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 Venue: St Andrews, Birmingham Premiership  Saturday 29 October 2005; 3:00pm
    Half Time: 0-1
  Davies (43')  
 Attendance: 26,554 Fixture 10 Referee: Rob Styles

Match Summary


Andy van der Meyde: Finally gets his full debut starting role

Andy van der Meyde is given a starting role for the first time in his injury-plagued sufferings since joining Everton.   But no debut for Per Krldrup, who remains less-favoured than aging and less-than-inspiration 

Tim Cahill and Duncan Ferguson return to start after they both missed the Carling Cup loss against Birmingham.  No place for Marcus Bent today. 

Everton showed intent from the off, with Van der Meyde skipping past his marker and setting up Ferguson then Cahill for shots on goal.

But Brum had some attacking intent of their own, a good move form Upson requiring a defensive touch from Beattie.

Everton produced a great move on 17 mins when Beattie dispossessed Jarosik passing to VdM who combined with Davies to get the ball into Arteta.  His ball in to the near post was good but Ferguson could not convert.

A good move involving Van der Meyde, and Cahill from the byeline to set up Beattie for a header at the far post that floated just over.  Everton were producing some meaningful attacks, pushing forward well and with confidence.  Van der Meyde was behind the next crucial move, skipping past a challenge and then setting up Simon Davies in space and the Welsh fella belted it in from distance, the bounce fooling Taylor....  GOAL, GOAL... GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAALL!!!  Finally, from open play!

But Everton sat back a little and Birmingham had a great chance to equalize before the break.

Good shots from Forrsell and Heskey gave Everton some concern after the restart; Pennant also got in to a good position.  Johnson then claimed a penalty off Davies, and should really have been booked for diving.

Ferguson finally got one down for Beattie but his shot was well saved.  Weir set up Ferguson from the corner, but Ferguson chose not to shoot!  An overhead kick form Cahill landed on top of the net as Everton looked to protect their slender lead. Ferguson then got a headed chance but could not make it count.

Then a massive piece of luck from an undeserved free-kick taken well by Kilkenny, firing off the inside of the post (Moyes would latter claim that Martyn pushed it onto the post) but rolling agonizingly along the goalline and not going in.  A massive let-off as Birmingham kept pushing and probing as Everton rode their luck.

Van der Meyde was pulled off after he looked to have tired, and Kilbane came on, while Steve Bruce threw on another striker, Pandiani, for the Brummies. 

Everton looked increasingly flat at the front, both Ferguson and Beattie looking shattered, but it was Arteta sliding the ball through to Kilbane, trying to increase the advantage. However, a total lack of conviction and confidence from the Irishman; guilt-edged opportunity totally wasted.  Osman then came on for the flagging Beattie and went back to 4-5-1, suddenly increasing their solidity and denying Birmingham their opportunities.

Everton weathered the heavy storm of pressure from Birmingham and strove to lock down the result a fantastic one considering the dire run of form that we had been on.  Lots of celebration from the players at the end...  Corner finally turned???

Michael Kenrick


Match Preview

Another scoring blank, another defeat, another cup exit and another injury at left back.    Could this season have started in any worse fashion?  Probably not, but we have to hope like hell it doesn't get any worse.

So, to Birmingham, a team struggling for form almost as badly as Everton are and currently on a run of three straight league defeats.  Many Evertonians have been talking about this game in terms of it being a game we have to and should win as if there's some expectation that we will.  Unfortunately, the Blues haven't scored a goal from open play in the Premiership in almost two months and there was precious little against either Chelsea or Middlesbrough to suggest where the next is going to come from.

If there is a glimmer of hope, it comes in the form of a greater tally of chances created in the Cup midweek and the improving fitness of Andy van der Meyde.  The Dutchman played the last half hour against 'Boro and while there have been hints on the Official Site that David Moyes will be forced into deploying him from the start this weekend because of the injury to Matteo Ferrari and Kevin Kilbane's need to deputise for the Italian, it would be a surprise if Van der Meyde featured before half time.

But, then again, it's somewhat surprising that Phil Neville isn't being charged with filling in at left back given Kilbane's poor displays in that role in the past. Perhaps Moyes feels that if Tim Cahill doesn't make it (bruised shin) he will need Neville in central midfield seeing as Mikel Arteta has made the right wing his own.

