Whilst at Hawarden, I was regretting the fact I hadn’t brought a jacket along with me, though once at Goodison Park with Ste in his big coat and Gary having to rest his jacket over his seat, such was the warmth, I was sat quite smugly in my sweater and shades whilst Gary sat with hand capped over eyes to protect his vision from the sun which just would not fade.
Having witnessed a few rather inept performances from Jon Moss earlier in the season, away at West Brom and then at QPR (when he sent off Steven Pienaar), I was disappointed when I heard he was officiating the match... though, come full time, we could have no qualms with his performance. Perhaps he’s improved or is maybe one of those referees who plays to the home team a bit more. Regardless, I wasn’t unhappy with him… indeed I was most impressed when (in no uncertain terms) he told Karagounis to get to his feet after he was rolling around following a coming together with substitute Ross Barkley.
The match wasn’t a great one… the first half particularly slow and pedestrian though the second was more entertaining as Everton looked to finish the job after Pienaar had swept home on 16 minutes following an excellent passing move involving Osman and Coleman. A lovely goal quite reminiscent of the old Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ team of 2003-04. Very Viera–Pires–Ljungberg. Everton continued on the front foot throughout the first half though without creating an awful lot. Fellaini was instrumental, shooting wide and having a header blocked though at the other end Howard had to be alert to save a deflected drive and early substitute Petric (on for Berbatov) couldn’t quite get to a decent Richardson cross. Half time: 1-0.
At the interval we were treated to a lovely tribute to the fantastic 1962-63 First Division Championship winning team to mark the 50th anniversary of their success. The names, with photos of the players no longer with us were read out and displayed on the screens. Some fantastic names who have played huge roles in the history of Everton FC: Manager Harry Catterick, treasured captain Brian Labone, much loved goalkeeper Gordon West, Roy Vernon, Alex Parker and other greats Brian Harris, Albert Dunlop, Alex Scott, Dennis and George Heslop were all warmly applauded. As too were the gentleman still going strong who took to the pitch — Alex Young, Billy Bingham, Tony Kay, Derek Temple and Mick Meagan. Some rock hits from that genre were also blasted out over the tannoy. I bet that brought back some great memories for them. A lovely tribute by Everton. If it's one thing Everton do get right its tributes like this – think the Hillsborough tribute earlier in the season against Newcastle Utd, and the great tributes they afforded Gary Speed and Gary Ablett last season. Well done, Everton.
Perhaps the team were somewhat inspired by this after the break as generally our play was much improved and the game much more entertaining. We had great chances to seal the game with Mirallas and Barkley both having efforts well saved by Schwarzer, and Fellaini inexplicably bouncing an effort over the bar with an open goal to aim at. Naturally, with the game hanging at just 1-0, Everton got a little jittery towards the end and gave away a few silly free kicks, though Fulham failed to capitalize and Everton deservedly took the three points – the only gripe being that we should really have won by more.
So on we trot and all we can do is try and win our next game and hope for the best. God knows we’re due a win at Anfield and “what a time to play them” I was saying... before they so impressively walloped Newcastle Utd 6-0 last night. That will make things difficult for next Sunday. If we can somehow overcome Liverpool; Chelsea and Tottenham to play each other in their games in hand; and with us still to play Chelsea, I do believe that – if we can win next weekend – we do have a sincere chance of gaining European entry.
All we can do is win our next game and hope for the best. Seldom have we gone into a derby having so much more riding on it that they have. We have to take this chance next Sunday.
Player Ratings:Howard: Relatively untroubled throughout really. 7
Baines: Had a good game, much better than last weekend. Attacked well throughout. 7
Distin: Kept them out. 7
Jagielka: Kept them out. 7
Coleman: Did well. Got forward to good effect. Has arguably been our best player this second half of the season. I predict big, big things from him next term. 7
Fellaini: Good. Played deeper, in a more central midfield role, got stuck in and showed some classy moments in attacking areas. 7
Osman: Looked a bit leggy though did make some good passes (for the goal in particular), some tidy interceptions and came close with an excellent dipping half volley. Also crucially collected a team-booking when he took out Emanuelson as he rampaged forward. Not bad all in all. We’ll need a big performance from him next weekend. 6
Pienaar: Finished well for his goal and was lively throughout. 7
Mirallas: Seemed to come into the game more in the second half and was unlucky not to score one or create one. Good to see him finishing a few games now. Seems to be getting up to speed. Also needs a big game next weekend. 7
Jelavic: Really does look a shadow of the player last season. Hopefully a good pre-season might help bring the best out of him next term if he hasn’t been moved on by then. Shame. 5
Anichebe: My Man of the Match. Wasn’t exactly explosive but he did lead the line well, won some good headers and brought others into play. Needs to do more of course… The stage is nicely set for him to shine next weekend. 7
Barkley (for Jelavic): I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start next weekend. He did quite well and was unlucky not to score. Nice to see him get some opportunities. Maybe next season will be his real breakthrough season. 7
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386 Posted 28/04/2013 at 16:04:34
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