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From my seat: Oldham (A)

By Ken Buckley   ::  16/02/2013 Rip-roaring cup-tie as Everton stooped in class to match a determined Oldham side and produce a performance that had Blues fans tearing their hair out as they urged them to win the ball with power and fight and then use it with accuracy and thought instead of quite a bit of aimless percentage stuff which Oldham found to their liking as it reflected the league they play in.

The game started as it was to unfold with Everton attacks floundering on a determined rear-guard and they were not slow to threaten on the break – especially as they saw us push more men forward than necessary. I know cup ties are different to league games but I have seen enough of them in my time to have to wonder why on so many occasions do we play as though we need to match the opposition rather than make the opposition match us; equally, I suppose this could be said for many Prem teams when facing lower league opposition.

The foregoing took place in graphic fashion on the quarter-hour when, from a free-kick taken by Baines, we gained a corner as the ball clipped the wall. From that corner, we were caught good and proper with a classic counter-attack as the ball was heaved clear toward the wing where Croft easily rolled Osman on half way and set off unattended toward goal. A two-on-two. To his left was their winger making ground pursued by Gibson but as the cross was put toward the far post Gibson stopped running and allowed the winger to poke home into an empty net. Some players claimed offside but what happened to play to the whistle?

A goal down due to a bit of sloppy play and underestimating a lower league side's ability to counter at pace. Our end silence, the other three sides mayhem.

To be fair, we didn't sulk after this setback and attacked with a mixture of joined-up stuff and a fair few percentage balls as we tended to run out of ideas around their box. However, on the half-hour another percentage ball was flighted up toward Jelavic in the box and he won his header well, from what I could see, the ball fell between Vic and a defender and for once Vic used his strength to good effect and won the ball then smashed it with such force that although close to the keeper he hardly moved as the ball hit the net. Pandemonium at one end the other three quiet as the grave.

"Now we can move on and put this to bed" thought many... but cup football just doesn't seem to follow any normal pattern and it wasn't long before we were fortunate again as, from another Oldham counter, the left-back was again allowed room to get a ball into the box and it broke to the left winger who shot through a ruck of players and hit the post. A corner was given so it must have been deflected.

From this scare, we then had a good spell of joined-up stuff, creating chances in their final third with a regularity that saw their raids be less than sporadic. Fellaini headed over, Jelavic just could not reach a cross that begged to be converted. Pienaar had an effort from distance – its description is best left as 'went wide'...

As the half was drawing to a close, we were the better side all round and at last seemed to be coming to terms with a right uneven and bobbly pitch which gave us hope for a second half that would see us into the quarter-final.

Half-time and the chat was surprisingly less on the Moyes front and more on the team performance and an urge to have Mirallas introduced – especially as Victor limped off yet again on the half-time whistle. One big lad with one big injury list.

The half started with the wish granted: Mirallas replaced Victor and, from the off, he looked bright and we looked more balanced. Within a few minutes, the move paid off when the strong running Mirallas was instrumental in forcing a corner which he took – and what a delivery it was! With the usual wrestling going on unchecked in the box, the wicked speedy arcing delivery reached the six-yard box and the ball hit the net. As the players got to their feet from an unseemly pile, the congrats were for Jags as the Blue end went mental – and, by the way the players celebrated, the Moyes situation is not having any great effect on the players as there was genuine unity shown.

That goal should have been the platform for success and I am sure I was not alone in thinking another goal was essential before they threw on the towering Smith who had terrorised our neighbours. We approached well and were a tad unlucky when and excellent move saw Pienaar have a shot which was just about reached by the sprawling keeper. Mirallas was still sprightly and his corner-taking first class as we attacked and, from one of his corners around the hour mark, the in-rushing Osman was just a fraction late and the ball flew for a throw-in. A right near miss that.

At this point, they threw on Smith – all six-foot eighteen of him and the faithful clapped him after his demolition of the neighbours... I don't think we should have encouraged him!

