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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

By Paul Traill :  06/12/2009 :  Comments (6) :

Match Report: Everton vs Tottenham Hotspurs

A good day at the game. The plan was for us all to get the pub about 2pm via various means and strangely we all somehow cohered enough to make it more or less on time. So much so in fact that Ste arrived about 30 seconds after me whilst I was at the bar. I bought Ste a can of Coke which he consequently dropped, piercing a small hole in the can which he then went on to unwittingly soak Gary and I with, before realizing what he was doing, holding the can upwards to then drench the jukebox before throwing the can in the bin. “Wow Ste. What an entrance” said Gary.

The team news came up on the screens in the pub and Sky seemed to have it sussed that Hibbert would be partnering Yobo in defense with Neill at right back. We just put that down to bad punditry and were certain it would be Hibbert in his usual position of right back. I, for one, was pretty surprised then when the teams took position before kick off and Hibbert was indeed at centre-back. With Rodwell fit the midfield pretty much picked itself though Jo was perhaps the other surprise, starting up front on his own.

The bench comprised of both Yakubu and Saha, with Coleman, Duffy, Agard, Baxter and Nash the remaining substitutes. As for Spurs – after all the talk this week you just knew Crouch would start and Defoe wasn’t going to be displaced. Kranjcar and Lennon played the flanks in quite a strong Spurs team. A look at the bench proved that much with Pavlyuchenko, Keane, Jenas, Bentley, Hutton and Bale listed as the outfield substitutes. I’d be interested to see Spurs wage bill. The referee was Andy Mariner. We won the toss and so attacked the Park End in the first half.

Spurs went at us from the off though failed to capitalize on our initial hesitancy before we swung our way back into the game with a few long range efforts of our own from Rodwell and Fellaini, neither of which were much bother to Heurelho Gomes.

The atmosphere was electric and the game was fast-paced but it was Spurs who settled into the game a bit better than we did in the first half. Crouch and Defoe both had reasonable opportunities but wayward shooting and poor finishing thwarted Spurs. Amidst all this Everton had to reconfigure when Yobo limped off with his hamstring strain and Coleman entered the fray for his Goodison Park debut, now shifting Neill to centre-back.

Whilst Spurs edged the first half Everton weren’t exactly without chances when Jo nearly caused what would have been an own goal and Baines hit a beauty of a free kick, both of which were expertly held by Gomes. Four bookings aside (Rodwell and Fellaini for us, Dawson and Assou-Ekotto for Spurs) there wasn’t much else to shout about in the half. Given the amount of cards Marriner was flashing around I was convinced someone would eventually see red in this one, but other than that I hoped our team talk would iron a few things out at the interval.

We didn’t. Just like Villa did at the end of October, Spurs went straight at us at the start of the second half. A ball in was fisted clear by Howard under heavy pressure from Crouch but then not cleared properly. Spurs picked up the pieces, Lennon crossing from the right, nobody near him, nobody marking and Defoe was there to volley home to put Spurs ahead. Defoe headed straight towards Lennon as Spurs celebrated. The Spurs fans went wild.

‘Not again’ I thought. ‘I’m sick of being behind at home’. It seemed the players were too as it took us a while to get going again. Coleman was doing his best to get involved down the right but ultimately nothing was happening for Everton. Given the way recent results have generally gone it would have been hard to moan at anyone whom left with about 30 minutes to go when Dawson headed home from a corner to put the game seemingly beyond doubt.

Moyes made his changes. Yakubu and Saha the obvious choices for the obvious choices – Jo and Rodwell. The impact was almost immediate. Not so much in chances but more so in belief. We’d been on the front-foot for quite a while when Saha smashed one home after excellent play by Coleman down the right hand side. With 12 minutes still to go, Goodison was rocking.

We continued to press and were rewarded with three minutes to go when Coleman again got away down the right hand side. His cross ended up on the left with Baines who smashed at goal, miss-hitting it so badly it went across the box and was met by a stooping Cahill whom headed into the net before taking his frustration out on the corner flag. “We can still do this” said Gary. The atmosphere bubbled.

With perhaps a little more focus we maybe could have won it, though oh so easily may have lost it when Hibbert and Palacios crashed into each other in our penalty box deep into stoppage time. I thought it looked harsh but Marriner gave a penalty, with Palacios staying down injured and eventually being stretchered off to be replaced by Hutton. It was so tense and seemed to take forever. I was quite convinced Defoe was going to shoot down the middle of the goal from the spot and had he have done so higher he’d have won the game for Spurs, though thankfully he hit it low and Howard, diving to his right, was able to block the ball with his leg.

It was cleared and all of a sudden Everton were on the attack with Pienaar although it eventually came to nothing. It was a real frantic last couple of minutes of the game as both teams went for it until Marriner, probably to the relief of just about everyone in the end blew his whistle for the end of the game. What a match. What a come back. Hopefully we can crack on from here.

After the game Gary and I went for a quick pint or two before he got picked up to go to a gig in Manchester, and me picked up for a lift into town to get my bus home. The band – The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. Heard of them?

Well stuck at it blues. Tough one next week but a gallant display at the Bridge followed by a good Christmas blitz against Birmingham City, Sunderland and Burnley should see us back on track…we’re not too far adrift to salvage our season yet.

