Idrissa Gueye's tireless performance in Everton midfield capped with a goal
Everton won for the second time this week on Saturday, running out 2-0 winners at Huddersfield, but the away support remained vocal and resolute in their criticism of manager Sam Allardyce. Fleeting moments of eye-catching possession punctuated the match, with two well-taken goals proving the difference between the teams, but familiar failings persisted too often as Everton needed the cushion of a second goal to settle nerves.
Allardyce is the master of self-promotion and continues to champion his case for staying beyond this season, but there appears little way back for him when even a 2-0 away win for a team that rarely wins away cannot silence disquiet among supporters.
Whenever Allardyce vacates the Everton dugout, there are unlikely to be too many mourning his exit, but the January signings of Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott are two undoubted positives from his tenure.
Until Idrissa Gueye fired home the decisive second from the edge of the penalty area, Tosun was the only Everton player to score away from home since February, scoring four goals on the road in that time. Walcott set Tosun up for the opener, his third assist since his move from Arsenal, and the two have been directly involved in 11 goals between them since January.
Two moments of quality helped secure a second win in the past three away games, but those two assured finishes also showed precisely why supporters want more than the safety-first football Allardyce brings. Huddersfield had won only two of their last 11 home games and failed to score in four of their last six at home before this. Everton need to be more assertive against such opponents.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- A rare start for Nikola Vlasic and good later use of the bench with his first two substitutions, though the introduction of an additional centre-back again felt unnecessary.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 6 -- A spectator throughout as routine catches and goal kicks formed the bulk of his workload. A rare afternoon of comfort in a season frequently asking too much of him.
DF Seamus Coleman, 7 -- Strong in defence from start to finish, tying Gueye for a game-high six tackles, but Coleman would expect to do more with the two presentable opportunities falling his way inside the Huddersfield penalty area in the second half.
DF Phil Jagielka, 7 -- Commanding presence in central defence, quick to cut out any danger and did so with minimal fuss, clearing his lines well to snuff out any Huddersfield pressure.
DF Michael Keane, 6 -- Slightly off the pace in the early stages and not always tight enough to opposing players when needed. But there was sufficient improvement as the match wore on to justify his place amid the return of Ramiro Funes Mori.
DF Leighton Baines, 6 -- Kept busy in defence but performed adequately whenever the home side pushed forward down his flank. Showed his class on the ball with a simple but deft assist for the second goal.
MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 7 -- Fans singing his name in the closing minutes caps an individual revival that appeared improbable as recently as a few weeks ago. His central midfield partnership with Gueye played a significant role in this victory.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 8 -- Tireless in the midfield third and all over the pitch, regaining possession in relentless fashion throughout the 90 minutes. Fine goal capped an excellent display.
MF Nikola Vlasic, 6 -- Vlasic was making his first start since January and that rustiness showed in the first half, but the second half demonstrated his potential as a deft flick created a chance for Coleman.
MF Wayne Rooney, 5 -- So much more is needed from the No. 10 role than Rooney currently offers. No goals or assists in 2018 and never looked like ending either drought in his 62 minutes on the pitch.
MF Theo Walcott, 7 -- Operated on the left flank but did all of his best work in central areas, drifting in to wreak havoc on the home side. Pace and dribbling ability clear when assisting Tosun for the opening goal.
FW Cenk Tosun, 7 -- One chance led to one goal as the Turkish striker displayed his clinical ability in front of goal. Provide sufficient service and Tosun has already shown that he will put the ball in the back of the net.
MF Tom Davies, 6 -- Neat and tidy while slotting into midfield.
FW Oumar Niasse, N/R -- His refusal to give up played a huge role in the build-up to the second goal.
DF Ramiro Funes Mori, N/R -- A diving block towards the end stood out as the central defender steps up his recovery after injury.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.