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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 19 November 2011; 3:00pm
Everton 
2 1
 Wolves
 Jagielka (44')
  Baines (pen:83')
Half Time: 1-1
Hunt (pen:37')  
Attendance: 33,953
Fixture 11
Referee: Jon Moss

Match Summary

Everton go into this game sitting low on the edge of the relegation places after a horrendous spell of results against the 'top' teams, six losses out of seven.

Phil Neville, Sylvain Distin and Jack Rodwell were all surprise absentees from the starting Everton starting line-up selected by David Moyes, who has gone with the ineffective Cahill and the non-scoring Saha as his spearhead to breakdown a stubborn Wolves team. Marouane Fellaini returns from suspension and Phil Jagielka has another pain-killing jab to enable him to play. No place for youngster Ross Barkley, who was on the bench.

Everton had a couple of early chances, first Coleman having a shot and then Drenthe getting a chance to put in a decent cross from the byeline but it was straight at Hennessey. Coleman was well involved in the early stages but as ever, that final ball into the area was next to useless.

Drenthe did well to get on a good forward ball from Cahill down the left but his brilliant cross was wasted as there was no-one there. Cahill and Saha then combined well off a looping Drenthe cross from the right but Henessey flicked Saha's snapshot over the bar as the Blues finally upped the tempo after 15 mins. Drenthe again crossed well but straight to Hennessey.

A promising free-kick was worked between Drenthe and Baines but defended too easily and Wolves ran off on the break to win their first corner. A great play by Drenthe let Baines cut back a good ball but it was again just too easy for Hennessey with Fellaini waiting behind him.

Everton looked lively enough and strived to get the ball forward when they got it but the naivety of their attacking play at times was criminal with crosses repeatedly played too early, too loose, or to no-one in a decent position. Despite plenty of possession, the laboured build-up play lacked the guile needed to get through a Wolves defence that was effectively outnumbering the severely limited Blues attacking forces, who were playing too deep to be effective, with the threat of a quick break from the visitors, and the need to keep defensive shape seemingly foremost in their minds.

And so it was little surprise when Wolves were gifted a penalty on 37 mins when Edwards conveniently fell over Fellaini's lazily extended leg and Hunt converted with ease, leaving Everton with what looked ominously like a mountain to climb.

Another promising free-kick was finally executed properly, Baines curling it in for Jagielka to power it home off the back of his head from amidst a crowd of defenders. Good goal. Drenthe looked to be away but a brilliant challenge from Berra denied him as the first half came to a much more lively close, with Fellaini firing in a fierce shot as Henry pushed off Cahill to prevent him from reaching the rebound and the Park End howling somewhat hopefully for a penalty.

Osman laid an inviting ball for Baines but Hennessey was out sharply, and the ball later fell to Fellaini who fired over when a shot on target was required. Stearman fell awkwardly, possibly breaking his wrist after clashing with Cahill, and went off after a long stoppage as the hour mark approached, and the game went through a dreadful spell of meaningless scrappiness and lack of any discernible shape, It was dreadful stuff but Moyes held back on his usual substitutions as the hour-mark passed... epitomized by Howard and Jagielka exchanging five passes, both incapable of moving the ball forward.

Eventuially the ball got to the Wolves are where Saha set up Drenthe but his shot was poor. Everton were poor... the game was poor... in fact let's not mince words. It was pathetic stuff, Wolves content to sit on their point, Moyes utterly moribund, refusing for once to change things.

Finally, some penetration from Coleman, crossing well for Saha who set up Cahill to score from 3 yards... only he somehow failed, with Hennessey and Ward combining to keep the ball out of the Wolves net. Then, a tremendous chance worked by Drenthe but instead of shooting from close range, he chose to lay it back for Saha who had the ball nicked off his toe.

With less than 20 mins left, Moyes finally accepted that Cahill was not going to score and he put Vellios on in his place. But it made little difference, the midfield passing really letting Everton down at times. After a series of corners that were doing little Everton incrediby won a penalty for pushing in the area and Baines sent Hennessey the wrong way from the spot, Hallelujah!

Into 5 mins of added time and Baines gave away a rash free-kick that O'hara powered fractionally over the angle, and a huge sigh of relief from the dwindling Goodison crowd, now far less than 33,953.

With less about a minute before the whistle, Saha conjured up and missed another strike, and was replaced by Stracqualursi before the final cheer greeted a vital and all-too-rare home win after a rather forgettable exhibition of depressingly poor football.