Defensively, the Blues have been okay in recent weeks, which perhaps explains why Per Krldrup's £5M backside has been warming the bench for the past fortnight despite being fit enough to at least play some part.  But with David Weir's age and lack of pace a constant issue, the Dane's chance can't be far away.

As ever, the biggest problem is up front.  James Beattie has waited weeks to string two back-to-back starts together and about as long to get a clear opportunity to score from open play, but when his chance arose at the end of Wednesday's cup tie he headed wide.  It was symptomatic of Everton's distressing lack of firepower and there isn't much to do apart from hope that it all somehow clicks into place.

With Duncan Ferguson doubtful due to a back injury, Marcus Bent and James McFadden are again Moyes's options to partner Beattie if he opts for 4-4-2.  But don't be surprised if the dreaded 4-1-4-1 formation rears its ugly head again, once more... and without it's key component — Cahill.

Bent showed on Wednesday that, if nothing else, his pace is a weapon and that, for me, is enough reason to partner him with Beattie every game.  And with Van der Meyde's pace now added to the mix, the Blues are perhaps better equipped in attacking areas to earn their second win than they have been in a while.  We shall see...

A creditable draw would deflect criticism from the players and manager; defeat doesn't really bear thinking about.  We have 29 games left and need at least 36 points to achieve safety. Put simply, we have to do everything to start putting points on the board as quickly as possible.

Lyndon Lloyd


Matchday Stats

Textr.

Steve Flanagan



We're not bottom anymore!

Phew.  Bloody big phew!

The talk in the car up to St Andrews was total doom and gloom.  We're already down, the efforts of last Sunday completely wasted by the midweek Mickey Mouse Cup exit.  Loads of new injuries from last weekend as well...

So, guess this week's line-up was proving difficult.  4-5-1, Kilbane at left back, Bent playing wide right, Beattie on his own upfront and anyone who was left fit to play on the bench.  Big surprise when the SMS came through with 4-4-2, the Bash Brothers up front, Neville at left back and Andy van der Meyde making his full debut!  Well, I nearly spilled my pint!

We kicked off and pretty quickly the ball arrived at the feet of A vd M and he immediately beat his man and set off down the wing.  Hasn't anyone told him that Everton players don't do that sort of thing?  Then a few minutes later he did it again.  And there was more.  He chased back and won tackles, he hit one magnificent ball from where he was on the left wing, right the way across the pitch to Arteta on the other wing.  To say he showed more skill on the ball in 45 mins than I've seen since the days of Andrei Kanchelskis isn't too much of a exaggeration.

As the first half went on, we began to play more and more half-decent football.  Cahill headed a great cross from Hibbert goalwards which Maik Taylor had to scramble away; Dunc put a clever flick with the outside of his foot wide; then Beattie saw a towering header loop over Taylor but wide of the far post.  Birmingham were showing why they are also down at the bottom at times, you weren't really sure which team was Everton the team in the dodgy grey strip were playing good football whilst the team in blue shirts and white shorts looked decidedly nervous, lacking in confidence and rarely threatened to score.

Then, just before half-time, a good break down the left saw the ball reach Andy Pandy.  Rather than try to beat his man, he spotted Simon Davies in the middle unmarked.  Davies took the ball, advanced a couple of steps and let fly.  The ball dipped and bounced in front of Taylor who, inexplicably, flapped at it and it ended up in the back of the net!  Queue delirium in the away supporters enclosure!!!

Half time arrived with Martyn hardly having to make a serious save.  Downstairs in the tea bar, the Blues fans were all smiles :-)  Second half was more even though we still continued to make the best chances.  A long goal-kick from Martyn saw a Dunc flick on to Beattie who took it early with the outside of his right foot.  Again Taylor was equal to it, conceding the corner.  From the kick, the ball arrived at back post for Weir to beautifully head back across goal to Dunc... who for some unknown reason pulled out of the shot that surely would have seen the net bulge and the game done and dusted.  Then another quick attack saw a poor back header from Martin Taylor that Dunc sneaked in on (can you imagine Dunc sneaking in anywhere?) and powered a header straight at Taylor.  Would we rue these gilt-edged chances?

