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Venue: St James' Park, Newcastle
Premier League
 Saturday 5 March; 3:00pm
NEWCASTLE
1 2
 EVERTON
Best (23')
Half Time: 1-2
Osman (31')
Jagielka (36')
Attendance: 50,128
Fixture 28
Referee: Howard Webb

Match Summary

With the enforced absences of Fellaini and Cahill, the poor form and lack of product from Coleman and Bilyaletdinov, David Moyes has had to rethink... or more like revisit formations of old, with Hibbert getting a start after many weeks on the bench, and Neville playing in midfield alongside or more probably behind the increasingly disappointing Rodwell, whose development seems to be going backwards. Beckford starts upfront with Saha, as long he is is there on time...

No sign of contract traitor and Everton deserter, Dan Gosling in the ranks of the home side.  Since making his dream move to Newcastle last summer after Everton failed to offer him a written contract, he has played all of 1 minute for the first team, but that twat Nolan starts for the Barcodes, with Anichebe the plaintiff in a lawsuit settled out of court for a substantial sum this week for potential lost earnings resulting from injuries caused by the Newcastle player's disgusting tackle in this fixture two years ago is on the bench for Everton.   

Neville took a bad knock in the ribs in the first minute, but little to note other than injuries in the first 10 minutes, Saha getting an arm in his face.  A deep free-kick on the left was played wide right by Neville where Osman floated in an inviting cross that was too high for Rodwell. A great run and shot by Arteta forced a save and was a welcome sight of action after 17 mins and Osman should have done better from a superb corner by Baines(?).

Everton had a good sequence of attacking play, Saha crossing to Beckford, who deflected the cross away from Osman, and nothing came of it as Rodwell shot wide from outside the area.. But Newcastle's first real attack, Williamson getting the ball across the face of goal thanks to a poor parry by Howard that fell nicely for Best one yard out. A very poor goal to concede after a reasonably promising start.

Hibbert came through Gutierez from behind, clipping his ankle,  and earned himself a yellow card. Newcastle were now bouyed and looked to take control.  But inside 10 mins the tables were turned as Everton as first Osman equalized off an excellent return ball from Arteta, then less than 5 mins later, after Arteta was fouled, a nice ball in from a Baines free-kick (that perhaps the goalie should have claimed) was converted perfectly by Jagielka, to put the Blues 2-1 ahead at the break. 

Howard did well to hold on to an Amiobe shot after thee break but a few minutes later, Neville pulled up and went down clutching his thigh, clearly having done his hamstring.  Johnny Heitinga came on in his place. Beckford got close to goal thanks to good work by Arteta and Osman, his shot high enough from an acute angle to be palmed fractionally past the far post.

Arteta did really well to set up Saha for a golden chance with a header but Louis put it well over the bar as Everton were finding plenty of space to run at the Newcastle defence. For once, Howard rolled the ball out quickly from the next Newcastle attack and Rodwell fed the ball to Beckford but the lad sometimes looks simply hopeless with hold-up play, passing the ball directly to a Newcastle player.  Hibbert gave away a free kick that led to a period of pressure, Howard grasping the resulting corner confidently at the near post.

A nice move though saw Rodwell play up a nice balltat Saha headed down for Beckford but his snapshot was straight at  Harper with the entire goal at his mercy.  At the other end, Howard needed to save a long distance Tiote daisy-cutter. The next Newcastle attack looked destined to score until Hibbert intervened with a firm tackle on Gutierez while some handbags went on between Osman and Tiote off the ball, arguing about a throw-in.

It had become an open and lively game with a fair measure of feistiness to spice things up, as Moyes once again looked to the questionable figure of Victor Anichebe to secure the victory, to tremendous jeers, no doubt for daring to sue that astard Nolan.  He replaced Beckford.

Newcastke sliced through the Everton defence, only for Baines to clip the ball brilliantly off Nolan's toes, and the ball was soon up the other end for a weak Anichebe cross-cum-shot that Saha could have converted with ease if he had kept running.

Everton's lead looked increasingly fragile with each Newcastle attack, but a great break from Osman saw Arteta cross fractionally in front of Saha who could not convert the open gapping goal.  Anichebe and Nolan then went  at it after Anichebe needlessly bumped into the Newcastle player and he reacted, pushing Anichebe to the floor.  Both players went in onto Howard Webb's yellow card.