Michael Kenrick

 

Match Report

Everton recovered from the concession of a soft first-half penalty with what many would consider one of their own seven minutes from time to make their domination of Wolves pay in what, for long periods, another frustrating encounter. In the closely-packed environs of the Premier League's bottom half, the victory was enough to elevate the Blues from 17th to 12th

The visitors had upset the apple cart when David Edwards expertly earned a 36th-minute spot kick by tripping his trailing leg over Marouane Fellaini out-stretched foot just inside the area and Stephen Hunt made no mistake from 12 yards. But a swift equaliser from Phil Jagielka leveled matters going into half time and that paved the way for a second half in which the Blues laboured to carve out the winner their superiory demanded and, thankfully, eventually did.

Forced to do without injured duo Jack Rodwell and Sylvain Distin, David Moyes selected Leon Osman to partner the returning Marouane Fellaini in central midfield, with John Heitinga alongside Jagielka, patched up again with a pain-killing injection in his fractured toe, and Tim Cahill deployed up front with Louis Saha.

And that forward partnership almost combined for the opening goal after 16 minutes when Seamus Coleman's deep cross was headed back across goal by Cahill where Saha's half-volley looked destined for the top corner until Wayne Hennessey palmed it at full stretch over the crossbar.

Earlier, the lively Royston Drenthe had hammered a low cross across goal but the 'keeper smothered it, and a similarly hard, low centre from the byline by Baines after the Dutchman had released him on the overlap with a perfectly-weighted pass was also intercepted by Hennessey before a defender prodded it behind to safety.

Either side of the half-hour mark, Saha saw two shots, the second created by lovely footwork that allowed him to sidestep a challenge on the 18-yard line, charged down as Everton pressed but found Wolves the defence in obdurate mood.

The resilience of Mick McCarthy's back line was only part of the story, though; Everton were getting plenty of balls into the box but simply weren't getting enough men forward to support their numerous attacks. That left them noticeably outnumbered by gold shirts in the Wolves area and some tempting crosses from the left went to waste and, in the final reckoning, it wasn't surprising that both of their goals came from dead-ball situations.

Given the pattern established already this season, the anxious home faithful probably weren't surprised to see their team go a goal down but they'll have been pleased with the fact that it only took them seven minutes to restore parity. Cahill was fouled midway inside the Wolves half on the left side and when Baines swung in a dangerous free kick, Jagielka met it with a determined run and leap, powering the ball home off the back of his head.

Energised, the Blues pushed for a second in the closing stages of the first half and the home fans were on their feet as Drenthe raced through the opposition defence around the halfway line and sprinted towards the Wolves goal but Christophe Berra did superbly to catch up and then deny him with a last-ditch sliding challenge just as he took his shot.

Then, in stoppage time, Jagielka got his head first to Tony Hibbert's deep free kick from the right flank but Fellaini's shot from close range was blocked. From the resulting corner, Cahill appeared to be pulled back by the neck by Karl Henry but referee Jon Moss was unmoved by his protests.

The second half was by and large frustratingly pedestrian by comparison to that rousing conclusion to the first half and there were long spells where it looked as though Everton had just run out of ideas beyond increasingly ineffective long punts downfield. In the space of 35 minutes, they had just two efforts on goal to show for their dominance, both ballooned efforts by Fellaini and Drenthe when arguably better options lay in playing in a teammate.

The crowd's displeasure escalated as a succession of boots forward by Tim Howard, a virtual spectator over the 90 minutes, Jagielka and Heitinga sailed uselessly through to Hennessey and though there was a gnawing desire for change, a look at the bench viewed in the context of which players Moyes would be likely to use Barkley and Gueye, not so much, unfortunately didn't inspire much confidence that the answer lay there.

With 20 minutes left, though, the Blues did carve out their first genuine chance and it was one of those "how did it stay out?" moments. Coleman burst past Elokobi and pulled it back to Saha who heel-flicked it on to Cahill barely two yards out but a combination of a desparate lunge by Ward and the prostrate Hennessey denied the Australian his first goal in 2011. It would be Cahill's last real involvement; in the 73rd minute he was withdrawn in favour of Apostolos Vellios.

The game tilted decisively in Everton's favour as it entered the final 10 minutes of regulation time starting three successive corners, the third when Saha saw yet another goalbound effort deflect behind, this time off Elokobi's backside. As the third corner came into the usual melee, the referee blew the whistle and pointed to the spot. Elokobi appeared to be holding Vellios and Saha tumbled to the turf under Ward's challenge. The official would confirm after the game that the spot kick was awarded for the push on Saha, one of those challenges that are rarely given these days but should be more often.

Baines stepped up and coolly sent Hennessey the wrong way, and though Wolves were stung into finally trying to trouble Howard in the Everton goal, the Blues had a fairly comfortable job of seeing the game out. An injury-time free kick by O'Hara that swung a foot the wrong side of the post was as close as McCarthy's men would come.

Given Everton's recent run of results and position in the table, the result was the most important thing today. Victory was paramount, but it was hard not to ponder as you watched them stuggle going forward how this team is going to fare when the more difficult fixtures roll around again.

