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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Chelsea (FAC4R)

By Ken Buckley :  19/02/2011 :  Comments (27) :

True Grit. The real Vanilla remake.

3.30 breakfast and hit the road, not the best of starts to watch a footy match but hell it?s the cup and the Blues are involved. Still, get there and park and await whatever outcome. 6,000 tickets sold and I reckon more than that had made the trip and a good number had got in. The money making scam of last week was dropped this week as the correct team was beamed to our mobiles and showed Beckford up front and Jags in for Heitinga plus Osman out left in place of Bilyaletdinov. I mention this because last week we had a wrong line up text to us and then amended and they charged us twice, still while money is short every little helps.

The game started and in truth apart from the players? willingness to show endeavour after last week?s debacle it was a bit of a stalemate although we did press and get the backs forward but Beckford found little room to worry the Chelsea back two especially with little or no support resulting in yet another moan about cutting edge.

The home side did look dangerous without threatening until from a set piece that was headed against his own post by Jags, we cleared but that effort seemed to energise Chelsea more and the legs of Howard denied them the opener. Then the eternal diver Drogba went down with the slightest if any touch and you would have thought he would have been out for months rather than minutes.

Of course it was minutes and you do wonder why football puts up with such feigners. Chelsea were now more or less on top without really producing much and we broke when we could but such was the gap between striker and provider it was occasional balls into the box that threatened but ultimately came to nothing.

Chelsea as ever were willing to try anything to break us down and a through ball to Ramires into the box saw Howard make a dash and a sprawl which allowed Ramires to dive but The ref Mr Dowd was up with it and booked the man for diving much to the delight of those faithful in attendance. H/T arrived and most thought 0-0 was ok; it was all on field chat rather than any recrimination for off field activities.

Second half and Chelsea responded by replacing Mikel with Essien and showing their growing frustration at their inability to break us down. They did go for it and we were under the cosh for lengthy spells and until we weathered that storm Drogba had free kicks either picked up by Howard or headed wide. We did fashion a couple of chances when Osman headed goalwards but straight at Cech and then from a good run by Coleman his final ball appeared to go behind Beckford who could no more than scuff off target.

Chelsea came at us again and at times it was akin to the Alamo and we needed to applaud Howard for one stop to deny Lampard and other keystone cop moments involving all and sundry to ensure parity. Cahill had taken some knocks for the team and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Bilyaletdinov. We never laid down and from a Bilyaletdinov cross Coleman headed straight at Cech. We then replaced Beckford with Anichebe and fair play the faithful welcomed him to the fray and he almost repaid the faith when being just short of connecting with a Bilyaletdinov cross. At the other end Lampard chipped over when all assembled thought a goal was on.

The clock was ticking down and from a nothing move the excellent Baines cut in and fired goalwards, Cech had the ball bounce off him and Fellaini prodded home. With the word goal in the throat the realisation that it had been chalked off for offside was hard to bear by all. Final whistle and I have to admit our lads looked goosed with little more to give. Moyes and Round were animated and physio?s overworked and from the off of the extra time we were under the cosh.

Lampard soon put the home side ahead and the game fell flat as the Londoners seemed content with cruise control. Heitinga had been introduced for Osman but seemed unsure of his role but none the less no one was giving up and a blood soaked Jags was sent forward to join Fellaini. We did what we could but without looking likely until right on the death Jags was hauled down and Baines had positive words with Arteta and it was indeed the former who prevailed. Thank God he did as his free kick from beyond the box?s edge was of postage stamp accuracy and gave Cech no chance as it nestled top corner. Now I have been to many matches but that sheer outpouring was something else.

Penalties were now required and who knows. Chelsea score and up steps Baines, he of the superlative free kick, he misses, Misery. Drogba scores, more misery. Jags scores- hope. Howard saves from Anelka, belief. Arteta evens up, more belief. Essien and Heitinga score, no change. Up steps Cole via a slight nudge from the retreating Heitinga (good on yer Johnny) and misses.

Heart in mouth time. Capt Pip steps up, places the ball, retreats little more than a yard, some turn their backs, some cover their eyes, some stoically wait. Whistle goes-Pip fires ?cue the party of parties since semi-final day. Whatever the troubles of the club don?t mither us today as we all came together, celebrated and if we were kept back no-one noticed. Wherever and how you watched it I hope you enjoyed but I doubt it could have matched that player/fan adulation that somehow happens from time to time.

