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Venue: Bloomfield Road, Blackpool
Premier League
 Saturday 6 November; 3:00pm
BLACKPOOL
2 2
 EVERTON
Eardley (8')
Vaughan (47')
Half Time: 1-1
Cahill (12')
Coleman (49')
Attendance: 16,094
Fixture 11
Referee: Andre Marriner

Match Summary

An unchanged starting line-up for Everton at the first league encounter at Bloomfield Road since 1971. Keith Southern, previously of Everton Reseves, playing for Blackpool., while Seamus Coleman returns to the club he helped bring up to the Premier League with his loan spell last season. On the bench, no room for Magaye Gueye, who has been there for every game so far... but has still not been given his Premier League debut. A quiet start saw Distin eventually go Route One to Yakubu whose cushioned header back to Cahill was leathered high wide and horrible!

Arteta gave away a poor free-kick on 9 mins that Eardley powered a little too easily round the wall and well past Howard into the Everton net. Howard perhaps at fault?

Blues shocked and stunned... but it didn't take long before great work by Distin in the build-up preceded an exquisite turn and chip by Yakubu that was nodded in superbly past Gilks off a great header from Cahill.

First corner won on 20 mins but Arteta floated it far too high and deep. Eardley was booked for a mistimed clip on Cahill. A second goal was close when Cahill and Yakubu combined but Cahill's snapshot was blocked off Yakubu into the keeper's hands.

Some excellent passing finally released Baines into the area but he took an extra touch as Everton took full control, camping out in the Blackpool half. More intricate play by Pienaar almost set up Yakubu but he was rapidly closed down.

Crainey clashed legs with Coleman, giving away a free kick wide right that Arteta clipped in well (fast and low) but it was headed clear. Coleman made a great drive into the area, beating three men before driving a fierce shot just wide.

After bossing the first half, Heitinga cnceded a 'professional' free-kick in the centre-circle and in the ensuing attack, Everton just could not get the ball clear during a bit of goalmouth ping-pong that ended with David Vaughan scoring for Blackpool to stun the Blues again... But, again, it didn't take long for Everton to equalize, Coleman picking up Crainey's poor defensive header and running in with determination and firing off a low shot in on Gilks that he could only palm into the net.

Saha replaced The Yak on the hour mark, Southern also off for Phillips for Blackpool before Arteta clipped in a free-kick well won by Coleman on the right; but it ended in a break buy fresh-legged Phllips that Heitinga did well to thwart, and a follow-up drive from Adams flew thankfully wide.

A corner on 65 mins came to nought, Everton then playing the ball backward from a position of good possession. The game tempo was hotting up with some tremendous action at both ends, a great cross from Neville that was stolen off Saha's head (does he score with his head?), brilliant defending by Jagielka, a fantastic run and cross by Coleman, a superb one-two for Pienaar that he finished far too weakly, hitting the ball into the ground, a Baines corner bundled out by Jagielka as the rain lashed in from across the Irish Sea.

Last 20 mins and the match was on a knife-edge, Pienaar laid off a great ball for Saha and the third goal beckoned but incredibly, he clipped it wide!!! At the other end, Varney spun the Everton defenders but also fired well wide. Harewood and Grandin came on for Taylor-Fletcher and Varney as a lower-trajectory corner from Arteta was easily headed away. Pienaar then made way for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, then Beckford received extensive instructions before replacing Heitinga with only 13 mins of normal time to claim the game.

Blackpool still had plenty of life in them but Bily and Becks combined only the big League One player couldn't get past his blocker. It was end-to-end in the pouring rain, Harewood trying it on from distance. Arteta getting too easily dispossessed as the pedulum swung back and forth. Cahill, a great run down the left, his low cross incredibly evading not one but four Blue shirts in the Blackpool area.

There were increasing signs of tiredness as possession was lost cheaply by both sides... 4-4-2 against 4-2-4. Jagielka put in a tremendous block to stop Adam shooting. Adam, with lots more space since Hietinga went off, fired again from distance but the ball flew over. The Seasiders kept attacking with conviction, preventing Everton from putting together meaningful attacks.

Then a strange run of play on the 90, as Harewood ran on to a good lob and slotted past Howard only for the goal to be called back for some infringement apparently a nudge by Harewood on Jagielka before he laid the ball off for the lob.

Jagielka then gave away a free-kick at the death that Adams drove for a corner off the Everton wall as it was all Blackpool in added time. But they didn't score and a very entertaining game finished 2-2. A game Everton had dominated for long periods but their superior possession and passing was not enough to produce the win, with the real cutting edge still missing up-front.

