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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Should have left my coat at home

By Paul Traill :  07/05/2011 :  Comments (6) :

My original plan was to leave the car at home as I had evening plans. A glance at the bank balance changed all that and so I chose to drive to the match, picking up Ste, then Gary and Sue. We then made a botched attempt to pick up Simon who?d left for the train station but we didn?t get there in time and so it was onward to Goodison? parking up just around the corner from where the ?watch yer car? lad patrolled.

The pub was good fun. As the season draws to a close, you tend to appreciate the pub congregation a little more. Ste finally managed to get the team news up on his phone and we learnt that Heitinga was straight into the team at the expense of a half-fit Cahill. Manchester City starting with three defensive midfielders in Toure, De Jong and Viera with Dzeko up front on his own? .Joleon Lescott finally getting the opportunity to feature against his former club in a Manchester City shirt.

We also heard in the pub that Duncan Ferguson was in town for the game and was to appear on the pitch prior to kick-off, so we made an earlier than usual dart to the ground to catch the Big Man. Unfortunately, we were too late and could only hear the commotion inside from outside the ground. By the time we?d rustled through the turnstile we?d missed him? bummer.

Prior to the match, I?d checked the weather forecast on BBC, finding heavy rain was predicted throughout the day and so I wore a warm, black coat. Unbelievably, it rained pretty much right up until kick-off?only for extremely warm, sunny conditions to take over for seemingly just the game of football? I wish I?d have left my coat at home?

As expected, Lescott received a less than stellar welcome as the teams came to the field. This was to continue throughout the 90 minutes. The teams switched ends before Phil Dowd got the game under way?Lescott parking up just near us and subjected to an earful of abuse? some of which (The Elephant Man) was a bit close to the bone.

Everton never really got going in the first half and were chasing shadows until the interval with Manchester City in total control. Before Yaya Toure put the visitors ahead, they?d twice come close with efforts from Silva and then a gleaming opportunity for Viera which he side-footed over the crossbar under little-to-no pressure from the Everton defence.

The goal did come however following a slight Distin error. Silva was quick and capitalized? slipping the ball through for Toure who took a touch before finishing smartly? you knew he was going to score and he did. 1-0 to Man City. Well deserved. Atmosphere flat.

Luckily, a few of the players continued to probe, not least Victor Anichebe, and Everton did get in and around Man City to provide a chink of light for the second half? Rodwell heading wide with a reasonable opportunity. Generally speaking, as we got to the break, Man City were by far the better side... though you felt Everton could improve for the second period.

At the break, we discussed how it could be changed. I felt the introduction of Cahill may be the best way forward to get in and around the box to perhaps get on the end of one of Anichebe?s flick-ons, presuming Hibbert may be the one to make way. I wasn?t sure it was the best idea as Neville had just picked up a rather unfair booking. The U18 team were paraded at the break also having just won the U18 Premier League Northwest Group? Fingers crossed they can finish the job and win the overall league playoffs? fingers crossed some of them can make the step up.

Hibbert was indeed the man to be taken off, replaced by Beckford, not Cahill, and Everton powered into the second half an unrecognizable team from that in the first? now battling hard against the Manchester millionaires. Beckford was running hard up front with Anichebe doing a sterling job on the right wing? Osman and Heitinga also particularly impressive.

Despite all this, it took a good save from Tim Howard to keep it at 0-1? the American stopper blocking well when Toure got through on goal following a nice ball from Silva.

Just after the hour mark, Cahill was indeed introduced and his impact was immediate, firstly winning a free kick following a foul by Viera? and then causing havoc from Arteta?s resultant free kick to sufficiently distract defenders away from Distin? the Frenchman connecting well and powering his header into the net despite Joe Hart getting a hand to it. A cracking header by the ex-Man City player. Boy, he seemed to enjoy that. The atmosphere improved no end? tails up? You betcha!