Many will say and perhaps with some justification that today?s result merely papers over cracks but I tell you this 14 players, manager and some 7,000 travelling Blues won?t give a damn and will be fired up for next Saturday and then believe the worry beads can be put away until next season.?but who knows?. Ah the beauty of footy.

Overall not perhaps the best of matches, maybe a game between two underperforming teams at the present but just maybe the winners can be galvanized to have an upturn in fortunes.

M.O.tM is always popular and my vote would be for Baines with Howard, Jags, Distin and Fellaini being in contentio

Today I thought that maybe apart from ?Up front man? and maybe flank players we have some quality and until such time as the club can resolve things then we have what we have and hope the quality we have allied to effort and spirit can compensate and produce, just like today, a win in the remaining games of this season and beyond.

All will be revealed game on game. See you next week.
UP THE BLUES.

Reader Comments

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Ajay Gopal
1   Posted 20/02/2011 at 06:03:19

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Thanks, Ken.

Reading the doom & gloom on the TW matchday forum with 3 minutes, tt was nothing short of miraculous to come back to TW and look at the result. Great result, but will this kick start the season ... again ? We have had many false dawns this season - coming back from 2 goals down against ManU in injury time, beating the stars of Man City away with 10 men .... etc. Will this 1 more of them ?

The case must now be strong to bring Baines further up to play Left Wing, and play a back 4 of Neville, Jags, Heitinga & Distin. The rest of the team:

Fella & Rodwell in Centre Midfield, Arteta right wing (sorry, no Coleman), Cahill & Saha in their usual roles. Coleman, Billy, Becks, Osman, Anichebe, to try and change things around.
Dick Fearon
2   Posted 20/02/2011 at 06:43:41

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Hi Ken, 'I just love it' to read reports like that.
On slightly different topic, Ajay #1, mentions the TW match forum.
I was deprived of TV coverage so for the first time I turned to the forum for news. I ended up even more frustrated than before and desperately searched out other sources of information.
It was obvious that contributors to the forum were following the game on TV.
Snippets such as, 'That was a bloody disgraceful tackle by that wanker', etc, gives no indication of who 'that wanker' is or who it was that suffered from the disgraceful tackle or where on the field it happened.
It would be good if forum contributors were aware that many others cannot see what they are seeing.
Rahman Talib
3   Posted 20/02/2011 at 07:34:12

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I believe Billy should start in the place of Cahill, Baines should play left midfield, Arteta should support Coleman because Neville is useless, Fellani is good enough to partner either Baines or Billy plus Arteta can help billy out too, and Beckford should start again. He's WAYYY better than Anichebe.

Oh and call back Vaughn and Yakubu, for God's sake.
Dick Fearon
4   Posted 20/02/2011 at 08:18:36

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One thing that was very clear, Beckford cannot handle the role of lone striker.
Dealing with him was candy off a baby for Terry.
I think he would be a much better proposition with a twin striker.
Alan Khan
5   Posted 20/02/2011 at 09:41:31

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Hi Ken. Another great report.... thank you.

I thought Johnny's "love pat" on Cole was precious. As much as Baines played very well today, in my opinion, Howard earned his wages for the stops that kept us in the game and was my MotM. However, great team effort all round.

It was a superb day for Evertonians and I was so proud of the thousands who packed the Bridge to support our lads. My only hope now is that we get Saha fit and ready for action sooner rather than later.
Andy Morden
6   Posted 20/02/2011 at 10:14:24

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Great report as ever Ken and it was a truly great feeling to have knocked the ungracious Chelsea boys out of the cup. I've been having great fun ramming the taunt that "we're gonna smash your shit team" back down the throats of a couple of Chelsea supporting chums of mine.

Looking forward, I do worry that this may be another false dawn. This team seems to be able to raise itself and perform (or at least get a result) in the games against the perceieved 'big clubs'. Look at the Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham and Man Utd games this season. But then we play the perceived 'lesser lights' such as Wolves, Stoke, Bolton etc and we've often fallen woefully short. The players need to take the level of commitment and the same attitude into the Sunderland game and make sure the result is positive. We have no devine right to beat them, so the team (and fans?) should not go into complacently expecting three points.
Dave Wilson
7   Posted 20/02/2011 at 09:31:45

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Terrific stuff Ken

Evertonians never cease to amaze me,

Last week was unbearable, we`d stunk the Reebok out, Administration was muted, we were in a relegation battle, we had no strikers... so please somebody explain to me where all that confidence came from?

