A trip out to London town on the back of a lousy defeat in Ukraine and some sort of juvenile Banksy daubing the walls of our spiritual home, allied to a precarious league position where only a win was deemed good enough... and there, my friends, you had the recipe for a nerve-wracked Sunday afternoon. No matter who you spoke to, all the niceties of football were jettisoned in favour of just one word – WIN. Nothing mattered – not tikka-takka, not joined up stuff, not how we play it about at the back. Just get stuck in and come away with the points. Sad to say, we are too far down the line for niceties... but one saving grace may be that our opponents are more nervous than us.

The game started in bright sunlight with the Blues wearing all-black which had me hoping that colour wasn’t any sort of omen... and immediately thinking it may be, as QPR attacked with gusto and purpose; their manager had certainly got them up for this one. It was a hell of a start from the hosts whose needs were greater than ours and they were pressing again within minutes when Zamora headed wastefully wide. The fact that QPR saw this as a six-pointer reflected our dire season so far and is a big disappointment to us all.

It was taking us a while to put much together as a mind-set of ‘they shall not pass’ was uppermost; yet we had our first corner on nine minutes which saw Osman fire over and, just nine mins later, we put together a fine joined-up move that saw Lennon play to Kone’s feet who in turn moved the ball to Osman who was aware of the overlapping Coleman and found him with a delicious pass; the Irishman strode on a couple of paces and hit across the keeper and in off the far post. Pandemonium amongst the faithful as all celebrated. That kind of move would unlock most defences. "More of the same!" I yelled to no one in particular.

Would we go for a second or would we defend what we have got? Well, we did more of the latter, but some of the former, which I determined would lead to a long afternoon... and so it came to pass. The first objective seemed to be: get to half time intact and try for a breakaway when we could. To this end, Kone put Lukaku in but he was robbed by a good sliding tackle. Next, our Number 9 did good work and found Lukaku with a great pass and the big man laid it back for Gibson on the edge to have a dig that was blocked, by a hand according to our players, but our Ref Mr Moss would have none of it.

Stones and Jags were performing well at the back but Stones's attempts to play his way out of trouble when in our box caused some hairy moments and an ear-bashing from both Jags and Coleman. Our plight was obviously not lost on the players then Baines was at it and left a pass to Jags short in our box but we got away with a goal kick. In-between those two incidents, a good cross in from a QPR man set up Zamora for an easy header home but thankfully he got too little on it and the ball went wide. The half came to an end with us willing to soak up their pressure and break when we could and we did on a few occasions without really testing their keeper.

Half-Time: 1-0 up. The chat was all about how we should go about the second half and should any subs be made. The consensus was stay as we are, keep it tight and try to nick one. Where I have I heard that before?

We were out first for the second half and ready to go but, on the whistle, it was our hosts who bombed on; right from the off, they hit the bar, followed up, and netted... but thank god for the offside flag. QPR were making a hell of a start and we had to dig in. It was a good 10 mins before our first attack of the half when good running from Kone caught up with the ball and fed in Osman whom was robbed by a good tackle. Less than an hour gone and nerves were creeping in – that was just on the terraces as many were developing nervous tics that they did not have before...

After the hour mark, Lukaku was given the chance of a foot-race down the right channel; he did well and won it and got a cross in but, in the process, he pulled up and, in true Everton fashion this season, was seen clutching the hamstring area; to make matters worse, QPR went down our end and forced a corner, with virtually all the players bar Lukaku in our box and an almighty scramble took place. The next thing I saw was QPR players wheeling away in delight and their crowd going wild. It turned out they had scored. Strangely, many a conversation was heard discussing whether a point would be okay!! Just shows what sheer fear of the drop can do... Amid the celebrations by QPR, Barkley replaced Lukaku.

Everton had a player floored by a QPR man but the Ref ignored it and Zamora broke but fired over the bar. Our players remonstrated with John Moss but no joy. This ref, by the way, was one of those named as sub-standard and we had to get him in a match of this magnitude... well, to us, anyway.

75 mins arrived and, out of nowhere, we put together a move of joined-up heaven when Kone held up a clearance and fed Lennon who moved it on to Gibson who picked out Coleman raiding and the Irishman found Kone in the box; he played it back to Lennon who finished with aplomb. The faithful were incandescent with joy. I enjoyed typing that bit as the move and goal was a bit out of place in this match. Kone was replaced by Naismith as Allez, Allez Oh rang out loud and proud!