Michael Kenrick

Match Report

Everton extended their unbeaten run to six games but missed a golden opportunity to move into the top six with a 2-2 draw at Blackpool.

The Blues twice came from behind to quickly cancel out the home side's lead but Louis Saha squandered one of the best chances of the game with 18 minutes to go when he dragged a shot wide with just goalkeeper Matthew Gilks to beat. It was one of numerous chances that David Moyes's side created in a game they for the most part controlled but the Seasiders were always in it, causing the visitors plenty of problems all afternoon.

As expected, Everton were unchanged from the side that beat Stoke City last weekend but they made an uncharacteristically slow start and Mikel Arteta was punished for trying to play his way out of trouble in front of the back four when a ninth-minute free kick was awarded against him for a foul on Charlie Adam.

The positioning of his defensive wall open to serious question in hindsight, Tim Howard left too much space between himself and his left-hand post and Neal Eardley capitalised superbly by swinging his kick around the outside of the wall and past the American to hand Blackpool an early lead.

The Blues were level within four minutes, though, when a one-two interchange between Steven Pienaar and the excellent Sylvain Distin ended with the central defender finding Yakubu on the left side of the area and when the Nigerian clipped an inviting cross into the centre, Tim Cahill rose in typical fashion to power a header in off Gilks' despairing fist.

It was the Australian's 50th top flight goal and the 28th he'd scored with his head, not bad for a player who stands at 5' 8" and made his name primarily as an attacking midfielder.

Everton were back in business but they didn't assume the kind of control to which they've been accustomed recently until the game was about half an hour old. By that time, Cahill had seen a decent chance deflect off Yakubu and into the 'keeper's arms and the Nigerian himself might have scored when latched into the ball after more good work by Pienaar, but he delayed his shot and it was deflected behind.

That would become a recurring theme throughout the afternoon; all too often, Everton tried to walk the ball into the area or waited too long to pull the trigger while Blackpool were apparently carrying out manager Ian Holloway's instructions to chase and harry everything that moved.

The Blues were playing some really nice football at times, though, and Seamus Coleman, playing at Bloomfield Road for the first time since his loan spell with Blackpool last season, was clearly enjoying the occasion. Nine minutes before the break, he tested Gilks with a right-foot volley after Phil Neville had cut the ball back to him from the byline but the 'keeper was equal to it, and another typically determined run a few minutes later ended with the Irishman flashing a left-footer inches wide of the far post.

The second half was just less than two minutes old when Blackpool re-took the lead with a scrappy goal that owed as much to some fortunate ricochets, an unseen handball by Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Everton's inability to hack the ball clear as it bounced around in the area. Eventually, after his first shot was blocked by Phil Jagielka, David Vaughan rammed the ball past Howard from about 10 yards out and it was 2-1 to the home side.

Once again, though, the Seasiders couldn't hold the lead and when Coleman profited from a lucky bounce of his own that set him free to surge unhindered into the Blackpool area, he eschewed the patient approach so often favoured by his teammates and shot early, rifling a low shot under Gilks and in off the goalkeeper's arms to level things up again.

That should have provided the catalyst to push Everton, as the superior side, on to victory but, as has so often been the case this season, their performance went into a lull midway through the second half. Moyes's customary conservatism didn't help either when it came time to introduce Saha — instead of going for the jugular and playing with two top-class strikers at the same time, he withdrew Yakubu to retain the 4-4-1-1 formation... only to then throw on Jermaine Beckford in place of John Heitinga a quarter of an hour later.

To be fair to the manager, had Pienaar's finish at the end of a wonderful move where he collected a neat one-two pass from Cahill been stronger or had Saha not picked up the South African's pass a few minutes later but then fired wide with just the 'keeper in front of him, his caution may not have mattered.

Instead, the removal of Heitinga as the anchor in defensive midfield handed the late initiative to Blackpool and allowed the likes of Adam and substitute Matt Phillips to launch a series of attacks with driving runs straight through the heart of the Everton midfield. Indeed, the game became quite the end-to-end affair in the final quarter of an hour and after Beckford's shot after neat control was deflected behind for a corner, Howard had to be alert to tip Adam's searing drive over the bar after the forward had easily side-stepped Cahill's lazy, half-hearted attempt to tackle.

The home side were still not done, though and Marlon Harewood looked to have won it for the home side on the stroke of 90 minutes. In bringing a ball over the top under control, though, the substitute appeared to shove Jagielka in the back so his celebrations after planting the ball into the Everton net were cut short by referee Andre Marriner who chalked the goal off for the foul.

