COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Three points, clean sheet, 7th in the table and 5 games unbeaten in a row... A game that can best be described as ordinary yet just the result an underperforming team needs against opponents intent on conceding nothing whilst looking for anything that may break from any situation.
No club team texts this week so it is inside the ground I find that Arteta is fit and plays at the expense of Bilyaletdinov and, surprise, surprise, Rodwell makes the bench. I did wonder if that was just superficial and he didn?t come on when a fit Rodwell could only have helped.
The first half was turgid and from my seat a bit boring. We did have the first chance early doors when Shawcross felled the Yak within shooting distance. Free kick, Arteta takes and he did indeed miss the wall but also the goal and the first ten rows of the Gwladys Street. Kenwyne Jones sliced wide after a Distin clearance rebounded of Arteta. Coleman chased a ball into the area at speed but the keeper got there first and Coleman accidentally caught him causing no interjection from the Ref. but the Stoke defenders predictably caused a childish confrontation. The keeper stayed down a while but was like a spring chicken after a couple of swigs of Lucozade.
Pienaar set the Yak free but his shot was powder puff when well placed. Then Yak returned the compliment by finding Pienaar with a neat flick but the South African was unable to trouble the keeper. Stoke were warned for time wasting! It gave us the clue to what they were about this afternoon.
Arteta was coming into a bit more now and fed Neville who was free in the box, he did everything right except take too much time and his shot instead of being a goal was partially charged down and the keeper just had a pick up to deal with. Cahill proved he was on the pitch when he fired high and wide. Just five minutes from the break, Stoke gave us a scare when Faye fired wide when well placed at the back post.
Half-time and not much to chat about so we joined in the celebration for a man hitting the crossbar and winning some money.
We started the second half brightly and Arteta was tripped some 20 yards out, he took the kick but, as per, he hit the wall. We then put a good move together and Coleman appeared to be in but he made a mess of it but Stoke failed to clear properly and Coleman won it back played a one-two with Neville, burst into the area, but his shot was best described as woeful. Then Baines put in a good cross which Cahill headed over.
Stoke then had a good spell, Wilson shot over, then Huth had a shot blocked which fell to Shawcross who failed miserably when well placed. I then thought we had gone behind after a crowd scene near our far post saw the ball go over the line but the Ref, Mr Probert, gave us a free kick, presumably for a foul on Baines, yet no Everton player had complained. Well done, Mr Probert, who was deputising for the Ref printed in the programme, Mr Mason. It was a bit end-to-end now, Heitinga blazes over and Etherington almost converted at the other end.
Coleman was withdrawn and Saha introduced; that left us with a lopsided formation that left the wide left to anyone who could get there but it had its compensations as finally we got the lead, much to the relief of all assembled, and it went something like this: Pienaar beat his marker but only found the legs of Faye, the Yak was first to it and fed Cahill who shot and hit the post. The Yak was first to the rebound and controlled the ball, cut inside and hit his most powerful shot this season and the upshot was the ball flew into the roof of the net. The first chance for the faithful to roar all afternoon and the Yak song was sung with added gusto. The man himself seemed delighted and the manager did the ?Highland fling?.
We then played our version of keep ball with mixed results. Stoke sent on Pennant to a chorus of ?Hello, hello, redshite?
Ten to go and Stoke broke and Etherington cut in from the left but his shot when well placed resembled a cross, a let-off.
Five to go and the Yak leaves to a good reception and Bilyaletdinov replaced him and in injury time almost got on the score sheet but hit the side netting instead of the netting that counts. Final whistle greeted by a mainly subdued Goodison with respectful applause.
Overall not the best of games to watch but the three points and clean sheet gives us hope of much more to come. It is easy to say we will be fine when all are fit and firing but in a football season that rarely happens for any team so mix and match will be the key to our final finishing position. Coleman, although a fans favourite, seems to me to be totally unaware of the qualities required for the wide right mid-field position, willing and adventurous, yes ? but that is about it.
My MotM today was Distin who maintained form when many others struggled a little from time to time. Our so-called big players seemed a bit off today in spells which contributed to the staccato nature of all we tried... but fair play to them, they played through it and just about got the result. Not the best spectacle but one you would take over total domination a la Villa and lose. Strange game this footy.
Blackpool away next and a cert. ?Away? on the coupons but only if we up our
game from today and respect the fact it will be yet another cup final for them.
Who will be fit? What will the team be? What of the tactics?
All will be revealed over 90-odd minutes. See you there.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 31/10/2010 at 10:42:31
As always, a great report. We didn't get to see the match live here in South Africa but I've just watched the highlights and you are spot on - again!!!
By the way - do you have your own blog site?
Distin seems to be improving and it would be interesting to see if Jack is fit enough to play next week.
2 Posted 31/10/2010 at 11:08:31
3 Posted 31/10/2010 at 11:21:03
4 Posted 31/10/2010 at 11:49:17
5 Posted 31/10/2010 at 12:53:06
6 Posted 31/10/2010 at 13:05:47
7 Posted 31/10/2010 at 13:32:51
8 Posted 31/10/2010 at 13:31:21
Great balance match report as always Ken. Have to agree on Coleman- always puts in 100% effort, but maybe just not quite ready for a consistent starting spot at the moment (if we had any viable alternatives that is). Distin has really turned around his performances since the Newcastle debacle, and has been one of our best players in the last few games.
9 Posted 31/10/2010 at 14:04:02
10 Posted 31/10/2010 at 14:07:07
Came to my senses soon after.
Before the game, had burger and chips from the van at the Park End, saw BK arrive, gave him a wave, got a nice smile back. No Bill, that did not constitute an auctioneers bid for the club; keeping looking, please, Sir.
11 Posted 01/11/2010 at 09:32:08
No I have no blog site.
12 Posted 01/11/2010 at 14:02:28
13 Posted 01/11/2010 at 23:18:59
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