Gaz, who is usually like clockwork, rolled up a little late and we therefor got to the pub slightly later than usual. Everywhere was rather busy with Everton again a sell out and it was nice to see everyone in the pub pre-kick off. With all the injuries we have everyone was waiting until the team news before any match predictions. Once the team news did come through everyone was pretty optimistic with Mirallas making a surprise return to the team, McCarthy risking further wrath from Roy Keane by playing and Naismith, Barkley and Lukaku all included.

The one grievance I had with the team was in giving Tony Hibbert a game at left back and not playing Luke Garbutt. Getting to the ground me and a gentleman who sits near us were lambasting Martinez for not giving Garbutt an opportunity. I'm a big fan of Hibbert but felt this sent out the wrong message to Garbutt in that even with Baines and Oviedo injured the youngster still can't get a game. In hindsight however given the defensive scrutiny we were subjected to it was a terrific call from Martinez to play Hibbert at left back instead. Tony was resolute throughout and more than justified his selection.

"Looks like it's same old 'Big Sam' tactics today" said Gary as he nodded towards the pitch in the direction of West Ham's giant strikers of Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole with Kevin Nolan in support. He was right. West Ham have earned their plaudits this season for their playing style but they ditched that for a much more direct approach in this game. This, in the second half especially, made for one brilliant spectacle in which taking the points, however which way, was crucial.

There was nothing really in the game in the opening exchanges. Naismith blazed over the crossbar with a good chance whilst West Ham built pressure without really testing Tim Howard. We took the lead almost out of nothing and in fairly fortuitous circumstances. Ross Barkley wriggled into a good position and managed to get his shot away. It was blocked by Winston Reid and the ball ricocheted to Lukaku who controlled well and finished well. Everton 1-0 ahead. As he pealed away in celebration I was waiting for the offside flag to go up but it never did. I've seen it since and it was offside...I guess you always take it when it goes your way.

West Ham were not fazed by the goal and stepped up their game with Jenkinson in particular causing some problems down their right hand side and putting in some excellent balls. Cole and Carroll were causing havoc though we withstood. Tim Howard was having a nightmare in the first half and really needed to calm down. Looking back it was a bit of a miracle we got to the break a goal ahead but we somehow survived.

Thankfully Howard seemed to sort himself out at half time and was much better in the second half. After the break it was West Ham who were doing all the pressing. I think Sam Allardyce surprised Martinez a little bit with his early substitutions in the second half and we couldn't cope with West Ham at that point. The goal we conceded was very unfortunate yes though with the way we were playing at the time we could hardly complain when substitute Zarate's shot looped up off Jagielka, over the stranded Howard and in. 1-1 and back to the drawing board.

Once West Ham scored I felt they looked the team most likely to go on and win but we eventually managed to turn the tide and match them. We regained the lead with a quite excellent goal. Mark Clattenburg, in one of the very few good things he did in the game, played a good advantage when Lukaku was brought down by Collins as he ran at goal. The ball ran through to Eto'o who ran at the West Ham defence with pace and played a delicious ball across for Osman who managed to steer the ball into the net on the slide. I haven't celebrated a goal like that for some time. The match was very tight and very tense and it was a real relief when Leon Osman found the net.

With 17 minutes still on the clock plus what would eventually be five minutes of stoppage time we still had plenty to do and had to withstand some onslaught from West Ham as they launched countless balls into the penalty area. The back line (Distin, Jagielka and Hibbert in particular) had to complete a mountain of work to see the game out. It was scary at times. A real backs to the wall job but we just about got over the line.

Whichever way we got the win, it was an important win. We now sit just two points off fourth. Defeat or even a draw would have left us feeling a long way away. That's seven games unbeaten in all competitions (five in the league) so we are starting to see some progress.

