McNeil and Coady off the mark for the toffees as Everton win second league game in a row.
Everton were on the road this weekend for a match against Southampton on the south coast following a 1-0 victory against West Ham. Frank Lampard made two changes to the side that won at Goodison Park, introducing Dwight McNeil into the side for Anthony Gordon and Seamus Coleman getting his first start of the season in place of an injured Nathan Patterson.
It was a match that saw a heated intensity from Everton in the first half, with the 4-3-3 showing industry in attack while looking solid in shape in defense. The eighth minute saw Demarai Gray fire just wide of the post on a free kick just on the edge of the box, and 14 minutes later he fed a ball into the box for Conor Coady who had an effort stopped at close range by the Southampton goalkeeper.
Dwight McNeil looked lively in the first half and his intensity was a bright spark in the first half for the blues, with Iwobi driving the midfield forward to attempt to provide menacing opportunities for the front three. Right before halftime Southampton would enjoy a spell of pressure, testing Jordan Pickford via a strike from Stuart Armstrong, but Everton stood firm. Despite being on top for a majority of the half and enjoying the better chances, the match went into half-time level at 0-0.
In a fashion all Everton supporters have experienced, the toffees conceded right after halftime following a first half they were in control of. Joe Aribo had acres of space and hours of time to collect and fire a driven strike that went through the legs of Jordan Pickford to put the hosts up 1-0. The defending was poor from visitors and suddenly Lampard and company had quite a bit of work to do.
However, in living the mentality that Frank has demanded from the side, Everton struck back moments later. Demarai Gray whipped in a menacing free kick that Onana met well to head down, and Conor Coady smashed his strike past the Southampton keeper and into the net to level the match.
It was dreamland for the blues only two minutes after the first goal, as Alex Iwobi hit a brilliant cross in that found Dwight McNeil who finished with aplomb for his first Everton goal to perhaps find some confidence and quiet the worries of Everton supporters. It looked like Demarai Gray would get a well deserved goal in the 70th minute as McNeil played him through on goal but his shot wasn’t strong enough to beat the Southampton keeper.
Jordan Pickford made a big save in the 72nd minute to deny Armstrong a goal, and Lampard soon after made his first changes bringing on Gordon and Davies for McNeil and Onana. Rondon and Doucoure would eventually come on in place of Maupay and Gray, while the visitors attempted to see the match out. Southampton would get a big chance in the 95th minute, leaving Everton hearts in mouths, but the close range effort was mishit well over and the visitors escaped with a 1-2 victory and their second league win in a row.
The midfield three was once again sound today, and Seamus Coleman did well to step in for Nathan Patterson. Dwight McNeil and Demarai Gray will be very pleased with industrious performances that had large impacts on the match, with McNeil finally getting off the mark for the blues. Despite a lazily conceded goal, the backline and Pickford were generally sound in the match with Coady scoring a goal on the other end and Pickford making several key saves in the match.
It was a match that embodies the resilient spirit that Everton seems to be taking on more and more as the time under Frank Lampard moves along, and the win should give the blues confidence ahead of a big match at Goodison Park at the weekend against Manchester United.