Everton 1 - 1 West Ham United
The FA Cup 3rd Round and a game I always look forward to as the cup still means something to me, even though it seems to have been belittled by Sky only wanting to promote the Premier League and Champions League with any commitment. After our woeful festive attempts at football I wondered how many might turn up tonight and sadly it was a poor turn out.
The room of nonsense was down to the hard core and the walk up to the ground was, with just 15mins to kick-off, almost a Sunday stroll. No one to push and shove with, the Fat van had shrunk in size and the badge and scarf doorway emporium was missing all together. Only the Blue Dragon chippy looked to have bucked the trend and had a healthy queue. Into the ground, no queuing at the turnstiles and on entering the Goodison theatre row upon row of empty seats greeted us. It turned out the crowd was just over 20,000 so the club was in sync with the room of nonsense in only attracting the hard core for this one.
The team as announced was a strong one, if not a confident one and the first half was to be one of mostly West Ham domination with the Blues having the better chances and, indeed, could have and maybe should have gone in at half time in front. WHU had Downing creating from midfield and our rookie keeper had to be alert in making saves first at his near post where he got down in quick time to turn away a near post thunderbolt and then to make a fine tip over from a powerful shot from Downing. Two other chances went begging when Downing crosses flashed across goal, luckily for us without a Hammer getting a touch.
However, despite this Everton had the best chances as Lukaku, who has been rightly chastised of late, seemed to have been fired up and was putting himself about with purpose and did manage two shots that had the crowd interested. I thought that the first half, without being spectacular, was a notch up from previous performances in terms of commitment and effort. We still frustrated, with some of the defensive play leading to a touch of anxiety for those present but it was better with only Jags, Distin and Barkley looking a touch off the pace the others without being great were definitely putting in the effort to find some form even if it didn’t work out all of the time.
The crowd seemed to appreciate this to a point, with only the backward movements bringing chastisement. 0-0 at the break and not as much hostility toward manager and players as in previous games yet that feeling of ‘we will cock this up’ was always present.
We started strongly in the second half and the willingness of Lukaku and Naismith to run the channels as well as closing down WHU defenders and keeper was a welcome sign of intent which always pleases our crowd. From a good start we were to be undone just ten mins into the half when West Ham gained a corner. I read on ToffeeWeb this week someone saying we don’t practice defending set pieces so I took note tonight and from my seat I reckon we do have a method of defending whether its practised or not.
Oviedo who was easily picked out by his bright orange boots always took up the same position, as did Mirallas and the way the others were positioned across the box it looked to be zonal marking which on this particular corner it didn’t work as the cross just cleared our first man Besic in the Carsley position to be met firmly by Collins, who was on the move and powered home. So we do have a method of defending but on this occasion it did not prevent a goal so maybe back to the drawing board or just maybe the practice pitch. That goal brought silence from the home faithful and after our poor run of results the comment ‘Looks like it’s all over’ was heard from many lips.
The half trundled on and our man Robles won over a few fans with a couple of fine interventions while Besic added to his growing fan club with a whole-hearted display that included giving Nolan the Serbian stare and a bit of a coming together that saw Nolan keep his distance in the time that remained. The ref was making some odd decisions and disallowed what looked like a good goal by Lukaku which prompted a fan to tell me with some conviction that Mr Taylor is a big RS fan and he knows because he is also a referee locally.
The half continued in open fashion and chances were almost created at both ends but loose final balls did for both teams. More bad luck on the injury front as Distin limped off holding the back of his thigh to be replaced by the now fit again Stones on 70 minutes. We were pressing hard but that lack of penetration into the box was not evident and the short passing between players who were looking for an opening was not going down well with the faithful as they wanted them to stick it in the mixer and get after it and see what happens and that is as far away as you can get from the Martinez philosophy but in the end it was to pay off so maybe just maybe we can get a middle way between the two.
A last throw of the dice on 85 mins sees McGeady replace Besic who came off to a very good reception. McGeady threw himself into the fray with the fury of a man so recently severely criticised and was indeed to be part of the move that saw our injury time equaliser. We certainly didn’t lie down today or look leggy as we went hell for leather right to the death and the goal that Lukaku got was just reward and it was a good fast move that did the trick.
Barry headed forward and the ball came back and was worked out to the left where McGeady and Oviedo tangled with a defender. McGeady was to squirt the ball out of the melee for Oviedo to pounce and hit one low and hard across the box which Lukaku seemed to have it bounce off him only for him to show great reflexes and somehow become airborne to volley home to rapturous applause. The remaining few minutes were played out to the sound of a real Goodison bear pit finale, the like of which has not been heard this season. The winner didn’t come but a replay does; probably neither manager wanted it but both will take it.
MotM – Besic
Overall a frustrating night out with the last 8 minutes being the highlight. The belting out of the Lukaku song will not be lost on him and neither will the never-say-die spirit right to the end being wildly supported on the players in general. My gut feeling was that those last minutes and the equaliser may just have had a positive ring with manager and players and somehow the upcoming game against Man City is not quite as daunting.