Now what I hoped for was that we closed down and tackled as though at home to Man Utd and most danger could be dealt with at source. We did well at it for a while but, as the clock ticked down, and Oviedo replaced the limping Pienaar, we got deeper and deeper; now if us fans can see the risk in that, then why don't highly paid professionals?

When balls are pumped high into crowded boxes, class, quality, and status go right out of the window, whilst a lottery is the likely replacement. Smith got free at the back of the box, brought the ball down and then hit a shot that was superbly saved by Howard for a corner.

With 10 mins to go, we were humping it more and more but, on a few occasions, we did try to get it down and play a bit – in fact, we did have passages where we passed to the right-coloured shirts... none more so than when Gibson at last played a killer ball into the path of Jelavic striding on goal. Last season: easy nailed-on chance. This season: over the bar... oh dear.

Negative thoughts came into my mind as that should have sealed the game and knocked the fight out of Oldham but the miss galvanised them more and, on a quick break, they beat the offside trap and the attacker was one-on-one with Howard. He must score... he fired – Howard parried wide, and the attacker's follow-up hit the side netting.

It was a stark warning unfortunately not heeded and, into 4 mins of added time, we parked the bus but far too deep and our clearances could only find Oldham players who readily put bombs into our box. We had no out ball as our entire team was in the box.

With less than 2 mins to go, we brought the tall Duffy on for Jelavic. You could see the logic but it was also saying "Get as many balls in as you like – we ain't coming out." Sometimes this works but it is a gamble and today it backfired as, with the final kick of the game, a corner entered our six-yard box with all the wrestling and mayhem unchecked and Smith afforded a free jump for the ball... Oh dear, he connected – we have a replay. MotM — Jagielka

Overall, I thought we let ourselves down by paying them to much respect; certainly they had to be matched for work rate and endeavour but I thought our undoubted superior class and quality was not on show as much as it should be. It could be attributed in parts to below-par performances from the likes of Neville, who looked shell-shocked at times, as well as Osman being no more than a bit-part player when he should have been a creative influence.

Pienaar was very in and out and, to me, he has been out of sorts for most of the season but the reason escapes me. Add Jelavic to the list with his goal shyness and maybe these are the reasons for our patchy period. We had a good start to the season; are we now to have a dip, ie, an upside-down season? Still, a night out a week on Wednesday and who knows in the cup – it's always been a rocky road... Ask Arsenal.

With Neville having a mare it is often said someone from the crowd could do better... Well today that would have worked well as Hibbo was in our end.
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Andy McNabb
020 Posted 17/02/2013 at 02:08:16
You summed it up Ken. Too much respect but in such a tight ground, a bobbly surface and against a team with nothing to lose, it always looks easier from the stands, or on TV.

When are the authorities going to address the circus which goes on at corners? I know I'm biased but I don't believe we exploit this situation like other clubs. If we have players trying to do the right thing at corners then we are quite simply going to concede at one end and fail to score at the other, for the rest of the season.

Gerry Morrison
021 Posted 17/02/2013 at 02:14:00
Nice report Ken. As someone who watched the game on the telly, it was great to see Hibbo, a real Evertonian, sitting with the rest of our supporters.
Ian Allaker
028 Posted 17/02/2013 at 03:19:09
It was great seeing Hibbo in the crowd, he probably would have done better than Neville with one leg.

I can't believe how out of hand the pushing and shoving has got in both boxes for set pieces; something has to be done about it. Good job Jags scored from the corner because I doubt we would have been given the penalty even though their defender rugby-tackled him to the ground in some sort of bear hug.

It's strange because on one hand the game seems to becoming a non-contact sport with regards to tackling in open play but corners have become like a rugby match and it is becoming acceptable to have your arms all over the opposing player.

Andy McNabb
029 Posted 17/02/2013 at 03:46:08
I agree, Ian. If you look at the picture which accompanies the BBC match report, our main header of the ball (Jags) is buried under a scrum of about 4 players and their keeper appears to be sitting on top of the pile.
Mike Gaynes
032 Posted 17/02/2013 at 03:41:30
All the little fish have grown big teeth this year... witness Arsenal knocked out at home today by Rovers... Brentford squaring Chelsea... Barnsley making the final eight with a bunch of retreads... and even Oldham knocking out the RS before squaring us. We may not like it, but this is a fun year in the Cup.