"We`ll do these today" me mates lad said when I picked them up, "yes I know" his arl fella said. WTF?

We were on the bones of our arses playerwise, we were having a weston of a season and we were travelling to the home of the double winners, yet when we met up with our party everybody else was convinced this was to be our day too, the mood was one of celebration, I felt like everybody knew something I didnt..

Inside the ground was no different; unlike at Bolton, nobody was going to suffer in silence, Everton's support was incredible, fist shaking fans demanded defiance from the first whistle and the players responded.

This day will stay with me, not because of the quality of football but because of Everton's support, even when Chelsea fans finally found their voices to taunt "You're not singing anymore" after going ahead, the response was deafening, but it was during the injury time talks that I knew we`d win. Ancelloti and Chelsea looked confident and as Ken says, we looked... err, tired.

Moyes was animated but, if he needed help, it was at hand... the thousands of Evertonians rose as one with an unshakable, logic-defying belief that we would finish the job, banging the seats, clapping their hands, shaking their fists as "We shall not be moved" rang out... I thought the stand would come down.

Magnificent, marvellous, inspirational... call it what you want... but if anybody ever tells me again that fans can't influence a game, I will laugh in their face.

Truly memorable.

Kevin Sparke
8   Posted 20/02/2011 at 10:57:41

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This is what football is all about ? days like these!

Yesterday took me back to Villa Park in the 1980s when we had played awful against Luton Town with a far more accomplished team than the one out there yesterday. At that game, one goal from a free kick went in and then another and we shouted ourselves silly from Birmingham to Merseyside.

Until recently, I had the Radio City commentary of that game on an old worn cassette and when I felt down after another uninspiring home loss or a knockout by a team of minnows, I'd play it to remind me why I still followed this sometimes cruel and merciless with the emotions game.

Make no mistake about it ? this match will burn into the memories of a generation of Evertonians who were 'there', who got behind the team and willed an unlikely victory against all the odds.

This is the day David slew Goliath, this is the day pennies beat billions of roubles, this is the day 'honest' Phil Neville beat diving injury feigning bastard Drogba. This is the day 6,000 lunatics who didn't know they were beat transmitted their belief to 11 weary and down players and lifted their spirits ? Leighton Baines, surely the best left peg at our club since Sheedy!

Everton's debt: £47 million and rising ? less than the Russian paid for Torres... As some wag in the Guardian put it yesterday: 'The only rat to join a sinking ship'.

We're Everton; we're still in the shit; we're probably going to be selling our best players in the summer to keep going; we've an old fashioned ground and old fashioned support ? but yesterday was our 'day of days'.

Long may it continue.

Tony Dove
9   Posted 20/02/2011 at 11:37:35

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This was one game where the result was everything but I thought the recently maligned Arteta and Jags were tremendous. The only sour note was Heitinga's barge on Cole. The sooner we offload him, the better.
Lee Gray
10   Posted 20/02/2011 at 12:00:53

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Tony, sour note... are you mad, half the country cheered? Ashley Cole is one of the most horrible players ever to kick a ball and there is nothing wrong with a bit of gamesmanship ? it's not like he did a Guttusso.
Michael Coville
11   Posted 20/02/2011 at 12:21:08

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Great result. In future I have to wear my lucky Everton hat and my shirt which reads "One Evertonian is worth twenty Liverpudlians" for every game. I wore it since my RS supporting brother-in-law was visiting from the UK.

Have to disagree with Tony #10, I thought Arteta was poor again, too many displaced passes and backward moves and he looked nackered at the end of the 90 minutes. Thank God he didn't take the free kick and left it to Bainsey. Also good on Heitinga, helped us win and beat a team which is full of cheating little shits.

Iain Love
12   Posted 20/02/2011 at 12:15:37

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Watched Arse v Barca fantasy football. Watched us and I thought it was a thrilling game. Baines's goal was a belter and Heitinga's barge on Cole was great .

I thought during the match that if we had Drogba who holds the ball up so well instead of Rebound Anichebe or Bouncy Beckford, we would have won in normal time. We where useless in the last third and if we think we've turned a corner we're sadly mistaken.

Moyes must look again at the Brazilians and build the team around 2 defensive midfielders in Felliani & Rodwell , drop Coleman into the right back slot and let Arteta , Bily and Cahill/ Osman support Saha (although I would bring the Yak back in place of Vic).

