A late Demarai Gray equaliser rescued a crucial point for hobbling Everton against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.
Everton and Nottingham Forest battled to a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon, with two goals in the closing ten minutes providing a dramatic end to an otherwise dull affair, as the Toffees’ winless start to the new Premier League campaign continued.
The visitors had to weather a storm in the opening quarter of an hour, with Everton taking a flurry of shots buoyed by the boisterous home support. Forest goalkeeper Dean Henderson made two excellent saves in quick succession as the 15-minute mark approached. The Manchester United loanee saved a well-hit shot from Anthony Gordon and then denied Demarai Gray as the hosts piled on the pressure.
However, they lacked the sharpness in front of the goal, with Gordon, Salomon Rondon, and Tom Davies all missing golden opportunities. While the away side found themselves on the back foot, they grew into the game and began to threaten, and enjoyed a good spell midway through the second half.
Forest broke the deadlock through Brennan Johnson in the 81st minute, when Jordan Pickford’s wild parry from Ryan Yates’ 25-yard attempt fell kindly at the youngster’s feet who made no mistake to put his side ahead in the contest with a precise finish.
The match looked to be heading for a Forest win, which would have made it back-to-back victories for the newly-promoted side. However, Everton winger, Gray had other plans, as he latched onto a Pickford’s raking long ball in behind Forest’s high line before confidently dispatching it behind the on-rushing Henderson to clinch a deserved point for the hosts.
The Toffees supporters are in for a long season, with an early relegation fight at Goodison Park on the horizon, as the Merseysiders currently find themselves languishing in 16th place with only one point after three games. They desperately need more bodies through the door in the market, especially in the attacking department. The Hard Tackle will run the rule over Frank Lampard’s men after a profligate showing at Goodison Park.
Jordan Pickford: 6/10
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 20, 2022
Pickford was the less busy of the two goalkeepers on the pitch, as Nottingham Forest only threatened in fits and starts. And while he was partly to blame for the visitors’ only goal by parrying Ryan Yates’ strike into incoming Johnson’s path, the Everton goalkeeper made amends with a beautiful long ball over the top, bagging himself an unlikely assist for Gray’s goal.
Other than that, he stood tall to make three saves in the game from inside the box and was a composing presence in between the sticks.
James Tarkowski: 6/10
The former Burnley man was asked to make some important tackles and blocks in the first half and was not afraid of winning the ball aggressively. The 29-year-old was a bit shabby when it came to passing, but he made up for it through his defensive presence, although his blunder that resulted in Taiwo Awoniyi taking a shot could have cost the Toffees dearly on another day.
Conor Coady: 7/10
Conor Coady started in the back three and was alert and ready to cope with dangerous situations. Forest rarely troubled the Toffees’ goal in the first half, but as the visitors started to pose more of a threat, he was called on to do some more defensive work and looked reasonably comfortable.
He maintained his alertness throughout and finished with a game-high three blocks and six clearances. An excellent reader of the game, he also made several forward forays out-wide late on when Everton camped outside Forest’s box in search of a winner.
Mason Holgate: 6.5/10
The English defender was solid enough for most parts of the game, making several crucial clearances and being quick to put his foot through to nip the ball and shut off the channels. The presence of experienced defenders like Tarkowski and Coady around him has really helped Holgate keep his composure and remain watchful, while his passing from the back is a key element to Lampard’s side’s transitional play.
Vitaliy Mykolenko: 6/10
Mykolenko started very brightly as he was joining the attack quite frequently, causing Neco Williams all sorts of problems and nearly won his team a penalty. However, that impact waned slightly in the second period, but he certainly looked more at home in that wing-back spot than in the full-back position. Still, the Ukrainian needs to provide a bigger threat down the left flank.
Alex Iwobi: 9/10
Alex Iwobi’s game by numbers vs Nottingham Forest:
100% tackles won
79% pass accuracy
5/6 ground duels won
4 key passes
2/3 successful dribbles
Enjoying life in the middle of the park. 🔵 pic.twitter.com/3KHTshBxC5
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 20, 2022
Iwobi was brilliant and made numerous selfless contributions in his new, transformational central midfield role. He was ever-present, pressing and drawing mistakes and fouls from Forest players. Defensively, the Nigerian was a workhorse, putting in the hard yards and working his socks off.
He was supporting his fellow defenders while also driving forwards with intent and releasing the wide men. He was Everton’s best player on the pitch by miles and nearly won the game with a late long-range attempt that brushed over the top of the crossbar.
Tom Davies: 7/10
He really should have put Everton ahead inside three minutes after finding himself in acres of space, unmarked from a free kick, but he just could not make a connection to provide the finishing touch.
However, that should not take away from the fact that it was a strong performance from the midfielder, who looked eager to drive forward with the ball at every opportunity and had an attempt inches wide of the target. The 24-year-old also had a few other half-chances in what was a positive showing from the Toffees academy graduate.
Nathan Patterson: 7/10
Patterson started his third successive top-flight game and the Scotsman put on another fine display as he is proving to be a shrewd piece of business for Everton. Defensively, Patterson was sharp to intercept a number of dangerous passes, making crucial interceptions, and winning the ball back. He was also bold with his marauding forward runs. However, like Mykolenko, his influence waned as the game progressed, and he couldn’t make much of an impact in the second period.
Anthony Gordon: 6.5/10
Starting in his favoured wing position, Gordon began in a strong fashion and had an immediate impact, putting Henderson to the test on many occasions in the first half. However, at times, it felt like he was overdoing things, taking a touch too many, and scuffling his shots despite getting into promising positions. Still, he was the hosts’ most potent attacking threat, and he got a match-high five shots on target.
Salomon Rondon: 5/10
The towering striker started his first game of the new season, seeking to be the target-man who can be the focal point of the attack. He definitely has the ability to hold the ball up and execute smart passes, giving Everton a base to build on.
However, he was unable to muster enough scoring opportunities to really get himself on the scoresheet and was largely feeding off the scraps. He was also slowing down attacks at times, and the Venezuelan appeared fatigued before being taken off.
Demarai Gray: 8/10
— 𝘛𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘓𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 (@ThreeLions__) August 20, 2022
Demarai Gray was quick and dangerous, willing to run at the opposition defence whenever the opportunity arose. He appeared vibrant and was a constant threat from the flanks. Made an intelligent run to get in behind Forest’s high defensive line and followed it up with a sublime ice-cold finish to salvage a late point for the Toffees.
Dwight McNeil: 6/10
In what was a smart tactical change by Lampard, McNeil replaced Rondon, taking off the sole striker on the field due to fatigue. He stretched Forest’s susceptible defence with sharp runs in behind, but could not create anything meaningful due to a lack of support.
Amadou Onana: 5/10
Amadou Onana was subbed on for Davies in the 57th minute, but he could not impose himself on the game, and at times, looked out of place. The former Lille starlet went into the book for a poor tackle and played the rest of the game on a tightrope.