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Season 2011-12

Blues Can't Turn Dominance Into Victory

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  17/03/2012
 28 Comments (Last)

Everton 1-1 Sunderland

Everton will have to go to the Stadium Light and win if they are to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup after they and Sunderland battled out a feisty, full-blooded draw. Having fallen behind early on, the Blues recovered to level through Tim Cahill but although they dominated the remainder of the game, they couldn't find the guile to craft a winner.

Having rotated six players for the ultimately calamitous Merseyside derby on Tuesday, David Moyes reinstated the team that started against Tottenham last weekend and they found themselves in a good, old-fashioned knockout contest against a Black Cats side clearly instructed by Martin O'Neill to go looking for an early goal.

A couple of early corners for the vistitors and a wayward header by James McLean evidenced their early intent but it was Everton who came closer to scoring in the first 10 minutes when Seamus Coleman's driven cross fell a little behind Leon Osman who couldn't steer his header on target.

And the majority of Goodison was on its feets in the ninth minute when Royston Drenthe dribbled inside from the left flank before going down in the area under the challenge of Craig Gardner but referee Andre Marriner was non-plussed. Television replays would show that it was clear obstruction at the very least but Everton have never really been treated fairly under Mr Marriner and it wasn't about to start today.

Three minutes later, Sunderland took the lead when a quick free-kick wide on their right played short to Phil Bardsley caught Everton napping and the fullback drilled a low shot through a crowd of players and into the corner of Tim Howard's goal.

Everton responded, though, and after Marouane Fellaini had ballooned over from 30 yards and John Heitinga had wasted a direct freek kick that Nikica Jelavic would have been better off taking, they found the equaliser.

Leighton Baines whipped a tradmark cross in from the left, Jelavic rose to head goalwards and Cahill profited from being the right place at the right time to nod the ball on into the empty side of the goal to put the Blues back in the tie.

From then on, it was Everton's tie to win. Sunderland were typically competitive, tigerish in the tackle and resilient in defence but their threat as an attacking force was largely nullified by the impressive defensive duo of Heitinga and Sylvain Distin. Indeed, apart from having to pick the ball out his net, Howard had nothing to do.

Unfortunately, the home side visibly missed the intelligent probing of Pienaar and generally struggled to pick their way through a disciplined defence, leaving the aerial route as the dominant strategy. And it was from a 35th-minute corner that Cahill threatened to score his second of the half but Simon Mignolet made the first of a number of important saves to deny him, fisting the ball off the line and taking Heitinga with him.

With Pienaar in the stands, Drenthe was Everton's one unpredictable outlet and he came within a few inches of smashing home a spectacular free kick three minutes before half time. Unfortunately, his driven left-foot shot rattled off the top of the angle of crossbar and post.

The frenetic pace of the first period understandably dropped off in the second half but, as they retained the upper hand, the scales remained tipped in Everton's favour. Mignolet spilled Cahill's deflected shot six minutes after the restart as the Blues pressed and Coleman lashed wide after skinning two defenders on his way into the box, but clear-cut chances remained at a premium. That was until Fellaini's knockdown off a 57th-minute corner dropped to Cahill in front of goal but he could only side-foot tamely into the 'keeper's arms.

Though Everton's approach was fairly one-dimensional, you felt they always had a chance with Jelavic up front. In just his second start, the Croatian revealed many pleasing qualities that suggest he will be a fantastic signing, not least prodigious ability in the air which he demonstrated amply just past hour when he headed a Baines free kick inches over the bar.

As the game wore on, though, and the Blues visibly tired from the tempo they'd tried to maintain, they gradually ran out of ideas. Moyes replaced Coleman with Magaye Gueye, which allowed Drenthe to switch from the left to the right flank, but the Dutchman's frustration at the litany of fouls on him that went unpunished by the fouls probably pushed Moyes into substituting him for Denis Stracqualursi with five minutes to go. Drenthe's failure to track back after being dumped on the turf further upfield by an apparent foul earned him a rocket from his captain and likely tipped the manager's hand.

