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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 30 October 2010; 3:00pm
Everton 
1 0
 STOKE CITY
Yakubu (67') 
Half Time: 0-0
 
Attendance: 35,513
Fixture 10
Referee: Lee Probert

Match Summary

A woeful first half was thankfully rendered meaningless by an excellent strike from the misfiring Nigerian, who lashed a great shot into the roof of the net to rescue what was looking like a quite awful exhibition of Premier League football.

A very welcome sight on the subs bench: Jack Rodwell, recovered approximately 1 month earlier than expected. Mikel Arteta declared fit on the field, where the team effectively picked itself from those available. Stoke kicked off but the Blues looked to take control early, spoilt only by poor passes from Neville. Yakubu won another of his dangerous free-kicks on the turn, that Arteta fired horribly high and wide with Baines looking on jealously.

Stoke got behind Everton on their first attack but the cross wizzed in was well away from Jones and Pienaar won a kick out wide that Baines crossed in well to the danger area. A silly mix-up between Distin and Arteta let Jones have a poke but he screwed the chance well wide. Coleman chased a lost cause somewhat over-enthusiastically and Begovic collapsed in a heap after failing to hold the ball, all rather silly really, but the break in play further slowed the match's tempo.

Yakubu did get a run in but his shot was weak and poorly directed, straight at the keeper. At the other end, Everton's defending looked nervy but no Delap so no monster throws to freak them out even more... By 20 minutes, Stoke seemed to have put the stranglehold on the game, Arteta unable to do anything on what should have been a counter, eventually putting the ball out poorly ahead of Baines..Stoke were pressing high, denying Everton time and space on the ball, with too much sideways and backwards passing the result. Pienaar finally decided to shoot from distance but it too was weak and straight at Begovic.

Baines won the first corner on 25 mins, and he looped it high for Cahill but no power was possible. Arteta did get a great ball forward to Neville (of all people) free in the Stoke area, who was dazzled by the rare opportunity to press on goal and it was gone before he could do anything meaningful. Baines got in another cross but it was again high and looping with no power. Cahill tried a pop from distance that went hopelessly wide as the lack of guile and invention against a massed defence was becoming painful to watch.

On 34 mins, a couple of corners finally provided some pressure but came to nothing. Some dreadful defending from Everton nearly gave Stoke the lead off a rare corner. As the game tediously ground its way toward half-time, Coleman was getting some good chances to run but Shawcross had the measure of him every time. Stoke were wasting time as the break approached and the ref stopped the game to warn their players... but only added 2 mins! Perhaps it was a good thing. A poorer half of utterly toothless football from Everton could not be harder to imagine.

Arteta was clipped early in the scond half, but he drove the free-kick into the wall. Coleman did well to get inside and put a shot in at Begovic but the inventiveness was limited at best. Pienaar got dispossessed but Wilson's shot at the end of his little run was worse than anything from Everton's "strikers". Faye and Cahill clashed heads on a cross and the corner was spoilt by overly officious refereeing.

Stoke came very close to scoring, Shawcross slicing a golden opportunity wide of the Everton goal... Warning signs!

Finally a piece of combination play down the left, Pienaar, Baines, Arteta... whose shot was blocked out for a corner, but Probert again read the riot act again over the pushing and shoving, blowing again for Stoke as the ball was kicked in. Then a turning point in the match as Stoke won a free-kick that Tunay bundled home with Baines failing to clear but incredibly Probert whistled for a foul, presumably on Baines. Nothing at all wrong with the goal, but Probert apparently evening things up for being somewhat persnickety during Everton's recent corners. Everton should then have scored at the other end when Heitinga again fired over and the match finally warmed up a tad when Heitinga was somewhat irritated after being fouled by Wilson, whose name went in the book.

The Moyes Masterstroke on 62 mins was Saha on for Coleman, who had been struggling against Shawcross. 4-4-2? Not the way Yakubu was playing out wide along the touchline...

Baines was forced to stretch on Tunay and gave away another threatening free-kick that Etherington struck well but just over the Everton bar. Jagielka did well to catch Tunay after believing the Turk had been offside.

A speedy Everton break with Heitinga and Baines should have delivered a goal but hesitancy at key moments saw Stoke recover. But the next attack saw Cahill hit the post after a great run by Pienaar down the right, the ball spinning out wide to Yakubu, who stepped inside and clipped a beautiful shot from a tight angle into the roof of the net with his left foot, much to the combined pleasure and relief of the Goodison Park crowd.

Stoke, their stiffling gameplan in tatters, pushed up and successfully denied Everton the chance to turn things on, pressing them in most areas of the pitch. Etherington got wide and drove a dasngerous strike across goal with 10 nervy minutes left for the Blues. Cahill was dispossessed and gave away a silly free-kick trying to recover but thankfully the ex-Kopite Pennant blasted it high wide and handsome, much to the amusement of the Gwladys Street.

