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Goodison stalemate with all eyes on Wembley

By Paul Traill :  11/05/2009 :  Comments (7) :
Match Report: Everton vs Tottenham Hotspurs

Train or car? Train or car? Train or car? Eventually I opted for the train though regretted this once I had to get off at James Street and walk to Moorfields. Not the end of the world I know but enough to frustrate me.

We?d all agreed to meet in the pub at 13.30pm and predictably enough I was first there?followed by Gary?followed by Ste. Walter Smith?s Rangers beat Celtic in the Old Firm derby on the TV, giving them a fantastic opportunity to win the SPL. We got the team news and it was Neville favoured at right back with Hibbert still injured. Jacobsen made only the bench. The gap in midfield was filled by Jack Rodwell. Spurs started with Keane and Defoe up front, and Huddlestone, Jenas, Modric, King and Woodgate all featuring. A look at the Spurs bench indicated just how much they?ve spent to assemble their squad with Cudicini, Chimbonda, Pavlyuchenko and David Bentley all amongst the substitutes.

Strangely the pub cleared a little early so we headed on to the ground nicely in time for kick off as the rain begin to lash down. Once the sides had switched ends Lee Mason got proceedings under way.

Whether it was us taking our foot of the gas and gearing up for Wembley, or players trying hard not to get injuries and suspensions, or two teams just feeling the affects of a long hard season?I just don?t know, but neither team really seemed incredibly motivated in this one. I?d say Spurs edged us for the first half albeit without really, if at all, testing Howard. Planet of the Apes look-a-like Gareth Bale whipped a free kick just over the bar at the second time of asking after his first was illegally charged down by Pienaar; Robbie Keane?s drive was well block-tackled by Lescott and Jermain Defoe hit a reasonable chance wide when the ball came at him quickly. At the other end Gomes out-foxed Jo as he made a right pigs ear of a routine backpass but fortunately for the keeper he managed wriggle free and pass the ball off to one of his defenders, bizarrely blaming the defender in the process.

With nothing likely to happen in the rest of the half, Gary and I went for a beer which led to some young lad quizzing us about why we we?re leaving the game with so much of it still to play?that took some explaining. On the monitor downstairs we saw Jo get played in for a reasonable chance which he took too far wide and his shot was in the end blocked by King; and Rodwell take aim and fire over the bar from quite a way out.

Back up for the second half and the wind and rain had changed to pleasant sunshine as Everton began to pull their finger out a bit, all be it with no end product. Spurs were happy enough with a draw in the end so I guess a stalemate was fair. Cahill rasped a half-volley just wide of the post from distance ? that would?ve been some goal; and just before he was subbed Gosling bounced a half-volley onto the outside if the post in his last action of the game. A few subs for Everton (Saha for Jo and Osman for Gosling) didn?t really have the desired effect. Lee Mason blew up relentlessly preventing any rhythm to the game and my only regret at the end was that I didn?t leave a few minutes earlier as I got caught in a huge, huge queue coming down to the Gwladys Street concourse at the end of the game. The main positive, as some bloke pointed out to me on the way out, was Tim Howard?s clean-sheet. He?s now broken Neville Southall?s record of 16 clean sheets. Congratulations Tim.

A mixed day overall. The game clearly won?t live long in the memory but we have now definitely finished 6th, though with Villa losing it seems such a great opportunity to finish fifth has been wasted?like I say, all eyes on Wembley I guess.

Player Ratings

Howard: It couldn?t have been an easier game to set a new record ? I don?t think he made a save all game! 6

Baines: Good. Showed his usual level of consistency. 7

Lescott and Yobo: Good to see them connect into their old partnership quite effortlessly. Yobo now thankfully looks focused and confident again so hopefully we?re coping without Jags OK. 7

Neville: Didn?t exactly struggle though seems to have gotten more used to playing in the middle. Still, did OK. 6

Rodwell: Did very well in the middle and shows a lot of composure for one so young. I think he must have been encouraged to shoot whenever he got an opportunity as he tried his luck a few times ? I?d love to see some of the perlas he scores in training. 7

Pienaar: Nowhere near as good as he has been and picked up a soft booking. 5

Gosling: Was doing pretty well. Don?t know why he subbed when he was really, particularly after just hitting the post. 7

Cahill: Covered a lot of ground in the middle encapsulated at the very end when he chased Jenas all the way back and bullied him into the corner before winning a free kick. Also smacked a cracking effort fractionally wide. Just the usual from our all-action Aussie. 7

Fellaini: My man of the match. Seemed more up for it than most and won countless headers. I think he needed just a bit more support from his team mates. 7

Jo: Didn?t look interested today. 5

Saha (for Jo): Didn?t look interested either. Should?ve gone for Vaughan. 5

Osman (for Gosling): Didn?t get into the game. Should?ve stuck with Gosling. 5

Reader Comments

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Ciaran MacGiollaEoin
1   Posted 11/05/2009 at 14:41:00

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I would take issue with some of your scores... Pienaar put in a man of the match performance. Cahill was useless in that central role, Fellaini was very poor at times... and Gosling didn?t seem to be on the pitch at all (he?s certainly not a right winger anyway)..
Mike Johnson
2   Posted 11/05/2009 at 14:44:40

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Good article, Paul; however, I have to disagree with Pienaar?s rating ? I thought he was Man of the Match.
Gary Brent
3   Posted 11/05/2009 at 18:28:14

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Pienaar was man of match how can you give a 5??? Until you start watching the full game instead of getting off early or going for half-time pint, then I think your player ratings have no merit.
Gary Mortimer
4   Posted 11/05/2009 at 18:37:03

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I think you’ve got Pienaar and Fellaini mixed up - though I can’t see how.

I thought King and Woodgate handled the big fella a bit too easily.

Pienaar was easily the only blue trying to do something with the ball, rather than just lump it for the forwards to chase/jump for. Ok things didn’t always come off, but he is trying to step into Miki’s boots. Man of the match for me.

Steve Hogan
5   Posted 11/05/2009 at 18:49:57

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One mans meat... to echo the other previous comments, Baines ?good, showed his usual level of consistency? 7, I?m staggered, his crosses were atrocious all afternoon, fell way below his best.

Gosling ?was doing pretty well, don?t know why he was subbed?? 7

The most ineffective player on the pitch by far, the game passed him by.

Suggest you stay off the pop long enough to watch the game.
Tom Edwards
6   Posted 12/05/2009 at 14:28:28

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Pienaar 5?! I have been critical of him in the past but have to say he has been a cut above in the last 3 or 4 games, Fellaini certainly didn?t merit any more than 5 and I think DM needs to sort out exactly where he and Tiger Tim fit in if they are on the pitch together. They seem to cancel eachother out and get in eachother?s way.

There may be a perfectly simple answer to this..... but why did you get off at James St and walk to Moorfields? Surely it would have been quicker to stay on the Loop Line and then change to the Northern Line at Moorfields? I haven?t lived in Liverpool for over 20 years, so it may be that it is not possible to change there any more, but it certainly was when I used to use the Merseyrail!

Any takers?
Tony Williams
7   Posted 12/05/2009 at 17:36:47

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I know he wasn’t involved much but why so low for Howard? He didn’t have a save to make so you could effectively say it was a flawless performance, as he did nothing wrong. Simply for breaking the record he should manage at least an 8?

Pienaar 5?????

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