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 Pistone (40')
 Radzinski (56')
 Chadwick (85')
 Ferguson Sent Off (20')
(1-0)   N'Gotty (75') 


Konstantinidis Sent Off (31') 
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Everton v Bolton:
Prior League Games
 Overall  
 Everton 35
 Bolton 7
 Draws 16
 Premiership
 Everton 2
 Bolton 0
 Draws 0
 Last Time:

 Everton 3-2 Bolton
28 December 1997


 
With Gravesen suspended, Carsley and Pembridge injured, it was a lightweight midfield that Everton fielded.  

The match began with chances at both ends, including a sequence of excellent corners from David Unsworth.  Then, disaster struck with captain Duncan Ferguson fired up more than usual: he was sent off after just 20 minutes when he punched Fredi Bobic in the penalty area violent conduct: straight red.

But the disadvantage didn't last long.  Konstantinidis, who had just been shown the yellow card, was sent off on 31 minutes after scything down Tomasz Radzinski, a second yellow being swiftly followed by the red card.  Both sides down to 10 men!

The referee Steve Bennett was losing control and failing to make basic decisions correctly, like giving a penalty when Alexandersson was obviously flattened by Bobic after a thunderous free-kick from Stubbs failed to beat Poole.  

Minutes before half-time, Everton were in front.  Alessandro Pistone had two bites of the cherry, finishing off brilliantly after some great work and determination by Unsworth who tackled Nolan fiercely to win the ball.

Radzinski then had a glorious chance, clean through on Kevin Poole; he should have scored, but Poole saved it.  

The second half started with strong pressure from Bolton but Everton constructed a glorious break for Radzinski to again miss an open goal this time form 3 yds out!  But his luck finally changed 10 minutes later, when great work from Gemmill set up a deflected shot that gave the popular Polish Canadian his first goal in what seems like ages. 

Blomqvist and Gemmill then combined to create another chance, with Gemmill's finish drifting wide. 

Some fabulous work by Simonsen to deny Ricketts and Wallace with a world-class double-save, the ball going straight down the other end with Radzinski scampering away and setting up Chadwick but his shot was saved. 

Bolton's unrelenting pressure finally paid off with a free kick by Per Frandsen being nodded in at the near post by N'Gotty to make it a nervy last 15 minutes for Evertonians yet again.

With just four minutes to go, a brilliant break started with Steve Watson, playing Radzinski forward for a superb move and cutback to Nick Chadwick who slotted home his first goal for Everton.  YES!!!!!!

Three vital, vital points that all but make Everton safe from relegation and continue the good work that David Moyes has set about in such fine style since his arrival.



M A T C H    F A C T S
 Sports Match Info  
  FA Premiership 2001-02, Game 33
3:00pm  Monday 1 April 2002
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)
Att: 39,784
Position: 12th
Line-ups Subs not used
Everton: Simonsen, Watson, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone, Alexandersson, Gemmill, Unsworth, Blomqvist (70' Chadwick), Ferguson (20' Sent Off!), Radzinski (88' Linderoth). Gerrard, Cleland, Ginola. 
Unavailable:  Carsley, Clarke, Hibbert, Naysmith, Pembridge, Tal (injured); Nyarko (on loan)  Suspended: Gravesen
Bolton Poole, N'Gotty, Konstantinidis (31' Sent Off!), Whitlow, Charlton, Djorkaeff (60' Wallace), Warhurst, Nolan, Gardner, Holdsworth (35' Frandsen), Bobic (46' Ricketts).  Southall, Cassar. 
Playing Strips Formations
Everton: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
Bolton: White shirts; black shorts; white socks 4-4-2
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Everton: Weir (75')  Ferguson (20')
Bolton: [Konstantinidis (30', 31')] Konstantinidis (31')


Premiership Scores
Easter Monday
Charlton   0-3 Arsenal
Derby   0-1 Middlesbro
Everton   2-1 Bolton
Fulham   0-1 West Ham
Ipswich   0-0 Chelsea
Man Utd  P-P Liverpool
Sunderland 2-1 Leicester
Tottenham 2-1 Leeds
Blackburn 2-0 Sotton
Tuesday
Aston Villa  1-1 Newcastle
 


Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 69
2 Liverpool 68
3 Man Utd 67
4 Newcastle 60
5 Chelsea 57
6 Leeds 54
7 Tottenham 45
8 Aston Villa 43
9 West Ham 43
10 Middlesbrough 42
11 Charlton 41
12 Everton 39
13 Southampton 38
14 Sunderland 38
15 Fulham 36
16 Bolton 36
17 Blackburn 35
18 Ipswich 33
19 Derby 29
20 Leicester 22
After  2 April 2002
M A T C H     R E P O R T S
 Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary
EvertonFC.com Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
From The Terrace Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
 Everton Fans' Reports
Steve Bickerton No short-fall in determination
Richard Marland A much-deserved win
Matthew Fearon Walter Hoo...?
Julian Cashen Radzinski: Villain to Hero
 Links to Other Media Reports
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
BBC Sport Match Report
FA Premier Match Report
Sky Sports Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
SoccerNet Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
The Times Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report


Match Preview

As Bolton arrive on Merseyside, an opportunity that two weeks ago was unthinkable arrives with them.  If we win, our place in the Premiership could be virtually secure.  Even a draw would be an acceptable if disappointing result.  A loss, however, and we would be right back in the mire... unthinkable!

A three-point haul against a very poor Bolton side in a massive six-pointer could see us spend the end of the season revelling in the sun, arguing over whether the InterToto would be a good idea, discussing potential summer transfer moves.  And maybe we will play Arsenal with Liverpool fans supporting us in their attempts to win the league and us actually hoping that we lose on the last day of the season!

Despite the hiccup in the Moyes Magic Show on Good Friday, we can and should beat Bolton by playing the same kind of football that undid Fulham and Derby.  It didn't work at Newcastle because they were simply far too good and far too pacey for the new Everton side that is slowly emerging under the guidance and enthusiasm of David Moyes. 

At the Reebok Stadium earlier in the year, a very very late Ricketts flick gave Bolton a 2-2 draw.  This time around, we should be out of sight by then.  Ricketts and Djorkaeff carry their main threat and (scouser) Nolan is their drive.

Their defence has been ripped apart with injuries and the drafting in of the Greek captain smacks of desperation to me.

Ricketts has gone quiet since his England debut (and since he signed a new bumper contract with Bolton!).  Despite his 2 goals against Charlton, Djorkaeff is not a man to roll his sleeves up and fight.

Dunc and Rads should terrorize their defence.  Two up at half time and a relaxing canter through the 2nd half should give us a very nice Bank Holiday Monday.

Gravesen will be suspended but we should see Linderoth involved under Moyes for the first time; his need to impress the new boss should mean that we don't miss the Gravedigger/Mad Dog too much.

As always, we will need Stubbs and Weir to be at their best!

Have a good Easter and let's prepare for a nice relaxing, promising end to the season.

BlueForEver



No short-fall in determination

by Steve Bickerton

The game against Fulham had left me feeling that the season was just beginning in earnest.  The arrival of David Moyes and the immediate impact that he has had on the both the team and the fan base has done wonders to lift the depression that had settled over Everton Football Club.  

The ensuing defeat of Derby County, who had been so recently resurgent under their own new manager a victory admittedly achieved with the usual double dose of heartache as we seemed hell-bent on giving up a three-goal lead served only to reinforce the image of a club with a new-found belief in itself. 

Sat in a Fuengirola bar last Friday watching the game against Newcastle, I was left feeling somewhat perplexed as to what I felt as the sixth goal went in.  We'd played some good football going forward, had scored twice away from home for the second game running and had yet been generally outplayed by a much better outfit.  

We'd been beaten by pace and guile, both of which seem to be in short supply at Goodison Park something which David Moyes highlighted in today's program, when he commented that he'd told the players of the supporters "they'd accept short-fallings but they wouldn't accept a lack of determination."  In fairness we showed that determination at St James's Park, even if we were shown to have many short-fallings.

But today was an important game: it could either toss us back into the relegation melting pot or see us climb as high as 11th depending on results elsewhere and, with Bolton aiming to take the same sort of leap up the table if they could grab all three points, it promised to be a tense affair. 