Dick Fearon
13   Posted 20/02/2011 at 12:28:45

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The startled look on cashleys face after Heitingas little barge indicates that his composure had been upset and was not what it should have been.
After their posturing and diving Chelski can hardly complain about Heitingas gentle shirt front.
Mike Oates
14   Posted 20/02/2011 at 12:35:50

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Great result, great team spirit, great fans . But being realistic until we find the money to get our own £20m forward (Becks, Anichebe just cant be the lone man striker) we will be treading around the mid-table positions .
David Price
15   Posted 20/02/2011 at 12:28:43

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Great report Ken. Capturing the emotions of the day fantastically well.

Different to Micheals report yesterday, but to be fair, Micheal is concerned with the big picture and amidst the great feeling we have now, it's something we all have to focus on.

We know the fans give special support, it was immense and if it somehow makes just 1% difference to a game then Saturday was that day.

Glen Anderson
16   Posted 20/02/2011 at 10:10:57

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Dick - Were you not able to click on any of the stream links that fans had pasted into the TW live forum? Most of them are browser based (eg: do not need you to download software) so you could have followed what the others were following.
Colin Malone
17   Posted 20/02/2011 at 13:03:50

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What a difference a good goalkeeper makes.
David Hallwood
18   Posted 20/02/2011 at 12:57:01

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The players were goosed?! Now there's an old scouse saying I haven't heard for long time. Great report Ken, great day, and congrats to the people that went down to support the team ? the shower that control our club really don't deserve such loyalty.

On a sour note, I agree about centre-mid, at the start of the season I thought it was shaping up to be the best in the country, but shaky defensively and not too good attacking wise, I'm trying to think of an instance when Fellaini or Arteta made a run into the box, they don't really seem to work well together. But then again we still haven't seen the best of the little Spaniard...
James Marshall
19   Posted 20/02/2011 at 13:32:24

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The thing that relaly got to Cole, after Johnny shoulder-barged him, was us singing 'Cheryl Cheryl Cheryl' at him! Sour note? Poor taste? Yeah, of course, but bloody funny in the away end and he skied it which was a magic moment!

Best away game in a long time, the atmosphere was amazing and the sight of Phil Neville giving the Chelsea fans that were left in the ground, a gentle 'salute' was pure poetry. :-)

We shall not be moved, indeed.
Jamie Barlow
20   Posted 20/02/2011 at 14:06:49

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Don't agree with moving Baines to the wing. Leave him where he is.

Johnny H summed his game up for me yesterday: shits out of a couple of tackles and then plays the big man with the crowd and Cashley. I'm happy with his penalty and the barge but can't wait to see the back of him.

Tony J Williams
21   Posted 20/02/2011 at 14:32:53

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I'm with you Jamie. That is three games on the bounce now where he has shit out of tackles and it has caused us problems.

Hard man? ? don't make me laugh; he shoulder-charged a puffter, fecking great that!
Craig Taylor
22   Posted 20/02/2011 at 14:39:50

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Quality! Heitinga totally did Cole with the shoulder barge before Cole's peno!
Kieran Kinsella
23   Posted 20/02/2011 at 16:10:43

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I hope we beat Reading and City beat Villa...
James Hollister
24   Posted 20/02/2011 at 16:48:02

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Let's hope Reading don't take the piss and run right through us as easy as most teams have this season. We need a holding mid right now, all teams have to do is run through us and distribute to the right wing and they score.

Excellent result after riding our luck right through the match.

After viewing the pen claim live and then watching replay after replay, it could have gone either way, linesman wanted the pen the reff didn't, it's still hard to see whether Howard really touches the lad or not, but the fact he stepped over the keeper and took 2 or 3 steps beyond then fell down, looked for all the world to see like a dive in the box.
James Hollister
25   Posted 20/02/2011 at 16:58:18

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Right now, I'd get Hibbo in there on the right and keep him there. I know he is crap at passing, but he is still a very good defender and can still do a good job until we get someone better.
Andy Crooks
26   Posted 21/02/2011 at 18:55:59

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Dave Wilson, I don't often agree with you but that was the best post you have ever written. I watched the game in a bar with quite a few "new" Chelsea supporters. Not the same as being there by some distance, still a day to remember. Everton always let you down except when you are sure they will let you down. (Sorry I'm not sure what that means...)
Neil Higginbotham
27   Posted 21/02/2011 at 21:39:19

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#19 James Marshall: What did Pip do to the Chelsea fans exactly?

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