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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Bringing out the best and worst

By Paul Traill :  29/12/2009 :  Comments (10) :

Match Report: Everton vs Burnley

The match brings the best and worst out of people

With New Year's Day games now seemingly a thing of the past, we seem to have been shunned from the home Boxing Day game in place of Liverpool and then always seem to get the home game a few days later.  Burnley at home.  Hardly a classic on paper but enough to gather a full house at Goodison Park.

You knew it was going to a be packed just by the amount of faces we saw in the pub prior to kick off.  A few mates who used to regularly attend but now no longer get the privilege were in force and as too was Devy, a lad whom now resides in Boston but gets himself back for Christmas time. Was nice to see him. Even a load of Ajax fans had arrived in the pub for this game, perhaps to watch Heitinga and Pienaar.

Another lad I know, Paul, also came down the pub. He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet though a Burnley fan.  Well, at least I thought he was the nicest guy though his matchday antics have a lot to be desired as he told me he was kicked out of the Liverpool game at Anfield earlier this season.  They’d also just been politely asked to leave The Brick probably for making a bit of a nuisance of themselves.  I’ll never understand that mentality but ho hum… more later.

We got the team news in the pub and read that Saha was missing with Yakubu leading the line on his own.  Vaughan and Neville made the bench.  Burnley started with Nugent and Fletcher in attack.  We heard Z-Cars from outside as we entered the ground but got inside in time for kick-off; Howard Webb was the referee.

The game was entertaining from the off with both teams giving it a good go. We edged it in terms of chances created, I felt... though Burnley were certainly giving it a good go when possible, even if a bit shoot-on-site-ish.  Probably our best chance of the half fell to Bilyaletdinov who placed it too close to the keeper, though Yakubu also had an excellent opportunity which he prodded onto the post from a great Leighton Baines cross.

At the other end, Nugent oughta have done better when he nipped between Neill and Howard after a poor Neill back-header, and was also denied a little later on when a Neill clearance ricocheted back off Hibbert but Heitinga was onto it like a flash to snuff out the danger.  Half-time... goalless but certainly not lacking in entertainment.

It was more of the same in the second half with Everton probing but Burnley resilient and having a go themselves on every opportunity.  This nearly came to fruition for Burnley when Nugent got into the box and drove across goal and onto the post… lucky for us.

The key moment in the game probably came when Stephen Jordan was given his marching orders when he received his second yellow card for dragging down Stephen Pienaar. Against 10 men with half-an-hour still to play, you felt Everton HAD to make our numerical advantage count.

I don’t know if it was just co-incidence, as he arrived onto the field around the same time as Burnley went down to 10 men, but I thought we seemed a so much better team with Neville on the field.  All of a sudden we seemed a bit sharper as we went for the kill though were thwarted by a combination of defenders and Jensen as Bilyaletdinov, Fellaini and especially Yakubu all had decent efforts on goal.

It took one more key substitution to finally force the game, however, when Bilyaletdinov made way for Vaughan.  Just whilst Gary and I were bemoaning how we didn’t feel Vaughan replacing Bilyaletdinov was necessarily the correct change, the Brummie bleeder only went and scored.  A nice ball from Pienaar released Fellaini who swept the ball across the box.  Yakubu just missed contact but the ball fell to Vaughan who was able to slot home via a deflection and into the goal.  Huge relief all round but everyone so happy for Vaughan.

You could tell we’re still far from mastering how to hang on to a lead as almost straight away we managed to get ourselves onto the backfoot; however, a nice breakaway goal settled the game in injury time when after a good run Yakubu slipped in Pienaar who finished well to put the game beyond doubt.  I hope he doesn’t celebrate like that every time he scores though.  It’s just not worth the booking.  Full time: 2-0 and what a relief to finally get three points again.

We rendezvoused back at the pub after the game and look who was there – Paul and the Burnley fans.  They’d been kicked out of the ground and were doing a pretty good job of making a nuisance of themselves back in the pub.  I hope they made it back to Kirkdale OK.  Funny how football does this to people.  I wonder what Everton will do for me in 2010.

Have a Happy New Year.

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: One crazy slip aside he was pretty good today and had to be given how Burnley wouldn’t relent. 7
  • Baines: Not at his best but stuck at it. 6
  • Heitinga: Looking more and more the part each game. 7
  • Neill: In a weird way all the injuries we’ve had at centre-back may have helped us at least now find a settled back four as Heitinga and Neill seem to have developed some sort of understanding and hopefully we can now stop shipping goals…shame our next league games away at Arsenal. 6
  • Hibbert: My man of the match. I thought he defended excellently and was his best offensive game in God knows how long. 8
  • Fellaini: Certainly now seems to understand what work is required and is really molding into his position in the centre. 7
  • Osman: Did well until tiring in the last 20 minutes. 7
  • Cahill: Was doing pretty well until struggling off with an injury. I hope that’s not too serious. 6
    Pienaar: What a player. We’re twice the team with him in it. 8
  • Bilyaletdinov: Whilst not everything he did worked I thought he was perhaps the most likely to grab the goal so was a little surprised to see him subbed…though glad to be wrong of course. He’s slowly getting there. 7
  • Yakubu: Had an excellent game holding the ball up on his own and linked in with the midfield well. I think his best performance since his injury. Great assist for the second goal. 7
  • Neville (for Cahill): “He changed the game” is probably a bit dramatic but the team certainly stepped up a gear or two when Neville took to the field. 8
  • Vaughan (for Bilyaletdinov): great to see him back and getting on the scoresheet. 7

