Boxing Day and expectation high as we assemble at our north Liverpool ale house. Much handshaking and greetings extended to match-day friends and their guests as well as others who are only able to make the pilgrimage on such occasions. Blues of the world were encountered, Australia New Zealand America Sweden and Norway were represented and all soon immersed themselves in a match-day ritual that is common place to us regulars. A great interest was taken as the team appeared on electronic devices many of which were new for Christmas and were still being sorted by their owners. Not a bad team and bench thought most and the knowledge regarding the club and players by our guests put many of us to shame — well nearly.
The walk up to the ground was a wet one with most hurrying in a bent forward position to get to their seat, any casual conversation was of a brief nature. Although Goodison Road was thronging the scarf and hat stall plus the blue dragon chippy and the cafe were unusually quiet, due either to the rain or a belly full of turkey washed down with your tipple of the day.
Z-Cars rang out and the gladiators took to the arena to much applause as a near capacity crowd awaited the demolition of Wigan through joined up football and clinical finishing. Aah if it was only thus.
The game started in dramatic fashion as Gibson fed Jelavic who found Big Vic with a first time ball but as the faithful held their breath he lashed the ball high wide and handsome. I did think the ball was played to him rather a quickly but a good chance never the less.
It soon became clear that Wigan had come with a game plan commensurate with their league position, keep it tight, chase and harry everything that moved and always be on the lookout to nick one. This led to a bit of a stalemate especially in mid-field and although we looked the more accomplished team we were never convincing when they broke. The half moved on in this sort of boring nature for some time and with the weather being dull dank grey and dreary with rain flurries my mind wandered to Dick Fearon putting up with the heat of Western Australia but as soon as it livened after some 20mins I realised how fortunate I was to be within Goodison Park.
Anichebe headed wide, Howard saved a free kick in routine fashion and then Big Vic had a snap shot that was deflected wide. From the resultant corner we forced three more none of which were successful yet each one had the crowd roaring for a pen each time as wrestling took place. The Ref. Lee Mason would have none of it yet was quick to blow for minor things outside either 18yd box. In fact both sets of fans were on his back about ignoring blatant fouls from set pieces and I bet fans at every game today were venting similar feelings. Will the authorities do anything about it—don’t hold your breath. The assembled faithful were convinced a hand ball was visible during a scramble in the box but the man that matters ignored them. Distin had a good chance from one of the corners but his attacking headers of late have been mainly mistimed and this was no exception as he ‘Necked it’ wide.
The half rather stumbled to a soggy close with the Blues slightly ahead in chances but little else. Hell Wigan played as much good stuff as us.
H/T and yet more handshakes and all the bests were exchanged and a common theme was that Anichebe and Hitzlsperger should be replaced but their suggested replacements varied a great deal.
As the players emerged it was a surprise to many to see that Gibson was replaced by Naismith, no one really knew why but the term ‘sick-note’ was well used. The half got off to a good start for the Blues when Hitzlsperger after ‘megging’ McCarthy let fly from some 25yds and with the keeper rooted to the spot the ball struck the bar and went over, oh that it could have counted, would have been a goal to remember. Still we pressed on and Osman dribbled into the box but instead of pulling the trigger for a shot of force he seemed to merely pass the ball to the keeper, bizarre.
We all knew we really needed a goal but for all our attacking we got no joy where it matters and Wigan looked a danger on the break with Kone looking pacey we needed caution. Just when we didn’t expect it that man Osman got forward yet again but with little movement taking place ahead of him he elected to shoot from outside the box and a very fortuitous deflection left the keeper stranded and the assembled holiday faithful ecstatic. The announcer boomed out the name Leon Osman and we all cheered some more.
Wigan didn’t let heads drop and made some spirited forays forward without much of a cutting edge but enough threat to have many in attendance opining that a second goal for us was paramount. On the hour mark we had a fright when the journeyman Maloney danced into the box and went down from a challenge by the workaholic Osman. Now from my seat that was a nailed on pen but the Ref would have none of it and I thought how lucky we were this time to be on the right side of a decision by a Ref who just won’t give big calls. Wigan players protested furiously and one of them got booked. I will be interested to see what trial by TV throws up.
