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From my seat: Academy League Final

By Paul Marshall :  14/05/2011 :  Comments (6) :
As a fan of Ken Buckley?s match reports, thought I?d have a first stab at one (and nick his article title while I?m at it)!

As a London blue and with nothing better to do on a Friday night after work I rocked up to the cottage hoping for more of an entertaining game than the 0-0 that I?d witnessed the senior team mange back in September. Good level of support for the blues, I reckon on par with the Fulham lot and interesting to be all mixed in with the Fulham fans in the Haynes Stand! I was enjoying the obligatory pre match beer and sausage roll in the stand when Bill Kenwright walked past; had a quick word with him and good to see him showing support to the lads!

Never having seen the U18s before I was interested to see how some of the more recognisable names like Garbutt, Bidwell and McAleny performed. The lads lined up 4-3-3, with Forrester leading the line. I must admit most of the first half was quite hard work to watch. Not too many clear-cut chances, with Fulham happy to sit back and let their monster centre backs mop most of our attacks up and then try and counter us on the break. Best player on the park in the first half was our no.8 (from the names on the official website I reckon this was Donegan) who showed some great drive going forward and the ability to skip past a few challenges. Forrester was quite isolated at times as Thomas and McAleny struggled to get the ball in good areas of the pitch. Our no. 6 Barrow had a huge throw on him (ala Delap) and this was used on countless occasions to try and pick out Forrester and look for a knock-down. Although this gave us a few half-chances, I was disappointed the lads used the long throw every time and didn?t mix it up a bit and use a short throw and play to feet!

Second half and we?d moved seats to get out of the way of a post, but unfortunately we moved right in front of some Fulham fans who basically gave a rubbish running commentary of the events unfolding. Anyway, the game progressed in a similar vain, with a few half chances for both sides, but no keeper really having to work that hard. Our defence looked very solid, Dier (the English lad we?ve signed on loan I think from Sporting Lisbon) and Bidwell keeping it steady, and the fullbacks dealing well with a skilful looking Fulham forward line. The right back, Browning was quick and strong, but unfortunately seems to the distribution skills of Hibbo in his early days; let?s hope he gets better with age like our Tony! Bidwell the left back has great left peg on him, put in some good corners.

Anyway, the action finally started with about 15 minutes left! The first incident of real controversy was a mistake across our back four, with the Fulham no. 9 poking the ball past Bidwell through on goal, and with no full-backs to cover, it looked like Bidwell dragged him to the ground, but lucky days the ref waved play on! My first reaction was that he was last man and was a lucky boy to stay on the pitch! This sparked the crowd into life and the blues looked shaken, so much so it only took a few minutes for Fulham to take the lead as a break led to the ball rolling across the box for their no.8 to rifle the ball into the top corner; quality finish.

But the blues reaction was class! Barrow was removed in favour of a Crouchy lookalike Waring; and what an inspired move it was as it gave Forrester (who?d worked his socks off) some more support to pressure the two big Fulham centre backs. We won a free-kick wide right, the keeper didn?t deal with the initial ball, and Thomas was in the right place to shoot low into the empty net! Now we were all over them, Fulham were 2nd to every ball and you knew who the winners were going to be. A great move down the left opened up their defence and a peach of a cross found Waring who nodded a cracker of a header back past the keeper! The lads looked like they enjoyed that celebration, and I enjoyed rubbing it into the Fulham fans sat behind me! To be fair to Fulham, they had a golden chance to equalise in extra time when they carved open our defence, only for one of their subs to blaze over.

Overall, a great performance by the lads, especially the character shown to come back into the game after going down 1-0 with only 15 minutes to go. Hopefully some of them can develop into decent first team players, there?s certainly the potential there. Although the game didn?t spark into life until the second half, I?m glad I went along and saw the lads playing with pride and delivering some silverware this season! And that?s why I love being a blue!

Reader Comments

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Michael Coville
1   Posted 14/05/2011 at 20:27:24

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Thanks for the report Paul, hope some of these youngsters make the grade. After today's game I think we should have played some of the kids against West Brom!
Chris McLaughlin
2   Posted 14/05/2011 at 21:06:22

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Great Post, good to see the young lads doing well.

1 point: Everton lined up 4-3-3? The Academy is supposed to prepare the boys for playing for the first team... so why, when David Moyes constantly insists on playing the uber boring 4-5-1, do the Academy play a more attacking formation??

I think Mr Moyes needs to be taking some tips from his Academy coaches becuase the first team coaches haven't got a clue. Well done Blues!

Alasdair Mackay
3   Posted 15/05/2011 at 12:16:53

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I went to the game too and I was actually very impressed by many of the lads.

I think it was more of a 4-5-1 to be honest, or even a 4-4-1-1 with Kinsella playing just behind Forrester and McAleny and Thomas playing as wide midfielders.

I think it was Garbutt that was taking the corners and they were very good deliveries.

