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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Match Report - Patient football

By Paul Traill :  03/01/2010 :  Comments (9) :

Match Report: Everton vs Carlisle United

With the Christmas celebrations fading out, none of us had decided whether or not to bother with yesterday's FA Cup 3rd Round tie at Goodison Park against in-form Carlisle United.  As it turned out, four of us decided to go... so, with queues anticipated, I booked the tickets over the phone to collect rather than buy upon arrival.

I had a busy start to the day, picking up a new car before picking up the lads and driving on to the game.  Parking was tight though we did find a small space, even if it did leave a lot to be desired of my reverse parking skills.  Once we’d collected tickets, we had a quick one in The Spellow before moving on to our seats in the Park End.  Looking at the queues at the ticket office around 3pm, I was glad I’d pre-booked the tickets.

It’s the first time I’ve sat in the Park End for a game and I have to say I was impressed.  The better leg room and general better views and facilities throughout when compared to the Lower Gwladys make for a much more comfortable matchday experience for me.  Just to the right of us were the noisy Carlisle United fans as the teams took to the field. 

We’d already seen the team news in the pub and seen that, with Jo suspended indefinitely, Vaughan led the line in attack with Neville starting his first game for four months. Otherwise, it was as-you-were with Osman also absent presumably with an injury. We attacked the Lower Gwladys in the first half. The referee was Jon Moss.

Carlisle started the game well with ex-Wigan and Sunderland veteran Graham Kavanagh pulling the strings in midfield, ex-Portsmouth striker Pericard causing havoc in attack and Carlisle seemingly targeting our right-hand side for attacking.  Hibbert appeared to be struggling and wasn’t getting a lot of protection from Bilyaletdinov. 

It took us a while to get going and it took a shocker of a backpass from Adam Clayton to give us a nudge in the right direction for this one.  His under-hit pass was seized upon by James Vaughan who rounded the keeper before finishing smartly. It was well taken by Vaughan and you sensed somehow that had that have been Jo he’d somehow have screwed it up.  1-0 Everton.

It didn’t take long for Clayton to make amends, however, when he was put through on goal after a neat move. I thought he’d taken a touch too many once he got into the box but he got his shot away and though Howard got something on the ball it somehow squirmed across goal and into the opposite side of the net. 1-1 and just what Carlisle deserved as their noisy support enjoyed their moment.

Not exactly a cracker but the game was much more entertaining than I for one anticipated as these games can sometimes be a bit of a slog.  Carlisle wouldn’t buckle and Everton probed more and more themselves, actually having the ball in the net again on one occasion when Vaughan drilled in a follow-up from a Cahill drive which was rightly called as offside.  The closest Carlisle came was when Ian Harte (he’s done the rounds a bit now, eh!) drove from distance with Howard gathering well.  At the break we were all even.

There were no changes at half-time as we attacked towards the Park End for the second period.  For the first 10 minutes or so of the second half, it was more of the same until Everton began to enforce their superior quality in terms of footballing divisions. 

Everton had deep pockets of possession throughout the second half and were knocking the ball about presentably, albeit without doing much to impregnate the stout Carlisle defence.  Fellaini looked to have scored at one point when he drove a half volley goalwards but Collin repelled this with an excellent save. You had to admire Carlisle though as they were superbly organized and contained Everton brilliantly.

With the game still all square, we were always susceptible to a breakaway goal. This so nearly happened when a cross from Carlisle’s right was thundered goalward on the volley by Carlisle skipper Livesey.  I was convinced at the time that the ball was about to rebound back off Howard and into the goal but he gathered the loose ball quickly. It was only when I saw the replay on TV last night that I realized what an excellent save Howard actually made, fantastically tipping the effort onto the bar.

With time ticking away, Everton continued their patient approach though it took a substitution to really switch the balance in this one. Hibbert was replaced by Coleman in a like-for-like swap, probably with the intent of the young Irishman foraging further forward.  The impact was practically instantaneous. 

Coleman received a ball and was invited forward.  For a moment he looked like he’d lost it but retained possession energetically, getting himself into the box and getting a cross in which Cahill smashed forward.  The ball was blocked though Cahill was most switched on, first to the rebound and finished well to practically hand Everton their passage into the next round.

This was confirmed with literally the last kick of the game when a Fellaini pass released substitute Kieran Agard.  His pace got him to the ball ahead of Collin who took out the young forward, ensuring a penalty for Everton.  Really the keeper should have been sent off as it was probably a goalscoring opportunity but I think everybody was glad when Moss pulled out just the yellow card.  Up stepped Baines to send the keeper the wrong way.  Everton in the hat for Round 4.

At the whistle, the Carlisle supporters gave their team a deserved standing ovation of which parts of all sides of the ground joined in.  They did themselves proud.

Just a couple of observations on the game. We picked up two ridiculous yellow cards. One quite a clear victimization booking on Fellaini with his first foul when other worse fouls went strangely unpunished; whilst the booking for Phil Neville for a quick free kick was just stupid. The strange thing was that, other than these decisions the referee was pretty competent throughout.

Otherwise, it was nice to see us holding the ball patiently. Before today’s game we’ve scored eight times in the last 10 minutes of games in all competitions by my reckoning so perhaps this patience is as a result of a belief we’ll make and take late opportunities in games. The confidence seems restored although we’ve a big test away at Arsenal next Saturday.

Oh and one last thing — with Yakubu away and Saha on ice this would surely have been a great opportunity for Jo to stake his claim.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.  However, the bonus is Vaughan and Agard have both come in and made a good impact.  With Donavon also now arrived, we may just be OK up front without Jo.

All the best for the New Year.