We needed all the determination we could muster and this game would be a useful litmus test of Moyes's decision not to dip into the transfer kitty before deadline day.

The match was to kick off after a miscued start to a minute's silence in remembrance of the Queen Mother who died on Saturday and an ensuing rendition of the national anthem.  Regardless of my own feelings either pro or con the royal family, those in the Lower Gwladys who decided to take the opportunity of the silence to shout their wishes of harm to other members of the family or to decry the monarchy in general should think hard about the impression of Everton Football Club given to the outside world when they give voice to their opinions on such occasions.

The opening minutes of the game were quite depressing, with the ball making its way up and down the left-hand touch-line (our left) for throw-in after throw-in.  Bolton looked the most menacing at this stage, although the referee was taking a very lenient view of some of the tackles flying in from both sides but mainly from Bolton. 

There were a few scares at both ends but nothing remarkable until Radzinski burst into the Bolton penalty, was chopped from behind and the referee waved play on.  That almost ended up with a goal at the other end but the referee got lucky whilst Radzinski required a full minute of treatment on the field of play to enable his recovery and another one on the sidelines.  He was able to recover and rejoin the game. 

Not so lucky was Duncan Ferguson, some minutes later.  Having taken some stick from the Bolton defence, he decided to take the opportunity of a throw from the left to punch Bobic in the ribs, in full view of the referee, in retaliation for some of that treatment meted out to him.  The referee had no alternative to show a red card, but Bobic did make a meal of it as he keeled over.

This was doubly annoying for both the fans and the Everton players as Bolton appeared able to foul with impunity.  The referee eventually decided that he had to do something about the way that Bolton were defending and finally booked Konstantinidis for his umpteenth "mistimed" tackle.  This was followed by another lunge almost immediately afterwards, which was rewarded with a second yellow and the reduction of Bolton to 10 men, to even things up. 

The game was lively for a few minutes during which Radzinski failed to score with a golden opportunity, seeing the keeper dive the wrong way but managing to stop his shot with his legs.  

It wasn't the Canadian who would see the crowd rise to applaud an excellent strike; that honour fell to Alessandro Pistone.  Roving forward on the left, he hit a hopeful shot from about 30 yards with his left foot.  It rebounded back to him off a Bolton defender, as he hit it right-footed, in his stride, into the far corner, from around 25 yards out.  As sweetly struck a drive as you will ever see.  

For the rest of the half, it was nip and tuck with the referee again missing a seemingly simple penalty decision as the ball was handled in the Bolton box.

The second half opened with Bolton applying all the pressure.  There were a few moments of desperation in the Everton defence with Simonsen being called upon to make an incredible double save at point blank range.  

But the Blues held on and a quick break by the impressive Blomqvist (do I hear myself rescinding my comments about him not doing enough for a new contract?) who took the ball off a lazy defender, raced into the box and delivered a perfect cross to provide Radzinski with a simple tap in, but somehow the striker managed to tie his feet in a knot and again saw the keeper parry his shot away gutted! 

Then a move down the left saw Gemmill free in the box only for him to fluff his shot wide.  Everton began to dominate a little more and the pressure resulted in another chance falling to Radzinski.  The Canadian again mis-hit his shot but much to his and everybody else's relief, the covering defender made a hash of his clearance and the ball trickled into the net.  Do you think he was delighted?  You bet!  He deserved the goal for all of his hard work up front by himself since Ferguson's dismissal.

It really was no more than Everton deserved at this point but, true to recent form, we allowed the visitors back into the game.  A stupidly conceded free kick (stupidly because it wasn't a free kick in my opinion) on the right was whipped in by Bolton and was met unchallenged by N'Gotty at the far post: 2-1.  Did Walter take the art of defending with him when he left?

After that, Bolton turned up the heat.  How they didn't equalise shortly afterwards I'll never know, but it shows how the pressure gets to players in important games as Ricardo Gardner (having got away with a handball on the edge of the box) turned into space and swept the ball beyond the exposed Simonsen, only to hit the inside of the post and see the ball spin back across the goal and out for a goal kick on the opposite side of the goal.

