Everton still in bottom three after captivating draw at Nottingham Forest
Here was an absorbing advertisement for the Premier League’s basement battle, containing so much drama it almost felt like the final day of the season.
With up to nine teams potentially in the scrap to avoid relegation, this type of frenetic encounter could become the norm in the chase to stay above the dreaded dotted line.
When points are precious, and pressure is building, these are the moments when Sean Dyche springs into life and this had all the hallmarks of a classic away performance from the master escapologist.
Three of Everton’s four goals under Dyche have come from set-pieces, and they displayed all the necessary qualities required, but Nottingham Forest’s excellent home record under Steve Cooper was extended after a thrilling contest.
Forest have not lost at the City Ground in the league since September 16 and Brennan Johnson’s fine equaliser leaves Everton in the bottom three.
It was a captivating, bad-tempered game that only underlined how much survival would mean to these two sets of players.
Forest were nervy and hesitant from the start, and Jonjo Shelvey’s rash challenge on Dwight McNeil in the area was a clear penalty, with Demarai Gray putting away the spot kick.
The home team did respond though, with Johnson equalising from close-range in the 19th minute after Jordan Pickford failed to hold Morgan Gibbs-White’s shot.
It was proving a brilliant contest, albeit packed with mistakes and regular confrontations between players.
Everton regained the lead just before the half-hour mark after capitalising on further suspect defending.
After a free kick was lifted into the area, Forest failed to clear and Abdoulaye Doucoure headed in his first goal since Sep 2021.
Everton remained a consistent threat on the break, but Johnson’s fine finish 13 minutes from the end leaves Dyche still waiting for lift-off.