QPR made another sub as we went into the last 10 minutes. "I hope he does not have the same effect as their first" I thought, as Vargas had scored after coming on and, would you believe it, just minutes later, he got in and fired just wide. Blood pressure readings should not be taken at times like this as, apart from the near miss, Gibson was down holding his knee. After attention, he hobbled off... and then jogged a bit... then came back on and resumed — phew.

The clock's hands seemed to be going through sand at the moment it seemed to have showed 88 mins for at least 20 mins. Hell, it's murder now, such is our need, and at last 90 minutes came up, as did the board showing 5 mins more. Boy, did we go deep now! We headed and hacked away and the ball kept coming back; we just could not gain control of it to see out time. Many were whistling for time as nerves were shredded and then they hit the bar... Two mins to go and tranquilisers were handed around. Jags headed clear; it came right back in so he boots it away and Naismith chases and commits a foul and gets booked. Clock creeps beyond 5 mins added as Jags clears again.... and YEEEEEES!!!!

MotM – Osman / Gibson for me. Feel free to choose your own –the result was everything.

Overall not the most entertaining of games yet a thrilling day out but only after the final whistle went confirming we had taken all the points.

We should now beat the drop with the chance to play a little more freely and gain enough points to fit my prediction of a finish between 8th and 12th. The players can now enjoy the international break on the back of that win and come back ready to entertain us.

I wonder what the owner and board make of this season? Surely they must have been as worried as us because we all watch the same games. Saying we all watch the same games it is fascinating to compare the majority on our site with match going fans as there is still a sizeable number that believe our present manager should be given another season – and that’s across all age groups. I will be interested to see what transpires. Still soon be April 4th and a good home test against this season's surprise high performers and a chance to see if our present manager has sanctioned a different way to win. Will we have a recognised centre-forward after both today left the field injured? Never a dull moment down Goodison way. See you there

UP THE BLUES

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Patrick Murphy
1 Posted 23/03/2015 at 01:05:37
Nice report Ken, I'm surprised that the lads who go away from home still have faith in Roberto, they must be seeing something that I and others have missed - but it is all about opinions. The moment I nearly lost it today came very late in the game when Barkley picked up the ball just in their half and instead of running diagonally towards the corner flag to waste time he decided to put Naismith in with a through ball and the Scot was offside which gave QPR one more opportunity to hurl the ball into our box. It's that lack of awareness that makes me think that Barkley still has much to learn.
Michael Penley
2 Posted 23/03/2015 at 01:39:58
Didn't see it but I note you list Gibson/Ossie as MOTM. Am I wrong in thinking that we are less likely to lose when these two are involved?
Victor Jones
3 Posted 23/03/2015 at 01:11:23
Good report. Interesting that your men of the match are Gibson and Osman. I agree. But the chances are that one of them will be sidelined when Barry is available. And the other will be sidelined when Mirallas is fit. Mirallas will be crammed into midfield. Or maybe Naismith. Then we will see players all of a similar style, running into the same channels, and getting into each others way. It will happen. Cause Martinez cannot for some reason leave well alone. He has to tinker. No need now to rest players. Play this starting 11, until they drop. Except for two positions. Play Robles and Garbutt. Give them game time. Because they are Evertons future. And I think now that we will be safe. But please ,no more slumps.

Today was ugly. But it was three points. That is all that matters. I have seen this type of win and performance under D. Moyes. And TBH I never appreciated those wins. I wanted more. How times have changed. I am now appreciating an ugly win. Maybe Moyes was right all along. "lets get 40 points first, and see what happens". Martinez needs to put the League first, and not sacrifice everything on a pie in the sky European campaign. That will come to Everton with better management and a better squad. But not under this manager. I fear that he is only a one trick pony.

Lets now try and get back that winning mentality, especially at GP. Or at least try to be hard to beat. Heres hoping that (for now) Martinez has dropped that stupid passing game. It does not work. We are not Barcelona. We still need a few points to be certain of PL football next season. And how about restoring some much needed pride to the club. A few wins over the likes of Southampton and Man Utd would help. Heres hoping that we don't return to type, and lose these games. Heres hoping that Martinez has learnt from this season, cause he learnt nothing at Wigan. Heres hoping that he holds on to our better players. Heres hoping that he can bring in a few talented players who will strengthen the squad for next season. And heres hoping that he has a good pre-season. And has these players fighting fit for next season.

