Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Baines happy with defensive effort

Leighton Baines is pleased with Everton's recent defensive record

Defender Leighton Baines believes Everton's defensive resilience has allowed them to remain in the race for Europe in recent weeks.

On Saturday the Toffees ground out a 1-0 win over Fulham to record their fifth clean sheet in seven matches. They are only three points behind fifth-placed Tottenham, who do have a match in hand, but with goals not easy to come by Baines is grateful for their strength at the back.

"We have not been conceding many goals at all lately, apart from the one last week (the 1-0 defeat at Sunderland)," said the England international. "We've kept a few clean sheets on the bounce at Goodison and we probably could have got another couple of goals against Fulham."

He added: "We didn't put them away but in the end we only needed the one but we created some chances.

"We have been playing well and there was good build-up to the goal and we had a couple of other moves which were similar which didn't quite have the finish."

Steven Pienaar scored the goal against the Cottagers, his seventh of the season but only the second in the league in 2013.

"We rely on him so much and some players, if they are not seen to be carrying the team forward, then it can show because he is so important to us," added Baines. "He has got a few goals this season so that shows he has added to his game and he is a massive plus for us being in the team."

With three matches of the campaign remaining it is understandable players start looking towards the summer, but with a Merseyside derby at Anfield this weekend there is no danger of that at Everton.

"The summer is always welcome, especially when you get to the end of the season and you have been involved heavily," said the England left-back. "But you try and put it to the back of your mind, especially when you have got big games on the horizon as we have.

"You keep plugging away, giving what you have got left."

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