COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
A game to remember down Goodison way as the Blues gain a point in the most
unlikeliest of circumstances from a game that had a bit of everything: great
saves, missed chances and a fair slice of good joined-up stuff. A Rooney no-show
left the inflatable dolls, condoms and ribald songs redundant although the sight
of a steward carrying an inflatable doll under his arm whilst it writhed to and
fro brought a smile to many faces.
The team text to the faithful seemed to suggest the manager had gone with the best and fit eleven that in his opinion he could muster and, for 20 minutes, you could not argue with his selection. We played some neat and tidy stuff but at the back of many a Blue's mind was the fact that, if our cutting edge was better, then United would have been punished early doors as our possession was creditable up to that vital third where our approach work kept breaking down.
This was bourne out by the fact that, when United did break, they indeed had the better of the chances and, on the 15-min mark, O?Shea hit the outside of a post... but, at the other end shortly after, Hibbert put in a superb cross that invited Baines to pick his spot but he fluffed the chance by mis-cueing. Tim Howard made two great saves one after another ? first by deflecting a Scholes shot away with his leg... and then a great one-handed save from Giggs when a goal looked a certainty.
It was end-to-end until 6 mins from the break when the United rearguard failed to deal with a through-ball and Arteta was clear, he advanced on goal and tried a shot under the keeper's dive but the keeper parried the ball and the quick-thinking Osman, who had followed up, somehow spotted Pienaar and left him with an easy shot into the net; the old lady erupted.
As the clock was running down to the break, I thought going in one-up would be ideal but this is Everton and, with just a couple of minutes to see out, Nani broke down the right with Baines nowhere and delivered a great pullback cross that that found the untracked Fletcher sprinting in and smashing home to send us into the break on a bit of a downer.
The half-time chat suggested we were playing well and more than matching a very good United side and hopes high for the second half. However, our hopes were dented within two minutes as we went 2-1 down when again the unattended Nani was allowed to cross and Vidic headed powerfully down to the ground and up into the net giving Howard no chance.
United now seemed more in control and it took another good save from Howard to thwart the raiding Nani... then Berbatov screwed wide when well placed. Then, after the hour mark, Scholes, who had been influential all afternoon, put in a peach of a diagonal pass that left Distin blowing for tugs and Berbatov to control superbly, take a few paces forward and majestically curl the ball past Howard and find the corner of the net. 3-1 down, Oh dear...
The Blues never gave up and the manager introduced Yak and Coleman in place of Heitinga and Hibbert and I thought that the Yak, resplendent with mini ?afro?, started to make a difference with his hold-up play and intelligent running. In one foray forward the ball found Osman but his shot was one of placement when a bit of power was called for and the long frame of the 'keeper saved.
The board went up showing 3 mins extra to play; many left and many muttered as our worst start in 16 years beckoned, but wait a minute ? Baines crosses from the left and, with the Yak occupying the centre half?s mind, Cahill ghosted in and his header was sublime. "That makes the scoreline look better," many thought...
But wait another minute ? Baines puts another cross in and Cahill again finds space but this time heads away from goal and into the path of the lurking Arteta who smashes it goalwards and although, seeming to take a deflection, it's 3-3 and those left rock the old lady.
Into the last minute and United come forward and a cross sees Howard and Distin not talking to each other and, as Howard flies over, the big centre back heads for a corner. Seconds tick away, the corner is cleared, the Blues break, and Arteta puts the ball into the path of Jags doing an Usain Bolt impression bearing down on goal, Pienaar busts a gut to offer him the square pass and victory... but the Ref, Martin Atkinson, blowing up for time. Moyes charges from the dugout as fast as Jags's break to remonstrate with the aforementioned ref but 3-3 it was leaving us all more breathless than an England striker in a Manchester hotel.
Overall what can you say. In the many years I have followed this team I can?t recall coming from 3-1 down in injury time. I can?t recall a set of bile belching away fans being reduced to total silence in just 2mins and for once in my time a draw did seem a little bit like a win.
Fans have many and varied opinions on games and my bet is the last 2 mins changed thousands of opinions and like me left wondering if those late late goals really will kick start our season ? they should.
In looking for a MotM today, I offer two: Tim Howard for his crucial saves and Pienaar for his non-stop workrate and promptings.
Rooney was on everyone?s lips pre-game and I think many were disappointed when he failed to show... yet I find this episode rather sad as, in a few short days, he has all but written his own epitaph. Great footballer ? Rubbish person, husband and dad. It really does sadden me and I feel sorry for all concerned.
Newcastle at home next week and I hope we can now go on and at last get 3 points in a game. See you there.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 11/09/2010 at 22:43:17
2 Posted 11/09/2010 at 23:44:08
Cahills pass set up the first goal, he scores the second and he sets up the third. It seems no matter what Cahill does there are a group of people he simply can't please. He was played out of psition today and by his standards had toiled well but without much success and was having an average game. But when the game needed something special it was the special one who delivered. He is not beyond criticism if it justified but what more can he do to prove he deserves to be the first player picked each week. He is surely approaching Legendary status if he isn't one already.