Without him, though, and Osman struggling to have any influence on the game, the last vestige of creativity was gone from the side, leaving aimless punts towards the Sunderland box as the primary tactic in the closing stages. It almost worked with one last chance with a couple of minutes of the regulation 90 left on the clock.

A corner from the left eventually fell to Osman on the far side of the penalty area and when his dinked cross found Heitinga's head, Mignolet had to dive at full stretch to paw his goalbound effort away to prevent it sneaking inside the post. Jelavic pounced on the rebound by the 'keeper made another smart save with his chest.

And that was more or less that, the Blues forced to contemplate going to the northeast where the pendulum swings towards Sunderland and their impressive home form under Martin O'Neill. Certainly an opportunity missed and with it came the uncomfortable realisation that for all Moyes's proclamations midweek that he has real depth in his squad, there was no one capable of taking this game by the scruff of its neck and creating the winner that would have won this tie. Certainly, there was no one you could really point to on the substitute's bench as being a game-changer.

Attentions now turn to the midweek clash with Arsenal back here at Goodison where another high-tempo, determined performance will be required to extend the Blues' tremendous recent record against the top five clubs on home turf. Beyond that, a replay at the Stadium of Light will loom in 10 days' time, offering further congestion to a packed March fixture calendar.

Player Ratings: Howard 6, Neville 6, Heitinga 8, Distin 8, Baines 7, Fellaini 7, Osman 6, Drenthe 7 (Stracqualursi -), Coleman 7 (Gueye 6), Cahill 7, Jelavic 8

Reader Comments

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Brian Hill
859   Posted 17/03/2012 at 19:16:16

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Yet again, Howard at fault. For no discernible reason, he took a couple of steps to the left just before Bardsley shot, thereby opening up the right hand side of the goal, where the ball was deposited.

Concomitant to that, it was the usual Moyes rubbish with almost no decent chances created despite the plethora of possession in a home quarter final.

Obviously his performance on Tuesday is fully justified.
Jamie Barlow
862   Posted 17/03/2012 at 19:36:09

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The two shithouse players who turned their back to the shot were to blame for me. Ossie and Cahill I think.
Jem Traynor
863   Posted 17/03/2012 at 19:37:21

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Not looking good for their place, is it? With Sessegnon back in, they are a different outfit, if that puts confidence into Sunderland then we could catch them on the break? Did anyone get the stats on Moyes versus O'Niell?
Barry Rathbone
872   Posted 17/03/2012 at 19:30:49

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Didn't see the game but interesting comment about tiring from the tempo, might be the Moyes gameplan.

His version of Wimbledon's lump it then leg it to the "head tennis" is slightly flawed.

They'd twat someone and give away a free kick allowing a breather before ambling back to 2 banks of 4.

Us legging it back and forth like the Grand Old Duke of York seems designed to erode your gonads.
Brian Waring
873   Posted 17/03/2012 at 20:09:26

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Jem, according to the commentary, Moyes has never been on the winning side when up against O'Neill. That has got to change sometime, hopefully in the replay.
Lyndon Lloyd
875   Posted 17/03/2012 at 20:19:01

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Brian, Moyes hasn't beaten O'Neill in the League but he beat him in the FA Cup 3 years ago when we knocked Aston Villa out.
Jem Traynor
876   Posted 17/03/2012 at 20:17:53

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Brian, hopefully so and maybe with them getting Sessegnon back will open them up a bit for us to counter them. They're the home side now and will be expected to get at us. We did it against Chelski so we can do it against Sunderland. Even if it goes to penalties, I fancy it! There's something about Everton and last chance saloon!
Brian Waring
877   Posted 17/03/2012 at 20:23:59

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Cheers Lyndon. I thought I did put in the league.
Peter Mcauliffe
879   Posted 17/03/2012 at 20:15:55

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In a week were Everton send out our season ticket renewals, Moyes shows why we shouldn't renew them. Saving his team for today, after a shambolic display at Anfield... how long have got to put up with this shite???

