COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL
Everton vs Bolton Wanderers
With the car in the garage it was a bus day for the match day so I met Gary in the pub about 1pm with Ste en-route later on. I had to think twice about who we were playing when I overheard a fella talking in a Brummie accent on the way. The day definitely had that end of season feel to it.
Gary’s a postman by occupation so Saturday kick offs are always a bit of a rush for him. It was surprising then to see him bump into so many other people in the pub from work. It was like some kind of national postie’s day out! Ste gave us the team news in the pub: unchanged. The referee was the rather hit-and-miss Alan Wiley. We attacked the Park End in the first half.
I’ve half a mind to skip the first half completely as not a lot happened. Victor Anichebe had a decent chance to get a shot away after a bursting run but he took well too many touches and Bolton were able to get a tackle in and clear the ball. That was more or less it for Big Vic as he was subbed shortly afterwards having landed awkwardly in an aerial challenge and had to be stretchered off. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was the surprise replacement when most probably expected Leon Osman.
Elsewhere in the half, all I can recollect are two decent chances for Bolton – one which Tim Howard saved smartly with his legs from a Kevin Davies drive, and the other when Tamir Cohen half volleyed smartly just over the bar from a loose ball in the penalty area. Oh, and Tim Cahill received what was quite a harsh yellow card.
Chatting to Ste at the break and whilst we were both less than impressed with the performance thus far we both had that inkling we’d come away with the points somehow or other. On 68 minutes we got the breakthrough when Gretar Rafn Steinsson (how’s that for a name!) was sent off when he brought Yakubu down as he ran through on goal. I though it was a little harsh as the Icelander didn’t appear to deliberately foul Yakubu but rules are rules I guess. If Bolton felt hard done to by that then they’ll be pretty sieving at seeing Arteta curl home the free kick about 5 yards further forward than where the incident took place. It was a cracking free kick by the Spaniard though as Everton gained control of the game.
Following this Moyes made what I thought was a clever change when he replaced Yakubu with Leon Osman, giving us that extra weight in midfield as he’d earlier gone with two up front (bringing Saha on for Cahill). This looked to have reaped its benefits when Heitinga’s drive from distance was only parried by Jussi Jaaskelainen. Osman was first onto it though somehow rattled the crossbar with the rebound.
Seconds later he made amends though, receiving a pass in the penalty area, twice evading Zat Knight’s desperate lunging tackles and pulling the ball back for Saha. It somehow went through the Frenchman’s legs though went straight to Pienaar who dispatched coolly into the corner for his fourth goal of the season. Game over. After the game we went for a quick pint to let the traffic pass before the arduous bus journey home.
Just when I keep thinking the season’s written off another win gets me all optimistic again. Having just seen Liverpool lose at Old Trafford and seeing Aston Villa drop points at home to Wolves yesterday you just never know do you. We’ve a massive away game at Eastlands on Wednesday night and then a tricky game at The Molyneux next Saturday. If we can get maximum points from those two games, we’ll be firmly in the mix for sure… and only three points behind our neighbours… who still have to play Chelsea… hmmm. Interesting. No more predictions from me. I’m sick of getting my hopes up and then down again. Let’s just take it game by game and see where we end up, but its nice to know the season’s not over.
- Howard: Made a smart save in the first half though not a great deal else to do really. 7
- Baines: Great. Consistently good. 7
- Jagielka: Edging back to fitness. 6
- Distin: Much improved from last Saturday. One of our better players today and used the ball better than last week. 7
- Neville: Good in defence and got forward well. 7
- Heitinga: Did fine. Pretty solid in the middle. 7
- Pienaar: Probably my man of the match. Finished his goal well and was a constant threat throughout. 8
- Arteta: Kept things ticking over well. Scored a great goal though didn’t quite probe enough in the final third for me. Still getting fit though so had to criticize, particularly as he scored a goal. 7
- Anichebe: Was doing alright until subbed. Hopefully that’s not too serious given that he’s been pretty useful since getting back to fitness. 5
- Cahill: Not a good game. Was subbed quite early basically because he wasn’t doing a lot and was on a yellow card. 4
- Yakubu: Lead the line OK without any goalscoring chances. 6
- Bilyaletdinov (for Anichebe): I was pleased he received a good reception from the crowd as he seems to have become a bit of a target for the boo-boys of late. He responded brilliantly I thought, getting himself into the game, getting involved and generally doing pretty well. May have played himself back in if Anichebe doesn’t recover quickly. 7
- Saha (for Cahill): Did pretty well. Oozes class and its good to have him back after his latest slight injury. I’d start him on Wednesday myself purely for his goal threat, and hopefully he’ll be pretty up for it given his Man Utd connections. 6
- Osman (for Yakubu): Did superbly for the second goal and was neat and tidy with the ball. Good sub. 7
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1 Posted 22/03/2010 at 04:02:03
Although Coyle was rightly seething about the free kick being further forward, I don't think there was any doubt about the red card. I got pissed off watching here in Singapore with the studio "pundits" including Rob Lee and Andy Townsend - with the latter basically claiming that "Yakubu waddled in front of the defender, looking for the foul, and the red card".