3 Posted 12/09/2010 at 05:08:21
4 Posted 12/09/2010 at 07:11:15
However two points took the shine off the draw yesterday for me:
a) Distin - Distin was arguably at fault for all 3 of Utds goals. Unbelievably stopped tracking Fletcher, marking space for the second and the third just bad decision making (although it was a beauty of a ball by Scholes). When Heitinga is fit, our back two should be Jags and Johnny - no question.
b) Coleman - I am not one of the fans calling for Seamus to be played from the start - I don't think he is good enough defensively - however we all knew he could have made a difference later in the games yesterday. Osman was struggling late on and Hibbert was having a very good game. In my opinion the change could have been Coleman for Osman, although it didn't make much difference in the end - just seemed quite negative at the time.
5 Posted 12/09/2010 at 08:21:06
6 Posted 12/09/2010 at 09:57:55
7 Posted 12/09/2010 at 09:54:41
EXtra time miracle apart it would have been 2 goals in 4 games despite dominating large periods of all those games. Utd looked infinitely more threatenting on their attacks.
Presumably Moyes is working full out in training on this aspect. Are we just being unlucky, or is it our lack of a goalscorer up top? Either way can't help feeling that given our possesion and territory in these games we should have 7 or 8 points instead of 2!
Got to find more cutting edge.
8 Posted 12/09/2010 at 11:01:33
9 Posted 12/09/2010 at 11:23:52
Distin had a shocker and I think Jonny H should now be moved back to the centre with Jags.
Baines should have tried harder to stop the crosses for the first and second goals - he made no real effort to get out and get a block in. He put in two great crosses at the death, but he's got to work on his positional sense when we haven't got possession. He looks like he's in comfort zone mode as he has no-one pushing him for his place. Look how well Avalanche played yesterday - he's stepped up knowing any slip will let Captain Fantastic or Coleman in.
The ref had a shocker - how many times was Cahill fouled - Vidic was all over him every time they went for a header. Where was Fergie stime? If it was Man U on the attack there was no way that he would have blown up.
Howard had a really good game and made three saves to keep us in the game - hopefully all those calling for his head after the Blackburn game will give credit where it's due. Keepers make mistakes, let's hope that's all for the season.
Moyes should have made his changes 10 minutes earlier, and not waited until we'd gone two down.
I see Beckham played last night - 6 months after his Achilles injury. I wonder why it is almost 2 years since the Yak had his injury and yet he still doesn't look fit. I watched his warm up yesterday and the pure and simple fact is that he is not putting any effort in at all - Boro and Portsmouth fans warned us that is a lazy so and so, and I'm afraid he isn't motivated enough to get back to full 100% match fitness.
It was a great comeback and hopefully we can push on from here - if we can create som many chances against the mancs, they we should be able to batter 'lesser' teams.
10 Posted 12/09/2010 at 12:06:49
If there is a player in the current squad or since the days of Duncan Ferguson that has bluer blood running through his veins then I am yet to see him. His goalscoring skills are the icing on the cake for week in week out 110% effort.
Cahill has already written himself into Everton history for his goals record from "midfield" but he is far more important to Everton than even his goals tally suggests.
11 Posted 12/09/2010 at 12:44:31
I think Everton should lodge a formal complaint against Atkinson for not adding any time on for the 2 kick-off, it should have been at least 2 minutes more. But then again it was Man U.
12 Posted 12/09/2010 at 13:17:35
My other observation would be that although we dominated to start there was a lack of real chances, i would far rather we sat deeper in midfield to create a bit of space up top, Neville was their weak link and Baines should have done more against him.
Dissapointed in the draw after the 1st half performance i really dont think Manure are that good anymore.
13 Posted 12/09/2010 at 17:07:38
14 Posted 12/09/2010 at 20:06:30
They are certainly not the force they were, but the way they knock the ball around, their running off the ball and variety of passes is better than any team in the prem.
15 Posted 12/09/2010 at 22:51:03
On Toffeeweb Osman and Hibbert always get loads of stick but neither of them can be called to book for that defensive horror show. On that evidence Duffy and Heitinga are ahead of Distin, Mustafi too probably.
16 Posted 13/09/2010 at 02:40:58
Not sure why we waited so long to make a sub. Personally I would have started with Beckford and brought on the Yak for the last 30.
17 Posted 13/09/2010 at 11:11:15
Agree 100% about Cahill. Walking out the ground on saturday i heard someone saying he thought Cahill was poor.
He cleared the ball from a corner with a great header and then chased down his own header and played the ball down the pitch for the first goal. He scored the second goal. He gave the assist for the 3rd goal and gave one of the best defenders in the world one of the toughest games he will have all season.
18 Posted 13/09/2010 at 14:56:21
Diston and Heitinga had stinkers and Osman and Hibbert were poor on the right once again. I cant believe Hibbert is keeping both Neville and Coleman out of the team, it really is a joke.
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