Everton traveled to bottom club QPR for today's big game on Sky. David Moyes made two changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Wigan, with Heitinga and the injured Fellaini making way for Anichebe and Distin.
Neither Anichebe nor Distin wore the shirt of the Kick-It-Out campaign in protest to its ineffectiveness.
An early Baines corner after some good possession play caused havoc but a second was cleared past Neville as he stumbled and Hoilett galloped away, a lethal deflection off Baines and Howard was left sprawling as QPR took the lead on just 2 mins with almost their first touch!
Some aggressive tackling from Anichebe and Neville showed the annoyance Everton felt at going behind in such a disappointing fashion, and it wasn't helped when Howard slipped lazily for a clearance and almost gifted QPR another goal!! All the momentum was behind QPR as Everton struggled to reassert themselves in what was a strong and physically competitive game.
Park fouled Baines but his free-kick was a little too deep and difficult for Jagielka to control. Anichebe was getting the ball down right but not using it well or he was getting pushed off the ball by Granero. Howard was looking very nervy, misjudging a wide ball forward.
Pienaar got clipped in a really dangerous position, giving Jelavic a glorious free-kick opportunity after Baines's dummy run-over but Cesar had set himself well to save the curling shot around the wall.
Everton started to build steadily from the back, with lots of patient sideways passing that was a little too slow to penetrate the massed QPR lines. Pienaar was playing a central/right-channel role partnering Anichebe, with Mirallas sticking to the left in front of Baines, and it looked at times as the re-jig was not really clicking.
In defence, Pienaar was called for a foul just outside the Everton area and Nelson got in a good header and could have easily scored.
Everton were not themselves at all, looking very ineffective in possession, and giving the ball away far too easily as QPR settled into a pattern of frustrating their efforts at every opportunity. The dreadful hoofs from the back were a horrible reminder of Everton Past...
On the half-hour, Moyes appeared to have recognized the problem, switching Mirallas inside with Pienaar moving wide left. Zamora fouled Jagielka and gave the All Blacks a great opportunity, a fantastic free-kick deep from Pienaar to the far post where Distin had got free, a header back off the post then goes in off Ceasar... 1 - 1!!!
Jelavic got free into the area, and gets taken down (perhaps too easily) when M'Bia stands on his foot but no penalty given as the ball was played out for a corner. From the corner, Jagielka with a free header he tried to place but it smacks onto the bar! Everton definitely back in it, the pace of the game much better for a short period.
An awful aerial challenge saw Anichebe poleaxed after Nelson caught him on the head with his arm... nothing given by referee Jon Moss. Amir then pulled back Jelavic in the area but again, nothing given.
Everton didn't look that much better in the second half, Park getting a glorious chance when Diakite beat four defenders on the Everton left to cross low and hard... somehow Jagielka brilliantly kept it out with Howard beaten.
Pienaar's got a yellow card and on 51 mins when referee Moss booked him retrospectively for a poor lunge on Hoilett that was unnecessary, and it would have serious consequences 10 minutes later...
Steven Naismith then came on after just 6 mins of the second half for Anichebe, whose head was still hurting badly. But going forward, Everton were sorely lacking, with Jelavic maddeningly playing left wing and no-one in the area to aim at.
Mirallas looked to do better but he still hasn't mastered getting the ball past Premier League defender as every effort was blocked. Neville picked up yellow for clipping Bosingwa as QPR attempted to break through the middle.
On 59 mins, Pienaar crazily barged Park in the back and received a severe talking to from Jon Moss, who made it clear to the player and the captain that he was being let off but would not be the next time. Moyes also got the message directly from fourth official Phil Dowd but did nothing to save his most creative player from the inevitable...
61 mins and Pienaar then went off for a second yellow, even though he hardly even touched Bosingwa (albeit from behind). BBC said of the second yellow: "He is downright unlucky because his challenge on Jose Bosingwa is hardly a foul at all, let alone a booking." However, both he Neville (and indirectly Moyes) had fair warning of what would happen. A real test now for 10-man Everton. The resulting dangerous free-kick was headed away by Osman.
Diakite was booked for a cynical stop on Mirallas, but his cross was dreadful from the short free-kick. At the other end, Zamora did well to shoot on Howard.