I think the accusation that some fitness staff have left because of managerial interference may have been put to bed tonight as the Blues looked strong and fought hard right up to that 95th minute. So maybe – just maybe – we can get off the roundabout and turn Jags corner and have a reasonable second half to the season or maybe I read the green shoots of recovery wrong tonight.
Soon be Saturday so see you there and who knows what this crazy world of footy will throw up.
UP THE BLUES
Reader Comments (36)
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1 Posted 07/01/2015 at 05:16:23
2 Posted 07/01/2015 at 05:51:41
The thing in your report that really gives me heart is your comments about Besic. (Love that "Sebian Stare" reference - you do have way with words).
I am getting a little bit long in the tooth now and perhaps because of that I reckon I can pick a hard case when I see one and reckon is as hard as nails. That is Barton and Nolan he has put back in their boxes in the last few weeks - not many could do that.
He needs to start every game from now on - when your in a dogfight (which we are for the foreseeable future) you need bull terriers not pomeranians.
I know that is not exactly in keeping with School of Science principals but we havenĂ‚t got time for that at the moment.
Great to see the team come from behind - that also gives me hope. Might be a turning point. I hope so.
Up the Blues!!!
3 Posted 07/01/2015 at 06:15:32
The same frailties still exist - conceding from a corner as Collins scored unmarked and unchallenged. Everybody back but no-one on the post. And another hamstring injury - our 19th according to the medical staff.
I know strange things can happen in football but can anyone see us really getting anything out of City's visit on Saturday or the replay at West Ham? No, That equalizer may have saved Martinez but only for 7 days. This shambles cannot continue.
4 Posted 07/01/2015 at 06:20:41
Not so long ago we and many others were and deservedly so, giving Benitez heaps for the same system and they were leaking goals all over the place.
Marking space ffs, I ask you when was the last time 'space' scored a goal...It's a pretentious affectation from coaches too clever by half and a cop-out for defenders too timid to attack the ball... you don't even have to practice it...if you have the guts to put your head in, you attack the ball and put your head in...IF??.
This could even be one of the few times that the Keeper punching the ball is the right thing to do...Robles and Howard are biggish units...all you have to do is have the guts to attack the ball ( it's pretty simple Roberto )... oh and somebody on the post just in case you do miss it...but you have to have the guts to attack the ball...did I mention attack the ball??
Philosophy my arse.
* gets off hobby horse
5 Posted 07/01/2015 at 06:52:01
Green shoots, indeed.
6 Posted 07/01/2015 at 06:59:15
7 Posted 07/01/2015 at 07:11:26
8 Posted 07/01/2015 at 07:26:48
We have a quality squad, it's just that something is wrong somewhere, from manager to players and lastly the fan base Ă‚â€“ those players were petrified stepping out onto that pitch at Goodison, you could see it from where I was sitting as soon as they entered the field.
9 Posted 07/01/2015 at 07:44:02
We played it a little bit longer, which made for a change at least, getting much more out of Lukaku.
Robles looked a lot better.
Besic had a really good game.
We looked a better team.
Injury to Distin.
Jags was scary at times.
Another set piece concede.
Barkley wasted on the left. Gives the ball away too much, but has to play in the middle ahead of Naismith.
We still need to sign 3 players to turn this around. Gk, cb, and left mid. Three big holes in the side that need to fixed somehow. Oh for another 30m...
10 Posted 07/01/2015 at 07:41:46
Keep the faith.
Time to twist not fold. Continuity is our competitive advantage.
11 Posted 07/01/2015 at 08:13:10
12 Posted 07/01/2015 at 08:37:22
13 Posted 07/01/2015 at 08:43:43
Yes but that was deffo a Serbian stare. Ha. Well spotted Laa.
14 Posted 07/01/2015 at 08:53:42
15 Posted 07/01/2015 at 09:08:51
I actually felt sorry for Jagielka last night. His confidence is clearly shot and it was one calamity after the other. I take Distin's injury as a blessing. Time to get Stones bedded back in - but having said that his first pass was a mis-hit one over ten yards which I think sums up the general malaise which seems to be affecting the team and the club.
I jumped out of my seat when Lukaku equalised and my first thought was we've got out of jail. But for how long? We were second best all night. West Ham were better organised, moved the ball around neatly, found more space and were more of a threat in front of goal. Okay, they've had a decent season but they really did play us off the park. From my seat in the Upper Gladys Roberto cut a forlorn figure on the touchline. I like him (although his post match utterances are now driving me mad) but under him we really have become a soft touch. Goodison was always a fortress - teams hated coming here. Man U, Chelsea, City, Arsenal, they all dreaded it because they knew that they'd have to work their bollocks off to take anything from the game. Not anymore. We're as soft as shite.