Everton continued to take the game to Manchester City and got their rewards when of all people Leon Osman got in front of Vincent Kompany to perfectly head home Neville?s rather hopeful cross. Osman stayed down in a heap after heading the ball home, rubbing his head once he finally got to his feat. He did well to brave get on the end of the cross. Everton had completely turned the game on its head.

There were still 13 minutes remaining and you sensed Everton were to sit back entirely. This, pleasingly, they didn?t, and instead continued to try and play and get forward. It?s not as though Man City didn?t go for it either though... Dzeko came close with a fantastic effort whilst Milner and De Jong both had efforts from distance blocked by the resilient Everton defence, whilst Howard punched a few things out when he was needed?Man City even threw on Jô for good measure but all to no avail. Everton weren?t to be denied.

Rapturous applause greeted the full time whistle and Everton left the field with a magnificent three points?well they didn?t quite leave straight away. There was still time for Coleman and I think Johnson to have a little spat, as too did ex-colleagues Phil Neville and Brian Kidd but it all ended Everton?s day? one for Duncan to savour.

As we got back to the car after the game, a lad was now waiting outside the vehicle: ?Watch your car, mate?? he said, to which we quickly played ignorance and just got into the car. Undeterred the young lad came to the window requesting payment. ?I?ve no change sorry mate? was the best I could muster? I think we need a new place to park next season.

Well done Everton?.two more wins and you just never, never know.

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: Was always there when needed and made a very good save from Toure at the start of the second half. 8
  • Baines: Good. Stuck at it and made some decent tackles. Distribution not as it can be but Christ, he can?t do it every game. 7
  • Distin: I thought he looked at fault for the first goal but was otherwise excellent and got on the scoresheet of course. 8
  • Jagielka: Was caught out for that chance for Toure at the start of the second period and that could of proved costly. Regardless, he got away with it and was brilliant throughout. 8
  • Hibbert: Good first half defensively, poor offensively before subbed. 6
  • Neville: Was doing well in the first half but was equally as adept in the second half when switched to right back. Pretty good stuff all-in-all and set up the winner. 7
  • Heitinga: One of his best games for Everton and certainly his best of the season. Very solid in midfield and passed the ball pretty well. It could have been one of a few players but he was my man of the match. 8
  • Osman: Had a stormer of a second half and popped up with the winner. Really works hard for the team. The Osman bashers beggar belief in my opinion. 8
  • Arteta: Useless in the first half out on the wing but grew in confidence in the game when switched into the centre. Got one assist with the excellent ball in for Distin?s goal. Hopefully he can come flying out of the traps next term. 6
  • Rodwell: A bit here and there. I think he still needs to develop his confidence a bit more. Like Arteta, hopefully he can get off to a flyer next season? if he?s still with us of course. 6
  • Anichebe: His best game for years. That?s the level he now needs to maintain? like the aforementioned Arteta and Rodwell, it could be a big season for him next term. I could have given Man of the Match to Victor. Many people will, I assume. 8
  • Beckford: Worked hard. Had a reasonable opportunity to score but fluffed it somewhat. Has quite a make or break year ahead of him me thinks. 6
  • Cahill: Immediate impact and was just what we needed. Got stuck in and really rattled Man City. Really is a big game player. 8
  • Coleman: Also had a good immediate impact on the game, getting down the line and running at Man City despite only being on the pitch for about 8 minutes.

Reader Comments

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Mick Gallagher
1   Posted 07/05/2011 at 22:12:02

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Can't believe you never tipped the kid... I used to mind them myself. Haha.
James Flynn
2   Posted 07/05/2011 at 22:04:47

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Paul - Good as always in conveying the feeling of being there.