Just a couple of asides to yesterdays win. Mark Clattenburg still demonstrates what a poor referee he is. That first half incident when he booked McCarthy for a non-foul was baffling. It's probably a touch of paranoia but I could have sworn he was desperate for a West Ham equaliser late in the game. He was giving them non-free kicks and everything seemed to be going in the Hammers direction. Luckily we were able to cling on for victory.

Also, how good was the atmosphere at Goodison Park yesterday? Due to the style of West Ham's play the match was scrappy, tackles were flying in and there was quite an intensity to the game. The higher tempo results in a more vociferous crowd and improves the atmosphere as a result. Our playing style, our building from the back across the back line, whichever way you look at the pros and cons of this, is slow, repetitive and, in my opinion, impacts on a quieter atmosphere at Goodison Park. Under David Moyes I felt as the playing style was much more high intensity the atmosphere was generally better. Goodison Park was the best I've heard it yesterday probably since our 3-3 draw with Liverpool last season. Having said that, I hope most of our games aren't as nerve-wracking as yesterdays.

Enjoy Wolfsburg, those that are travelling. Have a great trip!

Player Ratings

Howard: All at sea in the first half and Jagielka had to instruct him to calm down more than once. Thankfully he was better in the second half and claimed some important balls. His lack of competition does remain a problem I think. There's nobody to put any serious pressure on him. 6

Hibbert: It's great to see that after all these years when it comes to a scrap that Hibbert and Osman are two of our better players on the pitch. Tony Hibbert was excellent defensively. OK his attacking prowess was practically non-existent but defensively he had a great game and given the pressure we were under you have to say it was an excellent call from Martinez. It will be interesting to see the team selection on Thursday. 8

Distin: Very good, especially in the second half. He and Jagielka were up against some onslaught but dealt with everything that was thrown at them. A really committed display. 8

Jagielka: See Distin. Excellent defensively against a really tough attack. 8

Coleman: Did fine. Didn't get forward as much as he'd have liked but was fine defensively. 7

McCarthy: It really was Osman's day yesterday and Leon was fantastic so I almost feel guilty giving McCarthy man of the match. He's man of the match almost every week. He's really shinning brightly this season and what a gem of a player we have there. The ground he covers is quite exceptional. 8

Osman: Well done Osman. 400 games for Everton and 55 goals is an outstanding achievement and wasn't it great to see Leon's passion for the club when he celebrated the goal? He was brilliant in the middle and was one of our top performers. Here's to 500 games Leon. Congratulations. 8

Barkley: Disappointing really. He did have his moments but is pretty wasted out on the wing. His dive was pretty embarrassing. With Naismith having that hamstring injury perhaps he'll have a run of games playing just behind Lukaku now. 5

Mirallas: Did quite well but was flagging a bit with tiredness and was rightly subbed on 66 minutes. Great to have him back though. James Tomkins going down holding his face was pathetic. 7

Naismith: Excellent effort by Naismith as ever. Hopefully his injury isn't serious. 7

Lukaku: An honest effort. His goal should do him some good. Hopefully he can kick on now. 6

Eto'o (for Mirallas): Was excellent. Caused them problems and set up the goal. He should have scored also but certainly made a big impact on the game. What a substitute to have. 8

Besic (for Barkley): Thankfully he didn't try any of his fancy stuff and concentrated more on tackling and clearing the ball. He did this to good effect and made a good contribution. 7

Atsu (for Naismith): I worried when he came on but he did quite a disciplined job in the short time he was on the pitch. 6

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Reader Comments (33)

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Jeff Hughes
1 Posted 23/11/2014 at 17:49:55
Spot on about the atmosphere and how playing styles influence crowd reaction. Yesterday was a good old fashioned game and I for one enjoyed it. I wonder if the players felt the same. I am sick of hearing about possession stats. I want intensity and drive.

Come on, Roberto... Remember Emirates in the League last year. That is what I want from my team. COYB

Paul Ellam
2 Posted 23/11/2014 at 18:29:56
With how close the league is just now, it was important to get 3 more points and stay in touch with the top four places which are very much in our grasp.
Darren Hind
3 Posted 23/11/2014 at 18:39:47
Distin and Jagielka EIGHT ?

