First shot of any kind was well over from Johnny Heitinga. Coleman was having fun running into space down the right but with no end-product. At the other end, a ball over the top to Odemwingie looked to test Distin but his drive was into the side netting.
That should have been warning enough but a much less tidy WBA move gave them an easy lead inside 10 mins, Brunt's lazy ball over the top was picked up by Odemwingie, who won his battle with Distin despite being driven wide and he was able to clip a defected ball back inside for Mulumbu to slot nonchalantly past Howard. Talk about end-of-season defending!!!
Anichebe looked to make amends with a superb turn to beat a defender and run at Carson down the inside left channel but his shot was criminally straight at the Brom keeper's leg with the goal gapping and he deflected the big man's powerful shot unwittingly just past the post. From the corner, Jagielka headed powerfully just over. Baines was then forced to block Odemwingie to give away a kick on the side of the penalty area that Howard barely fingertipped over, but the ref missed his touch and erroneously awarded a goal-kick.
Odemwingie was giving Distin a torrid time, while Osman's first touch was letting him down badly but he did get half a chance yet could not pull the trigger and Arteta was also closed down. Anichebe then got a chance but his connection was poor and it took a deflection that helped Carson push it wide. But a great flighted return ball in from Coleman should have been headed home at the far post by Heitinga, yet he hit the outside of the post.
More scares for Everton in defence, with Thomas running free, drawing Howard and shooting at the open goal but Tony Hibbert was perfectly positioned behind his keeper to clear off the line. Coleman was lucky to avoid a card for his late chop on Shorey. Odemwinge then should have scored with a free header off a long throw but Howard's reaction save prevented further damage. But Everton were poor... presumably saving themselves for a brilliant second half???
Anichebe won a promising free-kick but Baines curled the ball into Carson's hands. And two corners (Arteta then Baines) were both over-hit. Another Anichebe free-kick was eventually crossed in by Hibbert and it almost beat Carson off the back of Anichebe's head. It was a better spell from the Yellows but nothing to show for it as half-time loomed. Osman tried to repeat his party-piece from last week off a floated cross from Hibbert, who was being given acres of space to lob in his randomly directed crosses, but it was just too high for him.
No changes at the break. Anichebe getting crunched by Scharner but Jagielka wasted the free-kick, then needlessly giving away a simple forward pass and inviting pressure, but for Odimwingie straying offside.. then a yellow for Neville on Mulumbu. But it was better form Arteta and Anichebe, the ball in was short of Coleman. Then, a great chance for Arteta to create something goalward from inside that area but he passed it over the bye-line for Coleman.
An Arteta corner driven long to Osman, backing up, and his shot was poor. Where is Duncan Ferguson when you need him to inspire the team??? There were lots of Everton crosses coming in but rarely anyone on the receiving end. Odemwingie then attacked Jags down the Everton right and crossed just inches ahead of Cox for what was almost their second goal. .
Baines galloped down the left and won a free-kick that Arteta swung in far better, but a defender got the touch and Arteta looped the corner over for a great sequence of pinball with Neville, Osman and Arteta all getting shots or chances that were blocked or spurned one way or another.
Cometh the hour-mark, cometh the man-ager with the oh-so-predictable substitution: Beckford on for Coleman as Thomas fouled Hibbert for a yellow card. Jags and Neville contrived to totally waste the resulting free-kick. Yellow too for ietinga with for a foul from behind. Scharner almost scored with a farpost header, picked out brilliantly by Odemwingie, ghosting in behind Hibbert.
Anichebe's almost total lack of skill and finesse was shown up painfully when he battled hard for a soft ball looped over the top and into wonderful space in the WBA penalty area for him by Neville but he danced around the bouncing ball with all the grace of a buffalo rather than taking command of it, and then played it off his standing leg for a goalkick!
Arteta actually tried a shot from 20 yards but it was too easily blocked as Everton looked increasingly desperate and reliant only on the floated cross, one of which Beckford headed over with 20 increasingly frustrating minutes to go. Moyes was presumably frustrated too, but was Bily for Neville really going to change the game finally in Everton's favour???
Yet another Everton corner, at least into the danger area, but Jagielka and Heitinga probably cancelled each other out and another half-chance was gone. But Beckford was clearly a better target man than Anichebe and the boys were working hard to get the ball infront of him for a clear attempt on goal; that fell to Bilya who could only shoot over with his left when the ball demanded a fierce drive with his right.
With no real danger, Bily then went in on a 30-70 ball with a dreadful lunge on Morrison, a quite ridiculous challenge: straight red card. He'd only been on the field less than 5 mins!!! That put West Brom aback in the game and some desperate defending was required to keep the score down. Moyes then switched out Anichebe for Rodwell with 10 mins left.
A short corner looked better, Osman clipping in but a defender heading it out. Osman then played in Beckford but he had run offside. Everton were weakened in defence, and allowed Odemwingie in again, but Howard produced an excellent one-handed save down low to his left. Everton looked to have shot their load as West Brom surged at them in the last 5 mins, and the Yellows held on for a no doubt highly creditable 0-1 defeat to the mighty Baggies... err... NOT! More like the season in microcosm, with a pathetic inability to score despite plenty of possession, the result determined by a moment of comedy defending.
Everton play out their penultimate match of the season at The Hawthorns in a fixture that, when viewed at the beginning of the season, had the potential for significant ramifications for both ends of the table but one that is now an essentially meaningless end-of-campaign run out.
The Blues can still mathematically finish sixth — which, given their start to the campaign would be an incredible achievement — if they win both of their remaining games and Spurs don't pick up more than a point from theirs but they need only look back on the reverse fixture at Goodison in November for motiviation.
West Bromwich Albion, then still managed by Roberto di Matteo trounced David Moyes's men 4-1 in what was one of the real low points of Everton's season so there is plenty of pride at stake when the players take to the field this weekend in the lunchtime Saturday kick off.
Sod's law being what it is, Moyes has no new injury worries now that there's nothing significant to play for but he will nevertheless have a few decisions to chew over, most notably who to play up front. Victor Anichebe charged about gamely enough against Manchester City last Saturday but it wasn't until Jermaine Beckford was introduced in the second half that he started to look effective.
With Tim Cahill likely to be on the bench again as he struggles for 100% fitness, there's a case to be made for Moyes playing both of his fit strikers from the start, even if he conservatively opts for deploying Anichebe out wide.
There may also be opportunities for the likes of Magaye Gueye and Apostolos Vellios to get some more playing time under their belts at some stage.
The Baggies, safe from relegation with two games to spare, will welcome back two players who scored at Goodison Park earlier in the season. Skipper Chris Brunt returns from injury and Paul Scharner — a player who loves to scoee against the Blues — is back from a one-game suspension.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2010-11 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|WEST BROM (4-4-2)|
|Brunt (90+3' Fortune )|
|Cox (67' Morrison)|
|Subs not used|
|11||West Bromwich Albion||46|
|20||West Ham United||33|