Dominant Blues Draw With Sion

Everton’s preparations for the new Premier League season continued with a competitive goalless draw with FC Sion in Switzerland.

The Blues’ second friendly of the summer was an opportunity for eight senior players to get their first match action since returning to the squad.

Seamus Coleman, Jordan Pickford, Kevin Mirallas, Michael Keane, Lucas Digne, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Bernard and James McCarthy all played at least 45 minutes against a side that finished eighth in the Swiss top division last season.

Goalscoring chances were limited throughout, with the closest for Everton being a Keane header ruled out for offside and two late Sigurdsson strikes which struck the bar and post.

The glorious setting of Le Chable, tucked away deep in the Swiss Alps, was the venue for this latest pre-season friendly.

There was a strong turnout from the locals, with opponents Sion based just 30 miles away. Evertonians, too, had travelled to support their team, with a number of blue banners and flags decorating the perimeter of this small but picturesque ground.

Everton began well and had the ball in the net after just 15 minutes, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. A Baines free-kick - won by the busy Nathan Broadhead - was converted by Keane, who was adjudged to have strayed beyond the defence before planting a header inside the post.

Joe Williams, a scorer in Nairobi last week, started on the right wing but his afternoon was cut short after half an hour when he appeared to injure himself in an attempted tackle. It meant an early introduction for Coleman, a substitution which saw Kevin Mirallas move forward from full-back.

There was little in the way of goalscoring chances for either team in the first half, but the midfield axis of Andre Gomes and Morgan Schneiderlin was particularly influential in moving play quickly, as the Toffees looked to shift and manoeuvre the ball against their Swiss opponents.

Gomes had a long-range attempt deflected over which, apart from Keane’s disallowed header, was the closest the Blues came to scoring prior to half-time. Likewise, there was little that Jonas Lossl had to do, apart from remain watchful when Sion’s powerful attacker Patrick Luan hit a low shot into the side-netting.

As expected at this stage of pre-season, Marco Silva switched a number of players for the start of the second half - Pickford, Bernard, Digne, Sigurdsson and McCarthy all came on for their first pre-season minutes. 

After the resumption, there were two early chances for Everton, as Oumar Niasse fired over from a promising position and Bernard forced a low save from Sion goalkeeper Anton Mitryushkin.

More Everton substitutions followed as the second half progressed. Youngsters Fraser Hornby and Dennis Adeniran were given 30 minutes to impress, replacing Niasse and Gomes in attack and midfield respectively.Everton continued to push forward for a breakthrough and it nearly arrived a quarter of an hour from time when Sigurdsson took aim from outside the box and struck the frame of the goal.

The Icelander then had another attempt late on, linking up with Bernard, before this time grazing the post.

Goalless it finished but another productive workout for the Blues, four weeks before the Premier League opener at Selhurst Park. The Toffees will be back at Le Chable again on Friday, stepping up their conditioning with an attractive contest against French heavyweights AS Monaco.

Everton team first half: Lossl, Baines, Holgate, Keane, Mirallas, Broadhead, Gomes, Williams (Coleman 30), Schneiderlin, Davies, Niasse.

Everton team second half: Pickford, Digne, Holgate, Gibson, Coleman (Connolly 80), Gomes (Adeniran 60), Niasse (Hornby 60), Sigurdsson, McCarthy, Broadhead, Bernard.