It's a good article, Paul, but I can't see how you could give either one of them an eight.

Perhaps you were marking them in terms of excitement – along with Spoonfeet between the sicks, they certainly had the crowd on the edge of their seats.

Did you really not hear the crowd's reaction to their repeated sloppy passing... it was the most animated I've seen he Old Lady for ages.

Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 23/11/2014 at 18:48:31
I agree about the way the games played usually dictating the atmosphere and it was the first time I've seen The Hammers bring a really good crowd to Goodison for a long, long time, which helped.

Must be where I sit but I really didn't feel the atmosphere until the last 20 minutes and thought the players really needed the crowd just after half-time when we couldn't get going.
Great when the winner went in though and Goodison Park really is a special place under floodlights.

Michael Kenrick
5 Posted 23/11/2014 at 18:59:23
Spoonfeet between the sicks.

I know I shouldn't laugh, Darren, but that's very funny!

Brent Stephens
6 Posted 23/11/2014 at 19:05:42
Paul, I enjoy write-ups like this but some of the ratings? Mirallas only one less than Osman?
Len Gowing
7 Posted 23/11/2014 at 19:53:16
Probably get slaughtered for this but I thought Clattenburg generally did really well.

There must have been 4 or 5 times there were blatant fouls both for and against us that he let play carry on for only to pull it back if the advantage wasn't actually gained. He also did this earlier on in the season, unlike the last game against Swansea where our advantage was lost by poor advantage decisions.

I think most would admit that Kev should have seen red, regardless of the reaction of Tomkins, he did raise his hands and was lucky not to go. I was 20 yards away from this in the Family enclosure, and as with the McCarthy tackle in the first half and the handbags that followed, he stood away from the melee and took a calm decision based on what he saw before him.

Generally the refereeing this season has been below par but, his history with us aside, I thought he handled a feisty game very well,

Pete Edwards
8 Posted 23/11/2014 at 20:22:40
Len, I guess from that then that Tompkins should have gone too as he raised his first!

Can't really complain about Barkley and his "dive" but credit to him for getting straight up to carry on chasing the ball not expecting the free kick.

Dick Fearon
9 Posted 23/11/2014 at 21:01:48
Reports from Paul, Ken, Michael and Lyndon presented this 4:30am early riser in down under land with a happy feast that put a skip in my step to start the week. I enjoy these games of blood and thunder with a bit of thud and blunder thrown in. Far better than those slow-moving, boring, gutless, brain-numbing, possession-merely-for-the-sake-of-it efforts we get far too much of in recent times.

Well done to my usual whipping boy, Osman. Don't get carried away cos normal service will probably be resumed next week. If Hibbo's shot had been 20 yards lower and 50 yards closer to the target, what a wonderful goal it would have been.

Mike Childs
10 Posted 23/11/2014 at 22:43:16
Great report, Paul, but some very biased ratings there to say the least –especially the last two. Naisy certainly has a better motor than Romelu but not only did he sky away the best setup of the game. he was the number 1 offender in giving the ball away, as well as he's starting to go down too easily expecting the call.

Romelu not only scored the opener onside – he also was as important as Eto'o, Ossie and Naisy in the winner.

It should be Eto'o who gets the first 60 minutes and Naisy the finally 30.

James Morgan
11 Posted 23/11/2014 at 22:59:09
Pete, Barkley can't get any credit at all I'm afraid. He got up quickly because he realised it was a ridiculous dive.

As for the centre-halves, from what I saw, albeit online, they looked a bit suspect.

Osman was superb, and Eto'o is a class act.

Mike Childs
12 Posted 23/11/2014 at 23:02:50
Barkley just needs game time to get sharp. The kid played until the whistle all day. Tried to help out defensively as well. I'm not worried about Ross; it will come.