Moyes shows that, when he has a squad to pick from, he his useless; he only gets results when he has a limited squad to pick from. I can't take any more from this useless fucker ... say goodbye to Wembley.

Sunderland were the better team, plus suspensions to come back. Let's see what team he puts out against Swansea. Save your money, lads it's not worth it, he'll only shit on us again. Good riddance, Moyes... ten years too long for my liking.
Andy Hegan
896   Posted 17/03/2012 at 21:45:45

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Everton in 'Fail to Capitalise on Dominance' shocker!
Dick Fearon
897   Posted 17/03/2012 at 21:42:39

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A clear-out starting with the dugout is called for.

While everyone else was rapt in concentration two officials(?) sitting directly behind Moyes were yawning their effing heads off.
Anthony Lamb
900   Posted 17/03/2012 at 21:53:35

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Just felt that, in all the debates about the Anfield derby clouding the issue of today's game, Everton's failure to turn their second half dominance into goals etc, the truly outstanding performance by Distin deserves some real acclaim. I thought the man was truly superb and showed yet again what a truly model professional footballer he is.

He has shown that advancing years are no bar to the preservation of athleticism, technical skill, focus and their application to the responsibilities of his job. What a shame we have not had the benefit of his services for more than the few years he has been with us. A wonderful display.
Stephen Leary
903   Posted 17/03/2012 at 22:23:04

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I know we all love this game and we all love Everton and couldn't imagine life without them, but i think that tonight we have to realise it is just a game with the sad news about Fabrice Muamba at Bolton. I know my prayers and thoughts will be echoed by every fellow Evertonian and hopefully this young man pulls through.
Ian Glassey
904   Posted 17/03/2012 at 22:23:47

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Drenthe is a liability; he spends more time on the floor than Heskey ever did... and a baby spitting his dummy out. The odd good goal, yes. Not a patch on Pienaar and not worth a contract.
Dick Fearon
907   Posted 17/03/2012 at 22:42:14

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Hey, Lyndon, did you give Osman a point for each time he touched the ball?
Brian Waring
910   Posted 17/03/2012 at 22:59:42

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Agree Anthony, thought Distin was excellent today.

Is it just coincidence, that him and Heitinga had looked a great partnership before the derby game, Jags comes in to partner Distin against the shite, and Distin was poor; Heitinga comes back, and Distin has a blinder.
Robbie Muldoon
914   Posted 17/03/2012 at 23:08:21

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Brendan Rogers could replace Moyes IMO. His Swansea side are great to watch, get wins home and away, the Swansea fans brand his style of play 'total football'.

After beating Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage today, it was a sign of how well they played that the Fulham fans applauded the side and Rodgers off the pitch.

IN his post-match interview (I'm glad Moyes didn't bother doing one today) he stated how he hasn't and wouldn't set a desired points total to his players, unlike our Moyesiah, who 10 years into the job, was still spouting 40 points as the target this season.

Thank you for your work, Mr Moyes, I don't know how you did it under Kenwright, but it's time to change things. Kenwright, here's a promising manager who will be a breath of fresh air and someone I would imagine would be willing to take on this massive task you have created for them.
Bob Willis
946   Posted 18/03/2012 at 08:23:59

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Agree that Distin is a class act, with Johnny. - but Drenthe has really gone down in my estimation. He gets run off the ball far too easily and appears to want to do the 'flashy eye catching' things when the simple things are what is required. His attitude yesterday was very poor and I'm sure Moyes is getting fed up with him - which is why he will not be retained.
As for RM 914's comments about Rogers - I totally agree that there, is a manager that would really bring the WOW factor back to Everton, I wonder if the Swans would do a part exchange deal!
Rodgers for Moyes, Jagielka and Rodwell. Oh yes they could also have Round - just to round it off nicely - for us.
Phil Brown
978   Posted 18/03/2012 at 10:22:56

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Martinez has even got Wigan playing good football - a far greater achievement.

