COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Match Report - Good away day

By Paul Traill :  17/04/2010 :  Comments (6) :

Match Report – Blackburn Rovers vs Everton

The original plan was to try and get to Blackburn in time for the Manchester derby but boys being boys we were typically late, rolling up and parking up around Blackburn at about 1:45pm, diving into literally the first ‘MATCH DAY PARKING’ area we saw.

The first pub, the Golden Cup or something like that, looked a little too busy and perhaps not so accommodating for showing the football so we moved on to one we know from last time we were here, The Fernhurst. Same as last time, they had a little function suite room open upstairs which weren’t quite as busy and we were able to watch Man Utd and Scholes doing what they do best – banging in a last minute winner...title race still on.

With that we were on to the match and had the team news before getting into the ground – Arteta starting and Hibbert drafted in to right back to replace the injured Heitinga with Neville pushing up into midfield. The bench looked rather weak.

We attacked the opposite end in the first half, and starting brightly, managed to find ourselves ahead after just three minutes…Arteta popping up smartly on the right hand side of the box before getting felled for a blatant penalty. Saha wanted it. Arteta denied him and planted the penalty home, sending Robinson the wrong way. 1-0 Everton. The perfect start.

We kept up the tempo, playing the ball around nicely though did allow Blackburn to edge back into the game, with Everton having to be at their resilient best to keep out the Rovers. Cahill had to clear off the line at one point and Blackburn came close again after what seemed like eternal head tennis in the penalty area.

Down the other end, and towards the end of the half Bilyaletdinov had a good chance to thrash the ball at goal but instead elected to cross and clipped the ball harmlessly into the air for Paul Robinson to claim. Other than Saha seemingly getting crocked before the break as we got to half time things were going swimmingly.

Off the pitch things were also fine other than some rather annoying incessant chanter right behind us who never made any sense throughout. Gary had gone down early for his half time beer. I joined him just before the break, though pointlessly queued for ages at the food queue, only realizing there was another, smaller, booth right by where Gary was standing specifically for beer with no queue…hindsight eh!

If the first half was bright, the second half was blinding. Unbelievable entertainment and we certainly got our moneys-worth from this one. As we went to sit down some bladdered blokes had somehow managed to sit in our seats which was a little confusing but was eventually settled. On the pitch Everton threatened several times to get the second goal but it just wouldn’t come for various reasons….stout defending, wayward shooting or poor final ball passing…pick them. The closest we did come was when Baines smacked it basically as hard as he could at the goal on the half-volley from the edge of the box though the ball pinged off the post and out for a goal kick…very unlucky.

The bad luck was compounded just minutes later also when N’Zonzi turned inside his marker and, like Baines, smashed the ball as hard as he could from distance and it just flew into the goal, unstoppably past Howard. An amazing hit. It’s those goals that annoy me most…particularly when its from someone whom you just didn’t think was capable. I remember a few years ago when Danny Mills of all people banged in a ridiculous goal against us when playing for Manchester City. It was his first goal in 3 ½ years or something outrageous like that...you don’t mind so much when Ronaldo does it.

That was on 68 minutes and so we still had time to get back ahead. It took a few substitutions to get us there though. First up Anichebe replaced the lagging Bilyaletdinov, though the real impact substitution came when Yakubu replaced Hibbert…literally entering the field, ghosting into the box, getting on the end of an Anichebe flick on and heading into the net. Get in! What a substitution!

The drama was far from over however as Blackburn were still to hit back…through another unbelievable good goal, this time from Jason Roberts. This one came only two minutes after our one however whilst the Everton fans were still singing, Roberts getting past the defender with the bouncing ball and striking it nicely past Howard. Again, my furious question – when does Jason Roberts ever score good goals?

We couldn’t see the scoreboard from our seats but by our reckoning we had about 15 minutes left in this…tops. In this time we pressed, and pressed, and pressed though seemingly with no end product. Some strikes from distance were all harmless though Everton continued to persevere, passing the ball around patiently and stylishly.

We finally got our rewards when Yakubu got away down the right hand side, crossing the ball low across the goal for Cahill to tap home to glorious celebrations from the jubilant Evertonians.

A flurry of substitutions followed before a few reasonably scary moments ensued though thankfully we got to the final whistle a goal ahead – a nice change from the last few games…now lets hope Aston Villa drop points in their local derby tomorrow.

After the game we got ourselves back to the lively pub rather than getting buried in the car park, finally getting home about 7:30pm.

What a result. What a game. What an away day. The best one of the season, and who knows, possibly the most crucial as we cling on to lingering European hopes.

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: Relatively untested really though seemed a formidable presence in goal. Was helpless with both Blackburn’s goals. 7
  • Baines: Quality. Unlucky not to get on the scoresheet also. 9
  • Jagielka: Fine. Solid. 7
  • Distin: Probably even more solid than Jagielka. Had a fine game. 8
  • Hibbert: Did fine. Seemed strangely comfortable on the ball also and got forward well. 7
  • Neville: Had a cracking game in the midfield and seemed much more comfortable than he has done lately at right back. I wonder if Moyes will change it for next week with Heitinga back.
  • Arteta: My man of the match. His movement off the ball is something else as is the usage of the ball when with it. Had an amazing impact on the game. My man of the match. 9
  • Pienaar: Very good. Very resourceful on the ball. 7
  • Bilyaletdinov: Showed flashes but too many moments of inconsistency. I’m still hopeful he’ll come good next season. 5
  • Cahill: Did well. Kept on urging Everton forward and go stuck in. 7
  • Saha: Good. Was up for it. 7
  • Anichebe (for Bilyaletdinov): Was good and effective on the left hand side when he came on. Made a difference. I think he may start next week. 7
  • Yakubu (for Hibbert): What an impact. Scoring with his first touch and making the second goal. It doesn’t get much better than that. 8
  • Yobo (for Saha): Brought on to shore things up though not on long so can’t really judge.

Reader Comments

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Michael Evans
1   Posted 19/04/2010 at 18:29:09

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Paul — You and Ken Buckley should be commended for the time and effort you put in to writing these reports.

I, for one, really appreciate them. Many thanks.

John Hall
2   Posted 19/04/2010 at 20:22:43

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Hear! hear! excellent posts all season, well done!
Dick Fearon
3   Posted 19/04/2010 at 22:07:57

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I reiterate my previously mentioned appreciation of Ken's and Paul's contributions plus those of the TW team. Keep up the good work, lads. For ex pats such as I, who miss the meat pies and beer match day experience, your efforts provide the meat in the sandwich.
Lee Howard
4   Posted 20/04/2010 at 01:27:49

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Agree with both posts; living in NZ, I end up missing most matches because of the time difference. So it's good to get some atmosphere of the games.
Trevor Powell
5   Posted 20/04/2010 at 05:03:01

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Although N'Zonzi really appeared to hit his shot beautifully, I am alone in thinking it took a deflection of an Everton raised foot? If it did, why did all the pundits not say anything? And if it didn't, I need a new eye test!
Paul Flynn
6   Posted 20/04/2010 at 12:48:41

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Excellent match report.Living in New York i only get to see the games on t.v. These reports give you an insight and a taste of the atmosphere you never get to experience from watching the game at home or in the bar

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