Tom Davies was “very proud” to get on the scoresheet for Everton against Crystal Palace on Saturday – and the midfielder admitted that blasting home in front of the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End made his strike feel “extra special”.
Teenager Davies emphatically converted a cut back from Gylfi Sigurdsson with 15 minutes to play as the Toffees defeated Roy Hodgson’s Palace 3-1 to move within touching distance of Burnley and Leicester City, the teams in seventh and eighth respectively.
The result ensured Everton bounced back at the first time of asking following the 5-1 loss at Arsenal seven days earlier. Moreover, the Toffees are now unbeaten in three matches at Goodison Park and have collected 17 points from the 24 available on their own patch since Sam Allardyce watched on as the Blues beat West Ham United 4-0 in November.
Davies, for his part, has now started successive home fixtures after delivering an energetic display in the 2-1 success over Leicester City 11 days ago – and the 19-year-old is eager to establish a regular spot in Allardyce’s side.
He is one of 13 stars aged 21 or under to have featured for Everton in manager Allardyce's 15 matches at the helm.
“It was a great win for us and I am very proud to get my first goal of the season,” said Davies, who operated in advance of fellow midfielders Wayne Rooney and Idrissa Gana Gueye against both Leicester and Palace.
“It is always good to score – but doing it in front of the Gwldays Street was extra special.
“Gylfi did well and I have a lot to thank him for. I hung back and the ball fell nicely for me, so I could not miss that one.
“I am starting to feel I can cement a place in the team and have been progressing in the past few games.
“That position is where I like to play, and those two [Rooney and Gueye] allow me to get forward and do what I do. It is really helpful for my game and I think the three of us work well together.
“For me to get into the team, and to be playing and scoring here, is an unbelievable feeling. It is hard to put it into words.”
Sigurdsson drilled home a 20-yard effort, with the aid of a deflection off Palace defender James Tomkins, to give Everton the advantage over Hodgson's men within 60 seconds of the restart.
Oumar Niasse powered a terrific header past Eagles goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey on 51 minutes to put the Blues in complete control. And despite rangy Serb midfielder Luka Milivojevic smashing in a penalty after Davies' third for the home team, Everton comfortably saw out the game to claim the three points which saw them leapfrog Bournemouth into ninth – at least until the Cherries take on Huddersfield Town at midday on Sunday.
Perhaps more relevant is that the Toffees are only two points adrift of Burnley in seventh and have opened up a healthy nine-point gap to Stoke City down in 18th.
Davies, then, is understandably determined to fix his sights on the teams immediately above the Blues in the table and has designs on matching last term’s seventh-place finish.
He accepts, though, that Everton must hit on a way to replicate their Goodison form when they are playing away from home comforts – starting with the trip to Watford in a fortnight.
“We definitely feel more confidence in front of our own fans and need to take that mentality and attitude into our away games – then we will get some more results,” said Davies, who has featured 23 times in the Premier League for the Blues this season.
“We need a few more results but we definitely want to be looking up, rather than thinking about what is behind us. We will aim to finish as high as we can.
“It was a tight first half against Palace – they are a good side and quite direct. We struggled to get into the positions where we could hurt them. But scoring the goal straight after half-time opened up the game a bit more and we became a lot more fluent.
“It was vital to win, we were not good last week. But our home form has been good and to come back and do that was brilliant. We were glad we could put on a performance for the Everton fans.
“We are disappointed we did not get the clean sheet, but a win is a win and we are all buzzing.”