More increasingly desperate defending from Everton saw a vital interception by Distin save an almost certain goal, which seemed to come when Best headed home but he scored by pushing Jagielka down: good call by Webb, who gave the foul.

The Barcodes  were doing their best to get Hibbert sent off after a nothing collision with Gutierrez.  Anichebe got in a great cross to Saha, well placed, and he swung at his volley with what seemed to be perfect timing but it cannoned just wide of Harper's goal. 

10 mins left, and Everton holding on by their fingernails, despite numerous chances that could have easily made it 3-1, 4-1 or 5-1 to the Blues.  But Heitinga, of course, blocked Nolan needlessly, then Baines blocked Gutierrez right in the D and he got a yellow.  From this very dangerous position,  Best lashed it  through the wall but it got caught under Nolan's feet right in front of Howard and was incredibly cleared away.

With 5 mins of normal time left, Osman was replaced by Coleman, and Everton advanced again, waiting time on a throw-in then Anichebe winning a good free-kick out wide that Baines fired in but Heitinga was called for a foul. But Everton looked to push ahead again, with more good work from Anichebe , crossing for Coleman at the far post but Harper denied him. 

Gutierrez was reduced to a hobble as Everton clung on for dear life, seemingly determine not to score that third goal that would kill off these nasty Barcodes with 5 added minutes prolonging the fear and trepidation. It was backs to the wall but Anichebe relieved the pressure, only to harmlessly put the ball behind from a very dangerous position.  Another Anichebe chance should have led to that goal but Arteta's shot was blocked and then Coleman decide to waste time in the coner but again put the ball harmlessly behind for a goal kick that put Everton under yet more pressure.

From that. they broke again, the ball finally coming to Coleman in the right channel but he shot straight at Harper. Finally it was over, a great win form an entertaining end-to-end ding-dong encounter, and a fantastic response to the dreadful Reading game, but Everton really, really need to score more goals!!!

Michael Kenrick

Match Report

The enigma that is Everton rolled into the northeast this afternoon, threatened to follow the midweek cup humilation at the hands of Reading with another defeat after falling behind to a confident Newcastle and then promptly turned the match on its head to claim a priceless victory, one that moves them within four points of sixth place.

Blues fans are accustomed to frustration and inconsistency but the current team has got to be the most schizophrenic of any that has played under David Moyes over the past nine years. Starting the game with a line-up featuring a number of personnel and positional changes, a first victory at St James' Park in 10 years looked, to be a tall order for Everton and yet with more composure in front of goal in the second half, they could have killed the Magpies off handily and saved the traveling faithful a nervy finish.

Given what he'd witness on Tuesday, it was no surprise that Moyes elected to change things up, hoping to shore up central midfield by moving Phil Neville into the holding role, pushing Mikel Arteta out to left midfield and Leon Osman out to the right. Seamus Coleman, who has been looking a little jaded of late, dropped back to the bench giving Tony Hibbert a rare run-out at right back and Jermaine Beckford replaced Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to form a two-pronged attack with Louis Saha.

Despite the two-striker formation, it was a starting XI that looked short on creativity but it would become apparent very quickly that Arteta, relieved of his more defensive midfield duties, would take up the challenge of crafting this victory with zeal. It was he who interrupted some early Newcastle pressure with a terrific run at the end of an Everton counter-attack in the 17th minute that ended with him cutting inside onto his right foot and unloading a powerful shot from 18 yards that Steven Harper palmed away superbly for a corner.

Three minutes later, though, it was the now familiar defensive failings that threatened to condemn Moyes's team to defeat. Neville's brief was presumably to shackle Kevin Nolan but no one was tight enough to him when he picked up neat a pass by Williamson on the left side of the area, giving him the time he need to deliver a cross to the back post that Leon Best stooped to head, unmarked, into the empty net.

1-0 to Newcastle and it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon, particularly when Best planted a free header just wide from a cross from the left wing on the half hour.

In the next minute, though, in a scenario that would play out several more times in the second half, Everton counter-attacked purposefully with Osman leading the charge and he fed Arteta down the left channel. The Spaniard stabbed a square ball back to Osman and the diminutive midfielder had the composure to take one touch before passing it into the net.