Still Stoke pressed, and still Everton gave the ball away needlessly when they did get possession, inviting yet more pressure. Bilyaletdinoov replaced goalscorer Yakubu with 5 mins left on the clock, but the game contiinued to take place 95% in Everton's half. Tunay had a good poke from a long way out, just evading the top corner.

Everton rallied in the last few minutes, and pushed Stoke back into their own half, Pennant fouling Baines to set up one final flurry. Baines won a corner that Arteta played short and Bily came so close to scoring, completely off-balance with a very difficult ball, he smashed it just wide of the post.

And that was pretty much it. A vital win that was a long time coming against an obdurate Stoke side. Play badly and win. We can't complain too much, but this game could easily have gone the other way if Stoke's goal had been allowed to stand.

Michael Kenrick

 

Match Report

Everton moved into the familiar environs of the top half of the Premier League table with a third win in fifth unbeaten games with a narrow, hard-fought win over Stoke City at Goodison Park.

Yakubu notched his first goal since April in superb fashion to break the deadlock with a little over 20 minutes to go in a tight, testy and often badly refereed encounter and moved the Blues temporarily into seventh place, just a few weeks after they were propping up the division with the unwanted distinction of being the only club in the top four divisions not to have registered a win.

Mikel Arteta made a welcome return to the midfield after missing the draw at Tottenham last weekend and though his wasn't a vintage performance, Everton were noticeably better with him in the starting XI as they enjoyed the territorial superiority and lion's share of the attempts on goal without ever playing to their full potential.

Stoke had clearly come to make life difficult for David Moyes's side and set about their task with dogged determination and no shortage of muscle. Ryan Shawcross, in particular, rode referee Lee Probert's generosity in the early going with a foul on Yakubu as the Nigerian tried to spin around him down the left channel and then a pull on Steven Pienaar by the touchline, but both free kicks came to nothing.

At the other end, Kenwyne Jones had the first sight of goal but sliced horribly wide on his weaker left foot after Sylvain Distin's attempted clearance had ricocheted off Arteta and into the striker's path. A little later, Matthew Etherington made the most of contact by Phil Jagielka as he jinked towards the byline but the officials waved away appeals for a penalty.

Everton were mostly in the ascendency and Yakubu was brilliantly released into space by Pienaar but, after surging menacingly into the box, he could only shoot meekly at Begovic in the Stoke goal and the chance went begging. Pienaar himself had a speculative effort also saved when he drove his shot too close to the 'keeper, while Phil Neville failed to capitalise on a perfect pass by Arteta that put the captain in scoring position, sending a tame shot into Begovic's grateful arms.

Apart from a Jagielka header from a corner that dropped just wide shortly before half time, that was it for the first-half action and the game was goalless at the interval. The home side had enjoyed a glut of possession and stroked the ball around nicely enough, but, as has been the case so often this season, there was precious little end product.

Again it was the right side where things tended to break down. Seamus Coleman has been struggling of late to replicate the scintillating form he showed in his rare subtitute's appearances and again today things didn't tend to go right for him. Neville, meanwhile, was handicapped by his mediocre service from the right and that left the onus of the Leighton Baines-Steven Pienaar axis to deliver the chances from the left.

After Arteta had powered a poor free kick attempt off the top of the defensive wall, it was Coleman who had the first real chance of the second half when he danced past a couple of defenders but his left-foot shot matched the power of those weak efforts in the first 45 minutes and the 'keeper again made a comfortable save.

Stoke, sensing an opportunity the longer the game went on without score, started pushing forward a little more and though Marc Wilson missed badly with a wayward shot after he'd robbed Pienaar in central midfield, Shawcross went much closer a few minutes later when he blasted inches wide.

A minute shy of the hour mark, though, Stoke thought they'd made the breakthrough when Sanly Tuncay converted at the far post and wheeled away in celebration, only for the goal to be chalked off for the Turk's foul on Baines. In trying to get to the ball, he'd bundled his way through the defender and, perhaps fortuitously, Everton were saved by the officials.

Everton responded positively, though. Arteta had already seen a low drive deflected wide and when Baines' low cross found Tim Cahill, the Australian was denied when his powerful shot cannoned off the shoulder of Abdoule Faye and John Heitinga blazed the rebound over the bar in typical fashion from 20 yards out.

The visitors remained a threat coming forward, though, and there was growing unease among the home faithful as the game moved to the halfway point in the second half. When Baines was adjudged to have fouled Tuncay in a dangerous area, Etherington hammered a rising free kick narrowly over Tim Howard's crossbar before Tuncay smartly eluded Jagielka but was foiled by the defender's quick recovery when his attempted square ball across the six-yard box was deflected behind for a corner.

