Albion went in search of their first home victory of the season against Everton in front of the TV cameras. Luckly for viewers, Albion’s second-half horror show was broadcast after 9pm.
Tony Pulis made one enforced change to the team that beat Aston Villa last time out in the league – Gareth McAuley’s calf gave Jonas Olsson a start alongside Jonny Evans.
The change didn’t interrupt the Baggies too much as Albion started on the front foot. Morrison and Fletcher were dominating the midfield with Yacob doing his usual cleaning up in front of the defence.
James Morrison had Albion’s first real effort of the game when he stung the hands of Tim Howard from the edge of the area. Everton were happy to soak up the Albion pressure and play on the break.
Their best chance came from an Albion corner when the dangerous Gerard Deulofeu fed Ross Barkley but the England forward missed his kick when it seemed easier to score.
Albion’s defenders were keen to marshal former fans’ favourite Romelu Lukaku. Jonny Evans was doing a superb job in keeping Lukaku quiet. Jonas Olsson tried the same tactic on the half hour mark but pulled a groin when he was turned on the halfway line. James Chester replaced him at the heart of defence.
The game plodded along with neither team really taking the initiative. It looked as if would be a goalless first half until Saido Berahino scored his second in as many games. Craig Dawson won the ball on the touchline and James Morrison picked an inch perfect pass into Berahino’s stride. The youngster calmed chipped the ball past Howard – and seemed to take an age to hit the back of the net.
After the break
Pulis changed his defence around at half time with Craig Dawson swapping positions with James Chester. While Chester may be an adequate centre half at this level, he certainly isn’t a full back. He looks uneasy going forward, isn’t comfortable with the ball at his feet and doesn’t get into crossing positions. When in transition of possession, he’s often caught out of position as well.
Despite this, Albion were still relatively comfortable. But you got the feeling that the Baggies always needed a second. It came from a Chris Brunt corner when Craig Dawson headed home from three yards out.
Seconds later Everton had a goal back. Whereas Deulofeu looked to attack Brunt in the first half, the winger now decided to cross the ball from deep – with Brunt sitting off him having being caught out for pace earlier.
Deuloufu looped a long ball to the back post where Lukaku out-muscled Chester to head past Myhill. It was an awful goal to conceded and gave the momentum to the visitors.
That was all they needed and Everton seemed to step up a gear. The trio of Fletcher, Morrison and Yacob suddenly were a yard off their men and caught too many time ahead of the ball.
It was only a matter of time before the equaliser came. Deulofeu fed Lukaku on the edge of the box. Yacob allowed the striker to come back inside on his favoured left foot and the striker played a clever reverse pass into the Arouna Kone – who beat the offside trap to slot home under Myhill. Replays later showed Kone to be in an offside position.
The second well and truly knocked the wind out of our sails. With 15 minutes remaining, you knew what was coming. The third came six minutes from the end. Brunt again gave Deulofeu too much space and the winger whipped in a cross which Lukaku turned home past Myhill at the second attempt.
Pulis threw on Rickie Lambert in a desperate attempt to find an equaliser. It almost worked. Chester managed to get up field and fired in a low cross. Lambert spun but fired his shot inches wide of the post as Albion’s winless run at home continued.
Where do you start? For two-thirds of the game Albion did well against an in-form Everton side. But the Baggies’ defence crumbled and conceded three goals in the second half. After the final whistle, Pulis pointed the finger of blame at his defenders. But he must take the lion’s share of the blame after again selecting players out of position.
His decision to swap Chester and Dawson at half time made no sense. Chester looked comfortable alongside Evans in the first half. Dawson, although not a natural full-back, has done well since his transition. After the break, both players looked uneasy in their second-half roles. Chester will never be a full-back. Yet you can’t blame him for being played out of position.
What’s more of a concern is the way Albion crumbled after Everton’s first. When Everton had the momentum we didn’t have any idea how to slow the game down and kill it off. We should be celebrating a good win against a decent Everton side. Instead, we’re not questioning Pulis’ team selection again and his tactics at home.
The Baggies are picking points up away from home, but our form at The Hawthorns is a concern. We need to get three points on the board next up against Sunderland. The way we defended last night, I’m not looking forward to Saturday’s trip to Palace.
Come on you Baggies.
Have your say on Albion's defeat here at Baggies Banter.