Five minutes later, it was 2-1! Arteta won a free kick wide on the left and Leighton Baines stepped up to whip a wicked ball behind the home defence that was tracked all the way by Phil Jagielka and he steered a high bounce home off the underside of the crossbar.

The Barcodes were stunned and didn't really muster a response until the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time when, with the Everton defence unable to get the ball clear, Gutierrez hammered the ball across the area to Williamson at the back post but he prodded the wrong side of the post from his perspective and the Blues escaped to the dressing room with their lead intact.

Moyes must have been expecting a more sustained assault from Newcastle in the second half, particularly when his captain and midfield anchor, Neville, hobbled out of the action just seven minutes after the restart with what looked to be a hamstring strain. Coupled with another display of shocking profligacy of possession by his replacement, John Heitinga, and the ingredients were there for a disappointing second 45 minutes.

It was all the more surprising, then, that the eventual disappointment would come from the number of opportunities missed by the visitors and not from precious points being thrown away at the other end, although the first to arrive owed everything to an excellent one-handed stop by Harper to deny Beckford. Arteta made good progress down the right side before finding Osman who stabbed it into the path of Beckford. The striker took one touch past his marker before firing a shot that was destined for the far corner until the 'keeper deflected it past the far post for a corner.

Two minutes later, it really should have been 3-1. Arteta, surging without impediment all the way down the left this time, clipped a perfect ball across into the path of Saha but the Frenchman inexplicably despatched a free header high over the bar.

Though Beckford had looked sharp in front of goal, not least when he picked up Saha's knockdown and half-volleyed crisply, albeit too close to Harper who caught the shor comfortably, his overall performance was undermined by some truly abysmal hold-up play. Either unwilling or unable to challenge for any of the high balls aimed his way, he was beaten in the air at almost every turn and a succession of sloppy layoffs and clumsy first-touches were probably the deciding factor in his withdrawal on the hour in favour of Victor Anichebe.

And in his first real involvement, the controversial Nigerian international almost played a part in a third goal for the Blues. Osman charged out of defence and carried the ball all the way into the Newcastle half before playing in Anichebe on the left wing who returned the pass square to Osman who exchanged passes with Arteta before dinking a clever ball forward into the area for the Spaniard. Arteta nodded the ball ahead of a defender and knocked it across the six yard box into the path of Saha but it just eluded the French striker's boot by an inch and the home side survived.

The inevitable handbags between Nolan and Anichebe flared up the following minute with both players picking up bookings before Best had the ball in the net for a second time, only to have his goal ruled out for a clear push on Jagielka.

That set up a back-and-forth final 10 to 15 minutes, including five minutes of stoppage time, in which Alan Pardew's men tried to force something from the game but desperately lacked the quality to exploit the gaping holes in the Everton midfield that opened up between Heitinga, Rodwell and the left flank. Pushing forward, Newcastle were vulnerable to the counter-attack but with fatigure clearly starting to take its toll on the likes of Arteta and Osman, three separate opportunities ended up going begging. The best of them fell to Coleman after Saha and Anichebe had combined well but the final ball didn't have enough pace for the Irishman to get there in time to flick it over Harper and the 'keeper smothered his shot well.

So a valuable win for the Blues that moves them up to 10th place, level on points with Newcastle, and, with their game in hand against Birmingham City coming up in midweek, have a great opportunity to be right onto the heels of the clubs chasing sixth place by the time Fulham come to town next Saturday.

Unbelievably, with four of their next five matches at home, Everton could yet find a way back into Europe on the back of this rollercoaster season if they can put a consistent run of results together and the right things fall their way in terms of the number of Europa League places made available to Englsish clubs.

The concern, as ever at this stage of the campaign, is the toll that injuries and tiredness will play on such a small squad. But the spirit is still in evidence and, for now at least, the momentum is upwards.

Player Ratings: Howard 6, Hibbert 6, Jagielka 8, Distin 7, Baines 7, Osman 8 (Coleman 7), Neville 6 (Heitinga 4), Rodwell 6, Arteta 8*, Beckford 5 (Anichebe 6), Saha 6

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

Ah, that bitter feeling of deja vu. Not for the first time this season, Evertonians are fervently trying to suppress the memory of a dreadful performance, hoping that the result it underpinned won't trigger a crisis of confidence that plunges the club into the depths of a fight for Premier League survival.

