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Beckford's Star Turn Salvages a Draw

By Lyndon Lloyd :  11/10/2010 :  Comments (10) :

Everton 1-1 Bolton Wanderers

Everton's lack of cutting edge where it really matters ? in front of goal ? is becoming a recurring theme in a season in which they just don't seem able to kick into high gear. And with the clock ticking down deep into injury time, it looked as though another failure to capitalise on the lion's share of possession and territotrial superiority was to cost them dear.

By that stage, the Blues had played plenty of nice football and created a number of chances that yielded 17 shots to Bolton's seven but had nothing to show for it. Instead, they were trailing 1-0 to Ivan Klasnic's 78th-minute strike and had been reduced to ten men when Marouane Fellaini's unshackled reckless side came to the fore and he was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Paul Robinson.

Enter Jermaine Beckford, the apparent misfit free transfer acqusition from Leeds United whose confidence appeared shot after a rocky start to life at Goodison Park. On the last meaningful attack of the game, the striker picked up the ball on the left side of the penalty area and swept a stunning shot into the far top corner of Jussi Jaaskeleinen's net to salvage a draw for Everton.

Despite the last-gasp heroics, the personal success for Beckford and the fact that this marked a seventh match without defeat for the Blues, there was still an air of despondency at the final whistle, the fans and players aware that this was another opportunity for three points spurned. With the race for the Champions League places so open this season, it is indescribably frustrating to see a team that looked so good in the second half of last season pass up so many points, to see so many winnable games lost or drawn.

Moyes's tinkering with what was a fairly settled starting IX ? he replaced Seamus Coleman, John Heitinga and Yakubu with Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Marouane Fellaini and Louis Saha ? didn't help but it was not entirely to blame. Much of the responsibility lies with the players and a general lack of a killer instinct in the penalty area, though, as was the case with Blackpool, credit must also go to Bolton's defence for their determination to put bodies in the line of fire to keep the ball out of their net.

Indeed, when Saha's fierce drive after 23 minutes was parried by Jussi Jaaskeleinen and Tim Cahill pounced on the rebound, the 'keeper was there again to beat his shot behind.

10 minutes later, Saha was again denied by the Finn, this time from point-blank range as he knocked the ball behind with his back leg and from that corner, Chung-Yong Lee hacked his soaring header off the goalline. When the energetic Steven Pienaar put the ball back into the danger area, Cahill couldn't steer it home with a flick of his heel and Bolton survived.

Owen Coyle's men had started the game in purposeful fashion and after Bilyaletdinov had volleyed Fellaini's header back across goal wide of the post, Johann Elmander was denied a goalscoring opportunity at the other end by a magnificent saving tackle by Sylvain Distin. The Swede was also denied by Fellaini when his volley deflected off the Belgian and behind for a corner which caused all kinds of chaos in the Everton defence until a second corner kick from the other side was headed wide by the same Bolton player.

Having then ceded the initiative to their hosts, the Trotters held on to half-time and might have taken the lead six minutes after the restart but Stuart Holden was denied by an excellent reflex save by Tim Howard as he steered a header back across goal.

Still Everton pressed though and still they were denied by dogged defending by Bolton. Bilyaletdinov latched onto a poor defensive header by Gary Cahill but the sting was taken out of his shot by a deflection. Then Pienaar carved the visiting defence open with a glorious slide-rule pass to Leighton Baines on the overlap but his low cross skipped up off Cahill and inches over Jaaskeleinen's crossbar. Distin headed the subsequent corner expertly back into Bilyaletdinov's path but the Russian fluffed his lines and bobbled a shot wide.

And if that wasn't frustating enough, when Saha turned brilliantly in the 65th minute to open up space for a great chance, his effort was also deflected away from goal and behind for a corner.

It was at that point that the impetus from the Blues started to fade and Bolton came more into the match. And with 12 minutes left of the regulation 90, Matthew Taylor swung a wicked cross in from the touchline, the ball eluding Howard and Distin's lunge before being met by Klasnic, a second-half substitute at the far post. Just as at the Reebok Stadium earlier this year, he made no mistake in punishing Everton with what looked to be the winning goal.

Moyes, who was already preparing attacking changes in addition to his earlier decision to withdraw Bilyaletdinov in favour of Coleman when Bolton scored, threw on Beckford and Yakubu in place of Phil Neville and Saha with nine minutes left, but his efforts appeared to be critically undermined by Fellaini who reacted to a bad tackle by Robinson by kicking both feet into the Bolton man's groin. Sensing a red card was coming, the Belgian feigned more serious injury to elicit leniency from referee Phil Dowd but he was given his marching orders all the same.

Down to 10 men and facing an entrenched Bolton side content to play out time by the corner flag where possible, the Blues looked beaten. With the ball moving sideways, both manager and fans alike were baying for the players to get it forward and when they finally did, Beckford, who had been at the centre of a potential penalty incident a few minutes earlier when Zat Knight appeared to jab him in the throat with his elbow, seized the moment to grab his first Everton goal in stunning fashion.

In the final reckoning, while Everton did fashion chances, there just weren't enough for the dominance of possession they enjoyed and, again, there was often too much hesitation when the better option would have been the put a foot through the ball rather than trying to walk in through the defence.

Too often, an overly nonchalent pass went astray ? Arteta, Pienaar, Bilyaletdinov and Cahill were all guilty of it ? or the final ball was poor, while Arteta continues to waste set-pieces. While the decision to drop Yakubu didn't seem to much sense, Saha made a pretty good case for it with a decent display. Bily was poor pretty much from start to finish, though and Coleman made in immediate difference when he came on.

