Ian Hart: Everton draw felt like a defeat

Glenn Murray in action against Everton on Sunday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Glenn Murray in action against Everton on Sunday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Hopefully come the final whistle at Anfield in May, the two points Albion effectively dropped on Sunday after Wayne Rooney’s last-gasp penalty equaliser for Everton won’t have extra significance on the final Premier League table.

Then again, many have rightly pointed out down the years, you don’t go down on the last day, or for any individual game of the 38. Relegation is all about consistency, or unfortunately when in the final bottom three, lack of it.

Sunday did initially feel like a defeat, so close to all three points, until Bruno’s moment of madness, although to be fair while Izzy Brown could have sealed it a couple of minutes before, on the flip side all those fans who were deriding Maty Ryan earlier in the season were eating their words after a great performance from the Albion keeper.

Eight points from eight games does leave me with a feeling of “what might have been?”, those extra four points arguably ‘dropped’ against Watford and Everton respectively would give the league a far better look. But my ‘top flight glass’ is still very much half full rather than half empty.

The visit to the Olympic Stadium for the fixture against West Ham United throws a real possibility of the first ever Premier League win on the road for the Albion.

Clearly that comes with a caveat, as previously stated in this column I can to a degree understand why Chris Hughton will set up in a certain way against the top sides. But with all due respect to my Hammers supporting friends, West Ham are not a top side, on current form and almost a quarter of the season gone they are in Albion’s seven-nine club ‘mini league’ and therefore Friday is a big part in the journey towards Premier League survival.

In the modern game a lone striker, with the necessary support from midfield, is a proven tactic. However the striker must have the pre-requisite pace for that level, many are already questioning if either Tomer Hemed or Glenn Murray have the legs to fill this role consistently.

In my opinion as far as Hemed is concerned, the jury is back and the verdict’s not the one we really want to hear. Murray, however, with a previously proven Premier League pedigree, needs more game time before anyone can seriously write him off. His Everton performance was in all honesty under par but now close to returning to peak fitness and condition, West Ham could be the one where he produces evidence of his top-flight credentials.

Prediction time, with or without my blue and white tinted spectacles, I still think an attack-minded Albion will have too much for a still under-par West Ham and come away with a 2-1 victory, with Murray on target!

Worthing FC’s eagerly-awaited return to Woodside Road on Saturday saw an amazing 855 attendance – the third largest in the whole league for the season so far.

Off the field, I feel I have to mention yet another amazing gesture from George Dowell, who bought every season ticket holder a drink, as a thank-you for their continued support during these difficult times for the club. Unfortunately a thrilling 3-3 encounter with Met Police didn’t quite provide the first victory of the season. Hopefully with what they saw, the vast majority of the crowd will return this Saturday for the visit of Hendon.

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