COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL
I was in the pub slightly before Gary and Sue though when they turned up was able to get a seat, sat next to some Norwegian Evertonians. A lot of the pre-match talk of course centered on The Blue Union protest and Bill Kenwright and its fair to say we all have differing views on how things are going with the board etc. Regardless, we were all quite excited by the prospect of seeing the two new faces today. As I got the team news via Twitter it was apparent that neither were starting the match with Cahill up front on his own. I liked the look of the midfield, with Fellaini holding, Rodwell the main central midfield, Coleman back and on the right wing with Bilyaletdinov on the left and Osman playing just off Cahill in attack. Tony Hibbert came in at right back. Jageilka skippered with Neville dropping to the bench. Maybe a sign of the times with Neville being dropped?though we were at least able to win the toss for once! The substitutes bench looked decent with Mucha, Neville, Gueye, Vellios, Barkley, Drenthe and Stracqualursi.
Aston Vila featured Everton old-boy Richard Dunne, apparent summer transfer target Charles N?Zogbia, ex-Red Emile Heskey and their record signing Darren Bent. The referee was Michael Oliver, the crowd was buzzing. Strangely for Aston Villa, their supporters only filled half the allocated away tear.
We began at an excellent tempo, Seamus Coleman skipping away down the wing and his ball in falling to Osman whom appeared to be taken out by Dunne in what should have been an early penalty though the referee deemed otherwise?I?ve never quite understood why referees are so reluctant to give penalties early in games.
Undeterred Everton pressed on and continued to create chances with Dunne, Collins and Warnock all making good interceptions and clearances to keep Everton at bay after good wing play. Inside the box, Jagielka and Osman both came close to getting the early goal though both were denied by Given, and I think Jagielka also headed narrowly wide. At the other end Bannan, an early substitute for Heskey, drilled a decent effort from a long way out which Howard got behind. Off the ball an image of Bill Kenwright on the big screens was met by some boos though then drowned out by loud applause from the majority of the Everton support. Fair to say opinions are still split though it was also nice to see many supporters behind the club.
Everton took the lead after quite a few passes resulted in a ball forward to Cahill. He did well, shielding the ball and laying off a pass to Osman who side-footed first time past Given to the delight of the Goodison crowd. 1-0 and Everton playing excellent. Everton weren?t finished for the half either and were agonizingly close to going two ahead when Rodwell let fly from distance and with the ball going well wide it deflected off Fabian Delph, wrong-footing Given though just curling wide of the opposite post?would have been particularly fortunate to be fair. Otherwise, Fellaini blazed over as Everton dominated at the break.
At half-time I went to see Ste, accompanied by another friend Steve who used to be a season ticket holder at Everton before emigrating to Canada?good to catch up with him.
Everton were a little tentative after the break and it seemed Villa had gotten a rocket from the boss and came out a much more positive team?albeit without creating anything. It was therefore all the more frustrating when Petrov let fly from about 30 yards with the ball somehow nestling into the corner?after all our chances Villa hit one from miles out and it goes straight in. Furthermore, prior to that we were denied what seemed a clear penalty when Bannan tripped Baines inside the box though the referee said no when right on the spot. It makes me wonder if it would have been very different had we have gone 2-0 ahead.
Everton, assisted by the crowd, roused themselves following Petrov?s long range equalizer and were soon back in front. Fellaini?s shot fro the edge of the box was deflected for a corner. Baines delivered, Cahill?s header was well saved and as Jagielka was under it trying to judge his header, Delph clattered into him and the referee pointed to the penalty spot this time. Baines stepped up, sent Given the wrong way and Everton 2-1 ahead. Was good to see Neville come down the pitchside to bark out a few instructions to his team as we got back to business.
Bilyaltedinov was soon subbed for Drenthe to make his debut, and he didn?t disappoint, surging forward whenever possible and getting into good attacking positions. He looks a useful player once he gets fully fit. Seamus Coleman was also visibly shattered and needed to come off. He was replaced by Barkley.
