Audio: No sticky Toffees return for John Ruddy
John Ruddy revelled in his Goodison Park return on Saturday – and resisted being too downbeat over the “kick in the teeth” that was Everton’s late equaliser over Norwich City.
The Canaries stopper, who spent five years on Everton’s books before a permanent switch to Norwich 18 months ago, pulled off a string of saves to preserve City’s first-half lead – a memorable turn and shot from Grant Holt that had the visitors dreaming of a second Premier League away victory this season.
But Royston Drenthe’s introduction finally got the Toffees going and his 81st-minute bobbling shot was deflected past Ruddy by Leon Osman to earn the home side the point their shear weight of chances arguably merited.
“It was a battling performance from the lads and we deserved at least a point I thought, so it was a good point and another one on the board towards where we want to be at the end of the season,” said Ruddy. “They put us under intense pressure but that’s what they do at home.
“The expectation level at the club is that high, that’s what they need to do. But I thought we defended manfully and were probably unlucky not to keep a clean sheet.
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“It was their weakest attempt on goal. It was a very deft touch from Leon; unfortunately it turned a pea-roller into a goal, so it’s disappointing in that aspect.
“With the pressure we withstood as well, it’s probably even more of a kick in the teeth. If they had scored a screamer you hold your hands up, but it’s one of those things. It happens.
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“We take the positives out of every game and here I thought there were lots, especially in the defensive side. We’ve done extremely well to come up here and get a point, and we’ll go into Tuesdays’ game (at Wolves) full of confidence.”
City’s lack of a clean sheet so far this season has been well publicised, but the Canaries’ defensive resolve was in full view at Goodison Park as Russell Martin and Marc Tierney – to name just two – flung themselves in front of goalbound efforts.
The respite for City, for once this term, will be brief. A trip to Molineux awaits on Tuesday as Ruddy and his team-mates try to make the most of Norwich’s festive programme and maintain their upward curve.
“We work as a team and we’ve got a very good unit here and we want to win for everyone – a point on the board away from home at a place like Goodsion can’t be knocked,” said Ruddy.
“I think you go away from home anywhere, let alone established Premier League clubs like Everton, you’ve got to be happy with whatever you can get. Over the road at Anfield we got a very good point there as well. We’re fighting for everything at the moment.
“We’ve now got a tough couple of games but we are on 20 points now going into Christmas, so if we can pick up another few before the new year we will be well on our way.
“Christmas is definitely a crucial time for every team, to pick up as many points in a busy period like this. We’ve got Wolves who are in a situation where they need to pick up points soon, and then Tottenham who are probably challenging for the title, then Fulham who will want to keep in the Europa League set-up after how well they’ve done this season.
“It’s going to be a difficult three games but we’ve got more than enough in the squad to get through it and pick up as many points as we can.”
Ruddy left the last word for his former club and a return where the 25-year-old arrived feeling he had nothing to prove – and his enjoyment on leaving came from a point won.
“I think I proved when I went to Motherwell what I was about and since I’ve been at Norwich; I think I have proven myself more than enough, so there was none of that,” said Ruddy. “It was just nice to come back and see everyone who was here when I was at the club.
“I got a good reception when I came out but it wasn’t so nice when I was playing. It’s good banter and really you get it at every ground you go to, so you just take it with a pinch of salt, laugh it off, give them a clap at the end of the game and everything’s sweet.
“When you go back people make a deal of it and I expected a few fans not to remember as I made that little impact at the club. But it was enjoyable coming back and playing and getting a good point.”