And we will take these guys 3-1 in the replay.

Trevor Lynes
035 Posted 17/02/2013 at 04:22:54
Am I the only one who thinks their equalizer was a foul?? It was more like a rugby line-out than a football match. Their goalkeeper jumped with BOTH hands in the air and blatantly blocked everyone near him. If that is allowed then Stoke should be top of the league, but they cant get away with it in the Premier League.

I also believe that a draw was a fair result, but that last minute goal would have been disallowed normally. It was reminiscent of the Nat Lofthouse days!!!!!

Derek Thomas
036 Posted 17/02/2013 at 04:10:00
This is the magic of the FA Cup but then again it's not new. Worcester Town, Yeovil, Hereford, Shrewsbury etc, too many to count, why the surprise, Moyes himself mentioned preparation and attitude earlier in the week.

So it's a replay a week on Wed, should be a good night. I'm glad it isn't this week I think that Anichebe and Pienaar might've struggled to make it...just like Neville did on Sat.

Seriously, it's like playing with 10 men.

People have criticised Us on numerous ocassions for sitting too far back and to this day we ( I ) don't know can't tell if it is deliberate or a result of decent teams coming out in the 2nd half and, having had their collective arses kicked by the coach upping their game.

So it's the Cup but it is also L1 do we blame it on Oldham, The Players, the Instructions from the bench, Or is it a deeper institutionalised failing....all together now.

Don't blame it on the sunshine

Don't blame it on the midnight.

Blame it on the goodtimes.

Blame it on the boogie.

Ow sunshine.

Ooh Moonlight.

Yeah Goodtimes.

MmmBoogie

Yeah Moyes out

Derek Thomas
037 Posted 17/02/2013 at 04:38:25
Trevor (#035) — Don't forget that they had chances to draw AND win it except for League One finishing and Tim today having one of his less error-prone games.

Your right Re the Line out Fifa etc have got to jump all over this (pun intended) even if it means 6 aside game which means the game is abandoned and draconian suspensions. Neville got a yellow for a nothing tackle (and that was the high point of his game).

Anto Byrne
045 Posted 17/02/2013 at 06:14:37
I suppose, now the dust has settled, we can point to the fact we are still in the cup and well in a position in the league where we can at least try to push on. With Vic injured, any chance Vellios might get a run up front with Jelavic?

Maybe Pienaar will be rested for a few games with injury and we can have a look at Oviedo? Osman off, Barkley on... (in your dreams) How long before Coleman to return? Failing that, throw in Stones – he can't be any worse than Pip.

Phil Walling
050 Posted 17/02/2013 at 07:37:03
How can he pick Vellios? He's not in The Moyes 13.Mind you,other clubs choose from 25!
Dick Fearon
055 Posted 17/02/2013 at 07:56:10
I am not excusing our pathetic final 15 minutes yet I agree with Ken when he wonders why our messiah could not see the danger of trying to defend deep in our own penalty area or was it part of his 10 year long learning curve?
After watching several replays of Oldhams equaliser it seems the ball came off their keepers raised arm and then onto Smiths head.
Howard was blatantly obstructed though I thought he could have done better.
Where was Duffy?
If a change was needed at that stage why on earth did it have to be Jelavic and not Osman to be dragged.
Ryan Holroyd
057 Posted 17/02/2013 at 08:36:29
Was Moyes on the pitch, Dick? We've enough experienced players to not drop deep but I guess it's human nature to do this.
Trevor Lynes
072 Posted 17/02/2013 at 09:43:25
Derek #037.

I do agree that on balance Oldham deserved their draw and I did qualify my complaint with saying that.
However, Dowd was definitely swayed by the fightback and crowd fervour and would never have allowed that goal against say..Man Utd as Fergie would have been livid !!

