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Season 2011-12
COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

A nice three points on the road

By Paul Traill   ::  27/11/2011
 2 Comments (Last)
A full car ? quite the rarity for an away game ? made the rather short trip down the M62 / M61 to the Reebok Stadium for yesterday?s pleasing away win against beleaguered Bolton Wanderers. I quite enjoy the trip to Bolton. It?s not far to travel for an away game, usually quite cheap to get a ticket, parking is free and easy and the pub nice, friendly and not far from the stadium. This was the case again yesterday, Sue, Gary, Rob and Ritchie all attending and all in good form on the way up. ?We know when we?re near Bolton? said Gary. ?It always starts raining when we get here?. It couldn?t be truer as the rain splashed down upon arrival.

I?m convinced one day I?m going to get clamped parking in Tesco car park though it?s never been a problem. The short walk to The Beehive brought us some welcome relief before we headed back stadium direction for the match. We were all a little surprised by the team news in the pub, with Drenthe injured and Bilyaletdinov offered the rare chance to shine. Heitinga staying put at the back with Distin still injured. The bench looked youthful and inexperienced. With last seasons debacle at the Reebok Stadium still fresh in the memory I shuddered at the prospect of Kevin Davies wreaking havoc upon us up front?particularly so as we thought he was injured. Otherwise, I thought the Bolton team didn?t look too bad on paper with Cahill, Reo-Coker, Eagles, Klasnic and Muamba all featuring?not a particularly good team but a hard-working one on paper. It was nice to be wrong on this as in reality this was as bad a Bolton team I?ve seen in recent memory?entirely unrecognizable from the team which destroyed us last season.

Into the ground and it was unfortunate for Rob that he got his ticket quite a while after we sorted ours out as he was situated the complete opposite end of the South End to us. By the time we were into our seats the teams where already out on the pitch, Everton attacking the opposite end to us in the first half. We?d started the game quite well, Coleman getting a good run on Robinson once or twice though we encountered the usual problems in the final third of the pitch. Bolton were rather long-ball-ish but why wouldn?t you be if you?re scrapping for your lives and you have a player like Davies in attack?though Heitinga and Jagielka appeared relatively comfortable ? Klasnic coming closest for Bolton early doors...forcing Howard into a decent save away to his right from distance.

The key moment in the game came when David Wheater was given his marching orders by Michael Oliver for a lunge on Bilyaletdinov. The centre back mis-controlled on half way and Bilyaletdinov nipped in. Trying to make amends, Wheater lunged in desperately but caught the Russian and Bolton were down the 10 men.

Despite finding plenty of space (as you would expect against 10 men) we just didn?t quite make it count in the first half and Bolton will have been relieved to get to half time all square with a chance to re-group. I spent most of the break downstairs but was back up well in time for the second half and Moyes had sent the boys back out quite early as if to say ?we mean business here?. Sure enough we did with Fellaini converting a quality ball in from Bilyaletdinov from around six yards out to put Everton ahead. We looked very, very comfortable I thought with Bolton completely lost. Still, I felt we really needed a second goal to finish these off and were always vulnerable at 1-0. Indeed we were almost punished when Hibbert lost possession and Klasnic had his effort blocked by the legs of Howard.

With loads of possession, the team frequently in and around Bolton?s box though just unable to finish them off, it was time for a substitute to do it. Enter one Apostollos Vellios, replacing Saha, to seal the three points on 77 minutes, just four minutes after coming on. A cracking deep cross from Leighton Baines, Cahill connecting and laying the ball across the six yard box for Vellios to easily score. Three points and game over. We could now relax and enjoy the game.

If we?d have really forced the issue more goals were probably possible but I think we were all rather content with what we had. In the closing minutes Moyes had the rare luxury of giving some of the kids a run out with Barkley and Gueye replacing Cahill and Bilyaltedinov ? Diniyar receiving a good reception from the Everton fans as he left the field. Hopefully that will have done his confidence the world of good. Barkley looked very busy in his time on the field, having three shots ? all blocked ? in just a short time. You really feel he could be come one top, top player.

On the full time whistle we were easily away and on the motorway in no time. My drive home was made all the more easier with Gary, Sue and Rob all wanting to be dropped off in Liverpool city centre rather than at their homes?shaving about 20 minutes off my journey.

All in all, a good day out and we?re now up to 8th position. Important that we win our next one at home to Stoke before a tough trip to the Emirates. On today?s showing, I see no reason at all why we can?t do that.

Player Ratings
Howard: Very, very little to do but was on the ball with everything really. 7
Baines: My man of the match. I thought he was terrific. He ploughed forward aggressively and with a lot of quality and put in countless excellent crosses. If only we had a quality striker to match these deliveries we?d be much more of a threat against nearly all teams I?d say. His best game yet this season. 9
Heitinga: Also his best game this season?his best also for quite a while. Solid at the back and brought the ball out of defence very impressively. Needs to maintain that level of consistency now, starting with the ?tall order? of Stoke City next Sunday. 8
Jagielka: Also very impressive. Was very comfortable against Davies and Klasnic. 8
Hibbert: Usual really. Nonsense attacking but steady defending. Made one error which could have been critical but we got away with it. Otherwise, was fine. 5
Fellaini: After a quiet first half he was imperious in the second. Awesome in fact. He completely bossed the midfield and got on the scoresheet. I?d like to see him do this a bit more from the start of games. It seems to take him quite a while to get into games I think. 8
Bilyaletdinov: His best game for a while. As Graeme Sharpe said on the way home, ?it suited him playing against 10 men?. He put in a delicious ball for Fellaini?s goal and was quite busy in the second half. I think he?s better utilized away from home. At Goodison Park a lot of people are on his back, almost waiting for him to make a mistake so they can slaughter him and his confidence is completely shot. Away from home that pressure isn?t there and he can perhaps play with more confidence. Will be interesting to see if, firstly, Moyes starts with him next game, and secondly, how he does should he start. I assume Moyes will stick with him and I hope that on the back of yesterday?s showing that Bilyaletdinov can give it a really good crack next Sunday. 7
Osman: Quiet really but kept on going and kept things ticking along. 6
Coleman: One of his best games for a while also. He ripped Robinson apart at left back and as with Baines, a hungrier striker may have benefitted more from his service. I hope he can keep it up. 8
Cahill: Did well. Battled hard and teed up the Vellios goal. Surely he?s due a goal very soon. 7
Saha: Not at his best. Needs to show more appetite inside the penalty area. 5

Substitutes:
Vellios (for Saha): Good sub as he sealed the game for us. On his interview with Match of the Day he was saying how he?s been training with Duncan Ferguson this week, which I thought was interesting as we were saying the other week how he?s got a few Big Dunc traits about him. Would like to see him start a bit more but maybe Moyes thinks he?s not quite ready yet?even though he is our top scorer. 7
Barkley (for Cahill): Looked very good and on another day would have helped himself to a goal. Certainly one for the not-to-distant future. 7
Gueye (for Bilyaletdinov): Never got going but only entered the fray in injury time. 5

Reader Comments

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Mick Davies
1   Posted 27/11/2011 at 17:22:58

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Hibbert, was that -5?
Dalziel Kane
2   Posted 27/11/2011 at 17:32:25

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Thanks for the report and a more helpful insight in to what occured and player ratings. I feel confident about our next two fixtures, I do feel we will be too much for Stoke at home and Arsenal have been faltering all season in the league and I reckon we are due a win over there for the first time since early 1996. Once again, a detailed and helpful report on yesterday.

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