For me, the worst player on the pitch (no surprise) was Howard. Two defenders in front of him and he charges out and gets chipped over. The supposed great save on Collins, point blank, he was flat on his back and Collins kicked it into him.

The latest run of not giving up goals he has contributed no doubt but the six guys in front of him have more to do with that record than he does.

Paul Mackie
14 Posted 23/11/2014 at 23:12:13
I know that we're biased being Evertonians and that, but seriously can't believe how people are complaining about McCarthy getting a yellow card. Yes, he went for the ball, but it was reckless and he caught the player's foot more than he got the ball.

I thought Clattenburg was alright yesterday. He let a little bit too much go but at least he was consistent with it. A more card-happy ref would have had a field day.

Eric Holland
15 Posted 23/11/2014 at 23:32:03
But Paul, He could not have booked him for the foul as he gave a throw-in.
Mike Childs
16 Posted 23/11/2014 at 23:34:21
Maybe he had a brain fart, Brian. I agree, the throw-in after a clear foul was wrong but over all that was the best refereed game in the EPL I have watched all year. Jimmy Mac is my favorite player but he did foul.

The only other ref of his quality in the league is Martin Atkinson who lets everything go but at least is never biased towards one team – unlike all the others, who go into the game with a clear cut bias (ie. to favor Man Utd or Arsenal or the Red Shite).

Mike Childs
17 Posted 23/11/2014 at 23:41:43
Sorry, Eric, I called you Brian the in #16 but I agree with your interpretation.
Steve Carse
18 Posted 23/11/2014 at 23:52:34
Both McCarthy and the West Ham player had their studs up. McCarthy's foot was an inch or so higher. If it had been an inch or so lower then it would have been the opposition player committing the foul. Such are the very fine margins in modern day football. Clattenburg's decision to book him having seen nothing wrong with the tackle was bizarre.
David Hallwood
19 Posted 24/11/2014 at 00:06:43
Good report, Paul, although one thing needs to be cleared up. I know everyoneÂ’s confused about active and inactive; however, Rule 11 is quite clear in that a player standing in an offside position only becomes active when he receives the ball (not a pass) from a team mate, that made Lukaku onside.

Charles Simpkins
20 Posted 24/11/2014 at 05:27:02
I think your recollection of Howard's performance is a bit off; I feel he has had much worse games for us in the recent past.

Otherwise, spot on. Same here as well – I haven't celebrated a goal like that in a minute!

Martin Mason
21 Posted 24/11/2014 at 11:11:12
I thought that you could be played onside by an opponent but just read this from the current rules.

".... or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position."

Martin Mason
22 Posted 24/11/2014 at 11:14:38
Sorry, meant to add that he was offside because he gained advantage from being in an offside position when the last Everton player touched it.
Kev Johnson
23 Posted 24/11/2014 at 11:17:36
Martin - that was all covered on the post match thread (MK's 'Rip-roaring' one). Check out Michael Penley's posts @137 and above.

For what it's worth, I had the same idea as you, but it turns out we were wrong. We enjoyed a slice of luck there. We'll probably concede an unwarranted penalty in the next game to even things up!

Talking of refereeing decisions, I absolutely love 'You are the ref'! I genuinely don't know the answer to question 2...

Dave Pritchard
24 Posted 24/11/2014 at 12:57:06
Mirallas a 5 at best. Not his fault though as clearly not fit.

Having seen MotD after going to the game it is remarkable what you don't see live. Clattenberg should have booked McCarthy for the foul and given them a free kick. What he did book him for remains a mystery. Apart from this, I thought he handled the bust-ups quite well and was not taken in by Tompkins so credit where it is due.

Martin Mason
25 Posted 24/11/2014 at 13:46:50
Kev, I think I say the same thing that he was offside?
Kev Johnson
26 Posted 24/11/2014 at 13:59:17
My mistake, Martin. I misread your posts. You did indeed say he was off. I must admit, I thought a deflection from an opponent changed things, but it turns out it doesn't. Actually, I did ref a game once, about 15 years ago, and I was bloody rubbish! It's harder than it looks – and very, very tiring!

