Injury-ridden Everton played host to Blue Square Bet Premier side Tamworth in the Third Round of the FA Cup, on the back of an injury crisis and a crisis of morale following a dreadful midweek defeat to Bolton. Hibbert's name was added to the list of the injured that included Jagielka, Osman, while Coleman and Fellaini were fit again. But Everton were first off the mark after 5 mins, Heitinga heading home from a corner taken well by Landon Donovan.
But Everton then struggled to put much together, with Bilyaletdinov missing a couple of chances and Donovan misplacing passes rather poorly, while Tamworth overcame their nerves and started to get more and more into the game, a series of corners threatening the Everton goal in the run-up to half-time.
The poor display by the home side continued into the second half as more injuries sapped Everton's spirit, with Coleman, McFadden and then Anichebe coming off.
Bily finally got hold of one and put Collister to the test in the Tamworth goal, saving well. Drenthe was then fouled in the area, winning a penalty that Baines slammed home to finally wrap up the tie with 15 mins left.
Finally, the players could relax a little, and a fantastic shot by Landon Donovan smashed into the angle of the Tamworth goal. It was not a dominant perfomance from Everton by any means but it got them into the the 4th Round; banana-skin avoided!
With their four-match unbeaten run brought to a shuddering halt by the blustery debacle against Bolton Wanderers in midweek, Everton get either a welcome distraction or disaster-in-waiting in the form of an FA Cup tie against non-league Tamworth.
With injuries piling up, David Moyes will have few options available to him as he looks to sidestep this Third Round banana skin and attempt to right the ship again ahead of a daunting looking trip to White Hart Lane next Wednesday.
Phil Jagielka's price for making a typically impressive saving tackle against the Trotters is up to six weeks on the sidelines with medial knee ligament damage and that will reduce the Blues' defence to just two senior central defenders in Sylvain Distin and John Heitinga. Shane Duffy has been recalled from his loan spell with Scunthorpe United as cover, but there are more problems in midfield.
Jack Rodwell and Leon Osman are almost certainly ruled out with hamstring and knee injuries respectively, while Tim Cahill and Ross Barkley (knee) are fresh doubts. Seamus Coleman and Royston Drenthe could return, Marouane Fellaini will also undergo a late fitness test, and the likes of Magaye Gueye, James McFadden and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov could be in line to start as the manager sifts through the walking wounded to see who is fit enough to play.
Despite his struggle for form in midfield, Phil Neville would seem to be an obvious choice for one of the central spots and, depending on who is fit, Landon Donovan could either be deployed in Cahill's role behind a striker or wide right.
Who gets the nod up front will be another interesting conundrum for Moyes and with Louis Saha turning in another poor display against Bolton and Denis Stracqualursi still without a goal, it could be Victor Anichebe who gets the nod after his goalscoring exploits on New Year's Day at West Bromwich Albion.
Tamworth, 96 places below Everton in the football pyramid coming into this one, will be playing in the third round for the third time in seven seasons and though they've made a habit of knocking out Football League teams, they have yet to take a Premier League scalp.
"The Lambs" will, of course, be hoping to capitalise on Everton's shattered morale and make history with an unthinkable upset but the Blues should have enough to overcome the minnows no matter what team Moyes is able to put out.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2010-11 Reports Index|
|Coleman (57' Baines)|
|McFadden (65' Drenthe)|
|Anichebe (73' Stracqualursi)|
|Subs not used|
|Courtney (80' McDonald)|
|Thomas (67' Sharif)|
|Christie (59' St Aimie)|
|Subs not used|