A lot of hoping there. And I'm not that sure or confidant that Martinez can deliver. But we are stuck with him. And I never really bought into his footballing philosophy. But this is Everton. Nobody said things would be easy. But for once, I wish it bloody well was. FOREVER EVERTON.

Frank McGregor
4 Posted 23/03/2015 at 02:36:40
Accurate report on an ugly win. To my understanding of the game if you control the midfield you invariable win the game. Everton's midfield was non-existent thus we had scrambles in the Everton 18-yard area.

On the subject of the manager, I believe he will see the season out and be given a chance to turn things around in the new season. That being the case, I believe the board should have a contingency plan in place with a short list of preferred candidates for the job in the event that, after 8 games the same situation prevails, a new manager is put in place.

Bob Parrington
7 Posted 23/03/2015 at 08:03:12
We rode our luck and won it with 2 well executed goals. Earlier in the season we've lost out on the luck on occasions so wtf. Well done team and manager!

Ken, I'd like to propose Stones as the MoM!

Onward and upwards!

Brent Stephens
8 Posted 23/03/2015 at 08:02:56
Good one as usual Ken. I'm a fan of Osman's abilities - his perception, his quick feet, his ability to keep the ball recycling so we don't lose our collective pace. I do think he has not much time left in the team, except as an impact sub and even then...

But for me that is where we desperately, desperately need a new player - creative midfield. Above all else (above Howard, above any defensive frailties, above any weaknesses in wingers etc). If it takes money, that's where it should all go. Osman's (and Gibbo's) contribution in this way shows how it takes pressure off the defence and increases our goal-scoring chances. A new Osman, please.

Clive Mitchell
9 Posted 23/03/2015 at 08:06:08
Thanks Ken, you absolutely capture what it was like to experience those 90 minutes as a blue. Bloody hell. I think the team deserve credit for showing a lot of fight 60 hours after they got back from Kiev. Coleman seemed to feel Jags was MotM. I don't think our defence has any confidence in Howard at all. They're not alone.
Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 23/03/2015 at 08:47:35
I only saw MotD, so your description gave me a much better picture of the game. As someone else pointed out it was obvious in the brief pieces I saw the huge gaps between defence and attack, the midfield is non-existent, they are all too busy covering for Howard who continues to be played, to the consternation of most fans.
Michael Kidd
11 Posted 23/03/2015 at 09:10:06
If someone were watching that game without knowing the sides' league positions, he would probably have thought that the better team was a bit wasteful in front of goal and ended up losing to the poorer team, who took their chances.

We were second best yesterday for most of the game, in my view. Every time that QPR had the ball, they seemed to have time on the ball and a QPR shirt to pass to. Nearly every time we cleared the ball, the ball came straight back again. Part of the problem was that Kone (despite playing a role in both goals) had a stinker and didn't hold the ball up at all. Lukaku wasn't a lot better.

Also, we were effectively playing with only 3 in the midfield because McCarthy was often part of a back 5 in reality. Gibson had a good game but I was surprised that Ken had Ossie down for Man of the Match because I thought most of the game passed him by. He was good on the ball when he had it, but he was part of the missing midfield. While I think that both he and Lennon worked hard, why was there so much space in the middle of the park?

I don't want to quibble too much because 3 points are 3 points and they are vital at this stage, but that performance, albeit very good in huff and puff, was poor when it comes to class.

James Joseph
12 Posted 23/03/2015 at 09:58:45
Brent (8) asks for a new Osman. Don't worry, El Roberto has it all in hand - Tom Cleverley, a player who loves to 'recycle' the ball and who, in his own words is "not a player who's going to beat three or four people and stick in the top corner or go around tackling people like Roy Keane." Can't Wait!
Tim Wardrop
13 Posted 23/03/2015 at 10:41:23
Stones and Jagielka were our best two players, not for the first time this season. I'm still absolutely spitting feathers about the decision to leave Stones out on Thursday.
Andrew Ellams
14 Posted 23/03/2015 at 10:52:15
Stones and Jagielka are a quality partnerships, they compliment each other very well. What Roberto needs to think about is getting them some cover and competition.
Vinny Garstrokes
15 Posted 23/03/2015 at 10:37:57
Jags was my MotM. Two Premier League wins following two Thursday night European ties is excellent.

