The fat van on the corner is doing well for customers as Burgers, Hot dogs and anything else that is not good for you is purchased. The Flag,Scarf and Badge is huddled from the cold in his doorway patch urging fans to buy. The Blue Dragon chippy has its long queue and the queue to pick up tickets from the window on Goodison Road is long and many would miss the kick off.
To the turnstile and the electronic beeper beeps as my card is validated so I am in and up the stairs to my seat and exchange pleasantries with other regulars as we await Z-Cars... The teams are out – the handshake – the toss up – ends are chosen let battle commence.
From the off the 4,000 travelling fans are up for it whilst the faithful are a tad apprehensive considering our 'Feeble February' The most common remark I heard over and over again pre KO was "We should win this but you never know with our lot."
Oldham had a brief flurry but then we took some control and looked to be very busy with some intent to put a few things right as our whole demeanour seemed to suggest we wanted an early goal. Moysie had said in the proey for the fans to have patience... well, they certainly hadn't bought a proey or were certainly not heeding the plea as every mistake brought a reaction thus reinforcing the fans innermost fears. The quick dancing runs of Mirallas were catching the eye and on the quarter hour mark he lifted the place when a good cross from Gibson found his quickness of thought and feet too much for the Oldham rear-guard and was unmarked as he stroked home to send the Street End into raptures and song.
"Here we go!" I thought... but we reverted to type and within minutes we were almost pegged back when Oldham attacked and a shot hit Jags and our old boy Baxter was first to it and curled a beaut past Howard but thankfully it hit the inside of the post and Jags was first to the ball and wildly lashed clear only to hit Gibson on the arm in the box and again thankfully our ref ruled ball to hand. Why do we become so vulnerable just after scoring?
We rode that scare then more or less dominated the rest of the half. Jelavic was pulled down in the box but play waved on — if that had been outside the box a foul would have been given. Why?
Baines had a strong 20-yarder tipped around but the corner came to nought. Just after the half hour Coleman got in down the right and got a decent cross in. Jelavic went for the ball but it passed him as he was floored and then hit a defender on the arm, the ref blew and pointed to the spot. No real complaint from Oldham so Baines stepped up, the keeper guessed the right way, got a hand to it but the ball went in. Relief as much as delirium ensued. My mate said "We need another, I hate these two goal leads." I said, "I would have taken one at Norwich."
The rest of the half was a touch dull and bitty and every time Oldham threw one in or got down the flanks, the tension could be felt. Corners for them were agony or us but the ref was quite good at penalising fouls on our keeper.
Half-time and most happy but not really convinced. Second half and no changes and we were again lively and taking the game to them, this didn't go unnoticed by their manager who did a double sub after ten mins bringing on the scourge of the Mersey, Matt Smith (Isn't he Dr Who?) and Simpson who was a nasty piece of work at Oldham. The sight of the tall one entering the fray did send a sort of low buzz around the ground as many wondered aloud... Oldham did gain an initial burst when Croft had a shot that was just off target and hit the side netting.
We were getting forward but seemed to me to be very wary since the big lad came on but on the hour mark most of our nerves were put to bed as we went three up and a strange goal it was. Pienaar put in a cross that Osman had a flick at and from my seat I swore I saw Jelavic tap home. I was delighted for him but as the ground announcer declared Osman the scorer I looked at the big screen and indeed Jelavic had missed it and bamboozled the keeper and the ball rolled nicely on its way to the corner of the net. Nice one, Ossie!
Now this tendency to go to sleep after just scoring reared its head again as within two minutes they had got one back. A corner to them and would you believe the man Smith again was afforded a free header and he merely glanced passed Howard. Something must be done about this fallibility down Finch Farm way.
One or two misgivings amongst the faithful returned by we cheered our selves up with a raucous rendition of "Moyes's Army going to Wembley – twice" but the singing was short lived as I am sure most just wanted the whistle with no further mishaps.
On the death, Oldham did force a couple of corners but this time we dealt with them then Howard was left injured after a mid air lunge on him by Simpson, I told you he was a nasty piece of work. Howard bravely hobbled on and took the free kick.
Three mins of injury time allotted. Oldham gained a corner. Distin booted it out for another but before it could be taken the ref blew up to the great relief of all of a blue persuasion gathered. The word from the faithful was "We needed a win – We got a win... let's go for a pint."
MotM — Mirallas
Overall a good night out because we won and go to the next round; as for the match, well it won't be one etched into the memory and at times it resembled two teams making a series of mistakes. We made the fewer so onward and upward.
Reading on Saturday and our last three o'clock kick off on a Saturday for a while... I hope we gained some much needed confidence from tonight and may we win well and Jelavic to get a hat-trick to cheer him and us up.
February has gone – here comes March. So let's all march together all the way to Wembley (twice) and to Europe.
See you Sat for another go at getting it right—who knows?
UP THE BLUES
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161 Posted 27/02/2013 at 15:29:31
168 Posted 27/02/2013 at 15:54:57
171 Posted 27/02/2013 at 16:17:11
I'm glad everyone is backing Jela vocally despite his current woes.
227 Posted 27/02/2013 at 19:26:36
From my seat, we did the job and that's all that really matters in the cup.
As an added bonus, it hopefully ruined a few kopites' evenings.
Still, I thought we looked vulnerable at the back at times and, despite scoring 3 goals, I wasn't convinced by us when we were anywhere near their box.
Hopefully Mirrallas can stay fit.
(On a final point, we need to get back to white socks).
378 Posted 28/02/2013 at 12:40:18
Aside from the vulnerability we show just after scoring are any other Toffeewebers as frustrated as me at our reticence to shoot? I lost count of the times it seemed to "open up" around thier box for a shot only for a square ball to be played instead. We seem to be trying to walk the ball in - just shoot someone please!
412 Posted 28/02/2013 at 16:06:54
I do remember two shots though.....one from Jagielka and another from Gibson, neither of which have returned to earth yet. This, together with Osman's propensity to 'sky' a lot of his shots is possibly why the problem persists....reluctance arising from fear of embarrassment!
Not good enough.
415 Posted 28/02/2013 at 16:16:47
He can beat a man and make himself a bit of space as good as anybody. Might be worth a try!
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