Blomqvist, who'd been excellent today, was replaced by young Nick Chadwick and almost immediately the whole shape of the game changed as we moved to a 4-3-2 from a 4-4-1.  Suddenly Bolton had two forwards to contend with and good work saw Chadwick snatch at his first opportunity and miss the target.  He worked well with Radzinski, who had suddenly found his second wind and played simple triangle passing manoeuvres down the right with Alexandersson and Watson.  

Bolton rode the storm (rather too strong a word really) that Chadwick's introduction had brought in and started to press again. But now, with two reasonably quick forwards on, we were able to break quickly.  

The third goal came from such a break as the ball was played deep into space beyond the Bolton defence, on the right hand side.  Radzinski chased after it, with Poole, the Bolton keeper also in pursuit.  Radzinski got there first and stepped over the ball, dummying the sprawling keeper and raced away with the goal now beckoning.  He steadied himself, looked up and saw Chadwick loitering at the edge of the Bolton box and played the ball to the youngster's feet.  Chadwick met the ball well and guided it nonchalantly into the left hand corner of the net.  An excellent all round goal and the game was effectively over.

In the end it was a climb to 12th in the table, as 11th was occupied by Middlesbrough, following their win; it was a game won with determination and effort more than skill and guile, but perhaps that will come as the team learns to play in this more attacking style.  

The change in style has suited a number of players, with Alexandersson in particular looking a different player.  Blomqvist, too, looked happy with a standard winger role being required of him, in the main.  But most of all Unsworth has looked inspired under the new regime. 

There were useful performances all round, from Simonsen looking generally secure; the defence, mainly in control (the goal aside); midfield looking both combative and industrious; and a degree of effectiveness up front.  Chelsea next week will be an interesting place to go... 

Man of the Match:  With good performances all round, it's difficult to pick out one person in particular, but David Weir led by example following Ferguson's dismissal and my award goes to him.



A much-deserved win

by Richard Marland

Our salvation was always likely to come from our home games.  The away win at Derby had just accelerated the process.  The defeat at Newcastle, heavy though it was, was disappointing but not necessarily disastrous.  That analysis, though, was dependant upon us beating a Bolton side who are looking somewhat resurgent at the moment.

Watson's timely return from fitness compensated for the loss of Hibbert, and Gravesen's centre midfield spot was taken by Unsworth with Blomqvist coming in on the left.  There is no disputing David Unsworth's limitations as a central midfielder, but this is the stage of the season where he just has to be played somewhere.

After a slow start, we began to gain the upper hand.  We were just at the point where I thought that we were gaining control of the game when the red mist descended upon Duncan.  I missed it at the time but the punch was clear to see on the television.  It was senseless, unprofessional and could have cost us so much more.

The complexion of the game was suddenly changed.  As it stood, a win looked unlikely and a damaging defeat looked probable.  Fortunately their Greek centre-back took it upon himself to even things up.  Fortunate to escape a booking for leading with his arm into Gemmill, he was booked, for a relatively innocuous tug on Radzinski, the referee making it clear that the booking was for repeat offending.  Then, almost immediately, Radzinski turned him on the flank and he left his leg in to bring down the flying Radzinski.  A clear yellow card and he walked.  Game back on.

We created chances throughout the half.  Radzinski missed a one on one.  Unsworth whipped in a few Hinchcliffe-like corners.  Gemmill had an opening he seemed to do everything in his power to avoid, although maybe it bobbled for him.  We had two very good penalty shouts turned down.  

The goal, though, was worth waiting for.  The ball fell to Pistone in their half.  He advanced on goal as it opened up for him, and tried with his left foot, the ball rebounded back to him off a defender although this time on his right.  He hit it first time and it positively screamed into the net.

1-0 at half time but it should have been more.

The second half brought our habitual slow start as Bolton gained the ascendancy.  Why do we seem to take so long to get going?  Eventually we did get going and whilst not controlling the game we started creating chances.