Following almost every one of the previous defeats this season that could be characterised alongside the FA Cup defeat to Reading as just plain bloody awful, though, David Moyes managed to rouse an immediate and impressive response from his players and produce a result that offered hope that a corner had been turned.

The one possible exception, however, was Newcastle's visit to Goodison Park in September which the Barcodes won fairly comfortably by a goal to nil, a result that the Blues followed with embarrassment at Brentford in the League Cup and a drab 0-0 draw at Fulham. And it is Newcastle who provide the opposition this weekend as Everton look to put that shocking display in midweek to bed with a victory that would improve their case for an unlikely European place come May.

As has become the norm now since the departures of Steven Pienaar and Yakubu in January, Moyes will have precious few options for mixing things up at St James' Park. Marouane Fellaini is out for the season and Tim Cahill is sidelined until the end of the month; Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has again failed to convince anyone that he can make the left-midfield role his own — though why he hasn't been tried in his more natural role in the centre behind the striker by this point is a source of frustration for some; and Leon Osman cemented his reputation for baffling inconsistency by fading into obscurity against Reading, adding one more question mark in midfield.

Though the introduction of Jermaine Beckford at half time on Tuesday did not produce the equaliser that would have forced a replay and kept Everton in the FA Cup, the evidence against Sunderland was that the Blues look at their most dangerous when he is paired with Louis Saha up front.

Whether Moyes opts for such an attacking formation away from home remains to be seen but play playing two strikers would mean one less midfield slot he has to fill from a selection of under-performing players in that area of the park.

Newcastle, for their part, are still without long-term casualties Hatem Ben Arfa — the scorer of the wonder-goal that secured the Magpies' win at Goodison — and ex-Everton midfielder Dan Gosling. New signing Stephen Ireland is doubtful wit a thigh injury but Shola Ameobi could play with a protective face mask after missing the last month with a fractured cheekbone.

Such is the tight nature of the Premier League this season that the Blues are almost as close to the top six as they are to the bottom three going into this game and victory would bring them level with Newcastle on 36 points. The importance of the match for Moyes's side can't be understated but it's going to be the attitude of the players that will be key.

Though Newcastle haven't won at home since the first week of January, they showed their resilience by coming back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal a month ago so they will not be an easy nut to crack.

Lyndon Lloyd

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

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NEWCASTLE (4-4-2)
  Harper
  Coloccini
  Enrique (43' Ameobi)
  Williamson
  Simpson
  Taylor :39' (65' Ferguson)
  Nolan :76'
  Gutierrez
  Tiote
  Lovenkrands
  Best (85' Kuqi)
  Subs not used
  Krul
  Perch
  Guthrie
  Richardson

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Hibbert :25'
  Jagielka
  Distin
  Baines :83'
  Neville (52' Heitinga :82')
  Rodwell
  Arteta
  Osman (85' Coleman)
  Saha
  Beckford (69' Anichebe :75')
  Subs not used
  Mucha
  Duffy
  Bilyaletdinov
  Baxter
  Unavailable
  Barkley (injured)
  Cahill (injured)
  Fellaini (injured)
  Agard (loan)
  Silva (loan)
  Turner (loan)
  Wallace (loan)
  Yakubu (loan)
  Yobo (loan)

Premier League Scores
Saturday
Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
Birmingham 1-3 West Brom
Bolton 3-2 Aston Villa
Fulham 3-2 Blackburn
Man City 1-0 Wigan
Newcastle 1-2 Everton
West Ham 3-0 Stoke City
Sunday
Liverpool 3-1 Man United
Wolves 3-3 Tottenham
Monday
Blackpool 1-3 Chelsea


Team Pts
1 Manchester United 60
2 Arsenal 57
3 Manchester City 53
4 Chelsea 51
5 Tottenham Hotspur 48
6 Liverpool 42
7 Bolton Wanderers 40
8 Sunderland 38
9 Newcastle United 36
10 Everton 36
11 Fulham 35
12 Stoke City 34
13 Aston Villa 33
14 Blackburn Rovers 32
15 Blackpool 32
16 West Bromwich Albion 32
17 West Ham United 31
18 Birmingham City 30
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 29
20 Wigan Athletic 27

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