Reader Comments

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James Stewart
1   Posted 29/12/2009 at 17:03:37

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Lord... not sure i was watching the same game! Fellaini and Pienaar were the difference between the sides! Hibbert and Neville 8’s?! Complete rubbish.
David Hallwood
2   Posted 29/12/2009 at 17:37:41

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James, there are some posters on this site that if Hibbert scored a hat-trick, saved six certain goals with breathtaking clearances, they’d still come on this site and say he misplaced two passes, he’s shite. Are you one of them? Personally I thought he had a good game... not MotM. In the circumstances I’d give that to the Yak, who ran himself to death while still be only 85% fit.

Paul, in a way I think that the Neill-Heitinga partnership will be suited to Arsenal as they don’t have a classic targetman... well, ok, I’m an optimist.
James Stewart
3   Posted 29/12/2009 at 18:15:01

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David that’s a very easy comeback isn’t it. No, I am not, for the record. Hibbert put in a typical shift yesterday. Got skinned by Eagles a couple of times but recovered well. Not great going forward but then i don’t expect him to be. MOTM though C’mon! Pienaar and Fellaini were at the heart of everything head and shoulders above the rest.
Steven Pendleton
4   Posted 29/12/2009 at 23:52:35

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Great report, Paul. In agreeance with James on your scoring though. To give Man of the Match to Hibbert is a bit out there. Yes, he was serviceable and did present himself as an option down his flank, but Man of the Match???

Fellaini or Heitinga for mine. Impressed with Neill’s carrying of the ball and developing partnership with Heitinga. But for his one lapse in concentration, he had a good game.
Pat Finegan
5   Posted 30/12/2009 at 00:42:26

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Fellaini has been looking great. He is really settling in to his role and making better tackles (not great tackles but better.)

Heitinga and Neill are looking good together. I don’t think the back 4 is going stay that way for long though. Jags could be back next month and who knows what Moyes will do with Distin and Yobo.

I wish I had statistics for this but it seems like about 60%-70% of our chances come from the left side. Baines does well going forward, especially with Pienaar at left wing. I wish I could say the same for Hibbert. He is a great tackler and a smart defender but he is a one-tool player.
Gavin Ramejkis
6   Posted 30/12/2009 at 01:18:27

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I’d personally have given MOTM to Pienaar after his non stop work, with Fellaini a very close second. I think Hibbert put a decent shift in and did roam forward and tried hard to cross the ball but he just isn’t a wing back. I think a lot of right backs would be shown up by Eagles’ pace so Tony didn’t do himself any disrespect there either. I wouldn’t have given Neville an 8 either as he wasn’t on long enough to earn it but you could certainly hear him screaming orders out.

David I have to disagree on the Neill and Heitinga partnership boding well against Arsenal down to their pace, Arsenal have a lot of very quick and skillful players who will give them a turgid time unless the midfield can stop them. Arsenal historically don’t like it when teams get stuck into them, hopefully the players will get in and give them no room to play as this is their strength; pass and movement.
Dave Wilson
7   Posted 30/12/2009 at 10:46:33

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James Stewart, David Hallwood has your number, he didn't get skinned by Eagles, he was caught out overlapping by Bily’s woeful pass straight to Eagles and had to make 5 yards up

Try watching the game lad and stick to the facts.
David Chait
8   Posted 01/01/2010 at 07:18:33

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One guy that was getting stick in other reports was Bily.... watching the game yesterday, I thought he was actually very good... was linking well with Hibbert and just inches from a gift of a goal... but more involved than everyone was saying.
James Stewart
9   Posted 02/01/2010 at 02:04:45

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Typical Dave Wilson post. Sorry I forgot we are not allowed to criticise Hibbert. I think you will find Eagles did Hibbert for pace a few times I suggest you rewatch. But as I said he recovered well and put in a good shift!
But he was never in a million years MOTM.

Bily’s woeful pass or Hibbert not reading the game and keeping up with play? It’s all subjective isn’t.
Dave Wilson
10   Posted 02/01/2010 at 06:26:47

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James

Your are allowed to critisise Hibbert, I do it myself, all the time, just as I criticize all of our players when they perform badly. What I have trouble with is people making things up to strengthen their case. I have watched it again and Eagles got round the back of him only that one time — when Bily put him in. He did chose to cut inside on another occasion and Howard made a save even though it was going wide — that hardly constitutes a skinning.

Bily's pass was woeful, make all the excuses you want, but TH had given him the opton by overlapping and he played it straight to Eagles.

I didn't say He was MotM, that just seems to be the general opinion on here.

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