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Season 2011-12

From My Seat: Fulham (H)

By Ken Buckley   ::  28/04/2012
 45 Comments (Last)
A trip to hospital on Thursday afternoon for a fitness test sees me given the all clear so it was Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.

Nothing seemed to have changed since I have been sidelined, that black scouse humour met me as I entered my loveable North Liverpool watering hole, the gang we always meet were there and after a bit of banter things settled down and the chat turned to the performance at Man Utd but that could not disguise the lingering regret of the team not turning up for a Cup semi at Wembley.

The walk up to the ground saw a muted procession and the length of the queue at the Blue Dragon chippy seemed shorter than usual. I heard on ?Bluewatch? that today the last ever edition of ?Speak from the Harbour? was on sale but not a seller in sight. Were these omens that we may lose at home to Fulham for the first time since 1948? Not a bit of it as the Blues gave us a performance akin to Barcelona with bite.

Almost 32,000 of us turned up of which Fulham contributed no more than 4 taxi loads which, as things turned out, was just as well. The team was as per Old Trafford and took no time at all to spray the ball about and create chances. With just over 5 mins gone Pienaar and Distin had a nice combination down the left and when Pienaar cut infield he was grounded some 6 yards outside the area. Jelavic elected to take it and as the ball reached the wall somewhere around head height an arm or arms came into contact with it. "Penalty!" yelled the faithful, referee Dowd agreed and the spot kick given. It was immediately obvious that Jelavic would take as he commandeered the ball. Fulham tried all the off-putting tricks but when the ref finally signalled take, Jelavic showed a cool striker's head and lashed home giving the keeper no chance. We were all delighted.

We continued with the joined-up stuff but on ten mins Fulham found themselves on the edge of our box and Dembele hammered one in which Howard did wonders to get something on and the ball was diverted over. A warning, I thought... but no, we continued in joined-up mode and won a free kick that Heitinga insisted on taking but hammered well over.

Still we came forward and it was measured build up as the quarter hour mark proved. A passage of passing back and forth across the back line saw Jagielka hit a long forward pass that found Jelavic who squirmed and turned and hit the post then won a corner. Osman who was making his 300th appearance put in a good un and Fellaini somehow got himself unmarked and had a free header with which he made no mistake. We were once again all delighted yet the crowd celebration overall was still just a little muted.

The Blues continued with silky joined-up stuff in confident mode yet not getting too carried away as to forget to defend as Fulham had the odd foray forward. Dempsey (Everton summer target?) hit one over then shortly after hit one that got deflected yet somehow Howard managed to change direction and throwing out a hand managed to tip the ball over via the top of the bar a truly outstanding save.

With half-time looming, Pienaar sent Jelavic scampering through and he had to win a race with the Fulham keeper which he did but was driven wide. He turned back and cut in and whilst everyone was expecting a cross he elected to shoot and from a tight angle hammered a shot that seemed to go through Schwarzer and between post and defender on the line. His tenth goal and all celebrated as 3-0 suggested game over or maybe not.

Half-time and whilst most were happy enough, that Wembley thing kept creeping into conversations.

Second half and Gibson did not reappear and was replaced by Cahill which resulted in Fellaini moving back one and Cahill behind the Croat. The game continued but you could just tell both sets of players knew it was all but up. The Blues continued in joined-up mode with only Jags having the long punts forward. He had put Jelavic in with a beaut first half and seemed determined to repeat the feat; he didn?t.

The game moved on to the hour mark and, after what seemed like minutes of clever inter-passing back and forth, Pienaar found himself near the edge of the box and chipped a quite delightful ball into the path of Cahill who?s early strike caught the keeper unbalanced and the ball passed into the far corner for a quite delightfully worked goal. Jelavic almost got his hat-trick when he hit a curling free kick that the keeper did well to push behind at full stretch. A good save that.

The game livened a little when the passing became quicker and it was obvious that the players were doing all they could to get Jelavic his hat-trick. On 75 mins the manager rested Fellaini and gave some game time to Ross Barkley. I thought the manager did really well in moving Cahill back into the Fellaini slot and putting Barkley up with Jelavic where he could operate without compromising the defence in any way that might knock his confidence. He did ok without doing much and at times looked a little overawed.

