DEADLY Dominic Calvert-Lewin, one of the brightest signings of Bill Kenwright’s 19-year reign at Goodison Park, boosted Everton’s season after beating lackluster West Ham with his 50th career Premier League goal.
It has been an emotional few days for Evertonians since they learned that their chairman Kenwright, an acclaimed West End theater and film producer, had died aged 78.
But at the end of a difficult week for the club and its true supporters, Calvert-Lewin scored a brilliant goal that left a proud Kenwright beaming from ear to ear.
And by mentioning his five hundred Prem goals – only four other players had reached that milestone for the Toffees – he secured Sean Dyche’s men their third top-flight win of the season.
Before kick-off at 1 p.m., both clubs paid tribute to the late Kenwright and the 1966 World Champion Bobby Charlton, who died last weekend at the age of 86.
Fans, players, staff and Charlton’s former England team-mate Sir Geoff Hurst applauded for a minute while both managers Dyche and David Moyes laid wreaths on the pitch.
Although the clock had been set forward an hour, some players in the London Stadium may not have fully digested the pre-match pasta as there was little creativity or spark in the turbulent first half.
The atmosphere was as flat as one of the match balls that referee Stuart Attwell had removed from the pitch after a quarter of an hour after consulting Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
West Ham’s best chance came in the 23rd minute when Lucas Paqueta cleverly fired the ball over the head of Everton right-back Nathan Patterson – who had replaced the suspended Ashley Young – before playing a pass across the penalty area.
But in a perfect example of how badly this contest turned out, Jarrod Bowen confused his line and missed his attempt which went wide.
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Even when there was a flashpoint that angered the players and engaged the home fans, it didn’t really bring the game to life.
That moment came in the 27th minute when James Tarkowski tackled Ghanaian midfielder Mohammed Kudus hard from behind, a real old-school tackle.
Attwell had no problem with the challenge, but West Ham’s players certainly did and surrounded the Everton captain in disgust.
Meanwhile, Pickford began berating the prostrate Kudus – on his Prem starting debut – for what he saw as an act.
Two cautions, one for Kudus and Pickford, defused the situation but Tarkowski escaped without penalty, despite his actions having sparked the brief scuffle.
Everton offered little attacking power in the first 45 minutes, with Jack Harrison coming closest when he took the ball from Paqueta in midfield, but his eventual strike was weak and disappointing.
Thankfully the second half wasn’t boring as the first half and Calvert-Lewin ensured there was something new to write about.
Jarrad Branthwaite won the ball from Michail Antonio and played a short pass to the Everton striker, who in turn played a one-two with Harrison.
Calvert-Lewin then quickly spun past Hammers defenders Kurt Zouma and Nayef Aguerd before firing his shot past goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the 51st minute.
It was Calvert-Lewin’s sixth goal against the East Londoners and he now sits just behind Tim Cahill (56), Duncan Ferguson (60) and Romelu Lukaku (68) in the club’s Premier League tally.
After an hour, the two home center backs experienced another nightmare when they inexplicably let Abdoulaye Doucoure run straight through the middle of the pitch after Calvert-Lewin had headed forward.
Her blushes were only spared by the strong left hand of Areola, who managed in great fashion to convert the attempt into a corner.
Over the next 40 minutes or so, West Ham only had ONE shot on goal – a wonderful scissor shot from Said Benrahma that Pickford parried – but their afternoon ended on a sour note as the sun burst through the rain clouds.
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For Moyes’ side, who were booed in normal time, this represents their THIRD successive defeat in eight days and just one league win in eight games should now be a cause for concern.
To find out how the game unfolded from minute to minute, be sure to check out our Live blog here.