I had my reservations at the end of last season that we had the depth to juggle a Europa League campaign with the dreaded second-season syndrome that has afflicted Roberto. Don't forget that in our second season under DM, we finished 17th with 39 points. He then went on to earn 3 League Manager of the Year awards from his peer group despite what a lot of contributors of ToffeeWeb thought of his style and tactics.

I really hope that Roberto will learn and move us onwards and upwards. If he was ever under any doubt about what its like to manage Everton, he is firmly in the picture now. The biggest Diva (Eto'o) was thankfully moved on, but I think Mirallas is still a marmite character within the camp. They may not be blessed with the natural talent of others but, for me, Ossie, Gibbo and Naismith are exactly what I am looking for when I want to see passion, grit and determination and are pivotal characters when bringing a team together.

Next game for me is the Villa away on 2nd May - My favourite away ground. Onwards and upwards COYB!!

Sam Hoare
16 Posted 23/03/2015 at 11:04:56
I was there and these were my ratings for what it's worth.

Howard 6 – Difficult to see if he was at fault at all for the goal. Came for a few crosses and made one good save. Still lacks presence and authority and was lucky not to concede more.

Coleman 8 – Hard to argue with a goal and an assist though he still doesn't seem to be his old self and turned down may opportunities to run at them. Him and Lennon were pretty solid defensively.

Stones 8 – Had a tough day dealing with Zamora who is a real unit but did well for the most part and got in some crucial blocks and headers.

Jagielka 9 – MotM. Won the three points for us with a series of tackles, headers and blocks when we were under pressure. Meant a lot to him and all the players ran to him at final whistle to congratulate him.

Baines 7 – Still seems to let in a lot of crosses without closing down his man. Had some pretty play on the left but with little end effect.

McCarthy 6 – Seemed like he was playing centre back for a lot of the game. Lost the ball a few times but was usually quick to close down. Did very little with the ball.

Gibson 7 – Seemed okay but his passing was mixed and he was second to a lot of 50/50s. Clearly has an intelligence and speed of thought that only Osman can match but wish he was a bit more mobile.

Osman 7 – Those quick feet. Passed and dribbled well for the most part. Was guilty along with Baines of letting a lot of crosses in from our left flank. No doubt we look more creative with him in the team. Was knackered by 60 mins.

Lennon 8 – Very decent showing. What a difference pace makes. He was heavily involved in the first goal and scored the second. Also did a lot of tracking back and showed a great work rate. Playing for a contract I guess... wonder if he'd try so hard if we bought him?

Lukaku 7 – Not up to his high recent standard but still holding the ball up a lot better than earlier this season. Had quite a few breaks without managing to really create chances for himself or anyone else.

Kone 6 – Put the effort in but was sadly lacking in finesse and fortune. His passing was even worse than Lukaku's and had quite a few breaks that were not made great use of.

Barkley 6 – Did not have a lot of ball – and certainly did not have any balls, if you know what I mean. Someone needs to put some fire in this boy or he will end up all Adel Taarabt... undeniable talent wasted by lack of intensity and application.

Naismith 5 – Did very little. I like the guy but becoming less and less a fan of him in our team as I'm afraid he lacks so many necessary qualities such as pace, touch and passing. Was unable to keep the ball at all.

Declan Martin
17 Posted 23/03/2015 at 11:18:34
Jags and Stones both had stormers – they needed to, since QPR's main tactics seemed to be to get the ball into the box at any opportunity and see what happens. At least, they had a plan – which is more than what we appeared to have.

Difficult to see any pattern to our play, but a win is a win, and both of our goals were good. I have no faith in Kone, though. He is just not good enough for this level.

Bill Gall
18 Posted 23/03/2015 at 12:55:08
Nice to see Osman getting some praise and the people giving an honest assessment of his game realize that he is not a 90-minute player.

Why is it that people like myself and lots of other supporters have been writing about the need for a younger quality midfielder for a number of years yet we never hear of the club making a genuine attempt to bring one in? It is no use having a striker like Lukaku if you have no-one to supply him when he makes runs in-between the defense.

Charles Barrow
20 Posted 23/03/2015 at 13:35:38
I was at the game yesterday and the only real positive was the three points! We didn't play well – very little creativity in midfield. Osman was not MotM. He was too easily brushed aside and is seriously lacking in pace. Yes, bring him on for the last 30 mins as sub, but really he can't last a full 90.