Before the end, Schwarzer made good saves from Osman and Pienaar. Magaye Gueye came on for Pienaar and that was about it as the whistle sounded. Anyone who waited for the players to come off will have noticed Distin was last off after he had clapped and waved to all sides of the ground. That Wembley rick is still lying heavy on his mind.

MotM ? Take your pick as all played well but I thought the most assured player was Heitinga and I enjoyed his whole match contribution. Jelavic will always get a mention as he always looks like scoring goals and does.

Overall, after my enforced lay-off, I really enjoyed my day out and revelled in some of the joined-up stuff on display, just shows we can do it... the trick is doing it when it really matters. I thought the manager did well today in overseeing our general play and making subs when required, enforced or not.

The crowd were in quite subdued mode and it took until the hour mark and Cahill?s goal for a sustained and loud "If yer know yer ?Istory" to be heard shortly followed by "He has got red hair but we don?t care?.

I wonder how long it is since we have scored 4 goals in 3 consecutive league matches, any statos out there?

Stoke and Wolves away then Newcastle at home. 9 points would be nice and 4 goals per game to us would be the icing on the cake.
See you there

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
350   Posted 28/04/2012 at 21:28:59

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Welcome back, Ken!!!
Peter Askins
358   Posted 28/04/2012 at 21:33:48

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As mentioned earlier, to reply to your question Ken, it's the first time since 1964 that we've scored four goals in three successive league games.

A question back. What is the away fans' allocation for league games ? I ask because I've been to Fulham games in the past, and your remark about them providing "no more than 4 taxi loads" is not far off the mark. This therefore contributes towards a relatively low attendance, as their section is vastly under-populated.
Peter Stone
360   Posted 28/04/2012 at 21:46:00

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Great to have you back Ken, thanks for another top report!
Jamie Tulacz
361   Posted 28/04/2012 at 21:46:30

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Great to have you back too Ken, great to hear that you've been given the all clear. Good to see that you've been a good luck charm for your first game back!

Peter- I think it's normally meant to be up to 10% of capacity for Premier League games, depending on the opposition, with 15% for cup games. Probably judging by their record at Goodison, the distance and the fact that it was a pretty meaningless end of season game, the Fulham crowd haven't bothered to turn up (and neither did their team!)
Dean Adams
362   Posted 28/04/2012 at 21:42:27

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Welcome back Ken. Another good report, even if you did find yourself in strange territory!! A good win and lots of positive action, a really nice welcome back.

We are playing well and really there should be no reason why we cannot carry this forward into next term.
Barry Rathbone
363   Posted 28/04/2012 at 21:54:46

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Welcome home Ken.
Sammy Baloo
364   Posted 28/04/2012 at 21:56:32

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Ken, I'm absolutely delighted to have your report back! If I don't catch the game, yours is one of the very few write-ups I really trust ? no hysteria; no Moyes-has-had-his-chance-let's-get-Glen-Hoddle-in, and no we're-gonna-win-the-next-game-five-nil; just fair, balanced, and, I think, generally speaking for the otherwise silent majority. Thanks, and make sure you keep them coming!
Ian Smitham
368   Posted 28/04/2012 at 22:17:51

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Ken, nice to see you back and I enjoyed your report, as always. Thank you.

I hope that there are many more to follow.
Jay Harris
376   Posted 28/04/2012 at 22:42:09

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Great that you are on the mend Ken ably assisted by a good run of form (semi aside) by the Blues.

Long may you stay in good health and the Blues back on the road to the top.
Dick Fearon
379   Posted 28/04/2012 at 22:26:22

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Ken, you can add my felicitations to those of your many admirers.
I can well understand your mates returning to the disgrace at Wembley and I bet the 3-0 Anfield debacle also got a few mentions.

The only semblance of self esteem that Moyes can salvage is to finish above Dalglish in the league.
Failure to do that would leave Moyes reputation in tatters and the entire season condemned to the dustbin of history.
Assuming the points and GD remain the same going into the final game will Moyes have a go or will he revert to his usual pinch a point style.
The thought of that scenario leaves me feeling pessimistic.

