COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Another draw, when a win was a must, seems to have ended the Blues quest for Europa League nights, from a game that saw the Blues give it a right good go but once again fail to see a game out late on.
The game started in lively fashion with the Blues taking the game to Villa at every opportunity with some good joined up footy yet it was the home team who had the first real opportunity when Downing’s shot was very well saved by Howard who dived to his right to push the effort away. The Villa looked the brighter after this and when a corner came in Carew the giant forward deflected it just wide much to the relief of the travelling faithful.
Howard was at it again soon after when he pushed a shot from Milner wide after the speedy Agbonlahor put him in. The blues went up the other end and first a rocket from Osman was parried for a corner by the keeper then somehow a Bilyaletdinov shot was cleared from the line. The game was now good value for money with both teams going for it in an end-to-end encounter.
Just after the 20-min mark, the fast feet of Osman saw him go past Warnock who clumsily brought him down for a free kick in a good crossing position. Everton’s deadliest weapons came into play, a set piece and Tim Cahill. Baines whipped in the cross, the net bulged and the scorer was confirmed by the corner-flag punching, yet another trademark headed goal from the Aussie.
The Cahill song rang out rapturously... yet, soon after he became the first player to be yellow carded when he brought down Petrov which was ironic in a way as in the first few seconds the same Villa man had gone straight through Osman without even a word from Referee Atkinson.
Villa retaliated and when Jags got too tight to Carew he turned and from just a yard or so out blasted into the side netting, a bit of a let-off I thought. Just before the break Howard made the save of the match when he kept out a close range header from the Villa right-back with an athletic dive.
Half-Time and we were glad to have remained in the lead but the big talking point was the Yak, who (you will have noticed) I haven’t mentioned; well that’s because he didn’t do much at all except have a terrible first touch and gave the ball away. Many were surprised to see him start the second half.
The second half started in typical Everton fashion — another injury. Heitinga went down, came back after treatment only to sit down again and be replaced by Rodwell. Villa didn’t seem as lively now and the Blues were sharper and playing some good stuff which saw a peach of a pass find Yak... you guessed it, he had a poor first touch and the chance was gone. We continued to attack and Bilyaletdinov had a shot blocked by Dunne and the only Villa response was when Carew had a sniff but his effort was deflected wide.
On the hour mark, the manager at last hauled off the Yak and Saha was introduced and he immediately looked much more purposeful in the link up department but, wouldn’t you just know it, after us dominating the play, the Villa have an attack on the 70-min mark when Milner got room for a cross down the right which allowed Agbonlahor to head home. The groans were deafening.
We had little time to fret as, just a minute or so later, that deadly duo — set piece and Cahill — struck again. This time, Bilyaletdinov put in a fast swinging corner and once again the corner flag was punched as the faithful raised the roof in celebration.
Time continued to tick away without us looking unduly troubled and indeed made a few forays forward. Had Pienaar, Rodwell and Osman made a more obvious pass than they did, we could have been out of sight. With the fourth official ready with the board, the Manager sent on Yobo for Bilyaletdinov to try and avoid another last-gasp mishap.
It didn’t work when, just one minute into the five put up on the board, we yet again switched off when the odious Young who had looked to deliberately kick Pienaar with no more than a shrug from the ref, giving rise to the thought that Marriner was all at sea, was left all on his own on the left to take his time and put in a cross to a very congested area, Jags got something on it and sent the ball goalwards, Howard seemed to be hesitant and what to me looked like a routine save was allowed to go off his hands and into the net. Cruel fate indeed but yet it was of our own doing by not closing Young down in the first place.
Time for a last hurrah and it almost came at the death when Neville found himself clear at the edge of the six yard box, he took a stride, fired across the keeper and shaved the wrong side of the post. Final whistle and oh the disappointment.
Overall I thought it was a good game and encouraging to see us play some good football that on the night deserved a win. My MotM was Cahill, who put it in all over the pitch and scored two more trademark headers. Europe is still mathematically possible but I think we are into prayer-bead territory now. Blackburn next and I will be very interested to see how we approach it.
Many say we are looking good for next season but it was this season I have
been interested in and, even after the poor start, we gave ourselves a chance
only to flounder on the rock of being unable to see out pressure games. Whatever
next season brings, that frailty will need to be addressed.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 15/04/2010 at 17:07:05
2 Posted 15/04/2010 at 19:54:20
On a positive note though i thought Cahill was outstanding, not only his goals but his work all over the pitch, thought he really answered his critics.
Like to think we can win all our remaining games and fight for at least 7th. COYB
3 Posted 15/04/2010 at 20:32:32
I'm at it again, but I started counting the potentially maiming 'tackles' by the home side which the ref should have carded almost from the whistle. As you point out, Cahill's was a joke - blue meat for the Holte End. And guess what? Pienaar, Osman and after half-time when they had worked out how good he was, Heitinga, were targeted. It was almost as if they not only wanted to stop us playing last night, but for the next few games. That couldn't be to their advantage by any chance, could it? And as we know, Martin O'Neill is too nice a guy to send that message down via the staff to his players.
