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Fulham (H) ? Loving the late kick off

By Paul Traill :  20/03/2011 :  Comments (19) :
I?m usually cussing and cursing the late kick off given the kick off time such is the impact on my evening given the time it takes to get home following the game. On this occasion however I really saw the benefit and indulged in a lovely day of procrastination prior to arrival at the pub, all safe in the knowledge that I was out in town after the game.

The pub was fun too. Both the late and early kick off seems to throw the pub-goers schedule well out of whack and it isn?t quite as busy as usual. This was the case also and bar service was quick and efficient. I also caught up with a mate from work? things were looking up.

We heard the team news as we headed on to the game and it was a relief that Cahill was starting. Two changes from the draw with Birmingham City 10 days or so ago. Arteta out obviously with Coleman taking up position on the flank, Cahill replacing Beckford in attack and Neville coming in for Heitinga in midfield.

The teams switched ends and so we attacked the Gwladys Street in the first half. Prior to kick off we impeccably observed a minute?s silence in support of those whom perished in the recent tsunami disaster in Japan. All very sad.

Everton probed a little more than Fulham in the opening exchanges though the visitors appeared reasonably comfortable. The game certainly had that end of season feel to it with both teams not quite in top gear. The closest we came during this period was probably when Saha headed goalward only for Salcido to clear off the line.

With the match seemingly going nowhere and having already had a couple of beers in the pub, we had a taste for it and so headed downstairs for an early beer. They must have ran out of regular sized plastic pint cups as all the beers where served in gigantic cups. They were so big it made the people look small as Gary remarked.

Anyway, it was during this period that Everton only went and scored. Fantastic play by Osman, jinking into the box and putting a cracking ball across for Coleman. Seamus kept his eye on it and planted his header firmly into the corner of the net. 1-0, and probably just about deserved at the interval.

If the first half was sluggish then the second was one to enjoy with both teams really going for a bit more. We doubled our money early when Saha slammed home a free kick ? right footed ? following a superb forceful run by young Jack Rodwell.

You felt that was game over but this wasn?t quite the case as Everton stalled whilst Fulham rallied ? Demspey rifling home from the edge of the box to put the Cottages back in it at 2-1. Zamora and AJ were quite the handful but Jagielka, Distin and Howard were generally in control of everything thrown at them as Everton edged to victory?though Zaomora?s finger counting of the time Howard had the ball was a trifle unnecessary.

In the end, we actually could have won the game more handsomely when Jagielka headed at goal from a corner needlessly conceded by Schwarzer, though took the points regardless, moving us up to 8th in the table and remarkably (given the sluggish season we?ve had) now just two points off 6th? all to play for as we head into the home straight.

We congregated for a quick pint after the game before I headed into town for a decent night with some old friends. A good day. A good night. A good performance and another home game next? and fingers crossed, another three points.

Player Ratings:

Howard: Good. Was behind most things thrown at him and distributed well enough. 7

Baines: Typically consistent. 7

Jagielka: Very solid. Especially late in the game when he was needed. 8

Distin: Did enough. 7

Hibbert: Solid. 7

Neville: Held well. Seems to prefer the middle over right back. I?d have him in there over Heitinga any day. 7

Osman: My man of the match. He?s taken on the responsibility as our most creating outlet pretty well and had a big hand in the first goal. Needs to keep up to that level of consistency for the rest of the season. 8

Coleman: Toiled well as always and got his rewards with a well taken goal. Like Osman, it?s imperative he keeps this up for the remainder of the campaign. Has had an excellent season. 8

Rodwell: Drives well at times ? as with the second goal ? but is hopelessly anonymous at times also. If he?s still with us he has a massive year of development next term me thinks. 6

Cahill: Good nuisance value, though only lasted 70 minutes as he regains fitness. Could have a decent impact on the remainder of the season yet. 6

Saha: Took his goal very well and was looking at an all round good performance until? getting injured. An ankle problem apparently. That?ll be him out for a few games at least. Typical Saha really. 6

Heitinga (for Cahill): Strange swap. Did his job OK I suppose. Probably suits everyone if he moves on in the summer. 6

Bilyaletdinov (for Rodwell): Didn?t really offer anything. Like with Heitinga, probably wouldn?t be the worst thing in the world for everyone if he was shipped off come summertime. 6

Beckford (for Saha): Not on long. Difficult to judge, though definitely worth persevering with for another term.