In between all this, we had the most amazing let-off.  For about the 50th time, Jiri Jarosik theatrically ended up on the floor and yet again referee Rob styles gave a free kick.  Kilkenny, the young Birmingham player, bent it past Martyn, hit the inside of the left-hand post, the ball rolled all the way along the goal line and out past the other post.  When the luck is going against you... conversely, when the luck is going with you (i.e. Drogba's goal last week), then you get away with chances like this.

Eventually, with about 20 mins to go, Moyes made a couple of substitutions with Kilbane coming on for Andy (kind of like trading in your Porsche for a 2CV) and Osman for Beattie as Everton saw out the final few minutes for a well-earned three points.

As the players left the pitch, Cahill came down to the Everton fans and threw his shirt into the crowd and pretty much everyone else followed suit.  So that's what they think of the grey away strip!

Scores on the doors:

  • Martyn:  7  Did everything he had to do admirably.
  • Hibbert:  7  Looked better than of late, got a few good crosses in as well.
  • Weir:  7  Pretty solid but this was only Birmingham
  • Yobo:  8  Nearly MotM again
  • Neville:  9  My MotM. Of the 6 players who have now played at left-back, he probably looked the best.  Linked up superbly with the Flying Dutchman (OK, clich, sorry) and showed what a good football brain he has.
  • Arteta:  7  Wasted on the wing we'd be better off with him in central midfield.
  • Cahill:  7  Quite quiet again but the plan seemed to be for him to play the holding role in midfield. Ended up almost playing as an extra defender at times in the 2nd half.
  • Davies:  6  Still disappointing in my book. Just doesn't do enough to justify having a central role instead of Our Tayta.
  • Van der Meyde:  8  Faded in the 2nd half but that was to be expected.  The guy is class.  He is at least as good as the rumours.
  • Beattie:  8  Definitely getting better as his match-fitness improves.  The partnership with Dunc is looking like our best.
  • Ferguson:  8  Could and should have scored but I'll forgive him that.  How long can we keep him fit to play 90 mins, though?
  • Overall:  8  Definitely a well-deserved win... BUT... Birmingham were very poor.  If we hadn't have won this one, then I'd have been very worried. 

The next 4 games (Boro, West Brom, the Barcodes & Blackburn) will show whether or not we really have turned the corner.   My cousin asked for a goal today for her birthday. She got her goal - and 3 points. Happy Birthday Jude!

Jonathan Martin

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BIRMINGHAM (4-4-2)
  Maik Taylor
  Martin Taylor
  Clapham
  Cunningham (73' Pandiani)
  Upson
  Pennant
  Butt (33' Kilkenny)
  Jarosik
  Johnson
  Heskey
  Forrsell
  Subs not used
  Vaesen
  Painter
  Tebily
 
EVERTON (4-4-2; 4-5-1)
  Martyn
  Hibbert
  Yobo
  Weir {c}
  Neville
  Davies
  Cahill
  Arteta :65'
  Van der Meyde
           (68' Kilbane)
  Beattie (81' Osman)
  Ferguson
Subs not used
  Wright
  Krldrup
  McFadden
  Unavailable
  Pistone (injured)
  Carsley (injured)
  Naysmith (injured)
  Vaughan (injured)
  Valente (injured)
  Ferrari (injured)
  Bent (injured?)
  Li Tie (unfit)
 
Premiership Scores
Saturday 29 Oct 2005
Wigan 1-0 Fulham
Tottenham 1-1 Arsenal
Birmingham 0-1 Everton
Charlton 0-1 Bolton
Chelsea 4-2 Blackburn
Liverpool 1-0 West Ham
Sunderland 1-4 Portsmouth
Middlesbro 4-1 Man Utd
Sunday 30 Oct 2005
West Brom 0-3 Newcastle
Monday 31 Oct 2005
Man City 3-1 Aston Villa
 
Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Chelsea 31
2 Wigan 22
3 Tottenham 20
4 Man City 20
5 Bolton 20
6 Charlton 19
7 Man Utd 18
8 Arsenal 17
9 West Ham 15
10 Newcastle 15
11 Middlesbro 15
12 Blackburn 14
13 Liverpool 13
14 Portsmouth 10
15 Fulham 9
16 Aston Villa 9
17 West Brom 8
18 Everton 7
19 Birmingham 6
20 Sunderland 5
After 31 Oct 2005



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