I was glad to see us make a good start, too often against the big teams we take a while to get going. That was not the case today though as we were at them from the off. Around 5 minutes in came our first real sight of goal. Rodwell was played in down the right and showed Alex a clean pair of heels, his low cross was put behind for a corner. From the resulting Arteta corner, Jagielka planted a header onto the top of the crossbar and the ball looped behind to safety. He will feel he ought to have done better, in all honesty, he should have scored. Beckford?s first chance came just after; cutting inside from the left but his shot was wayward and went over the bar.
Coleman played a smart one-two with Beckford around the edge of the Chelsea area although Cech was out sharply and the chance was gone. Chelsea seemed very subdued, the fans sensed this and started to get behind the team and we continued to press our more illustrious opponents. Chelsea?s first real chance came around the 20-25 minute mark, they worked the ball across the pitch and Anelka was through on the right of the area. Thankfully Distin was alert and threw in a vital block to ensure the danger was snuffed out. Anelka headed over from a free kick shortly afterwards as the visitors showed brief flashes of danger.
Around 40 minutes had elapsed and Beckford linked up well with Arteta, who was having a good game buzzing around the midfield area. The Spaniard played a ball in behind the Chelsea back line and Beckford was on to it. The ex- Chelsea schoolboy fired his shot towards the corner but it lacked placement and went via Cech for a throw in. Just before the interval, Howard had to be alert to save two Anelka drives from distance. We had been bright and purposeful throughout the first half, if a bit short in terms of the final ball. Chelsea seemed to be having an off day and I was hopeful that, with a bit more off-the- ball movement, our chances would come.
Less than 10 minutes had elapsed in the second period and we were seriously up against it. Coleman overran the ball in an advanced position and, in his haste, trying to retrieve it he went through Obi-Mikel. From my seat, it was a good full blooded challenge. Although these tackles that would have earned you a pat on the back in the 80s, now tend to earn you a red card. Mikel feigned injury and the Chelsea players hounded the ref. Such a wealthy club, yet their players lack any semblance of class. A few minutes later, Terry was allowed to advance and cracked a shot off our right hand post with Howard nowhere near it. A lucky escape as the ball rebounded to safety and we cleared our lines.
With two thirds of the game gone, Beckford was presented with his best chance yet. Hibbert dinked a great ball over the top of Terry?s head and Beckford controlled it well. He then nut-megged the covering Alex and was through with just Cech to beat. His finish was poor and straight at the Czech number 1, who to be fair, got down well to block the attempt.
Arteta was having a good game coming in from the left hand side and from a poor Chelsea clearance he lined up a long range effort. The ball went agonisingly wide with Cech beaten all ends up. Shortly after this it should have been 10 a side, Beckford was taken out by Alex near halfway. The already booked Brazilian was given a reprieve by the very sub standard referee.
Distin headed another good Arteta set piece over the bar with around 20 minutes left. In the space of 5 minutes, there were two pivotal moments that helped to shape the final result. Lampard was allowed too much space to get a shot off and Howard made a mess of it. He spilled the shot and ball was tucked home by Ivanovic. The linesman saved Howard?s bacon as he raised the offside flag. The supporter?s collective sigh of relief could probably be heard for miles.
With 15 minutes to go, Beckford grabbed the winner with his best George Weah impression. Picking the ball up on the edge of our box he advanced towards the half way line. Surrounded by Chelsea players, he managed to come away with the ball through a mixture of skill and luck. His final touch into the box seemed a bit heavy but he adjusted well and lifted the ball over the onrushing Cech. Even though he got a hand to it, he couldn?t keep it out and the ground was rocking once again.
Anichebe and Cahill were introduced as the clock counted down towards the final 10 minutes. Chelsea had a lot of pressure although they never really looked like scoring and Howard wasn?t tested at all. We saw the game out and signed off with a very good performance; one final reminder to what might have been with some better decisions/performances by manager and players alike.
Overall, I would give man of the match to Distin who was imperious at the back ably supported by Jagielka. Arteta was the pick of the midfield bunch with Osman also putting a good shift in and Heitinga made some good tackles. Rodwell look tired towards the end and generally seems lost in a midfield role; Moyes has a decision to make there. Beckford summed himself up today with the goal and his two missed chances. Seemingly lacking in composure when presented with a good scoring opportunity yet when it?s instinctive he seems to come alive. With today?s goal, his volley against Blackpool and his equaliser at home to Bolton proving the point. Baines as always was a threat and never stops running down that left hand side. Should Duracell ever need a new bunny, I?ll be putting Leighton?s name forward.
We are a few players short in key areas; especially up front and in wide areas in midfield. Providing we can move a few of the loaned out players to pastures new then we may have a bit to spend. Although it is likely to be a summer of wheeling and dealing, whatever business we do has to be done early. Hopefully, with some astute signings and that much sort after good start, the players can give us the sort of consistent performance that we have only seen fleetingly this term.
One final point, the old ground was rocking today and the backing we all gave the players was a joy to behold. There really isn?t a ground in the country like Goodison when we get behind the team like that.
See you all next season.
Howard 6, Hibbert 6, Jagielka 7, Distin 8, Baines 7, Coleman 5, Heitinga 7, Rodwell 6, Arteta 8, Osman 7, Beckford 7
Subs: Anichebe n/a, Cahill n/a
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1 Posted 22/05/2011 at 22:25:38
2 Posted 22/05/2011 at 22:27:33
3 Posted 22/05/2011 at 23:01:06
All feedback and comments is appreciated.
It's hard to give Coleman any higher; he did get sent off after all. In hindsight, I probably could have given Baines higher although Heitinga seemed to fade during the last 30 mins.
4 Posted 23/05/2011 at 06:48:00
I thought Osman had another great game against a top-four team ? something we are told he never does.
5 Posted 23/05/2011 at 17:11:07
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