The goalkeeper was a lunatic and should have been at least booked.
I don't blame Howard at all, he was mugged and had no chance.

I just wish we could have created more chances as we were powder puff up front.
Ozzie and Pienaar were OK first half but wilted in the second half towards the end.
Our defence had no outlet from midfield and Neville seemed to be ageing minute by minute.

BUT..the equalizer should not have stood....end of !

Christopher Timmins
077 Posted 17/02/2013 at 10:08:40
Ken, you summed it up quite well as always. Very worrying when our best players are the two central defenders and goalkeeper. Great to see Hibbo in the away end, he at least has empathy with the fans.

Pip's contract expires at the end of the year, he has given good service, but a coaching role rather than a playing role should be his fate.

Still work to do to enter the sixth round!

Kevin Gillen
085 Posted 17/02/2013 at 10:33:01
A good report always seems to warrant a sensible thread so thanks once again Ken. I watched it on telly. An amazing fightback by them in the last ten minutes as they were out on their feet with twenty to go and they fully deserved their replay. I can't stand the Moyes bashing on this site any more, it is shameful. What's wrong with having faith in your players? Too many Fifa 13 or Championship manager fans for my liking, change this, change that, give youth a chance. What a load of rubbish! Whatever happened to earning the shirt? I thought Pienaar did well but Jelavic is stinking the place out, he should have scored twice. If you don't score then everyone thinks the midfield aren't doing their job. Also Moyes and his contract, clearly he is making a point about the transfer window and is asking himself quite rightly if he can take this club any further under the current restrictions. It's typical of the man's unflinching honesty, where's the problem with that?
Dennis Stevens
108 Posted 17/02/2013 at 12:01:43
Derek, Worcester is a City hence the football club is Worcester City. I've spent many a happy hour at St Georges Lane as a young lad, although their famous elimination of RS from the Cup was before my time.
Harold Matthews
149 Posted 17/02/2013 at 15:28:34
The Jelavic over the bar effort was certainly no "sitter",as many are implying. I prefer to give this hard working, enthusiastic player my full support. He set up our 1st goal, tackled hard to win the ball on several occasions and is gradually becoming equally confident with both feet. Goals will come but the service to our strikers is pretty dire.

The depleted squad is a concern. If Barkley fails to fulfil his potential and midfielders get injured or suspended we will be in a right old mess. None can be rested and with so many massive fixtures on the horizon our 1st team may look very strange before the season is over.

Spencer Ramsay
277 Posted 17/02/2013 at 20:08:26
Im not convinced there was anything wrong from the corner they scored with although it was a bit of a scrum of players. It was the corner immediately before that when their keeper clearly follows through and fouls Howard that I have a problem with! We should have had a free kick for that and that would have been the game won. Plus their first was offside, marginal, but offside all the same if you see it from the right angle in the replay.

Still a draw was probably fair when you consider chances, but if you consider possession football and control for most of the game we were the better team.

Lets just hope the proper Everton turns up at Goodison a week on Wednesday....

COYB...

Frank McGregor
367 Posted 17/02/2013 at 22:41:07
For the past three weeks, I have posted about the left side of the defence and yet again we have been caught out on that side. Out of the last seven goals we have concerted, SIX have come from that side of the defence.

Ken, a good report on the game — sorry for not mentioning it first.

Bob Parrington
401 Posted 18/02/2013 at 00:56:43
Excellent report Ken. And some great responses in the posts to date.

How many of us could see their equaliser coming? It was crazy play by our guys particularly as we are always susceptible to crosses. Another note is that Howard gets rattled and he was sure showing this with the treatment he was receiving. We've seen it before and invariably it results in goal conceded. Mind you, as several people have commented already, it was a clear foul by their GK in both the corner prior to and the corner with which they scored their equaliser.

Regardless, our players and coach should have resisted the temptation to allow them to come at us. Rather than put Duffy on and take Jela off, surely we should have put a target man up front to hit out to and hold the play up??? As it was, there was nobody to receive a bleedin' clearance.

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