One of the constants of the Moyes era thus far has been our insistence on making life hard for ourselves.  Gravesen's and Ferguson's dismissals; nearly squandering three goal leads.  Today we continually ignored gilt-edged chances to put Bolton out of the game.  None more glaring than Radzinski's "miss of the season".  Blomqvist had done well to knick the ball off the Bolton defender, he advanced into the area before squaring the ball to Radzinski.  Radzinski was about a yard from the goal line with the 'keeper stranded at the near post.  He had practically the whole goal to hit yet contrived to pass the ball back to the 'keeper.  An unbelievable miss.

He soon partially redeemed himself.  Gemmill had the ball down their right touchline.  It suddenly opened up for him and he advanced to the edge of the box.  His cross was partially blocked by a Bolton defender but the ball fell to Radzinski whose scuffed shot found the back of the net.

At 2-0 down Bolton now had their best passage of play.  Wallace hit the outside of the post from a free header.  Ricketts hit the inside of the post after getting away with a blatant handball.  Simonsen produced an outstanding double save during a mad goalmouth scramble.  Alas we didn't heed the warning signs.  A free kick from the left and a free header, 2-1 and a game we should have finished off was back on again.

Fortunately we heeded the warning this time and tightened up.  We were then spared any late nerve-jangling minutes by a classic breakaway goal.  A long punt into the corner was chased by Radzinski, the 'keeper came haring out but completely missed the ball, Radzinski then nicked it through the legs of the on-rushing Whitlow before heading into the penalty area. Chadwick was by now galloping up in support and Radzinski squared it to him.  Chadwick just had to put it past the last covering defender.  It was one of those that looks simple but it is easy to miss if you panic.  Credit then to Chadwick, he slowed his run so that he didn't meet the ball at full pelt and you could see him visibly relax himself and set himself for the shot, which he converted with little fuss.  A well deserved debut goal for Chadwick.

That truly was game over and the three points that have, in probability, put us safe were duly recorded.

Despite a few scares and shaky moments along the way, this was a much-deserved win.  We created a number of clear chances plus had two clear penalties denied us.  Bolton did threaten more than we would have liked but their real chances were condensed into about a 10 minute spell when they were already 2-0 down.

Some of the football we played was a distinct step up from recent games.  Simonsen rolled the ball out to his full backs more than we have seen for a long time.  Pistone in particular regularly brought the ball out from defence and linked well with the midfield.  Our passing game, whilst still far from top drawer, was also the best we've seen for a while.  The options provided by Radzinski and the two Swedish wingers definitely helped this.  All in all, a decent day's work.

  • Simonsen 7  Doesn't appear to be as commanding of late.  Certainly more signs of nervousness and yet another misunderstanding with his centre backs, this time with Stubbs, who, quite rightly, gave him a mouthful.  Having said that. he got away with it and did produce a quality double save at a crucial phase of the game.
  • Watson 6  Struggling a bit after his lay-off, he really needed a bit more time before being thrown back in.  But did OK and was as willing as ever.
  • Pistone 7  Very good today.  Used the ball well and scored a cracker.
  • Stubbs 7  Had a couple of nervy moments, but did his job.
  • Weir 8  Superb today, impeccable performance.
  • Alexandersson 7  Probably his best performance of the season.  Didn't offer a colossal amount going forward but offered good support to Steve Watson.
  • Gemmill 7  Another who was better than of late.  Created the second and got into the area regularly.
  • Unsworth 8  Worked his guts out for the team.  He is so "up for it" and focused he frightens me.
  • Blomqvist 7  A constant outlet for us, he worked had and always provided danger.  A little surprised that he was substituted, and I thought that that nearly back fired on us.
  • Ferguson 1  So nearly cost us the game.
  • Radzinski 7  Two bad misses but worked hard and ultimately redeemed himself with a goal and an assist.
  • Chadwick 6  Two chances one of which he took.  Looks a bit cumbersome but if he can sniff out chances like he did then he'll do alright.
  • Linderoth 6  Barely touched the ball.

Team 7  Not without it's faults, but they worked very hard and created numerous chances.

Man of the match Davey Weir.