I thought the entire back-line was very solid and I was stunned by how far Davies (in goal) could kick the ball. I think possibly even further than Howard can.

I thought Thomas started brightly, but let his head go down and drifted out of the game for a long period.

The stand-out players on both sides were the centre-backs and, if it wasn't for his obvious lack of height, I would imagine Bidwell would be a lot closer to the first team.

The winning goal was magnificent. The skill by Donegan to win the ball back and lift over the head of an opponent before sliding the ball down the line to Thomas was Gasgcoine-esq in his prime. The cross and header were both excellent as well.

I think the players that have a chance are Dier, Bidwell, Garbutt, Donegan and McAleny (who has a terrific shot on him). I think Kinsella and Thomas have work to do, but certainly have potential.

Good side, worth a watch and nice to see an Everton side win at Fulham. Doesn't happen very often!
Sam Hoare
4   Posted 15/05/2011 at 15:20:47

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Isn't Bidwell a left back who is filling in because Hammar is injured? Hence height not such an issue...
Trevor Mackie
5   Posted 15/05/2011 at 17:42:47

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Well done lads, well done Paul for the article and supporting the boys.
James Thomas
6   Posted 16/05/2011 at 22:44:55

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Good review of the match. I posted this in the earlier thread on the match with my views on how the players looked:

Went to the game last night and thought that the lads did very well to come back from a bit of a sucker punch of a first goal from Fulham. I'm not going to give the players specific ratings because I thought they were all excellent and to be quite honest I didn't know any of them by appearance and was referring to "number 4, number 8" etc throughout the game. Still here goes:

1. Davies - a commanding keeper to say the least. Spent the entire game screaming at his defence to push out and keep their line. Confident on crosses and nothing he could have done about the goal.

2. Browning - a surging right back who won at least two corners and seemed to have a fairly decent cross on him. Genuinely looked like he could step up.

3. Garbutt - still one of the younger players I believe but linked up nicely down the left wing and looked to get forward.

4. Bidwell - my favourite player of the night. The two fulham fans behind me were amused at the "agricultural" nature of our centre halves but I think they did a disservice to them. My father and I dubbed Bidwell the "new Hibbo" (that's a compliment) as he was a warrior all match. Winning his headers, putting in plenty of hard (but fair) tackles and showing total commitment. Organised his defence well too. My fear is that he may be regarded as not tall enough to play in the premier league against teams like Stoke etc. That being said Cannavaro made a pretty good career out of being a short centre back.

5. Dier - Dier was about the only player I was certain I recognised. Very tall and won most of his headers but (like many of the lads at this age) still seemed to need to grow into his body. He had a slight tendency to pass it back to the keeper but not unreasonably in my opinion. That being said, if it's true we would have to pay a multi-million pound fee for this lad then I don't think that we can afford to splash the (non-existent) cash.

6. Barrow - a confident, fairly deep lying, central midfielder who appeared to revel in the "quarter-back" role. He sprayed some fantastic passes out to both wings and the opposition fans behind me were always furious with their players when they allowed him time on the ball. He also had a Delap/Phil Neville-esque cannon of a long throw.

7. McAleny - out on the right wing he combined well with Browning to cause havoc for the Fulham left hand side at times. Played some very dangerous low crosses as well.

8. Donegan - somewhere between Osman and Rodwell. The twinkle toes of Leon with the surging ability of Rodwell. Really great partnership with Barrow in central midfield.

9. Kinsella - Deep lying number 9, arguably playing like an old fashioned number 10. Good link up man between the midfield and forward lines.

10. Forrester - Strong and pacey forward who held the ball up well. Was perhaps a bit isolated up front at times and didn't receive too much service so couldn't really display his shooting abilities.

11. Thomas - Scored the first and made the second. In the first half spent quite a bit of time switching wings and was our main outlet. Surprisingly pacey for one so tall, but perhaps needs to fill out a bit as he looked a little gangly. His goal was a case of being in the right place and the right time but he did well to drive it through a crowd of players. His cross for the second goal was delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

15. Waring - made a great impact after coming on as a late sub. A truly giant boy he towered over Fulham's two centre halves who were at least 6'3" each. Won all his headers and had decent control too.

On another note it was great to see such a large turnout from the Evertonians. I reckon we had as many fans as the home team who gave great support to the lads. There was however another "Evertonian" at the ground. None other than Bullshit Billy himself. Seeing him brought a sour note to an otherwise happy occasion, although I did manage to shout at him to "get out" which gave me a juvenile sense of satisfaction. Another fan confronted him in a more composed manner and was fobbed off with "Don't worry I'll sort it out". Hmm.....

All in all though I was made up for the lads. It was so refreshing to see a game played in such good spirit. Arguably we could have had a man sent off for blatant obstruction but Fulham ended up scoring 30 seconds after this. Otherwise I counted three over-zealous challenges but not a single dive from either side.

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