It occurs to me that Moyes has substantially re-built the squad these last 2 seasons. Hope it all comes together in the Fall.
Ian Corky
3   Posted 07/05/2011 at 23:42:44

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I've just seen Mankini on MotD... long ball, long ball long ball? What a sad bitter loser, he was at a total different game to me, what a tit he realy is. :)
Ian Corky
4   Posted 07/05/2011 at 23:54:17

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ps £20+ mil for Lescott... Ha ha ha, I've seen lorries turn with more finesse, he isn't fit to lace Jagielka's or Distin's boots.
Jake Wilson
5   Posted 08/05/2011 at 05:45:33

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The games against Manchester City are looked forward to by most Evertonians. We have such a great record against them in recent years and this year there was an extra spice for the game... The first time Joleon Lescott and his supposedly £24 million price tag have come back to Goodison Park.

We all know that he isn?t worth that but why are we moaning about it? We made about £18 million on the transfer, with that money, we bought an ever-present Distin, a World Cup finalist, and a Russian who has so much potential if he ever realised that he just needs to try that bit more.

And what has Joleon done in that time? A handful of games for City, while he has dropped down the England pecking order. Thank you, karma.

Anyway about the game: we were dominated in the first half, they looked a team that had hundreds of millions of pounds spent on it, and Viera and De Jong were bossing the midfield. Silva couldn?t believe his luck, he was able to put his foot on the ball and dictate and create at will. He even had the time to pluck a big hoof down and get a shot away before anyone closed him.

City came close when Viera missed a sitter. Then Toure made up for it with a cool finish. Everton?s only real chance came late in the first half with Rodwell rising well and glancing a header just past the post. Lescott was getting abuse but did he care? He?s on around £100,000 a week and his pride was still intact. He probably loved every second of the first half.

Second half came: Beckford on for Hibbert. Anichebe went wide right, Osman wide left... the formation looked promising. We started brighter; we got stuck in more we fought for every ball. This is the Everton we know and love. Rumours of a Ferguson half-time pep talk could be true, they showed the Big Dunc mentality; were not losing without a fight. Every player fought for the ball.

If we didn?t win it the first time, we made sure we won it the second time. But behind this effort and determination we produced football that even matched if not bettered Manchester City. The atmosphere in the ground grew; less was said about Lescott and more about the team.

Manchester City fans must have dreaded the moment Rossi announced that Cahill was replacing Rodwell. The atmosphere again grew inside Goodison, and then we played some decent football and put City under pressure. We earned a few corners and put City under pressure.

Then a great ball whipped in from Arteta and it was headed in by our ever present rock at the back, Sylvain Distin. Goodison believed that we could get another and, 7 minutes later, one of the smallest players on the pitch scored a header that Duncan Ferguson would have made up with. Leon Osman has been one of our best players since the departure of Pienaar. He is now getting the recognition he merits and an England cap would be deserved.

For all City?s millions, when they went 2-1 down, they looked for a leader, and they didn?t have one. I would rather have our team spirit and a bit more money than all their wealth and no team spirit. We saw out the game professionally and this game could spark the hunt for Spurs again who have admitted they don?t want Europa League next season. I think we need investment before another long European season.

Today?s atmosphere was probably one of the best this season; it was a great game of football as well. End to end, a few feisty tackles, a committed performance and no real negatives from the game. I didn?t agree that Jagielka was Man of the Match, he was solid at the back but his distribution from the back was average at best today.

Heitinga had a solid game in front of the back four, Distin reliable as usual only one mistake but made up for it with a great header. Osman again was solid in midfield. Howard was solid again. But I think Anichebe would get my vote for Man of the Match because he surprised most people.

He was in and out of the game first half but gave Kompany and Lescott a big headache at the back. He was a handful in the air and he chased back and won the ball back as well. He brought players into the game well. The only thing he missed was the confidence to run at Lescott and utilise his pace and power. So he gets my vote for Man of the Match.

Adam Rathe
6   Posted 08/05/2011 at 14:24:29

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Good report. Thought saying Beckford's chance was 'fluffed' was a bit harsh, it did come quickly and I thought he connected well.

Spot on with the 'watch ya car mate' lad. Despite our car getting broken in to twice in the past 4 years, we still politely tell them to do one.

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