Jamie Tulacz
382   Posted 28/04/2012 at 23:15:49

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Dick- 7th place in the league and a cup semi-final, hardly reputation in tatters for me, not far off being as well as we can do. Yes the two defeats against the RS have particularly hurt recently, but 12 goals in the last 3 PL games hardly leaves his reputation in tatters?
Kevin Sparke
385   Posted 28/04/2012 at 23:31:31

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Great to have you back Ken - nice report!
Tom Fazal
386   Posted 28/04/2012 at 23:34:09

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Thanks for the great report Ken. Welcome back.
Dick Fearon
387   Posted 28/04/2012 at 23:28:49

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Jamie # 382, the three 4-0s are great and only serve to show what the team can do if allowed.
I stand by my belief that Moyes ingrained pinch a point outlook has been responsible for a lot of fans anguish and dull uninspiring football.

Kevin Sparke
388   Posted 28/04/2012 at 23:32:10

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Statto here Ken- 1963-64 I'm led to believe

Everton 4 - Villa 0
Spurs 2 - Everton4
Everton 6- Forest 1

The week previous to the Everton 4 Villla 0 we beat Birmingham 3-0 and the week after we beat Forest we beat Blackburn 2-1

All on here

Trevor Lynes
391   Posted 29/04/2012 at 00:00:15

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Yes Kevin (#388)... that 60s side played the best football I have ever seen from an EFC team.

Incidently I thought that Distin had another excellent game and he has so far not been affected by playing left back... I must admit I was concerned when Baines got injured but Distin has allayed my fears. He was brilliant against Man Utd and played Valencia as well as anyone I have seen. He still has pace and agility which is testament to his working on his fitness... a fine Everton player.
Keith Glazzard
392   Posted 28/04/2012 at 23:07:29

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Going to Goodison is - at last - good for the health. Long may it last. For you Ken, as well as the rest of us.

This team has quality from front to back, and Fulham are no pushover. But that's what happened today. Is this the best squad that Moyes has assembled?

Chris Cook
395   Posted 29/04/2012 at 00:28:27

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Have to agree about the crowd being quiet, first time ever to Goodison today and bar when the goal end did start cheering it was like watching Preston, very quiet. Still a very enjoyable experience and hopefully the first of many

As for Speak from the Harbour sellers, saw one just outside the Blue Dragon, but he seemed to be saying "last of the season"
James Newcombe
397   Posted 29/04/2012 at 00:34:56

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Welcome back Ken, I always enjoy your reports!
Dennis Stevens
404   Posted 29/04/2012 at 01:10:00

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Great to see you back Ken, & thanks for the excellent match report - as always.
Jim Knightley
405   Posted 29/04/2012 at 01:29:55

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Welcome back Ken.

I don't see how Moyes' outlook is to blame for dull football, but seemingly not for the good? Our form since January has been Champions League level; unsuprisingly in January we brought in 4 players, all of whom were and are to varying degrees extremely influencial in our recent resurgence. Among them, Pienaar has been essential, and I think we would have put in a better performance in the semi with his ability and experience. The squad needed freshening up, and if we had been able to buy in the summer, like most of our ostensible competitors, I expect we would be in the race for the Champions League right now.

Great performance again today, however, and to have a scoring striker again feels wonderful. If only we could build in the summer and enter next season with genuine potential for improvement. Unfortunately, given our financial position, I don't think it will be possible.

I think 2 wins from 3 would give us 7th. Stoke up next though which is always a horrible place to go. Although playing as we are, I wouldn't fear anyone.
Elgin Joshua
410   Posted 29/04/2012 at 03:19:42

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Hi Ken. You have no idea how worried I was stuck in Singapore when your reviews just vanished for weeks not months. You couldn't have just quit due to the lack of support from BK, that's so not you.

Glad you're back and wishing you a full recovery.

As you always say, Up the Blues.
Andy Amey
428   Posted 29/04/2012 at 08:31:31

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Welcome back Ken.

A return to normality at last....

