All Dwight! McNeil stars at both ends to secure another narrow win for Everton

The winger proved effective at both ends of the pitch, as his third of the season was accompanied by a second-half goal clearance, as they recorded a third one-goal win in four home games.

McNeil’s goal was Everton’s earliest winning goal in the ground’s 131-year history.

Dyche had spoken on Thursday about having to have better game management and a “relentless mentality.”

That was definitely necessary in the next 90 minutes as the Bees besieged the Everton goal as they looked to keep alive their unbeaten run in the league, dating back to October.

Brentford’s 14-match unbeaten run in the top flight, established in 1936, also ended with Everton at Goodison Park and while this could not be deemed convincing by the hosts, getting points on the board is their priority.

The Toffees came into the game with 22 points from 26 games, the same as last season when they won five of their last 12 league games to escape relegation in their penultimate game.

Expectations are that the bar will not be set as high as the 36 points needed to survive last season, but this was an important step towards that as the club had slipped to the next bottom before kick-off after Bournemouth’s win. over Liverpool at lunchtime.

Goodison reintroduced the pre-match siren for Z-Cars, absent since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine regarding their Ukrainian left-back Vitalii Mykolenko, to give the crowd a boost, but it had an equally stimulating effect on the team. he took the lead within the first minute.

Winger Demarai Gray, retained as the nominal centre-forward, was released down the right and fed the ball inside to Abdoulaye Doucoure for McNeil to score his first goal since October.

Both goalkeepers had unconvincing first halves, but the Bees’ David Raya was the more shaky of the two as he went for Gray’s dangled free-kick only to be bested by centre-back Michael Keane whose header strayed painfully wide from an empty net.

As Raya deflected Alex Iwobi’s cross, Amadou Onana volleyed in, though he later redeemed himself by deflecting Gray’s shot from behind to the near post and then sticking out his leg for a reflex save of Iwobi’s shot on the twist from the resulting corner.

They were probably as dominant as Everton had been since a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace in October, with midfielder Doucoure finding plenty of space between the lines and direct running from Gray and McNeil causing numerous problems for the visitors.

However, the hosts finished the half still with a slim margin after Gray had a goal disallowed when Ethan Pinnock’s clearance was ruled by VAR to have come off the striker’s arm before coming on from close range when evidence from the video seemed inconclusive at best.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, watched by England manager Gareth Southgate, had loosened a Bryan Mbeumo shot and incompletely knocked Ivan Toney’s shot before half-time, but did well to block Rico’s downward header Henry with his legs early in the second half, just before Seamus Coleman launched. he headed a cross over his own crossbar.

A deflected free kick from Toney produced a corner, from which McNeil cleared Pinnock’s effort off the line when Doucoure, who had been so good in attack, was briefly asked to sit in front of the back four before for Tom Davies to replace Onana.

Brentford substitute Kevin Schade, who Everton were interested in signing in January, headed wide as Goodison’s anxiety levels rose as the visitors pushed for an equaliser, but the hosts held on to move up to 15th.


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