Andy Johnson started the friendly at Cambridge United today, with John Ruddy in goal for a game that was agreed as part of his transfer into the big time two years ago. Mikel Arteta is on the bench, with the same long list of senior squad absentees meaning that the youngsters should get another chance to impress manager and onlookers alike...
Eunan O'Kane, who made a great impression against Sion, starts in midfield, and John Irving is clinging on to the right-back slot while Hibbert recovers, and it is yet another chance for Andy van der Meyde to build much-needed match fitness.
Cambridge went straight up to the Everton end from the kick-off and Andy Parkinson wellied it over John Ruddy into the net before anyone was awake! A very lively start to the game ensued. Great work down the left by O'Kane put in Neville whose good ball to Johnson should have produced a better result.
McEvilly had to leave the field for the home side with a hamstring problem after 10 mins. Van der Meyde made a poor tackle, looking for another yellow card! Johnson got in a shot but it was not strong enough, while at the other end Ruddy did better with another deflected shot.
But a nice ball forward to Lukas Jutkiewicz, he did very well to control the ball and take it forward superbly to force the ball past Potter and just inside the post. An excellent finish!
Two great opportunities for Johnson came on the end of a sweeping move in which Van der Meyde went down but the ref played advantage and AJ really should've scored.
From a floating Van der Meyde corner, Lescott drove a header toward the post and AJ got his head on it but Potter was alive to the defection and palmed it away. On the next attack, Van der Meyde crossed in nicely for Jutkiewicz, who jumped a little early to head the ball just over the bar. Minutes later, the same combo paid off and Jutkiewicz nodded the ball nicely just inside the far post, to put the Blues ahead.
Everton almost scored from the restart, a great cross on from Irving. The game then went a bit flat and Jose Baxter replaced Lukas Jutkiewicz. Some time later it looked like Wilmott might score for Cambridge after getting behind the Everton defence but Ruddy stuck out a leg to make the save.
But he could do nothing about a strike form Andy Parkinson after he pulled down a long ball from the back and floated a superb shot over Ruddy and into the Everton net.
Baxter was a lively inclusion and he put a beautiful ball in for AJ who tried to lift the ball over Potter but failed. Mikel Arteta, Kieran Agard and Lee Molyneux than came on for the last 20 mins or so. But the game then swung in the home side's favour, with another good defense, splitting ball that Wilmott powered home, perhaps with the benefit of a deflection off Jagielka.
Agard tried to score off a ball form Arteta but it was straight at the keeper. Everton then turned it on, with lots of pressure on the Cambridge goal but no clear strikes resulting. Then at the other end, a fantastically worked goal, a superb swivel and turn by Beesley off a header from a corner that showed up Rowell and Jagielka going for the same ball. It allowed Beesley to fire the ball hard into the Everton net past an increasingly embarrassed John Ruddy.
Agard nearly scored at the end, taking it around the keeper but the defender was there. He got another chance before the final whistle.
Not the scoreline many fans will relish, but it looked to have been a great workout for what was essentially a reserve Everton team, with at least 10 of the first-team squad missing.
By one account, Johnson looked like a man playing his last game in Everton Blue, staying to the very end to applaud the fans as if he were saying goodbye ahead of an imminent transfer away from Goodison. Meanwhile, he told another fan that he was not going anywhere at the moment. We shall see...
These days I'm pretty much a CUFC ticket holder so it was great to
see Everton at the Abbey.
First thing to point out was that the away section normally has around 300-400 fans; Everton , even with it full, were the quietest fans I have ever seen at The Abbey.
Regarding the players; I'm gonna stick my neck out and say that Ruddy will never make it. I don't recall him making a save; every shot went past him.
Of the kids, I thought Rodwell seems to have grown. He got stuck in well in the first half. I can see him making it as an enforcer. Irving also did well. O'Kane is far too lightweight. Lukas looked completely out of it but somehow managed to score 2 goals. He has a good physique though.
We changed to 4-5-1 when Lukas went off. Baxter did ok as did Molyneux.
AJ was heard to mutter a visible obscenity when VDM failed to cross adequately to him. AJ had several chances to score but, obviously, repeatedly failed. I would cash in on him as, much as I like him, he is not quite up to it. I thought VDM did ok. All the threat came down the right in the first half. He needs to lose some weight but we are stuck with him so we as well persist with him.
Reading The Guardian on Monday, Moyes says he needs another 6 faces. Judging by Saturday, we do need some new players as there is not much in reserve.
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