3 points

4 goals

Above the RS

Lawro and Hansen getting digs in on MOTD
Paul Joy
432   Posted 29/04/2012 at 08:50:58

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Great to have your balanced views back Ken.
Spot on with your point that wembley thoughts linger with our fans and our last 2 performances make us all think "why did'nt we just do that at wembley and we would have beaten them"

As for yesterdays performance 1 player you did'nt single out who was excellent and who more often than not gets a pasting was Phil Neville - he was excellent at Old Trafford too.

Jim #405 I also think the 2 players who left in january - saha and bily - has been a factor in our all round improvement - 2 negative influences on the pitch and we were better off without them.
Chris Matheson
434   Posted 29/04/2012 at 09:05:41

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Welcome home Ken.

You keep referring to joined up football. I guess by this you mean, good passing and movement, playing it on the ground, no hoofing.

You are spot on. I have bored everyone on here with my moaning about caveman football, the "get your crosses in" school of thought, where the ball is played out wide, up the wing then a high, aimless ball lumped in. We seem to have left that behind again. Paul makes an interesting point about no Saha or Billy, but it is great to see us playing decent football, on the ground, with balls played forward in front of the attacker (like thouse that led to goals 3 and 4 yesterday). Pienaar certainly is one reason for this but maybe he gives inspiration to other payers too?
Howard Don
456   Posted 29/04/2012 at 10:36:55

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Welcome back Ken!

Well balanced, accurate reporting as usual, Sammy (364) says it all. Guys like you are streets ahead of some of the so-called journalists in the National press.
Richard Dodd
458   Posted 29/04/2012 at 10:38:33

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Good to have you back,Ken !
With all this talk of JUF,it has to be acknowledged that we have,at last,got the players capable of playing that style and a FINISHER who can ensure it brings its just rewards.
Which,of course,begs the question why the `fear factor`once again set in when we played `them`in the semi! Was the fear induced by the manager or did certain of our players just freeze on the big occasion?
Whatever the answer to that conundrum,the opportunity to revenge the defeat by finishing above the old enemy must now be the incentive to keep the style in place and the goals flowing.
Matt Traynor
461   Posted 29/04/2012 at 10:52:11

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Peter (#358), in regard to away allocation, the Premier League rule is 3,000 tickets are offered as a minimum, and where ground capacity is less than 30,000, then 10 percent should be offered.

Someone was asking recently why Everton took up such a small allocation for QPR (a), when we have a strong attendance at London games (all aways really). Whilst looking up this rule in my 2011/12 copy (!) I found that half of the away allocation are to be offered on a sale-or-return basis. Hence in the QPR case Everton opted not to take up a bigger allocation and carry the financial risk.

Of the many changes in rules I'd like to see, I'd like to see all away tickets on a sale-or-return basis, although it could be argued that this could deprive some home fans of tickets.

Man U for this season have moved away fans up in the gods a la Newcastle, and I believe have got the number down to less than 3k now, which they must've done with a special dispensation. I'm sure they'd do away with away fans completely like Luton did if they could get away with it.
Matt Traynor
462   Posted 29/04/2012 at 11:06:43

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Forgot to add, welcome back Ken, we've missed your reports.
Gavin Ramejkis
466   Posted 29/04/2012 at 11:27:09

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Welcome back Ken, a good report and pedantic but you missed one little piece of skill which also deserved a goal when Jelavic flicked the ball off the outside of his foot to skin Hangeland and then hit the post. An enjoyable game, just wished we'd done it a couple of Saturday mornings ago.
Peter Askins
468   Posted 29/04/2012 at 11:31:09

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Thanks for the answer, Matt.

I didn't go to Old Trafford last week, but have been for the previous 3 years, and our fans have been "up in the gods", I thought - the old "Scoreboard End", but just the upper slither !