At the heart of their problem is, obviously, the glaring lack of a driving force in midfield that can pull the strings, be relied upon to pick a devastating pass ands also weigh in with crucial goals but there appears to be work that could be done on retaining the ball and better supporting the man in possession that could help compensate. Too many times there were Blue jerseys ambling or slowly jogging forward while a teammate was driving forward and moves consistently brokw down because of a dearth of options in the area.

Hopefully some of these issues can be worked on with the help of the confidence that will come from the Blues' second home win of the season. We'll know more at the Reebok Stadium where Moyes can deepen Bolton's gloom if he can lead his team to another win.

Player Ratings: Howard 6, Hibbert 6, Jagielka 7, Heitinga 6, Baines 7, Coleman 7, Fellaini 6, Osman 6, Drenthe 7 (Bilyaletdinov 5), Cahill 6 (Vellios 6), Saha 7 (Stracqualursi)

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

The domestic programme resumes once again this weekend and Everton welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to Goodison Park with the players having returned from the international break more or less unscathed.

Long-term injury casualty, Victor Anichebe, is the only player definitely ruled out as David Moyes looks to pick up the pieces from the defeat at Newcastle, a result that represented the Blues' fifth defeat in six Premier League games and left them hovering one place above the bottom three.

Whether this still qualifies as another of Everton's "slow starts" to a campaign is open to interpretation — before the October month of death, Moyes's boys were doing alright — but it's clear that with a quarter of the season already passed, the team needs to start picking up points to move back up the table. And, obviously, a home game with Wolves falls into the "must win" category.

If the game at St James' Park showed anything it's that possession isn't the Blues' problem, it's conceding sloppy goals and turning territorial advantage into enough scoring opportunities to win games.

Whether Moyes opts to change anything significantly to address those attacking deficiencies or merely drafts Marouane Fellaini back into a central midfield that missed him badly two weeks ago remains to be seen but hopeful fans will be expecting a much-needed home win.

Phil Jagielka will likely have another pain-killing jab in his fractured toe —that treatment got him through England's win over Spain last weekend — to partner Sylvain Distin in defence but it's unclear whether Phil Neville, who left the field against Newcastle with the recurrence of a hamstring strain, will be fit enough to start if Moyes wants him to.

Though Mick McCarthy's Wolves sit four places above Everton in the table and the Blues have won just once at home so far this season, their prospects are good based on historial precedent. Wolves haven't won at Goodison in 32 years and last beat the Blues in 2004. Three of the last four meetings have ended in draws, though, suggesting that this weekend's visitors will be no pushovers.

Hopefully, though, the combination of a returning Fellaini, with the ink on his new five-year contract barely dry, and a supportive home crowd will be enough to get a first win a month on the board and start injecting some confidence into Moyes's small squad.

 

 

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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Match Reports
2011-12 Reports Index
< Newcastle (A) Bolton (A) >
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Hibbert
 

Heitinga

  Jagielka
  Baines :90+1'
  Coleman
  Fellaine
  Osman
  Drenthe (85' Bilyaletdinov)
  Cahill (73' Vellios)
  Saha (90+4' Stracqualursi)
  Subs not used
  Mucha
  Mustafi
  Barkley
  Gueye
  Unavailable
  Anichebe (injured)
  Duffy(loan)
  Silva (loan)
  Baxter (loan)
  Garbutt (loan)
  Wallace (loan)
  Yobo (loan)
WOLVES (4-4-2)
  Hennessey
  Stearman (58' Elokobi)
  Ward
  Johnson
  Berra
  Edwards (86' Fletcher)
 

Henry :71'

  Hunt :72'
  Milijas (80' Jarvis)
  O'Hara :84'
  Doyle
  Subs not used
  De Vires
  Craddock
  Guedioura
  Ebanks-Blake

Premier League Scores
Saturday
Everton 2-1 Wolves
Man City 3-1 Newcastle
Norwich 1-2 Arsenal
Stoke 2-3 QPR
Sunderland 0-0 Fulham
Swansea 0-1 Man United
West Brom 2-1 Bolton
Wigan 3-3 Blackburn
Sunday
Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool
Monday
Tottenham 2-0 Aston Villa


Team Pts
1 Manchester City 34
2 Manchester United 29
3 Tottenham Hotspur 25
4 Newcastle United 25
5 Chelsea 22
6 Liverpool 22
7 Arsenal 22
8 Aston Villa 15
9 Queens Park Rangers 15
10 West Bromwich Albion 14
11 Norwich City 13
12 Everton 13
13 Swansea City 13
14 Stoke City 12
15 Sunderland 11
16 Fulham 11
17 Wolverhampton Wndrs 11
18 Bolton Wanderers 9
19 Blackburn Rovers 7
20 Wigan Athletic 6
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