And pigs fly.
A game we should have put to bed again, and bringing on Yobo would have made more sense if he had been thrown forward to attack with Saha and keep them down the field. Wrong message David, putting shutters up. We don't play like that now. We control and attack.
Cahill came very very good for us all over the park, and I'm quite confident he can do that - at a very high level - for a couple of years yet. A hero already, hall of fame status awaits, maybe not a legend. But something like 'Braveheart' is the kind of tag which we should be putting on him already.
4 Posted 15/04/2010 at 22:34:32
5 Posted 15/04/2010 at 23:06:28
Tim Cahill was outstanding in all areas. Some people seem to forget they are humans and not robots. He would be the most versatile player we have had in many years. It's a wonder some people aren't saying he went missing in the last quater of the game when he was asked to play the defensive role. I though he probably had the best individual performance by any player this season.
6 Posted 16/04/2010 at 07:14:05
Those of you out there, and there appears to be a few, who see Tim Cahill as a bench player were able to witness a MOM performance that displayed all of his attributes. For me the only thing lacking in Tims game is speed and he is not on his own in that department. I think he might be faster than winger Billy. Cahill is a class act and a bloke who's heart and soul is Everton, he is on my team sheet every week.
On the subject of Tims, whilst I consider that Howard is as good a shot stopper as any keeper in the league , for me he is not a class keeper. Even at 1.9m tall and 88kg he does not command that box as he should. He is hesitant and I'm not sure even the boys at the back know whether he is coming or going at times. This wasn't the first game I think he has let in a soft goa,l and it was by any standards a soft goal.
The Yak , well despite some nice touches in the previous weeks which no doubt encouraged Moyes to play him, he was unusually out of touch and I for one thought he would be off at half time , but Moyes has often shown a reluctance to be that drastic.
Having said all of the above I thought overall it was an excellent performance and one that we only looked like we could lose in a breakaway in the last 3 minutes. Just need that killer instinct and unfortunately you have to pay big dollars for that !!
7 Posted 16/04/2010 at 09:24:28
Villa are always going to be also rans under O'Neill playing very standard, organised, traditional football - the same might be said of us and DM but I know who I'd rather hav at the helm as at least we're hard but fair.
As for Lord Timothy of Cahill - a definite Hall of Famer - scored more headers than any other PL player and equalled Dixies record of scoring at Anfield. Personally I think he's limited with his feet but for sheer determination, work rate, desire, commitment to the club, attitude and ability to rattle a defence he's as good as anyone. I'd take him over Duncan Ferguson any day of the week - the most overated player to ever wear our shirt.
8 Posted 16/04/2010 at 09:47:57
This has been a funny season - very cruel in terms of injuries and last-minute give-away goals. At the same time, the play has been fantastic, and we have been very hard to beat - the last 2 defeats coming courtesy of a poor attempt at defending a corner by Neville & Howard in the Derby , and a "miss of the season" by Donovan.
Ah, well, like you nicely put it, "prayer bead time" for entry into the Europa !
9 Posted 16/04/2010 at 13:09:56
It doesnt matter who plays, Bily, Ossie, Arteta, Pienaar, Rodwell, fellaini, TheYak, Saha, havent got an aggresive bone in their bodies, even Big Vics a tart.
Johnny Heitinga is no angel siiting in front of the back four, but The Tiger is the only one in an advanced role with any teeth, teams know that once Cahill is booked they can start to take liberties, we always seem to be the victims, the ones with the long term injuries.
One Norman Whiteside please
10 Posted 16/04/2010 at 22:00:31
Liverpool for one kicked us off the park and we tried to retaliate but we just haven't got the players to do it. Hence Pienaar's red card challenge that fortunately went unpunished.
All the players say there is a great team spirit and i don't doubt that but we need to show more solidarity on the pitch when teams start kicking us. Its one of the things I used to love about the mid 80's team — if someone got in a spot of bother the likes of Gray, Sharpy, Reidy, The Rat, Van den Hauwe and Stevens were always right there to support. We need to show the current team a few videos me thinks... And its also a sure fire way of getting Goodison rocking.
11 Posted 16/04/2010 at 22:15:25
Only one real comment, whilst the late gaol was abad one to concede and i accept we could have stopped the cross, won the header better, saved the deflection, there is one thing that no-one has ever mentioned - it WAS offside and there is no reason why the linesman should have missed it. Carew is offside when the cross comes on a clearly interferes with Jags when he makes contact.
12 Posted 17/04/2010 at 01:11:38
Spent much of the first half bemoaning the Yaks inability to maintain possession. I am a big fan of Tim Cahill and he delivered, not just the goals but an all round performance full of heart. At 2-1, we had chances to kill it off. They were far more direct, set pieces and crosses being their almost total approach,.We passed the ball far better and though I am obviously biased, I thought we looked a more accomplished side. Ken's report to my eyes is a fair reflection of what went on.
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