“Back once again for the renegade master, D4 damager, power to the people….”
If there’s one fixture I fucking despise, it’s the annual trip to Shelbyville. You know exactly what you’re in for. Half and half scarves, that dirge from Carousel, some overly elaborate rendition of their latest banter filled ditty, a resolute defensive performance inevitably undone after 15 minutes by some piss poor mistake and/or a wonder goal from their latest flavour of the month and the associated collapse that follows, sure as a phone call from chez Allardyce to Dyno-Rod follows a lamb Madras and Bombay potatoes.
I’m thirty two now, and I think I’ve seen us win twice there. I’m well versed now in the pointlessness of expecting anything from a trip to the Tin Mine. It’s a chore to be gotten over with and forgotten as soon as possible afterwards. Much like whatever Dyno-Rod engineer gets assigned the Allardyce gig. Occasionally though, a slight chunk of light appears through the gloom and we manage to take something remotely positive from our trip, and this was to be one of those minor miracles.
Allardyce made one change from last week’s Huddersfield game if you ignore the Renford Rejects side that was sent to Cyprus midweek, with Niasse replacing Lennon. From the outset, it was quite clear that steadfast defence was the order of the day. Time after time, red shirts flooded forward, played nice looking passes around the box before a blue shirt stepped in to hack the ball forward without any sign of a shot in anger. No sooner had the ball cleared half way then it came back at pace. More nice passes. Another hacked clearance. Rinse and repeat. So it went on until just before the half. Salah picked the ball up towards the corner of the box, shrugged off the timid challenge of Martina and curled a sumptuous left footer beyond Pickford. Shite.
Allardyce made two changes at half time, withdrawing the ineffectual Niasse and the frankly awful Davies, and sending on Lennon to provide width and Schneiderlin to provide, well, something. If you figure out what, do let me know. The second half proceeded in much the same manner, Salah terrorising Martina repeatedly, Everton unable to clear their lines, fouls being given one way yet not the other. Despite the pressure, there was never really a moment where you thought they’d score again and as long as the deficit was at one, there was always a chance.
As a rule, we don’t get penalties at Anfield. Before today we’ve had one since the war. We certainly don’t get soft penalties so when Calvert-Lewin went down under minimal contact from the blundering Lovren, no one expected the referee to point to the spot. In fact, when the whistle went I fully expected a yellow card for “deceiving the match official” as the latest buzzword describes it. Penalty it was though and Wayne Rooney stepped up in his first Merseyside Derby in almost 14 years and leathered fuck out of it, straight down the middle and into the roof of the net. Fucking have that.
Be honest, you all expected a late heartbreak but one didn’t come, the closest to a winner they got was when Henderson got the ball 20 yards out, screamed GERRARD in his head and leathered the ball thirty yards over hand half way down Walton Breck Road. Full time. Not a particularly appetising feast of football but it tasted delicious nonetheless, especially after Big Yerg’s head fell clean off in his post match interview. BOOM or something equally wacky and outrageous, oh isn’t he a character? Fucking knobhead. Anyway, unbeaten still under Gravy Sam and a man of the match performance from Jonjoe Kenny who kept the normally dangerous Mané under tight wraps all game.
They’ll try and belittle you for being made up with a point there. Laugh in their fucking faces, it’ll drive them mad. Up the fucking Toffees.