Dave Abrahams
27 Posted 24/11/2014 at 14:20:10
Darren Hind (3) – that’s the way I saw the two centre-backs: panic is what they do under pressure, just slicing at the ball and not knowing where it’s going to go to.

They should have a good long look at EtoÂ’o: he puts his foot on the ball and measures every pass he makes. He knows what he is going to do with the ball five seconds before he gets it. Mind you, all really great players do this. And to think I didnÂ’t want Everton to sign him....

Steve Carse
28 Posted 24/11/2014 at 14:52:48
Of course, not so long ago a deflection off an opponent WAS enough to play you onside, although by then the linesman might have already flagged it. Under the more liberal offside rules nowadays, the linesmen are told not to flag until the ball is actually touched by the attacker.
Peter Barnes
29 Posted 24/11/2014 at 16:51:03
Eto'o is quite simply a top class performer still. The game changed completely when he came on simply because he kept the ball, the panic went out of our play and when he had finished with it we still had the ball.

Which at his point of entry into the fray was certainly not happening. Watching him is worth the entrance money alone.

Conor Waters
30 Posted 24/11/2014 at 17:24:54
I was screaming for Eto'o to be introduced at halftime. He was the only one out there, aside from occasionally Ossie or Coleman, who had a calm head. Most of our players seemed incapable of even the simplest things.

Barkley looked liked his feet were made of concrete blocks. That moment where he had acres of space ahead and he contrived to run the ball out of play was bewildering. He just can't seem to untangle his feet lately, like he's trying too hard or thinking too much. Naismith followed every won tackle with a misplaced pass, even simple 5 yard passes. Lukaku didn't challenge a single aerial ball, instead opting to lazily sit back and expect another gift, just like his goal.

Mirallas was clearly rusty and can be forgiven somewhat for his heavy touches and overhit crosses, although he is supposed to be a professional footballer... Not to mention the downright chaos that unfolded at the back. A Benny Hill theme tune would've been a fitting soundtrack to the slapstick defending on Saturday.

How many bloody times are we the creators of our own problems? I'm all for a passing possession style, but do it up the other end FFS. At least if we misplace a pass in opposition territory it won't lead to an immediate danger. We are constantly putting pressure on ourselves with sloppy play and unnecessary passing across the back four. It's ridiculous.

We stole three points and can be thankful West Ham were missing key form players like Valencia, Sahko, Kouyate, Downing (don't laugh, he can cause problems) and Song. Our biggest miss on Saturday was clearly the big arsed Gareth Barry. And a Steven Pienaar c2009.

Paul Ferry
31 Posted 24/11/2014 at 19:11:07
Paul comes across as a really nice fella but he does often get a bit of stick for his ratings – done it myself more than a few times – but I hope he never stops doing them if only for the reason that it gets others talking and that for me is the sign of a successful piece of work.

Okay. Paul: Hibbert 8, Distin 8, Jags 8, Mirallas 7, Osman 8?

How about: Howard 6 - Coleman 6 - Distin 5 - Jags 6 - Hibbo (got laced all 1st half and why was he so reluctant to go out wide? Better 2nd half to be fair.) 6 - Macca 8 - Osman 9 (I have never given Osman a 9 before; well done fella) - Barkley 5 - Mirallas 5 (clearly rushed back way too early) - Naismith 7 - Lukaku 6 - EtoÂ’o 8

Tony Abrahams
32 Posted 24/11/2014 at 20:48:51
What would you have given him if he never got the winner, Paul?
Milos Milenkovic
33 Posted 25/11/2014 at 14:55:15
Paul, great report, but you missed to say that Howard again had a crucial intervention when Collins was alone just after Osman's goal. It's funny how most people are quick to jump on his back for any kind of error, but he saved us two points here and he also had a great save to prevent Bony scoring few weeks ago, without any notice.

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