I think everyone was happy enough with the substitution, though gobsmacked with what happened next. A ball across to our right side from Villa was chased by Albrighton with Hibbert as Barkley gave up on it, though it was kept in and in control of Barkley. He cold have done a number of things but for some reason played a crazy crossfield ball toward Baines at left back. Villa took back possession and although there was then a little period of time between then and the eventual Agbonlahor header, you could see it coming really and were left frustrated once again. How on earth do we always seem to draw 2-2 with Aston Villa? We?ve managed four 2-2 draws with Villa in the last five seasons.
Everton weren?t finished yet however and still had the chances to win the game in the dying minutes. Substitute Vellios got on the end of a forward ball and nicked the ball past Given outside the box though his side-footed volley went inches wide. I thought he?d scored. Desperate to make amends, Barkley was rampaging forward where possible and set up another chance for Vellios who?s snap-shot was tipped over by Given.
In the end, honours even and though frustrated I left the ground upbeat with the performance from our team today. If, and we know it?s a big if, we can keep hold of our young players the future does look bright. Coleman, Rodwell, Fellaini, Barkley, Vellios and Drethe are all good talents and there could still be big things to come from this team.
I was straight back to the car and straight home?the mobile phone trick worked a treat once again.
Howard: Might be disappointed to have been beaten by Petrov?s long range drive and his distribution was disappointing at times. Not a great deal to do though really. 5
Baines: Excellent getting forward. My Man of the Match. 8
Distin: Very solid. Can see him having a very good season. 8
Jagileka: Rash decision-making at times. Certainly not one of his better performance and is still to really get going this season. 6
Hibbert: Did well getting forward I thought. Helped Coleman out when he was visibly tiring. 7
Fellaini: Held things together well. I think once he gets another half a dozen games or so under his belt he?ll be flying. 7
Rodwell: Did quite well. His heading not the best and hit some frustrating shots well over the bar but worked quite well. Has to take on more responsibility on the ball now though I feel. 6
Osman: Worked well first half and got a good goal though tired as the game wore on. 7
Bilyaletdinov: Showed flashes in the first half though never really got going in the game in truth. Rightly subbed. 5
Coleman: Gave everything before tiring. Good to have him back. His enthusiasm is fantastic. 6
Cahill: Put in a great shift. A real warrior performance. 7
Drenthe (for Bilyaletdinov): Looks an exciting player. A few sort of headless-chicken moments but generally good. Very quick and skillful and should be great once he gets up to speed. 7
Barkley (for Coleman): His bizarre pass really cost us but he?ll learn from that, and boy, did he try to make amends. Unleash him next week and he?ll get his rewards I think. 6
Vellios (for Cahill): Did very well. Unlucky not to score and a nice opener for Denis as he may realize he?s going to have to work to get into the team. 7
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1 Posted 11/09/2011 at 15:38:31
2 Posted 11/09/2011 at 15:46:08
Bily bewilders me. He orchestrates so well for Russia, but for us he rushes everything. Even his teammates were telling him to have more patience and not be in such a hurry, but he treated the ball like it was on fire and he couldn't wait to get it off his foot. Missed some excellent opportunities as a result.
I'm excited about Drenthe and Vellios. Some terrific talent there, and Drenthe's speed is breathtaking. He's the quickest player we've had in a long time.
3 Posted 11/09/2011 at 16:05:23
4 Posted 11/09/2011 at 17:37:59
5 Posted 11/09/2011 at 18:13:02
Rodwell again poor. Can't see why Barkley doesn't start ahead of him.
Fellaini was imperious I thought my motm.
6 Posted 11/09/2011 at 17:51:58
I was a kid at the time and living in the midlands surrounded by villa fans... (I've never met a nice one!) Not a good memory...
7 Posted 11/09/2011 at 21:01:55
8 Posted 12/09/2011 at 00:03:41
9 Posted 12/09/2011 at 12:43:53
10 Posted 12/09/2011 at 13:44:47
11 Posted 12/09/2011 at 15:34:16
Still on a personal level, I hate thier fecking club and the fact we never seem to do well against them. Either way Wigan next SHOULD mean 3 points.
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