Better play from Everton saw Mirallas try a shot that was headed behind. From the corner, a fantastic chance and a point-blank save from Jagielka's header and a real scramble with Jelavic firing over.
At the other end, Hoilett got in a good low shot that Howard saved at a stretch. And it was backs to the wall for Everton as the 10 men struggled to contain an increasingly confident home side.
Two Rangers players went down in the Everton penalty area but thankfully neither were given. Howard then pulled off a magnificent save to prevent a superb Hoilett shot and Mirallas mistimed a block to give away another dangerous free-kick. Taarabt's hard shot flew three yards wide of Howard's left post
Jelavic then came off and Heitinga replaced him; Hughes replacing Nelson by Ferdinand with 7 mins left: Moyes hoping to secure the point...
Heitinga's free-kick was too low, but Everton got another chance when Bosingwa pushed over Baines. Not really a left-foot shot chance and Baines's direct rocket was a bizarre waste, sailing high over the bar.
Mirallas then got in down the right but lashed his shot wide. Then ref Moss wasted 30 seconds to run back and say God knows what to Ceasr, who was needlessly delayed from launching his goal-kick.
Naismith then got around the back of the Rangers defence but he was offside with a fine shot that forced a good save. At the other end, Cisse drove one wide as this complete nonsense of a game entered the final minute of normal time, with Osman on a typical run, losing the ball at the end of it.
Tremendous defending by Jagielka, with a desperate leap in front of Cisse to block an almost certain winner.
Alan Green (spit!) described this as "a miserable affair" and I could not help agreeing with him. A dreadful referee spoilt this as a spectacle with his incompetence.
After another seemingly interminable international break, Everton are back in Premier League action this Sunday with another away day, this time at Loftus Road where they will face the bottom club, Queens Park Rangers, hoping to deepen the gloom for manager Mark Hughes.
The Blues will no doubt still be harbouring a degree of frustration from yet more refereeing injustice at the DW Stadium a fortnight ago, the 2-2 against Wigan draw dropping them back to fourth in the table. (Indeed, if David Moyes is playing the "what if" game in his mind, the four points robbed from him by refereeing incompetence would have his side comfortably second at this stage of the campaign.)
The manager's quest to improve on last season's 1-1 draw in this fixture has been complicated somewhat by injury to Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian apparently tweaked his knee against Wigan and, in addition to missing both of his country's World Cup Qualifiers in the last eight days, he will be absent for Everton for this weekend at least.
With Darron Gibson also unavailable as he continues what has become an annoyingly long recovery from a thigh injury sustained at the beginning of September and Thomas Hitzlsperger not considered ready, it means that Moyes's midfield options are limited to continuing with the erratic pairing of Phil Neville and Leon Osman.
Tony Hibbert is also out injured so Seamus Coleman will continue at right back so, with the exception of whom to deploy behind Nikica Jelavic and the expectation that Sylvain Distin will replace John Heitinga in defence, it should be more or less "as you were" as far as the starting XI goes.
Victor Anichebe is an option to come back into the side after filling in for Jelavic during the Croatian's brief spell on the sidelines and Moyes has also hinted at pushing Kevin Mirallas forward as well, creating an opportunity perhaps for Steven Naismith to start on the right flank.
Rangers have spent a fortune compared to Everton on trying to buy their way to more than just another season of top flight salvation but they have made a miserable start to this their second campaign since returning to the Premier League for the first time in 17 years.
Another defeat this weekend would represent their worst start to a top-flight season since the 1995-96 campaign that saw them go down so there will be pressure on Hughes to get a result.
He has Samba Diakite available again following suspension and all three of Jose Bosingwa, Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traore will be in contention following injury.
Chief among Moyes's priorities as he looks to keep on the coat tails of top three will be to shore up defence where sloppy goals in recent weeks have meant that poor officiating has cost them vital points when the Blues might still have scored enough at the other end to earn victories against Newcastle and Wigan despite the men in black.
Distin's likely return to partner Phil Jagielka will be one move to that end but improvement is needed from the likes of Tim Howard and Coleman as well.
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|Everton fans' reports|
|Traore (72' Onuoha)|
|Nelsen (84' Ferdinand)|
|Zamora (71' Cisse)|
|Subs not used|
|6||West Bromwich Albion||14|
|7||West Ham United||14|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||3|