Sorry to piss on everyone's parade but I remain as depressed as ever. It feels to me that we have nothing to build on. No discernible style of play, no passion, no commitment. I just can't see where we're heading at the moment.
16 Posted 07/01/2015 at 10:00:30
Good point about fitness levels we did look like we were sustaining the fight to the end. Besides Lukaku I also thought good performances from Besic and Oviedo.
I heard the RS connection about Taylor. Whither way as so may this days he's a poor ref.
Slightly looking forward to Saturday more than I was.
Optimistic or foolish? We'll see.
17 Posted 07/01/2015 at 10:41:23
Why do our centre backs a/ let the ball bounce, and b/ Head the ball skywards rather than forwards.
Why does our most experienced player Barry commit silly fouls .Besic can tackle. Naismith uses Duracell batteries. Lukaku played well and has a great song.The bloke behind me doesn't like the ref.
I've always thought that to create a decent team you need a good spine. That's GK ,Centre back ,Centre mid and Centre forward, that wasn't apparent last night and there was a clear lack of leadership and communication , I would have took Jags off at half time as he was having a poor game and wasn't doing a captains job either and replaced him with Stones, I know Distin got injured later but it would have been a clear statement from the manager that this isn't good enough. The Captains armband I would have given to Barkley to see if he would /could respond in the right way.
18 Posted 07/01/2015 at 10:30:01
Our midfield situation is desperate, our ball winning and distribution are abysmal!!! Gone are the defence splitting passes.
Have Baines and Coleman slipped on red shirts over Christmas? Has Barkley started to believe over-hyped reports on his ability, and is EtoĂ‚o filling his pension pot? We need a Plan B. We are Everton Ă‚â€“ not a facsimile of Wigan.
I still think Joey Barton could do a job; as well as the Bosnian stare we could have a real Scouser stare.
19 Posted 07/01/2015 at 11:57:58
At the moment I'm NEA'd. either way.
20 Posted 07/01/2015 at 12:10:20
I fear for the weekend, though at least we won't have as much of the ball to inflict the usual self-punishment.
21 Posted 07/01/2015 at 12:15:22
If Jags was bricking it against a Carrolless West Ham, he's not going to get much sleep over the next few days!
22 Posted 07/01/2015 at 12:52:27
1) we were moving ball forward more direct, and maybe countered the lack of plan B - this also brought Lukaku into game much more which benefitted him!
2) the central defenders didn't pass it between themselves and GK as much and were able to boot it forward (see point 1!)
3) Mirallas (and Coleman) was missing for most of game and didn't seem interested
23 Posted 07/01/2015 at 13:21:55
24 Posted 07/01/2015 at 13:10:40
HeĂ‚s a bit of a rough diamond at the moment but I can see improvement in his play, from when he first joined us.
The team looked nervous when they came out onto the pitch; however, they stepped up to the plate and gave their all, except for Mirallas and, to a lesser extent, Coleman.
25 Posted 07/01/2015 at 13:24:26
Whilst it was an open game there was a lot of poor passing and in the first half EvertonĂ‚s forward passing often seemed to hurried when a calmer head was needed. They are missing that type of player.
Defensively there are problems and it starts with Jagielka who made a few mistakes in that first half that could have proved costly. He is not the calm assured player we have come to know and we all know Distin is past it.
Oviedo took time to find his feet especially against the marauding Jenkinson but got better as the game wore on. His fitness will be a boost to the Blues in the coming weeks.
Man City will not be unbeatable and if the Blues can keep the lid on Silva and YaYa they will have a chance. If McCarthy is fully fit then I would include him at the expense of Barry or Naismith.
26 Posted 07/01/2015 at 16:30:29
Personally I thought Naismith was terrible and has been ever since he signed his new contract.
27 Posted 07/01/2015 at 16:36:13
28 Posted 07/01/2015 at 16:59:26
29 Posted 07/01/2015 at 18:09:56
30 Posted 07/01/2015 at 18:28:08
I can't see Roberto leaving Barry out for this one - surely he would have done it last night rather than against his former team. Why not play Barry and McCarthy (if fully fit), with Besic doing a marking job on Silva? It would be similar to the roles he had marking Messi and Bale when playing for Bosnia. Bit too defensive for El Roberto I suspect.
31 Posted 07/01/2015 at 18:34:11
32 Posted 07/01/2015 at 20:14:39
His last PL goal was united away at beginning of October. He's a championship player.
33 Posted 08/01/2015 at 00:53:51
34 Posted 08/01/2015 at 01:52:14
35 Posted 12/01/2015 at 18:57:05
Well hopefully, after the game last week against West Ham, and certainly the game against Man City, Fat Sam will have to 're-think about how we are going to set up tomorrow night and what style we are going to play. Hopefully it will be a more direct approach. Plenty of attacking down the flanks and loads of service to Lukaku. I can see us turning West Ham over if we get the ball forward a lot quicker.
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