Sam Allardyce drew some solace from the way his Everton side hit back to earn a Premier League draw with West Bromwich Albion – but admitted the Blues’ performance merited no more than the point they earned.
Substitute Oumar Niasse’s conclusive close-range volley hauled Everton level with 20 minutes to play, after Jay Rodriguez had stunned Goodison Park on seven minutes by racing onto a through ball from Grzegorz Krychowiak and finishing beyond goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Niasse converted a Theo Walcott header across goal – just 57 seconds after he replaced home debutant Cenk Tosun – to end a run of three straight top-flight defeats for the Toffees.
The biggest blow of the afternoon came with the sight of James McCarthy being carried off on a stretcher in the second-half after suffering a suspected double leg fracture in a challenge with the blameless Salomon Rondon.
Allardyce praised his side’s “resilience” but conceded the Toffees' performance slipped below the standards he demands.
“The only positive thing I can say to the Everton fans is Oumar snatched a point for us and it stopped the run of three defeats in a row,” the boss told evertontv.
“We have picked up a point from 1-0 down, which showed our resilience. We are one of the best teams at picking up points from losing positions, which is a positive.
“But the performance was not very good to watch. We were all disappointed for two reasons in the end – the performance and James’ injury.
"I was not very happy with what I was seeing [prior to sending on Niasse] and neither were the supporters. We had to do something to change the way we were playing and, in the end, that change got us a very precious point.
"The header from Theo and the finish was the best piece of skill we showed all afternoon.
“I do not think we deserved any more than a point. Certainly, the performance was well under par from what we expected today but that is something for us to sort out and the players to take a bit more responsibility over.”
Walcott figured prominently in the build up to Niasse’s goal. The attacker, who enjoyed a promising first outing for the Club and also tested Albion 'keeper Ben Foster with a crisp second-half strike, sent over one of a series of menacing crosses from the right.
The ball was partially cleared, with Yannick Bolasie keeping play alive and feeding fellow substitute Wayne Rooney. He measured a perfect pass onto the head of Walcott, who fed the advancing Niasse to rifle high into the net.
Allardyce confessed he had no hesitation thrusting England international Walcott straight into the fray three days after his move from Arsenal.
But the manager could not hide his frustration at the way Everton fell behind early in the piece – and promised he will be working tirelessly on the training ground to iron out the lapses currently afflicting his team.
“Systems mean nothing if the players, individually and collectively, do not play to their best," said Allardyce. "The way we played, the system would not have made any difference because individuals did not perform to their best.
“It shows the lack of confidence that slips in to the team when they lose games and it is up to me to make that confidence and resilience much better so, mentally, they can handle those situations in the future.
“The players are losing responsibility at the moment and I keep reminding them – and I will continue to remind them – how they have got to get the basics right.
"That is what we are not doing at the moment. We got that side of it right when I first took over and the fruit of that was nicking results and winning football matches, then confidence improved.
"If I had any doubt about playing Theo it would have possibly been about not leaving him on for the 90 minutes, because there is a mental and emotional drain that comes with the long negotiations and the decision to leave a club you have been at for 12 years.
“He looked fine. He came out with the one bit of individual quality that we showed today, which was the volley that forced Foster into making a save and then, of course, the header back across goal for the equaliser. In fairness to Oumar, it was a really good finish as well.
“But we did not do much more than get a point today. It has stopped the run of defeats but it was not very pretty and, of course, for me it was very, very disappointing.”