Finally, after Jagielka had picked up a yellow card for deliberately checking DJ Campbell, Adam's free kick was deflected wide and the last chance of the game went begging.

So, another point and another game without defeat but this was the kind of game that Everton, the team that before this season harboured hopes of Champions League football — hopes that are still not fanciful while Arsenal continue to stumble and Spurs' domestic form is affected by their own European involvement — should be winning. With better finishing and a bit more confidence to just put a boot through the ball early enough in front of goal they might have, but the question marks over whether Moyes has enough firepower linger.

They created chances but on too many occasions a hesitation or delayed cross was the difference between an opportunity in front of goal for a striker and a charged down pass that was deflected behind or out for a throw. Plenty to admire on the football side again but no win to show for territorial dominance and the lion's share of possession.

Player ratings:
Howard 7, Neville 7, Baines 7, Jagielka 8, Distin 9*, Heitinga 7 (Beckford 7), Pienaar 8 (Bilyaletdinov 4), Coleman 8, Cahill 7, Yakubu 7 (Saha 6)

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

You can tell that the bulk of the Premier League hasn't really operated according to expectations this season when, at the quarter mark of the campaign, all three promoted clubs are in the top half of the table. The top flight "newbies" are usually the whipping boys and even though one of them usually makes a flying start — think Burnley last year — it's unusual for all three to hit the ground running in the manner in which Blackpool, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion have so far.

Of course, the natural order of things will most likely see the three of them finish in the bottom half and perhaps one or two of them drop back down from whence they came, but so far they're holding their own. Indeed, Everton have already lost at home to the Barcodes and face a potentially tricky trip up the road to Blackpool this weekend to face the Tangerines in the league for the first time in almost 40 years.

"Potentially" is the key word because even though Blackpool are level with the Blues on 13 points and separated only by goal difference, Ian Holloway's side have only won once at home so far, that a 3-2 win last week over WBA. And while their successes away from home have been against less-than daunting opposition — they've won at Wigan's DW Stadium, Anfield and St James Park — they showed tremendous spirit against high-flying Manchester City in their last home game when they lost 3-2.

For their part, of course, Everton are unbeaten in five games now and, after a horrendous start, seem to have hit their stride again. Mikel Arteta returned from injury to lead the charge in a hard-fought victory over Stoke at Goodison last weekend and with Jack Rodwell having made an early recovery, there is depth in central midfield once more, despite the continued absence of Marouane Fellaini and Leon Osman. Rodwell came through a Reserve encounter in midweek along with Victor Anichebe but while the former is likely to start on the bench again, the latter probably isn't fit enough.


Jack Rodwell: Played for the Reserves in midweek but unlikely to start

Louis Saha is fully fit, though, and will be in contention for a starting berth up front, a position to which Yakubu staked a claim last Saturday with a thumping winner, so it's hard to see any changes there. Indeed, David Moyes is unlikely to change anything from the team that started against Stoke, meaning a return to Bloomfield Road for Seamus Coleman who had a spell on loan at Blackpool last season as they made a successful return to the top flight.

For Everton, with traditional contenders Aston Villa and Liverpool stumbling thus far, the top six is just two points away and beckons if they can overcome Blackpool this weekend and results go their way elsewhere. If they can, it would mark a second away win of the campaign and stretch their unbeaten run to six ahead of back-to-back home games against Bolton and Arsenal.

Lyndon Lloyd

* Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.

Match Preview
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BLACKPOOL (4-4-2)
  Gilks
  Eardley :22'
  Cathcart
  Evatt
  Crainey :38'
  Vaughan
  Southern (62' Phillips)
  Adam
  Taylor-Fletcher (74' Grandin)
  Campbell
  Varney (74' Harewood)
  Subs not used
  Kingson
  Sylvestre
  Carney
  Keinan

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Neville
  Jagielka :90'
  Distin
  Baines
  Coleman
  Heitinga (76' Beckford)
  Arteta
  Pienaar (78' Bilyaletdinov")
  Cahill
  Yakubu (61' Saha)
  Subs not used
  Mucha
  Hibbert
  Rodwell
  Baxter
  Unavailable
  Anichebe (unfit)
  Barkley (injured)
  Fellaini (injured)
  Osman (injured)
  Vaughan (loan)
  Yobo (loan)

Premier League Scores
Saturday
Bolton 4-2 Tottenham
Birmingham 2-2 West Ham
Blackbun 2-1 Wigan
Blackpool 2-2 Everton
Fulham 1-1 Aston Villa
Man United 2-1 Wolves
Sunderland 2-0 Stoke City
Sunday
Arsenal 0-1 Newcastle
West Brom 0-2 Man City
Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea


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