Everton fell to a bitterly disappointing 3-1 defeat against Fulham on Saturday afternoon at Goodison Park.
Despite a bright start, it was the away side who broke the deadlock through Harrison Reed just after 20 minutes. Everton were initially undeterred, though, and drew level less than ten minutes later as Dwight McNeil drilled a fine strike into the bottom corner of the Fulham net.
Everton pilled on the pressure chasing the lead but found themselves again behind early into the second half when Harry Wilson got himself free in the penalty area to meet a cutback and fire past Jordan Pickford. The away side sealed the win through Daniel James with a little over 20 minutes remaining.
Dyche made three changes from the side that lined up at Old Trafford last week. Both James Garner and Neal Maupay came into the side in place of Amadou Onana and Seamus Coleman who are unavailable through injury.
Vitalii Mykolenko also retained his place in the team after his solid cameo at Old Trafford.
A hostile and thunderous Goodison Park greeted the players as they walked out onto the pitch with Z-cars booming in the background.
The Old Lady fell briefly silent to impeccably pay respect to the 97 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, before busting back into life on kick-off.
Everton’s start was equal to the intensity in the stands, and it wasn’t long before the Blues generated their first effort on goal.
With five minutes of the clock, some great pressing from Garner forced a turnover deep inside the Fulham half. Gray latched onto the loose ball before driving into the box and striking a shot low and hard, goalkeeper Bernd Leno got down well to match it.
The hosts continued to pile on early pressure but struggled to convert it to meaningful chances on goal.
Fulham rode out that turbulent start and began to enjoy a spell of pressure of their own. They made that dominate spell count in the 22nd minute. Harry Wilson struck a low shot that bounced off the post and into the path of Harrison Reed who calmly slotted past Pickford to put the away team ahead.
The Blues regrouped and nearly drew level nine minutes later. James Tarkowski met a deep free-kick into the Fulham box, his knockdown fell into the path of Maupay who did well to direct his header goalwards, but Leno pulled off a fine save to keep the game level. Tarkowski blazed a follow-up effort over the bar seconds later, but it wouldn’t have counted as the flag went up for offside.
Still, it was signs of the Toffees attacking threat growing in the match and two minutes later they were level.
Idrissa Gana Gueye made a great tackle in the middle of the pitch. Garner collected the loose ball and fed a clever pass into the path of McNeil who drove towards the Fulham box before striking a vicious effort into the bottom corner of Leno’s net.
In the ascendance, Everton nearly took the lead five minutes before the break. An excellent one-two combination between McNeil and Maupay put the Frenchman one-against-one with Leno. However, the German continued his fine form in the game by pulling off an excellent save to keep the game level.
It was all the Blues in the dying minutes of the half. Fulham struggled to get out their own half and Gray was next to go closest to handing the hosts a deserved lead. He poked a foot at a low Godfrey cross and his effort had Leno beat but whisked just wide of the post.
The half-time break didn’t dampen Everton’s momentum and they started the second half very much in the same manner they began the first.
A cross turned shot from McNeil just three minutes after the restart had Leno scrambling as it bounced off the upright and fortuitously for the away side away from danger.
Then, massively against the run of play, Fulham broke and swung a cross deep from the right into the Everton box. Willian knocked it back across goal where Wilson was free to fire past Pickford and restore Fulham’s lead.
Godfrey was forced to leave the field shortly after due to a potential concussion and was replaced by Nathan Patterson to make his first appearance since returning from injury.
The goal flipped the momentum of the game on its head and the away team visibly grew in confidence. Then, with 25 minutes remaining Fulham extended their lead as Dan James took control of a lofted ball into the box before sliding under the onrushing Pickford.
Everton regrouped and kept pushing to find a response. Iwobi saw a shot from distance tipped around the post before Dyche introduced Simms for Maupay as he tried to add more firepower to the attack.
Davies also joined the action in place of Gana as the Blues kept pushing to reduce the deficit, yet, Leno’s goal remained largely untroubled in the closing moments of the match.