Walter Hoo...?

by Matthew Fearon

Over this Easter break, throngs of tourists were warned to stay away from the ancient burial place, Sutton Hoo, for fear of over-crowding.  Those who instead decided to make the pilgrimage to Goodison would have heard smatterings of confused blues murmuring Walter Hoo?  For, on the day that Our Dear Lord (not Dixie) chose to resurrect himself, Evertons own miracle-worker was conspiring to turn Walters water into Bollinger champagne.

For the fourth game on the trot, the side appeared for their warm-up looking and training like a team who knew each others names.  Stretches and sprints were structured, each player was kitted out identically and Moyes took each one of them to one side for a little chat  

On signing his contract Moyes joked about getting lost on the way to Bellefield; after watching us score over a quarter of this seasons goal tally in his four matches in charge, I wonder whether Walter Hoo? ever found it...

At twenty-past-three, it looked like a point would be a bonus: Ferguson (a deliberate ignoring of any affectionate endearments) inexplicably attempted to throw away a promising start that had seen us begin to establish a definite advantage over Bolton, achieved through passion, an attractive passing game coupled with eleven players working hard and giving nothing but the best. 

For his imbecilic act of gross stupidity he should be stripped of the captaincy, docked his weeks wages and made to donate his win bonus to the Former Players Foundation.  The one bonus is that Fergusons suspension will allow Moyes to give Chadwick a starting run in the side for at least the last three games of the season.  

The boy done well!  Although Chadwick must have been shattered after playing twenty minutes of first team football, Im sure Walter Hoo had convinced the lad that football matches only lasted for two minutes.  The way he took the decisive goal was magnificent, especially after missing an earlier opportunity first time edge of the box defender on the line easy!

Despite dominating the game, memories of the Reebok game started to gnaw at my Moyes-induced optimism.  We missed chances, Gemmill and Radzinski were chiefly to blame, but now were creating them, misses aside both had very impressive games, particularly Rad.  He picked himself up after those two misses to score, after being in the right place at the right time, and then set up the third with his blistering pace and unselfish vision. 

We need to make sure Radzinski stays at the club; his pace is frightening, his effort second to none, his awareness unparalleled, all he needs is a little more strength and to be more ruthless, but his goals against West Ham, Southampton and Liverpool demonstrate a clinical potential that will be fine-tuned for next seasons Champions League push.

It was probably our most accomplished game of the season (the freak West Ham game aside).  All ten players played well, with spirit and for each other.  It was great to have Watson back; both Hibbert and Clarke have covered brilliantly and there is a substantial argument for Watson and Hibbert to be used together down the right.  

Watson seems to give us that little bit extra, extra pace, extra vision, extra experience and he worked well with Alexandersson, who had his best game for the club.  If he can sustain the form he has showed against Derby and Bolton and in flashes against the Toon, maybe he is the man for that right-wing berth? 

However, there is no doubt who should occupy the left-side.  Blomqvist was quick, imaginative and gutsy but hes still finding his feet and form which hopefully explains his substitution and subsequent dressing-down.  He is another who we need to stay this summer, along with Gravesen and Weir. 

A midfield four of Blomqvist and Nic down the flanks with Gravesen and Koumas complementing each other in the centre is a mouth-watering prospect and should at least see us win the Treble, with all three trophies being lifted by European Player of the Year and club captain, David Weir.

Once again, Weir was majestic.  This season, his consummate performances have been worth the price of a season ticket alone, as has watching Rhino over the last month.  He is playing like a man possessed and, at long last, the section of fans who take a sadistic pleasure in watching him fail are beginning to appreciate him for the player he is, not the player he isnt.  

If you cut the man he would bleed blue toffee, its not his fault hes been laden with the versatile moniker that has seen him play in four different positions so far this season.  If he wasnt constantly shifted about the pitch, fans would love him the way we do Stubbs an uncomplicated player, making the best out of little skill but more than making up for it with sheer passion for the club.

One player with all the potential talent but little of the consuming passion scored his first goal for the club, a 30-yard screamer after playing an ambidextrous one-two with Warhust.  Pistone exudes quality when he can be bothered.  Against Bolton, he was definitely bothered, forging a promising understanding with Blomqvist and showing a willingness to push forward that has been lacking from his game.  

Pistone's goal was almost the moment of the match, but that accolade must go to the ever-improving Simonsen for his fearless double reflex save that prevented Bolton scoring a morale-boosting early second-half goal.  

