Peter Reid is an Evertonian
Despite their frequency, a minute's silence prior to kick-off is
always sobering. This time it was in memory of dead kids, two
murdered, one a player's baby. Only an ill-timed mobile phone
ring filled the air. The whistle went to signal the moments
end. The silence shattered. Minds returned to the great
escapism of football.
The team returned to 4-4-2. Wright was a man with something
to prove. Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir and Naysmith took the back
line. Pembridge deservedly kept his place to combine with
Gravesen, Li Tie and Alexandersson who was introduced as a starter
at the expense of Rooney. Campbell and Radzinski up front.
One of the more satisfying things about the day's eventual
outcome was that we only actually played for 75 minutes. I'll
swear for the first quarter of an hour we didn't even start.
It looked like we had come for a hiding. First blood seemed
certain to go to the Mackems. How they didn't score is beyond
me � this culminated in Phillips, from point blank range, firing
into Wright. Wright couldn't hold it (would have been special
if he had), the rebound dropped back to Phillips five yards out with
Wright prostrate in front of him. He hit the bar. What a
And then Everton woke up. And you know what? We were
Ok. The midfield tackled and supported well, neat passing
between all; Campbell held the ball up; Radzinski ran ragged and
freaked them out with his pace; Pembridge fired in some good
corners. We more than held our own.
So it was deserved when the goal came. Simple stuff.
Gravesen, drifting wide, put a diagonal ball into the box; Radzinski
knocked it into the path of Campbell who was where he should be,
swung his leg and put it in. Kevin is a confidence
player. The goal was just what the Doctor ordered.
The rest of the chances in the half were long-range efforts: a
couple for us from the impressive Li Tie, and a couple for them from
one-time Blue-boy, Gavin McCann. Tie had us worried after he
over-enthusiastically chased a hospital ball and spent a long time
down after the inevitable clash. He got up on his feet as if
nothing had happened after quite a bit of treatment which meant he
was targeted as an actor by the Sunderland Boo boys for his
remaining time on the field. Anyway; ahead at half time.
In the second half, they came at us in waves for a full half
hour. How we soaked it up is beyond me. Quinn was thrown
on, and seemed to have been on just moments when the woodwork was
struck for the third time.
Finally Sunderland seemed to break their demons. A free
kick was floated in. Wright, who still hadn't inspired
confidence at all in the first half, completely flapped at it and
put it in our own net. Heads dropped into hands throughout the
away support. Then there was that magic, slow to catch on,
cheer amongst the dejected as people sussed the offside flag was
up. This was at the other end from where we were sitting so I
have no idea the justice of this. What I do know is that
Gerrard would have looked attractive had it have stood.
A few minutes can be an age in football. A second can
change everything. People have moments where they say; 'that'
was the turning point. And so just a few moments after the
gaffe was disallowed, Sunderland � still pushing hard � won a
penalty. Kevin Phillips took it, and hit it well and true.
Wright guessed the direction, hurled himself at it, adjusted himself
in mid-air to get a hand to it and take the sting out, and managed
to snatch it out the air as he landed. A truly fantastic
save. 'England's Number One' rang loud across Sunderland's
Sunderland had the wind pulled out of their sales. We detected
it, and did a professional job in playing out the time. Rooney came
on for Alexandersson, and gave us a shining cameo. In one run he
picked the ball up on the edge of their box, put his head down and
ran diagonally all the way to the wing in their half level with the
18 yard line. No-one could get near him.
Linderoth came on for Tie. The midfield passing was
majestic at times towards the end. Keep-ball stuff.
Sunderland, emotionally drained, resigned to their fate. The
icing on the cake was reminding all that 'Peter Reid is an
Evertonian' and even a nostalgic burst of 'He's fat he's round, he's
worth a million pound...'.
Sunderland will look at this game and wonder how the hell they
did not get a point at the least. Still, the truth is they
didn't have the character to see their spells of dominance last, and
they let their bad luck get their heads down. Credit to the
Blueboys on the day � if you can't be outstanding, then being OK
and lucky are the next best thing. Three points on the
board. Great day out.
Individuals (Hard to write: no real stars or
Wright 7 - Still looked dodgy as hell to start
with. Then he made 'that' save. Hopefully that is his
Gremlins out of his system then.
Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Naysmith 7 - A professional
job by the back line. Particularly in the spells when
Sunderland were on top. They weren't broken. Naysmith
still looks so comfortable on the ball bringing it forward, but then
lets himself down with the final cross.
Gravesen 7 - Fine. Sometimes looked to try to
take the ball on too far but was having a 'lucky' day and seemed to
end up with the ball at his feet despite their best efforts!
Pembridge 7 - In form. Will start again on
Wednesday. Best corner taker we've had at the club in recent
memory by the way. Goals will come from these this season.
Alexandersson 6 - Fine, but the least visible of the
Li Tie 8 - I really, really like this bloke. Calm,
hard working, vision. Not every pass found its man on the day,
but even for those that went astray you could see the intention and
the intelligence behind it. The crowd is currently struggling
to get a song that fits his name though. 'One Li Tie' doesn't
Radzinski 8 - Shades it for over Tie as man of the match
if only as he made the full game. Tireless work rate, used his
pace to open them up a few times, laid on the goal, had a couple of
decent chances himself, and looks so sharp.
Campbell 7 - Much better. Held the ball up well, good work
rate, was were he needed to be for the goal.
Linderoth 7 - Enthusiastic and immediately got stuck in.
Rooney 8 - OK, so it was brief showing, but he still took
the piss and scared the shit out of them. One great run in
particular. No coincidence that him coming on about coincides with
them starting to look defeated.