Allocating even just the lower Bullens section to away fans of poorly-supported clubs like Fulham deprives home fans of decent (unobstructed !) seats, so maybe we should just provide a small portakabin in future !
Kev Clark
471   Posted 29/04/2012 at 12:00:38

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Good to have you back Ken, really enjoyed these reports. saves me wasting money on one sided, blinkered incorrect reports in the papers.
Paul Joy
476   Posted 29/04/2012 at 12:03:17

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Matt #461 and Peter # 468
we were not up in the gods at old trafford. We were in the corner of the east stand next to the south stand. At the level below their hospitality boxes.
Matt Traynor
477   Posted 29/04/2012 at 12:12:37

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Paul #476, can you estimate the numbers though? I can't recall what I heard exactly, and don't know if they have been doing it for all games, but it was definitely described as an experiment prior to possible introduction next season. May not have been for our game though.
Jim Knightley
484   Posted 29/04/2012 at 12:18:05

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I agree Paul; I think it is important to remove negative characters, especially when they can only have a detrimental effect on the team. And I also think Pienarr inspires other players too Chris. To have a player so confident on the ball around you (especially for Baines) can only help the team as a whole. I think Pienarr's influence has been even greater than normal because of his freshness, and desire to re-prove himself. What was Harry thinking letting him go? and playing Modric, a central mid, above him in a wide position was nothing short of bizzare. My only fear (apart from our financial predicament and difficulties in raising a fee) is that Harry will become the England manager, Bale and Modric will leave, and the next manager will want to keep Pienarr. We are a far worse team without him in our side, and of our recent departures, including Arteta's, I was most disappointed at his.
Jim Harrison
487   Posted 29/04/2012 at 12:29:36

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Great to have you back Ken.
Just like to say, I thought Hibbert had a great game today, and last week at united. seemed to spend most of saturday afternoon in the oppositions half. He has been putting in a few decent crosses too. Not the world best right back, but a great credit to himself and the club.
David Hallwood
488   Posted 29/04/2012 at 12:24:06

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I was going to post that since you've stopped going to the games we've started to play decent football (!!) seriously great to have you back Ken and I hope all is well in the health deparment; great report as ever-Mr consistency, it's a pity the team isn't is as consistent
Christopher Timmins
500   Posted 29/04/2012 at 13:06:56

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Great to have you back. For those of us who can't make it every week you are a jewel.

Hope we don't become the best team in the League to win when it does not matter.

I don't work for SKY and don't buy in to the race for 7th place.
Paul Joy
557   Posted 29/04/2012 at 17:34:36

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Matt #477
my understanding was that we had 2500 but could not sell them all - it looked like we had over 2000 there. Some mancs had bought some as well - only a few but they were well behaved (probably wise).
Our support was its usual self and we had a good day in the end.
Alan Khan
595   Posted 29/04/2012 at 19:52:25

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Welcome back Ken.

I hope you are feeling much better....

As always, great to read your match reports.

Daniel A Johnson
672   Posted 30/04/2012 at 12:12:34

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What gets me is Fellaini's energy he has an immense engine, The amount of ground he covers is just so impressive he appears to be everywhere.

Our spine of Jelavic, Fellaini, Heitinga and Howrad is looking good. We just need to adresss our midfield as its still one of the weakest in the prem. We need Neville and Cahill as impact subs and need to secure deals for Pienaar and maybe 2-3 more players who are comfortable on the ball.
Spencer Ramsay
682   Posted 30/04/2012 at 13:20:16

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Great performance, great goals and great report Ken....welcome back.......and what a welcome the boys gave you on Saturday.

Like most others I just cannot understand why we didn't turn up 2nd half at Wembley. We missed Pienaar big time in that game. What a difference he makes!

Also having someone who knows where the net is, can shoot with both feet and got a good head on him.......10 goals already and no doubt more to come before the seasons over. Bit fortunate for his 2nd on Saturday as he was slightly offside but what a nice take to squeeze it through the keepers legs and between the defender and goalpost!

I know it was only Fulham at home and we usually turn them over but generally speaking there is good cause to be proud Evertonians right now.

Kevin Sparke
687   Posted 30/04/2012 at 14:40:58

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Trevor 392 - I was too young to appreciate that team, but my dad, who was watching Everton pre 1950s, agrees with you and tells me that they were the best he'd ever seen - including the League champions sides of the early 70s and mid 80s.
Mark Osborne
688   Posted 30/04/2012 at 14:51:07

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It's great to have you back, Ken. I really missed your reports.
Leslie Wee
691   Posted 30/04/2012 at 15:45:54

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Dear Ken,

Glad to know that you are up and running.


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