COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Another point toward Europe gained from a game that both uplifted and deflated the fans in equal measure as our team again failed to take home form away and inconsistency throughout ensued.
The game opened in scrappy fashion with plenty of free kicks but you sensed we were the team winning more ball and having more possession. On the quarter hour mark Baines picked out Pienaar in space and he produced a great curling shot that looked destined for the corner only for the keeper Hart to throw himself and tip around, just a minute later Arteta put in a fast cross that the returning Cahill got his head to but powered the header straight at the keeper.
We were on top now and playing fluent stuff, Arteta played a great crossfield ball for Neville who found Big Vic on the angle of the box, he turned his man and made inroads toward goal before unleashing a left foot rocket that gave the keeper no chance and produced much celebration from the travelling faithful. Just a few minutes later we were on cloud 9 when Arteta fed the run of Pienaar who took it to the by-line and stood up a cross to the far post where the lurking Yak nodded in from point blank range, cue more celebrations and of course the Yak song was sung.
We were starting to think in terms of another five such was our dominance at this time but you just never know with this team of ours and sure enough with Everton songs still ringing around the stadium a long ball that is normally bread and butter for defenders was our undoing as some woeful marking allowed Ridgewell to head on to Fahey whose left wing cross was not attacked by any defender, Jerome took a swing at it but the ball didn’t seem to deviate but trundled on passed a row of static defenders and find the corner of the net passed a sprawling Howard. Moyes must have been having kittens watching that embarrassing episode.
Everton then seemed to lose the sense of purpose they had in going 2 up and now it was the home team controlling the game, once again we seemed not to know how to handle the situation and uncertainty ran right through the team which was giving Birmingham more heart and the travelling faithful the jitters. In first half injury time we did gain a free kick and Baines hammered it in only for the keeper to turn it away.
Half-time and I was glad we had held on to 2-1 and for the manager to produce some words of wisdom to his charges and get back to being a team rather than individuals.
He must have said something as we started on the front foot and pegged them back and brought two great roars for a penalty as the ball struck arms as it travelled goalwards but the ref was having none of it. It was in this period of our dominance that we yet again conceded a sloppy goal. A routine punt upfield from the keeper saw Jags, who had looked out of sorts for most of the game, get under it and allow Jerome to head on the ball to no-one in particular but it fell invitingly to Gardener who shot first time beyond Howard. More kittens for Moyes. Birmingham never score more than one at home so we give them two when really with just average defending we should have been out of sight.
The game just chugged along then and we were calling for the manager to look for plan B. Just after the hour mark he responded and took off the underperforming Yak and sent on Donovan for his swan song cameo and switching Big Vic up front. A few minutes later the home team sent on Faddy and he received a good reception from his former fans.
Cahill who throughout had looked as though he had been pitched in a week to early did drive on goal splitting the home rearguard, he homed in on goal with Pienaar and Big Vic breaking with him and free, he chose to shoot and ignore them and sent a tame effort straight at the keeper when a pass to either support player would surely resulted in a tap in. In making that shot he went down clutching his calf and looked in some pain. He was immediately replaced by Rodwell but as he left the field he seemed to have a heated debate with Pienaar and it was with much finger wagging that he retired. Injuries were now becoming the talking point as Big Vic when running with the ball down the left went down in a heap and was taken off looking in much pain, Gosling replaced him.
The game was ending as it started, scrappy but with us looking the more likely Gosling had a shot blocked and Heitinga fired over the bar and at the other end Faddy blazed over. Final whistle that saw many a Blue shaking their heads and another thank you parade from the departing Donovan.
Overall a disappointing outcome from a game that saw two Everton’s turn up, one that profited from some lovely joined up stuff and left the opposition chasing shadows and the other that was sloppy in concentration and performance and allowed the opposition back into the game. With such inconsistency from most players M.O.tM. was hard to call but my choice would be Baines who did play to his potential throughout. With the games left I still think we just might make Europe again but the manager and players will have to work on this Jekyll and Hyde impersonation that has dogged us this season as much as injuries.
Bolton next, on a Saturday with a 3-00pm kick off, now there’s a novelty. 3 points please.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 14/03/2010 at 03:24:32
2 Posted 14/03/2010 at 04:46:33
When doling out brickbats, a bit of fairness wouldn’t go astray.
3 Posted 14/03/2010 at 05:35:00
Wasn’t the best game Jags has had for us alright but mabye we shouldn’t be too critical, he is only back after a long lay off. I don’t think the defence has looked confident at all this season no matter what the line up. Even Hull had us in panic at times.
4 Posted 14/03/2010 at 05:02:08
5 Posted 14/03/2010 at 07:00:31
6 Posted 14/03/2010 at 07:15:26
I didn’t really enjoy the defence fiasco at the end... almost comical with wild kicks at the ball and falling over, glad l wasn’t watching it live, blood pressure wouldn’t take it! At least l knew they didn’t get a third! Also good to see us in our usual 5 minute spot at the end of MotD! It brings a consistency to my life when nothing changes!!
7 Posted 14/03/2010 at 08:30:48
In another thread, I asked the question that if all the troops are fit and stay relatively injury free next season, we don’t lose any of the players and added 2/3 players would we be in contention to winn the league, and judging by that and other games the answer is no.
The benchmark is of course Man U, and today they’ll win 5-0 playing great football but if they don’t, they’ll scrape a 1-0, and if they go 2-0 ahead, swith the telly off they’ve won. Until we get to that level of consistancy, where we win pretty or win ugly and when we get our noses in front, put your mortgage on the 3 points, we will continue to yo-yo between 4th & 7th
8 Posted 14/03/2010 at 08:49:01
9 Posted 14/03/2010 at 10:15:29
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