Reader Comments

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Max Fine
1   Posted 20/03/2011 at 18:33:08

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Well, I thought Neville had a terrible game, and Heitinga looked like the only player with any kind of urgency when he came on... It was his chasing of a lost cause that forced a corner out of Schwarzer and relieved some of the late pressure by Fulham. He's also our only defense-minded player who can decide where he's passing and move it on accurately within a timeframe that doesn't allow the opposition team to reorganise and nullify our options.

Still, he doesn't declare his "love" for the club at every available press opportunity or attempt career-ending two-footed tackles so he must be shit. Best move him on...

Simon Jenkins
2   Posted 20/03/2011 at 19:36:23

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I usually hate late kick-offs too, but I thought the atmosphere was a lot better yesterday than recent home games.

I too put that down to people being on the ale all day before coming to the match in a relaxed mood.
Ryan Holroyd
3   Posted 20/03/2011 at 20:19:33

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That's right Max. Heitinga doesn't profess his love for the club. He just says he wants to move to x, y and X each and every transfer window.

You're right, he doesn't attempt career-ending two-footed tackles. He just SHITS out of tackles each and every week. Leading to goals.

He's the biggest phoney hard man since Gravesen. Except without half the skill.

Phil Neville pisses all over John Heitinga.
John Daley
4   Posted 20/03/2011 at 22:21:32

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"Phil Neville pisses all over John Heitinga"

There's next Sundays 'News of the World' headline right there. I've always thought there was something shifty about our squeaky clean skipper, but I'm still slightly surprised to discover he's a sexually deviant giver of golden showers. At least now we know how Heitinga became so practised in the art of 'fist pumping'.
James Flynn
5   Posted 20/03/2011 at 22:50:26

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8 games with 24 points to be had. Has everyone really dumped the team for the season? 36 hours after the game ends, I'm only the 6th person to respond?

Poor forms lady and gents. 5th place is certainly in play.

Good writing. You always add the "You are there" touch.
Michael Kenrick
6   Posted 21/03/2011 at 03:24:20

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Looka around ya...

This is Match Thread Number FIVE.

For what was in truth a pretty tame match...

We'z all tuckered out.

Try to get yerself involved a bit earlier next time.
Dave Wilson
7   Posted 21/03/2011 at 06:00:11

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Pleased to see Ossie gets the nod from you, Paul, he`s playing out of his skin for weeks now. Has anyone heard from Dick Fearon recently?

Also very pleased to see Seamus getting an 8, I`ve been critical of him recently, but he was terrififc, apparently he told Moyes he was having none of this "needs a rest" lark, so he`s definitely not someone who`s happy to just take the money.

If the rest of them stand up to be counted between now and the end of the season, I see my 55 points target as being well achievable.
Stephen Kenny
8   Posted 21/03/2011 at 06:49:23

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He's been our best player for a month or two now.

I think it's fair to say the form of Leon Osman will most likely be the determining factor in where we finish this season.
Martin Mason
9   Posted 21/03/2011 at 09:04:58

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I didn't see the game as I'm in Kazakhstan and can never get the streams. All I will say is great win, a nice run developing and Osman reaching the level of performance that he's always had in him.

Well done all concerned, why it happens when we lose our best players every time baffles me.
Sam Morrison
10   Posted 21/03/2011 at 09:34:42

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Martin (9) me too. Or rather, it doesn't baffle me, it irks me. You know Moyes can send out a team bereft of it's biggest talents and pull something off, and hats off to him for that.

