heart of the Crystal Palace defence, endured a torrid time as Goodison Park roused itself into a frenzy. First, he almost put the ball past his own keeper and then he brought down James McCarthy. Baines experienced as little difficulty converting the penalty as Jedinak had done.

In April, Crystal Palace, managed by Tony Pulis, who seemed as if he would be at the helm at Selhurst Park for years to come, had four minutes to hold out when leading 3-2 at Goodison. Now there were seven and it seemed Everton must break through.

“I was apprehensive, to say the least, when the fourth official held up six minutes of stoppage time,” Warnock smiled. “But Anthony Taylor went through every stoppage there had been with me so I had to accept it.”

By the end, however, Warnock was not so much pointing to his watch, as punching it. Then, when the whistle blew, it was the air that felt the pounding of his fists.

Comments