Games at home against the likes of Notlob (to Dick Anderson I think it was - Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch) are never easy. Although Coyle has tried to instill more of a passing game (and Wenger would only have loaned Wilshire to someone like Coyle, not Megson), they are still a hard bunch of players, and will mix it up with someone like Davies up front.
Generally agree with your assessment - good as you were at the game, whereas I had the benefit of replays. I thought Anichebe should've taken it on his left - the lad's just scored a cracker at Brum with his left.
Bily was the right replacement for him, as I think most agree Ossie is wasted on the right. He proved that later when he replaced Yak.
I thought Cahill did okay in the game. He, along with Heitinga, where the muscle men in there to counter the physical side of Bolton. Wear them down, replace him with the less physical, but more skillful Osman.
Jags looked a bit shaky first half, but seemed a lot more assured in the second. Distin was solid, but for me, the highlight of a "run of the mill" game?
Arteta going in hard for a tackle in the second half. I know he didn't get the injury in a tackle, but you always wonder about the psychological impact of such a bad knee injury. He answered that.
2 Posted 22/03/2010 at 11:50:12
1. Owen Coyle can moan all he likes - Bolton were doing exactly the same down the Goodison Road side and that effin linseman got paid for doing absolutley squat!
2. When Anichebe went down, Neville was very unsympathetic, just gesturing at him to get up! I think Victor may have got himself a reputation for going down to easilly!
3. Jags taught me and my football playing son a great lesson in keeping cool under pressure. Davies elbowed him in the head on one occasion and Jags didnt even flinch. He didnt go down clutching his head and he never said anything to the ref or to Davies - just got on with it and put Davies in his pocket for the rest of that second half.
4. Heitinga is a class act. Future Blue legend! His booking must have been for intent as he never touched Davies.
5. Distin had a great game and for a long spell everything seemed to be going through him. Much better than of late and he and Jags may be a good pairing next season with Heitinga just in front of them.
6. Bolton were playing for time after only 20 minutes - unbelievable!
7. Our seats were in the Park end corner of the family enclosure - front row. The pitch is so raised in the middle that we couldnt see the legs of the palyer son the far side and I thought Yak was in the box when he was brought down.
8. The red card wasnt harsh - Yak was through on goal. He probably wouldnt have scored (he is not fit!) but thats not relevent!!
9. Arteta is the new Sheedy free kick wise. I KNEW he would score that!
10. Baines and Pienaar were very good combining and Heitinga and Arteta were looking for them all the time.
11. Ossie is very under rated and unfairly slagged off. He made a difference when he came on!
12. I was very impressed with Bilyas heading ability in midfield.
13. Howard needs to come off his line more - that 6 yard box should be his but he stays on his line too much!
14. Gritty win but we played good football and it was great to see the patience and confidence in the team.
15. Moyes got it right with his subs but Anichebe, Yakubu and Cahill on from the start doesnt work.
16. Why are the streets around Goodison so full of dog shit?
17. Why did almost all the newspapers give us so little credit? We bossed that game after the first 15 minutes and Bolton posed no threat at all once they went behind. We played good stuff, on the floor, and got a very well earned result.
Why do the press constantly focus on the negatives and not give us the credit? They cant all be kopites?
A good solid win, great clean sheet, and lots of positives to take into next season. I think we can do much better next year and mount a serious challenge for the top!
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