Man-of-the-match was just as tight, but the award goes to Nick Chadwick, for showing such coolness to score the first of his 358 goals for the club, for his link-up play with Rad that was first evident against Boro, and for allowing me to actually enjoy the last five minutes of an Everton game.  

Imbecile-of-the-match was not half as tight



Radzinski: Villain to Hero

by Julian Cashen

Despite the absence for most of the match of Duncan Ferguson, stupidly dismissed for an unnecessary punch, Everton virtually secured their Premiership future with a thrilling win over Bolton Wanderers.  The rather unlikely hero was Tomasz Radzinski, who having fluffed the game's two best chances in the most embarrassing manner possible scored the second for the Blues and brilliantly created the third for young Nick Chadwick.

For the first time, my son accompanied me to the game, making three male generations of my family in attendance for the first time.  Back home, my daughter had her pants on inside out for some reason, she thinks this brings us luck.  

So everything was in place for a great performance at a packed to the rafters Goodison.  It seemed the excitement had even got to the announcer who, after a generally well respected minute's silence and national anthem, whipped up the crowd with 'This is Everton, the People's Club!!!!'

The Team

No surprises in the line up, and this in itself is a change from the Smith era.  The only real question mark was who would replace Gravesen in the midfield engine room, and no real surprise to see the hugely improved Unsie get the nod.  Otherwise, in a most un-Smith like manner, we had a left back actually playing at left back, a right back at right back, and so on.  Whatever next! 

Strangely, the game itself began in a muted atmosphere.  A big, big match for both sides perhaps the tension of the occasion simply got to everyone.  Indeed, Bolton started in lively fashion, a couple of crosses coming in from their left causing some nervous moments in the Everton defence.  

Then, in quick succession, we could have had a penalty and a goal, as Rad was flattened inside the box, play was waved on and the ball eventually bobbled through to Gemmill, six yards out and only the keeper to beat.  Rather than shoot, however, he unaccountably decided on an underhit pull back to Alexanderssen, who blazed over.

Then, disaster.  Unseen from my seat in the lower Bullens, there is an incident as we wait to take a free kick, and a Bolton man goes down as if pole-axed.  No hesitation from the ref it's a straight red for Dunc, who walks off without a protest. 

After the match, I drove home to Ipswich like a Bat out of Hell to catch The Premiership so I could see this incident hoping that Dunc had simply caught his marker with a flailing arm.  No such excuses, however, and a deliberate upper cut to the ribs leaves no room for interpretation by the ref.  

It was an absolutely inexcusable act in a must-win game by our captain and a senior professional.  This could easily have cost us the game and I can only imagine that those who applauded Duncan from the field had not seen the incident.

At least the game was brought to life by the sending off.  As often happens, the ten men appeared the more motivated and, during this period, Bolton were unable to mount one really serious attack.  

Then, within a minute, two yellows for Bolton's Greek defender bring a red and it's ten aside.  The first yellow was for a debatable foul on Radzinski though the same defender could well have seen yellow earlier after a foul on Gemmill.  Unbelievably however, and in a manner which must have driven his manager to despair, within a minute he blatantly tripped Radzinski leaving the ref with absolutely no option but to produce a second yellow and therefore a red.  And the mood of the crowd lifts and it's game on again!

Shortly before half time, the breakthrough came.  Pistone, who linked brilliantly with Blomqvist all afternoon, was encouraged by the crowd to try a shot from outside the box.  He hit a good left-footed effort which cannoned back invitingly off a defender this time he hit it right footed and it flew in like a rocket for his first goal for the Club!!!! 

A fabulous strike and the crowd is going wild!!!  And barely had we time to settle into our seats when, surely, it would be two?  Utterly appalling defending by Bolton allowed Alexandersson to put in Radzinski for a simple one-on-one surely he had to score?  But no, unbelievably, he hits a weak shot against the keeper's legs meaning it was just the one at half time.

Second Half

Bolton signalled their intent by the introduction of Ricketts at half time and certainly they started the second half more brightly.  In the first they appeared to have come for a draw and, even while they had the advantage of the extra man, never carried a real attacking threat.  