Player Ratings:

Howard: Made a crucial excellent save in the second half to keep us level at a key period. 8

Baines: Had a competent game and stepped forward to score the late penalty. 7

Heitinga: One thing about our two current centre-backs is their propensity to try and play the ball from the back. Heitinga in particular is very good at creating space for himself and, the more these play together, the better distribution we’ll receive from our defence, I feel. 7

Neill: Handled Pericard well after a tough initial examination. 7

Hibbert: Did alright before subbed… with a groin strain, it's now emerged.  We could do without another injury but at least Neville is back to fill in if necessary. 6

Neville: All about fitness at the moment but harried well.  Put good pressure on Clayton which in turn led to his under-hit backpass for our first goal. 6

Fellaini: Used the ball well throughout.  Unbelievable booking though. 7

Pienaar: By a country mile the most skillful player on the pitch. 8

Bilyaletdinov: I can’t quite believe the criticism he’s receiving from some quarters of the crowd as I like the way he often tries to do something different.  Not a lot worked for him today and he’s still finding his feet but I do firmly believe he’s gonna be awesome in time.  Probably next season. 5

Cahill: My Man of the Match. Albeit against lower league opposition he showed his true class. 8

Vaughan: Did very well given how short he is on fitness. Took his goal well and for a striker is always on the move. Must have been shattered to last almost an entire game. 8

Coleman (for Hibbert): Got instant rewards for gambling forward.  I hope to see him get more involved as the season runs on but we’ll have to see how he gets on. 7

Agard (for Vaughan): Good for him also.  Has made quite a few appearances now this season and is always lively.  Showed good pace for the penalty. 7

Reader Comments

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Dave McCarten
1   Posted 03/01/2010 at 17:54:12

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Cahill Man of the Match?!? Don’t think so, Paul.

I know he’s out of sorts at the mo and WILL come good again but I’m sure he had Vasoline on his boots yesterday.

Lynn Thorne
2   Posted 03/01/2010 at 19:49:00

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Fellaini was MotM for me, followed closely by Vaughan.
As for the ref — did you see him overrule the linesman twice to give a throw-in and once to give a corner — when all 3 were wrong? Practically every decision he gave was the wrong one!
Keith Glazzard
3   Posted 03/01/2010 at 21:38:31

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I share in the prediction that Bily is going to be a great player for us, and would ask his critics to be patient. But this still overlooks the fact that he already is doing a very good job.

Our second highest scorer (OK, in a poor year so far), 3 from 9 starts (TW stats) isn’t at all bad in the PL by any standard. He was a creative influence in and around the box for most of the dozen or so goal attempts we had on Saturday. And Coleman’s cross didn’t go directly to Cahill, it was headed down to him by Bilyaletdinov.

The referee was a bag of shite. We were awarded 15 fouls, and he said we committed 10. I wonder what the figures would have been with a proper ref?
Roger Trenwith
4   Posted 03/01/2010 at 22:39:54

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Jon Moss and Adam Clayton? Sounds like an 80s revival band!
As for the game, I thought Big Fella was MotM, overall we were unconvincing yet did enough so can’t complain. Bring on Round 4!
Fran Mitchell
5   Posted 04/01/2010 at 00:08:58

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Slightly over-the-top ratings; we made hard work playing a team from League 1, so it was a poor performance.

Howard: made one excellent save and wasn't at fault for the goal, 7

Baines: ok, but his delivery is poor. He was never going to be truely tested by the opposition winger, but how often does he hit the first man? 6

Heitinga: again ok, I feel he is a good player and the long-term partner of Jagielka, but did not command their strikers well enough and gave them reason to believe. 6

Neill: not a centre back. 5

Hibbert: solid defensively but against such lowly opposition should offer more attacking options. Coleman showed how it's done. 6

Neville: woeful passing, return of captain didn't do much to the shape of our game either. 5

Fellaini: did some people actually want us to cut our losses on this guy? He showed again he is our best player by a country mile, 7.5

Pienaar: lively but could and has played better. Final ball is way off at times. 7

Cahill: scored and tested the keeper a couple of times, but offered little in middle of park. His best game in a while but is it enough? 7

Bily: nowhere man. A central midfielder who is tired and a bit lost. I beleive he will come good, but he needs to be dropped (yes, even for Osman). 5.5

Vaughan: lively, scored and a glimmer of hope about an actually career has once again arrived for this boy. 7

Coleman: why didn't he start? Considering he had 10 minutes, 8

Agard, looks lively and quick, won the penalty, but Premier League class? To be watched soon in Scotland or Championship. Considering he had 3 minutes, 8
Biing Wen Yin
6   Posted 04/01/2010 at 08:33:30

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Bily will come of good (fingers crossed) in time to come.. Hopefully quick! His taps and passes are simply brilliant. However if he can't up the ante next season, well he will be a flop!
Ian Kearney
7   Posted 04/01/2010 at 14:43:16

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Fran, I agree with your ratings apart from Hibbert, he had a shocker, and hinders any forward play on the right regulary.

With Hibbert and Neville dining at the ’favourites’ table, I fear for the progress of bright young things Fellaini and Coleman.

We won't see much from Bily till next season, but in the meantime it would be nice if a foreigner who hasn't settled into the Prem straight away, wasn't subjected to the mindless ’lazy bastard’ shouts, and is at least given a chance to fail.
Kiern Moran
8   Posted 05/01/2010 at 11:36:38

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Paul Traill: I forgot to ask you last time when you mentioned it but what did you do at Huddersfield Uni? I did politics 2000-04.
Keith Glazzard
9   Posted 06/01/2010 at 20:39:22

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By eck, I used to teach politics in Huddersfield, only they called it a Poly then.

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