At the back, Distin continues to demonstrate he has put his early-season jitter firmly behind him, but Jagielka was uncharacteristically shaky.

So another two points dropped and another chance to move into the top six spurned. While fifth place remains just two points away despite the Blues' relatively poor points return, there is always hope but at the moment there just isn't enough evidence that this Everton side can finish in the European places without some changes to their attacking attitude.

Player Ratings:
Howard 7, Neville 6 (Beckford 7), Jagielka 5, Distin 8, Baines 7, Fellaini 7, Arteta 7, Bilyaletdinov 5 (Coleman 7), Pienaar 8*, Saha 7 (Yakubu 6)

Reader Comments

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Peter Fearon
1   Posted 11/11/2010 at 04:32:16

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Beckford's brilliant strike and Fellaini's red card are distractions from the real message of this match and the disappointing result against Blackpool: we must play two strikers up front.

When we went behind ? and it seemed inevitable that we would, given the chances we had wasted ? the Manager of the Month finally brought on two strikers, Beckford and Yakubu. We scored.

Now the arithmetic isn't that difficult. One striker: almost always a struggle for goals. Two strikers: almost always at least one goal. David Moyes knows this better than anyone.

The fact that he is still persevering with his lone striker nonsense is criminal. Despite this experience, for Arsenal on Sunday there will be one striker on the field for 90% of the game.

Sega Kana
2   Posted 11/11/2010 at 06:44:34

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Peter, I think Moyes's delima is who to drop from the bench if we play with 2 strikers. He always picks HIS best players and try to fit them in HIS formation ie, 4-5-1. Say we play 4-4-1-1 with Beckford up front and Yak just behind him, who is the best 4 MF? Pienaar, Arteta, Fella, Rodwell / Coleman? That leaves out Cahill. Moyes will never leave him out and so would many fans.

If Moyes insists on playing Cahill, what formation is best? How about 4-3-1-2, playing Cahill or Bily behind the strikers with the 3 MF consisting Pienaar, Arteta and Rodwell? That leaves out Fella. Do you see Moyes's delima?

I'm not here defending Moyes but just pointing out the obvious issue. Frankly, I feel Moyes needs to be bold enough to play more than one formation because we do have the players. It's a matter of choosing the right formation against the right opponents or changing it when needed.

Derek Thomas
3   Posted 11/11/2010 at 07:10:06

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It's all about decision making, but we seem to be zigging when we should be zagging.

The stats say we have 20 something shots to Boltons 8 or 9. I lost count of how many times we tried to walk the ball into the net, playing the one two, but with no three or passing across the box.

Give credit to Bolton's defenders for getting a piece of themselves, how ever small behind the ball to deflect it.

How many times did we have the ball in a similar position to Beckford and just plain fannied around with it?? Too too fuckin many.

Coleman on Sat in the box, shoot, goal. Beckford, in the box, shoot, one goal.

Bily can count himself both lucky and unlucky... lucky to get a start and unlucky to come off.

Arteta gave the best or worst impression of Pepe Le Pew, he stank the place out.

Defending from corners ? why oh why oh why if the have 8 men up do we have TEN in the box? One on the edge and one on halfway, ffs...
Dick Fearon
4   Posted 11/11/2010 at 11:00:53

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Derek T # 3. So Bily was unlucky to be taken off? We could no longer afford a player whose only contribution was a piss weak shot at goal and even pisser tackling. He is so slow of thought as well as movement he makes Osman look like a second Zinadine.

Moyes should bite the bullet with this fellow and get rid, or give him away for nothing if needs be, if only to get him off the payroll.

Keith O'Brien
5   Posted 11/11/2010 at 12:47:06

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Not related so much to the match, but did anybody notice we were once again left until the end of MotD... AGAIN! WIth no post match reaction or comments. Getting sick of it now, would like to see some decent highlights of my team. Do they (media) all consider us to be very boring or is it just me getting frustrated with the lack to air time?
Charles King
6   Posted 11/11/2010 at 13:26:58

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Keith @ 5:

The MotD thing is a non-starter; unless our opposition is one of the newsworthy clubs, we are of no interest to anyone outside of the faithful.

We are in the Coventry, Southampton, Luton, Boro also-rans of the top division, clubs over the years who have accepted their lot as fodder for the more innovative clubs.... Gobshites.

Tony J Williams
7   Posted 11/11/2010 at 13:19:17

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Keith, probably something to do with the fact that the match was boring and nothing much of note apart from the two goals and the sending off.

With you all the way Derek, my throat was hurting because of the amount of times I shouted "Just fecken hit it" or "Have a fecken go!"

It is winding me up no end that we feel we have to walk it in. We have two extremes, hoof it or overplay it. A happy medium would be nice.
Ged Simpson
8   Posted 11/11/2010 at 17:24:59

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I have now started a weird campaign to applaud Baines in every post match thread.

Bear with me......may be a senior moment !
David Chait
9   Posted 11/11/2010 at 17:30:58

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Something I noticed just watching the Bolton goal again.. and have not read anywhere... tell me I'm wrong but would Distin not have stopped the goal if he had tried to use his right boot... you know the one he runs on but I have seen used twice in 2 seaons with us so far... from where I am it appaears he could have taken the ball in his stride with the inside of his right... anyone?
Conor Waters
10   Posted 11/11/2010 at 23:03:30

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Anyone else notice that nobody seemed to celebrate the goal with Beckford? The guy scores his first goal for the club after a difficult and confidence sapping start, and he was left celebrating all on his toblerone. It seems clear that none of the other players rate the guy. Well I think it was a bit strange ? but I hope it kick-starts his Goodison career.

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