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Everton 1-0 Leeds: Will ‘fortress’ Goodison Park be key to survival hopes?

Everton players celebrate
Everton picked up back-to-back home victories under Sean Dyche

Everton supporters left Goodison Park singing, clapping and with smiles on their faces following another priceless home victory.

Saturday’s 1-0 triumph over fellow Premier League strugglers Leeds lifted the Toffees out of the relegation zone and dumped the West Yorkshire side into trouble.

Stalwart Seamus Coleman’s second-half winner sent the home supporters into raptures, backing up their performance and win over Arsenal from two weeks ago.

Everton have now won two of their three games under manager Sean Dyche, both on their own turf and both without conceding.

Asked by BBC Sport if he is looking to make their home ground a fortress, Dyche said: “There are lots of historical times when Goodison Park has been considered that.

“I have been here lots of times myself as an away manager and felt that – you have to earn it. Two decent performances, two clean sheets and the crowd were there again today.

“You have to earn the respect and some players are beginning to show that, someone like Seamus has provided years of service, some are in that question mark period and some to re-earn it. That is how football is.

“The crowd will allow them to earn that respect and pay it back, that was on show today.”

Fans will get behind ‘authentic’ group

Late on Friday night, an Everton groupexternal-link campaigning against the running of the club released a statement saying the board were “not welcome at Goodison Park this season or ever again”.

The group also said peaceful marches will take place before every home game until the end of the season and they stayed true to their word as thousands lined the terraced streets around the ground before facing Leeds.

But once the first whistle blew, supporters managed to park their ill-feelings towards the decision-makers to get fully behind the players on the pitch.

Dyche’s first game in charge on 4 February provided a raucous atmosphere but it was a much more nervy affair on this occasion, knowing what was at stake.

A deserved victory helped Everton escape the bottom three, moving up to 16th place, but just a solitary point clear of the drop zone.

Another home game follows next week against Aston Villa and the results here will undoubtedly be key to deciding where the Merseysiders finish come the end of the campaign.

Their next five games at Goodison are against teams in the top half of the table, before a possibly season-defining game against Bournemouth, who currently lie a place below them, on the final day of the campaign.

“It starts from inside the group,” said Dyche when asked about the backing of the crowd. “You have to stay united regardless then the fans build on the back of that.

“When they see an authentic group of people giving everything, that is a great starting point. When a group of players take ownership, that is the most powerful thing and when they deliver the crowd can feel and sense it.

“Hard work and authenticity is a really good start and then Everton fans will give you a bit of leeway when things aren’t going so well. That is a good a base to work from.

“It starts with that feeling of a group and we can all sense it. That is what we want to build. Results will glue that together quicker, when you win games.”

‘We want to show we are all together’

Seamus Coleman celebrates
Captain and match-winner Coleman has played over 400 games for Everton

Everton seemed like they lacked fight, grit and determination under former boss Frank Lampard, but now seem like a team growing in confidence with a battling spirit.

That was evident in a melee at the end of the first half, when Dwight McNeil went nose-to-nose with Leeds midfielder Tyler Adams.

Both players were booked for their part – as well as Abdoulaye Doucoure and Weston McKennie for piling in – but it seemed to rouse the home crowd, who wildly celebrated the winning goal.

Skipper Coleman, who has played more than 400 games for the club since joining in 2009, said of the scrap: “It can go either way, you can gain momentum or lose momentum

“We want to show we are all together and all fighting and we have to give our fans something to support and when we do you saw them at the end there. Throughout the match they were massive.

“It’s three points and we move on to the next one.”

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