Stones and Jags were very good and get my vote. Jags in particular was really up for it. Strange that they didn't play in the way Martinez seemingly demands – very little short passing to feet, just lots of misplaced passes!

I thought Barkley did okay – you can tell he still is lacking in confidence as at the end, with Naismith running at the angle, he could have taken it on himself by rounding the defender rather trying the pass – last season he might have done so.

Agree Barry is overdue a nice long rest – three of Barkley, Gibson, Besic or McCarthy in midfield for me. Lennon looked lively if not a world beater.

Let's just hope they give us something to shout about between now and the end of the season... but who knows with Martinez in charge.

Tom Bowers
21 Posted 23/03/2015 at 13:47:31
It should not go unnoticed that Osman invariably has a half-decent game against poor teams but even these days he is not a starter and should only be used as a substitute.
Graham Mockford
22 Posted 23/03/2015 at 16:20:01
Tom,

Would it surprise you to know that Ossie has played 8 PL games as a starter this season (I have included the one where he came on after 10 minutes)

Our record in those games W5 D2 L1.

Strange eh!

Ian Brandes
23 Posted 23/03/2015 at 19:26:14
Throughout barren times, and I do include the Moyes era in that, Leon Osman has often been a bright light in a very dark tunnel.

As for those who say he should come on in the latter stages of the match, it is a good job he didn't at QPR, as he was rather instrumental in our opening goal!

Age may be catching up with him, and, in this era of big Premier League players, he may be lightweight, but in physique and stature only. He has a spirit some of our other players might like to emulate sometime.

David Hallwood
24 Posted 23/03/2015 at 23:10:31
Nice report, Ken – as ever. I only saw the highlights on MotD, but the general consensus is "never mind the quality, feel the points".

What baffles me about Our Bob is why didn't he take this pragmatism to Kiev, as 4-4-2 is a lot more solid defensively (4-5-1 even better), and protect the lead like every other manager in a similar position.

Who was is that said, "Football is a simple game ruined by coaches"?

Barry Jones
25 Posted 23/03/2015 at 22:59:26
Without a doubt Osman has been missed. One of the biggest problems this season has been moving the ball forward quickly. This does not mean long ball, just spotting the runs and openings early. Osman can deliver with that.

I feel sorry for the centre-backs as Howard is not willing to commit to anything further out than a couple of yards and this puts a lot of pressure on them. It has to be remembered that the last two wins have been unimpressive, one against ten men and the other against one of the worst teams in the EPL, so let’s not go overboard just yet.

Harold Matthews
26 Posted 23/03/2015 at 23:24:21
David. He knew one goal would put them in front and after seeing how expertly they engineered their away goal at Goodison there was no way we were going to keep a clean sheet on their patch.

Let's face it, we were lucky to concede only one at QPR. No matter how we set up our defence, it has big holes in it. We don't close down crosses or shots. In fact, we can't jump out of the way quick enough. We're always out of position and are very poor in the air. We're too easily out-muscled, we ball-watch and the keeper flaps around like a wounded octopus.

The coach is the main culprit of course but the players have been operating well below the required standard. All of them.

Mike Childs
27 Posted 24/03/2015 at 11:05:09
Harold thanks. Also Sam in reference to Lennon & the difference having pace makes and know BK anyone else think Vardy at Leicester is worth a contract this summer?

Mike Lyons must be licking his chops with the money he's going to make on Ayloze Perez – what gifted feet.

Tim Michael
28 Posted 24/03/2015 at 18:15:48
Started the season with three strikers, two fit one injured. Get to halfway thru the season, two fit one departed. Coming to the end of the season no strikers fit with no replacement. To be honest we've never had a third striker all season! Another example if insufficient thought to what the balance of a squad needs. Almost to the point of making do. In the words of the graffiti artist "not good enough" Well we're having to make do now. Naisy is the only option in the squad and he's not an out and out striker and don't include Mirallas in this argument. He can't complete 90 mins without some kind of problem..

Martinez must continue with two men upfront no matter who is unfit. Play Barkley there. He's a big lad, over 6ft, strong build with good pace. It'll add another aspect to his development and you never know he could be a success!!

Jon Cox
29 Posted 24/03/2015 at 20:09:01
Bilic

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