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Thwack! Flap! Bounce, Bounce. Agony.
by Ed Bottomley

Liverpool 1-0 Everton…

Lop off the last few seconds from this match – and don’t we all wish we could – and this was exactly what we’ve all been asking for. A strong performance, going toe to toe with the team second in the league. They have their heavy metal football, but we jumped on stage with them and held our own…

And for a short while, the charming charismatic mask that Klopp wears slipped. No more gleaming white rictus grin. Anger, frustration, swearing and gesticulating at his beloved reds. He was worried. And ultimately he was saved by a goal that was a lighting bolt of luck.

And boy did we have chances. Mina’s before the sun had even risen on the game. Andre Gomes’ header. Theo Walcott’s one on one. We had chances. We made them fight for that point. We played well, defended well, attacked well. Clearly, nerves were present, Bernard meep-meeping at the speed of light, dribbling so fast he fell over. Theo failing to pull the trigger when close to goal. Pickford slashing at the ball. But nerves never took over – bravery was at the wheel throughout. We were commanding, especially in midfield. Andre Gomes actually calmed me down whenever he had the ball, using his thudding strength and balletic feet to sashay past countless reds.

And then came the winner.

Thwack! Flap! Bounce, Bounce. Agony.

For the fifth time in the Premier League they snatched a goal at the death against us. I find it hard to blame anyone for the goal, even Virgil van Dijk turned away in horror at his ballooned shot. And how were we meant to defend that? I still can figure out how it happened… It’s not as if we should have expected Marco Silva, in his pre match rallying cry to throw in a “Oh, and Jordan, watch out for last gasp shanked shots from the edge of the penalty area that trapeze across the crossbar and onto Origi’s head”

Derbies are usually watched through my hands, nails bitten, nerves frayed. And as we entered the Kopite Witching Hour, the 90th minute, I was already flinching every time they touched the ball.

Thwack! Flap! Bounce, Bounce. Agony.

As I sad there on my sofa, kids giving me a wide berth, pooch sitting on my lap, manfully performing the role of therapy dog, but also aware that he was sitting atop an active paranoid football fan volcano – I screamed, to no one in particular, “I knew it!…”

TV switched off in anger. Then TV switched back on in anger. How the hell did that happen? Surely the ball went out? (No) Surely Origi was offside? (No).

We weren’t defeated by the better team, we weren’t steamrollered, or battered into submission begging for the tinnitus from their heavy metal high press to stop. We were defeated by a thwack, a flap, and two bounces. An act of God. The cruelest, flukiest, weirdest crossbar challenge. Unfortunately it seems like God is a Kopite.

Of course, we’d have preferred the right result. But we got more than that, we got the right performance. Playing well, in the sensible non-knee jerk immediate and long term future, is far far more important. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t painful though. 

UTFT.

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @Dixies60

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