Sheffield United: John Lundstram finally gets his chance to shine at Goodison Park as Blades win 2-0 at Everton
As a young player in Everton's renowned youth system he will have dreamed most nights of walking out at Goodison Park in the Premier League; to the famous Gwladys Street roar, the sound of Z-Cars ringing around this famous old ground.
Saturday was that day for John Lundstram; albeit in the white of Sheffield United rather than the blue he aimed to one day wear despite growing up supporting the red half of Merseyside.
On social media that morning he'd shared a retro snap from his early days, in the tunnel; before his path took him away from from the home comforts of Finch Farm to the harsh realities of Oxford United, after rejecting a six-month deal from the Toffees.
He returned today, like the rest of his United teammates, as equals, even if his former side did enjoy most of the play early on. Much of Lundstram's early work was to contain, rather than create, although one delicious dragback to George Baldock will no doubt be replayed a few times this coming week on United's social media channels.
"It was a really special day. I was excited more than anything before the game. I was buzzing to go and to come here and get the three points made it extra special,” Lundstram said.
“I had people coming out of the woodwork on Saturday morning texting me for tickets. I tried to do my best for everyone to try and get them in.”
While Lundstram's return caused barely a murmur inside the ground, the same could not be said for that of Phil Jagielka. The former Everton skipper spent 12 years at Goodison Park, since joining from United, and was given a standing ovation before the game; and another when he first ventured out from the unfamiliar surroundings of the away dug-out to warm up.
By then, the quiet home crowd had been awoken a little by a mini-flashpoint by the corner flag; Baldock and Bernard battled for the ball, Bernard had a little niggle at Baldock, Baldock shoved Bernard in the chest. Lucas Digne became irate at Dean Henderson in the ensuing melee, and three yellow cards followed.
The suspicion was that a game would erupt from there, but the reality was different. Everton were sloppy in the final third and squandered the only clear cut chances they did fashion. United went ahead when Ollie Norwood's corner caused havoc; Jordan Pickford came for the cross and missed it under pressure from Jack O'Connell and a deflection off Yerry Mina saw the ball nestle in the far corner.
VAR checked the goal and United fans, with last weekend's ruled-out goal still fresh in their mind, held their breath. VAR cleared the goal, and United fans cheered wildly for a second time. Perhaps they were warming to the technology? The chants of 'f*** VAR' which followed suggested maybe not.
United were full value for their lead, and extended it when that man Lundstram found sub Lys Mousset in behind. The sub put the ball under Pickford, the United fans went crazy. Everton supporters, who had cheered loudest for Jagielka when he came on with half an hour left, reacted with a mixture of anger and apathy. As United fans who remember Nigel Adkins' reign will tell you, it's a horrible feeling.
Now, though, United are only looking up. Stiffer tests await; including the visit of the European champions next weekend. But there will be many more days like this, too. It's important to make the most of them; just as their No.7 Lundstram did.
"I was raring to go and it was always the one I was looking forward to when the fixtures came out,” he added after the game. “I have finally got it over with and to get a win has just made it really special.
“I have lot of friends and family who are Blues and they were all texting me saying: 'I hope you get beat'. I will give it to them later!”