Ideal swap for Dour Davy, he can do what he's good at, stabilising a club on the way down and Martinez can introduce some creativity into our team by clearing out the old guard and bringing on the new: Duffy / Barkley / Vellios.
Brian Waring
980   Posted 18/03/2012 at 10:27:50

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Bob, Drenthe is a talent, and I would love to see him kept on at the end of the season.

I reckon he will be gone though, and the reason Moyes will get shut, is because of Drenthe's serial diving.
Andrew Clare
984   Posted 18/03/2012 at 10:29:30

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Under Moyes we are just a 'blunt instrument' in every game with no attacking ideas. Horrible football. I feel sorry for our fans. What is surprising is that there seems to be little or no discontent in the stadium.
John Sreet
985   Posted 18/03/2012 at 10:33:25

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Bob Willis, remember Mike Walker..... a brilliant new talent who we seduced from Norwich, he led us to glorious last-day survival. Besides, if he's that good, why would he leave? He recently said of the Chelsea job... "I am trying to build a reputation and not destroy one."
Norman Merrill
022   Posted 18/03/2012 at 12:26:06

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One thing I would like to see is quicker service into Jelavic, the lad loses his marker but we lose the initiative by too many passes instead of the early cross the lad craves for. There were at least three occasions when he had hand in the air, only for the final ball to fall short. Surely he has been here long enough for them to work on it.
Billy Bradshaw
138   Posted 18/03/2012 at 19:12:56

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Bob, Distin wasn't a class act in the derby, in fact he was awfull. As for Moyes's substitutions and tactics, why take Coleman off? He looked a threat without finding the killer ball. Why push Fellaini up front and put Cahill into a midfield position? He can't pass...

Why are we so negative in everything we do? Take a look at O'Niell's team selection, Moyes, he played 4-4-2 until 60 mins and then played for the draw.
Anto Byrne
246   Posted 19/03/2012 at 04:02:06

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Moyes is happy to sit on his £65k week and has no ambition, we witnessed this when he put out a weakened team against the Shite and gambled on the Sunderland game. It backfired with a draw that we don't really need and we also lost ground in the league when we could have at least played for a draw at Anfield that would have kept us in the hunt for a Euro spot and importantly maintained that unbeaten run.

I hear all the plaudits about how fucking wonderful Moyes has been over the last 10 years and for some unknow reason they say it is him that has kept us in the Premier League. Utter bollocks really as we do not know what another manager may have achieved. We want football that is not so fucking negative and boring.

On Saturday, a passage of play went down the left and Baines kept the ball in with some wonderful skill, layed it off for Osman and the ball went across the pitch via Fellaini to Neville and then to Cahill and suddenly it was being lumped forward by Howard. Not once in the 93 minutes did we have one shot on goal from 35-40 yards out unless it was a free kick.

Everton's play is predictable and one-dimensional and lumping in crosses with well intentioned hoofs is not what we want from an Everton team. Well, if by some miracle we can get a result at the Light, we have a semi with the Shite who will relish another oppurtunity to put Moyes to the sword.

Richard Reeves
508   Posted 20/03/2012 at 21:24:37

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If Drenthe doesn't get offered a contract at the end of the season, it won't be because he dives but because he doesn't get up quickly enough and track back after diving... Or it might be because he is a little bit exciting to watch.
Steve King
325   Posted 28/03/2012 at 16:59:08

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I hope those of you slating the team and manager above have the decency to come back a re-read these comments, before holding your hands up and admitting that your negativity is a knee jerk reaction to the odd off-colour performance.
Last night in the replay our boys were FANTASTIC.
They weren't too shabby against Swansea either. Shows what a bit of support and belief can do eh....
Brian Waring
330   Posted 28/03/2012 at 17:28:41

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Steve, I think most of this season has been shite, and not just the "Odd off - colour performance" as you put it.

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