But that's why it irks me that when everyone's fit and expectation is high ? see start of this season ? we underperform.
Stephen Kenny
11   Posted 21/03/2011 at 09:55:14

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Imo Moyes is really motivated by being the underdog and proving people wrong.

He is not comfortable being recognized as the favourite, a top level coach etc as that doesn't sit well with him.

You only have to see our performances in Europe when we have been expected to win, the constant cup humiliations or the soundbytes he makes about not feeling secure in his job, his casting of himself as a young manager etc (he is not after 9 straight years in the big league with a top side) to see that's the reason why ? with everyone fit and Everton being talked up almost universally by fans and pundits alike ? we flop big-time.
Sam Morrison
12   Posted 21/03/2011 at 10:05:11

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Agreed, Stephen. I've said similar before. If he's to be the top manager he wants to be then there is a step to take where expectation is embraced, not feared. I'd hope he can do that with us but, after 9 years, it feels like he's possibly lost enthusiasm/drive. Why is of course a tricky question ? there may be reasons that would cheese any of us off...
Sam Hoare
13   Posted 21/03/2011 at 11:45:18

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I often stand up for Moyes on these boards but the last few posts I agree with. We seem considerably more comfortable with the underdog tag and struggle to deal with expectation, early season choking with a fully fit team being the best evidence.

I don't believe that we have the resources at the moment to mount a sustained challenge on the top 4 but, if we ever did, then I would worry if Moyes has the mentality to take us to the next level. I would love him to prove me wrong.
Stephen Kenny
14   Posted 21/03/2011 at 12:44:45

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Sam 13

There was a point when I wanted Moyes to be the man to take us forward. At one point, I felt he had the potential to build something significant at Everton. That's what's the most disappointing thing for me, I felt he could do IT!!! Now I know he can't.

I feel he's his own worst enemy and has lost the plot. I think for the past year or two he's been going through the motions and the players have responded in kind.
Charlie Johnston
15   Posted 21/03/2011 at 13:16:51

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Is it true our team on the pitch against Fulham was only valued at £23 million? If so, then comments like "There just doesn't seem to be enough attacking threat, midfield creativity or defensive solidity to provide the foundation for a solid run down the stretch" is really quite unsurprising... some might say, "Not bad for 23 Million quid, given our position".
Sam Hoare
16   Posted 21/03/2011 at 13:11:30

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I'm not sure i can agree that he has been going through the motions. I get the impression that he cares as much and works as hard as ever... but I do worry, like you, as to if he is capable of taking us much further.

The hordes on here calling for his head often do so with a vitriolic lack of respect for what he had done for us but I'm not against a change necessarily.

The problem for me is would we lose stability (and possibly our cherished Premier League status) if we risked a change? Maybe it's worth it just to inject some fresh impetus. Only time will tell, I guess... Though I can't see him being asked to leave while Kenwright still holds the reigns.
Stephen Kenny
17   Posted 21/03/2011 at 15:46:07

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I think if he want's it he's got a job for life, or until someone prise's the deeds from Bill's cold dead grasp.

The thing is Moyes's seemingly low opinion of himself compared to the majority of the footballing world means he doesn't realise how much pressure he could put on for funds etc. He still retains the support of the majority IMO and with him we will always do at least okay. I want more than okay so I'm hoping for a change.

Bill would have to appoint a seriously shite manager for this side to get relegated!
James Flynn
18   Posted 22/03/2011 at 00:04:57

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Michael (6) - Yes, I hit this one first.
Chris Fisher
19   Posted 22/03/2011 at 10:11:07

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I thought the atmosphere was awful! We were out sung by a handful of Fulham fans! They hadn't even close to sold out there section and yet all you could hear was them!

Every now and then, a chant would go up but I came with a freind who supports Blackpool and he was shocked, he said, "I thought Goodison was supposed to be a great ground to come for the atmosphere but it's like a graveyard!" I suppose we haven't got much to cheer about! Deserved the win overall though!

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