Though that corner was cleared and a quick counter-attack was wasted, Everton kept the ball and when Neville played Pienaar in the down the right and Cahill latched onto the pullback, the Australian's low shot bobbled off the post and back into play on the right side of the area. Yakubu was the quickest to react and after taking one touch to bring it back inside onto his left foot, he lashed the ball into the roof of the Stoke net to put the Blues a goal up with 22 minutes left on the clock.

The Blues clearly felt that that would be enough because they invited an uncomfortable amount of Stoke pressure in the remaining quarter of the game. Thankfully, with the exception of Tuncay who fizzed a shot narrowly over and Etherington who dragged a cross-cum-shot dangerously across the face of goal, Stoke didn't really look capable of making the breakthrough to grab a point.

Indeed, it was Everton who might have scored the game's second goal in injury time when more great work by Pienaar put the substitute Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in but he snatched at his shot and fired into the side-netting.

So another three points that takes the Blues' unbeaten run to five games. While this was by no means a poor display by Moyes's men, it lacked the kind of guile, invention and killer instinct that thy will certainly need if they are to finish in the top six again this season. Stoke struggled to create meaningful chances but could quite easily have come away with a point, especially if Tuncay's goal had been allowed to stand. As they say, "I've seen those given..."

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

Unbeaten in four now after last weekend's point at White Hart Lane, Everton are back at Goodison this weekend for the visit of Stoke City, a team that, like Wolves, frustrated them no end last season with two draws.

After such a dreadful start to the campaign, during which they sunk to the foot of the table, the Premier League standings have an altogether more promising look, the Blues retaining 11th place, albeit five points off the sixth place that would surely have been the minimum target for David Moyes before the season kicked off.

In the final reckoning, the team's second-half performance last Saturday and their failure to beat a tired and lacklustre Spurs team may have been disappointing, but avoiding defeat was the main thing and that will hopefully provide a platform on which to build as Everton face three games that, ordinarily, they would expect to win.

On the injury front, Marouane Fellaini, Jack Rodwell, Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe are still all ruled out and Mikel Arteta is doubtful after missing out last week with a hamstring injury. The Spaniard will undergo a late fitness test but Steven Pienaar will deputise in central midfield if he misses out and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov could make a second successive start wide left.

Yakubu, Seamus Coleman and John Heitinga all appeared to limp out of the action at Spurs but are expected to be fine.

Stoke have lost three straight in all competitions, most recently 3-1 at West Ham in the Carling Cup in midweek, but their only definite absentee is Mamady Sidibeis, while Kenwyne Jones and Jermaine Pennant missed training with "flu-like symptoms" but should be fit.

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

Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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Match Reports
2010-11 Reports Index
< Tottenham (A) Blackpool (A) >
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Neville
  Jagielka
  Distin
  Baines :63'
  Coleman (63' Saha)
  Heitinga
  Arteta
  Pienaar
  Cahill
  Yakubu (85' Bilyaletdinov")
  Subs not used
  Mucha
  Hibbert
  Rodwell
  Bilyaletdinov
  Gueye
  Beckford
  Unavailable
  Anichebe (injured)
  Fellaini (injured)
  Osman (injured)
  Barkley (injured)
  Vaughan (loan)
  Yobo (loan)
STOKE CITY (4-4-2)
  Begovic
  Huth
  Shawcross
  Faye
  Collins
  Walters (73' Pennant)
  Whitehead
  Wilson :63' (77' Whelan)
  Etherington
  Tunçay
  Jones
  Subs not used
  Nash
  Higginbotham
  Gudjohnsen
  Delap
  Wilkinson

Premier League Scores
Saturday
Wolves 2-1 Man City
Arsenal 1-0 West Ham
Blackburn 1-2 Chelsea
Everton 1-0 Stoke City
Fulham 2-0 Wigan
Man Utd 2-0 Tottenham
Sunday
Aston Villa 0-0 Birmingham
Bolton 0-1 Liverpool
Newcastle 5-1 Sunderland
Monday
Blackpool 2-1 West Brom

Team Pts
1 Chelsea 25
2 Arsenal 20
3 Manchester United 20
4 Manchester City 17
5 Tottenham Hotspur 15
6 West Brom 15
7 Newcastle United 14
8 Everton 13
9 Blackpool 13
10 Fulham 12
11 Bolton Wanderers 12
12 Sunderland 12
13 Liverpool 12
14 Aston Villa 12
15 Birmingham City 11
16 Stoke City 10
17 Wigan Athletic 10
18 Blackburn Rovers 9
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 9
20 West Ham United 6



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