However, having weathered an early storm, Everton again had a gilt-edged chance to go two up, again the opportunity falling to Radzinski this time thanks to brilliant work by Blomquist, who showed great pace and anticipation to steal the ball off the toes of a defender and make ground before putting the perfect ball right into Radzinski's feet.  With the goal absolutely at his mercy, the little striker somehow contrived to horribly mis-hit his shot which dribbled miserably into the grateful arms of the unbelieving keeper. An extraordinary miss!

Nevertheless, we were playing good football at this stage and one move, which saw Gemmill in for a good shot that he dragged wide, oozed real class: patient passing, good movement and a good final delivery.  It was only a matter of time, surely, before the second goal came and sure enough it was The Rad who redeemed himself. 

A rejuvenated Gemmill attacked the defender, got to the bye line (I know it sounds unlikely, but honestly, that's what happened) and put the ball into the box where it bobbled off a defender, and came to Radzinski with his back to the goal.  He swivelled and buried it!!!! OK, a little bobbler that took a wicked deflection but after the two misses, he was delighted.  And so were the crowd, who couldn't have cared less if it had gone in off his backside.  It was no less than the lad deserved for some tireless front running up there on his own.

Shortly afterwards, a substitution that more than anything else showed we have entered a new era.  Where, at 2 - 0, Smith would beyond doubt have sent on as many defenders as he had available, Moyesy withdrew Blomqvist arguably man of the match up to that point and sent on Chadwick to play up front.  

A fantastically positive move, if surprising, as Radzinski was looking absolutely shattered. And I have to say, I was doubting the wisdom of the change myself as Bolton pressed on.  Simonsen was called on to make a stunning double save which bought a richly deserved round of applause when shown on the big screens.  

However, Simo was helpless when Bolton sent in a decent free kick and, despite what looked like a foul, scored through one of their defenders nodding in at the far post.  A similar far post header had hit Simo's post, as had another Bolton effort when their player was through on goal thanks to an outrageous handball, so we could have no complaints when the goal finally went in.

In the past, this would have been the cue for a desperate, nail-biting last few minutes.  In truth, however, we were the better side and did not look in real danger of conceding again.   Instead, we rounded off a fine performance with an excellent third goal. 

A long clearance saw Radzinski show brilliant pace to chase it down.  His presence seemed to distract the keeper who, well out of his area, missed the ball completely.  Radzinski nipped in, nutmegged a defender, and had the vision to put a perfect pass in for Chadwick, who, with supreme confidence, rather than take a touch and give the keeper time to get back, just swept the ball into the net past the defender on the line.  

A brilliant, brilliant goal for the young lad and we were in heaven.  And the last five minutes were spent with the crowd making more noise than we have heard in many long and very dismal months at Goodison.

Verdict

There is a terrible danger of getting carried away on the evidence of four matches (when was the last time we got nine points out of twelve?).  A new manager always lifts a Club and it will be a while before we can really judge Moyes.  But, by God, he has made a good start. 

Players look liberated and rejuvenated.  Unsie, of whom I have been a fierce critic in the past, is transformed from the desperate hoofer of a few weeks ago, but so too are players like Alexanderssen and Gemmill.  It was just great to see Moyes on his feet urging Watto to make overlapping runs. Everyone suddenly wants the ball, wants to be involved.  

Although worries remain, such as Simo's communication with his defenders, as a team we are unrecognisable from the disorganised rabble who I saw lose so pitifully to West Ham a few short weeks ago.  Bringing on Chadwick up front was a declaration of positive intent that I think it is fair to say we never ever saw under Smith.  In all, a fabulous start for the new man.

It is a measure of what has been done in four games that under Moyes we may well finish higher this year than we ever did under Smith in almost four full seasons.  His comments in the programme, that the fans will tolerate shortcomings, but not a lack of effort, hit just the right note. 

Most importantly of all, as supporters, we at last have something to cheer, a team to be proud of rather than embarrassed about.  Something to remind us that it is, after all, a grand old team to play for, and a grand old team to support.  We are, after all, the People's Club!!  Come on you Blues!!



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