The game went on in uninspiring fashion and signs of unrest could be felt coming from the crowd, Jelavic put in a great work rate but was forever falling over at the merest hint of contact that gets a tad tedious for the fans never mind the opposition.
The manager then made a double substitution as he replaced Anichebe and Hitzlsperger with Oviedo and Heitinga on 70mins. Jelavic made a run down the right and found his old Rangers sparring partner Naismith who was just beaten to it and the ball sent for a corner to us. The corner resulted with the ball going to Neville who hit a great far post cross which saw Jags rise majestically and power the ball home across the keeper and high into the street end net. A great cheer went up as all celebrated in the 77th min.
That’s it we thought but Wigan did not lie down and in the 82nd min they ensured a nervy finish when they scored. Some comic cuts defending allowed a melee to take place and from my seat the ball ended up in the net after a Wigan shot hit one of our defenders and with everyone at sixes and sevens Kone got between two Everton defenders and poked home. A massive yell for hand ball went up from the Park End faithful but the Ref signalled goal and I noticed no complaints from our players.
Twitchy bum time now as more than a couple of our lads were ‘Blowing for tugs’ and we were having some anxious moments. Jelavic got booked for another daft fall. Caldwell had a foot up lunge at Heitinga and was booked (Not high enough for a sending of maybe). The crowd were now whistling furiously as we were well through the 4mins added and as Wigan repelled one last attack the Ref blew. The crowd as one headed for the exits, no singing ‘grand old team’ tonight. I joined the throng going Spellow lane way and in snatches of conversation most seemed pleased with a win and little else also the thoughts of many that Chelsea might be too much for us unless we are able to raise our game. With our present injury and suspension problems it could be a tall order but hey we have done it before in similar circumstances.
M.O.tM – Osman /Jags
Overall three points is three points even if the fare on display was not of the best. Strange how many of these holiday games fail to live up to their billing. Still see you Sunday for a sky o’clock kick off that is very much a six pointer. We are unbeaten at Goodison so hell I hope we win.
UP THE BLUES
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177 Posted 27/12/2012 at 03:37:36
180 Posted 27/12/2012 at 03:50:37
He also did not unnecessarily flash yellow cards at Anichebe and Gibson early in the game, whereas many other refs would have done so. He was also fair to Wigan – the Maloney 'hand ball' penalty claim was actually well played by the lad using his shoulder, and towards the end, Osman fell over dramatically outside the box, and to the ref's credit, saw it correctly and did not award a free kick.
We all praise the referee when we get 3 points, don't we? Ha, ha...
Thanks for your wonderful match reports, Ken, throughout the year. They mean a lot to us fans who don't have the opportunity to see the game in person. Happy New Year and keep them coming in 2013.
183 Posted 27/12/2012 at 05:26:04
Thanks for your great work throughout the year Ken. I really don't know how you manage to enjoy the game and gather info for your reports and get them in so quick.
189 Posted 27/12/2012 at 08:55:42
Somehow I don't think so... Moyes has no faith in the kids.
195 Posted 27/12/2012 at 10:11:15
Ossie again proved that he has to play in the middle, we proved that we can cope without Felli, and we can win without being at our best. All-in-all, a very positive day.
197 Posted 27/12/2012 at 10:36:39
I think that was one call the referee missed big time
the SOB Kone hand-of-goded the ball and scored.
198 Posted 27/12/2012 at 10:38:18
210 Posted 27/12/2012 at 11:37:41
241 Posted 27/12/2012 at 14:33:34
What the hell, pretty or ugly, 3 points is 3 points.
370 Posted 28/12/2012 at 00:42:40
It's always been our problem spot, which we appeared tp have solved with Miralles, but I think it is now a priority if we are going to progress. Donovan anyone?
433 Posted 28/12/2012 at 11:07:40
'The Hammer' should be put back in the toolbox, we need pace or creativity in centre mid next to Gibson, not a one-paced stocking filler.
We need some penetration back on the right flank for the next game. I hope Mirallas and/or Coleman are fit. Teams are doubling up on the Pienaar - Baines combo.
529 Posted 28/12/2012 at 19:42:46
Intelligent assesments with a slice of humor.
Love the tugboats.
Thank you. I am one of the many who REALLY appreciate your devotion.
Happy new year to you sir.
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