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: Cracking penalty save at the end and did make some good stops throughout the game. 7
  • Baines: Supported Pienaar in attack well. 7
  • Hibbert: I was surprised he was chosen to start at centre. Nevertheless he stood up to the task well, making some vital blocks and interceptions, especially in the first half. 7
  • Yobo: Didn’t see much of him before he limped off. Hope he’s back soon. 5
  • Neill: Did alright if not spectacular. 5
  • Rodwell: Seemed to be taken aback by his unfair first half booking. Wasn’t really involved enough after that and was the obvious substitute candidate. 5
  • Bilyaletdinov: In and out of the game though showed glimpses of what he can do. 6
  • Pienaar: You can never fault him for effort and on another day his distribution would have paid off. 7
  • Fellaini: Growing into the task more and hopefully will get more and more into it as the season wears on. 7
  • Cahill: Stuck at it and got his rewards with his equalizing goal. I don’t think he’s playing great though you watch, we’ll miss his zest next weekend at Chelsea. 7
  • Jo: After a couple of decent performances he was sadly lacking a little today. 5
  • Coleman (for Yobo): Whether its in the future or more recently, he’s set for an extended run in the teams. His attacking nous is excellent and his reading of the game plus ability to use both feet are both great assets. Had a big hand in both goals. My man of the match. 8
  • Saha (for Rodwell): Took until his goal to get going but when he was he was almost untouchable at times. I’d b surprised if he wasn’t carrying a knock as don’t see why he wouldn’t be starting the game ahead of Jo otherwise. 7
  • Yakubu (for Jo): Also struggled to get into the game but that seems more to do with the fast tempo of the game than anything else. Still struggling for fitness though that’ll come with games. 6

Reader Comments

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Martin Cutler
1   Posted 06/12/2009 at 23:16:19

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Just watched the game on the tele over here in the USA .... a win is always nice but that was a gutsy, determined game by the lads against a team on the up and up (pains me to say that of course) but I must admit I was impressed with the performance today ... if only we had a fully fit team!
I just pray that we do have exactly that and the same spirit that was shown today for the second half of the season for the two cup competitions.
Final word: the young lad Coleman was outstanding!!!
Dermot Ryan
2   Posted 06/12/2009 at 23:47:05

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I think those holiday fixtures are so vital and offer so much potential for points, a little negative voice in my head would have us rest Saha and other doubtfuls for Chelsea. Total heresy I know but I think it would be worth thinking about the game as some kind of cup fixture where you blood the younger players. That said, I guess having a young team shredded by Drogba and co. would probably be totally counterproductive. As would a total annihilation?

Sorry to be so negative but I’m not sure how you approach the next game. With the team we have, I wonder if trying to get a result at Chelsea is a waste of time. What other team’s approach do we model for a positive outcome? I don’t want to pick up more injuries before we get to play Birmingham, Sunderland, and Burnley (tough games but ones I think we can really try to get points out of).

Brian Wilson
3   Posted 07/12/2009 at 00:51:40

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Great gutsy display to come back.
If only we could keep Saha fit and get Yak into shape we’d have a cracking strike force. Still don’t rate Jo tho’.
Well done Coleman for putting Benfica behind him and putting in such a great home debut performance.
Stewart Littler
4   Posted 07/12/2009 at 01:06:52

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Two emotions really today - on the plus side, we were again decimated by injuries, against a pretty much full strength Spurs team (who looked far better than the RS did last week), and still came away with a point. On the minus side, the defending for both Spurs goals was shocking. My ratings:
Howard - 7; good penalty save, but still think he could have a tad more control over his 6 yard box
Neill - 5; was given the run around by Crouch. At fault for goal 2.
Hibbert - 5; was given the run around by Defoe. At fault for goal 1.
Yobo - 5; clearly not fit
Baines - 6; got forward quite well, but allowed Lennon to much space to ping balls in
Pienaar - 7; targetted by the Spurs hatchet men, but had a game full of energy
Rodwell - 6; unlucky to be booked
Fellaini - 8; looked better in the air, looked better on the deck, and I think the Fro inspired us today - MOTM
Bilyaletdinov - 5; never got in the game, and looked knackered
Cahill - 7; battled, fought, wore his heart on his sleeve, and got the goal he needed
Jo - 6; did Ok considering he was isolated for large parts of the game, but still frustrating
Subs:
Coleman - 8; great home debut
Yakubu - 5; I know he’s not fit, but he doesn’t look particularly interested - should have done better with the chance that came his way
Saha - 7; great goal and unlucky with THAT chance

Moyes - 6; he is limited with his options right now, but dithered too long before making the 2nd half subs. Injuries permitting, he now HAS to go 442 in the next home game. Coleman needs to keep his place.

I think, despite our terrible start, we have been fortunate in a sense. We are only 10 points off a European spot, and we have the capability to make this up with a great 2nd half of the season. Whether we’ll see thta remains to be seen, but I am certainly more upbeat after today.
Pat Finegan
5   Posted 07/12/2009 at 05:19:00

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Man of the match was easily Coleman. I’m very impressed with the kid. Jo, once again, couldn’t finish or make a decent run. As a whole, we looked like a real team. I’ve seen a turn around, beginning with the derby, and hopefully it will continue. We’re 6 points out of 7th place so we might even be able to make a run for European qualification again. I don’t want to be too optimistic. This past week could have been a fluke, but if it was truly a glimpse of what is to come, I’m hopeful.
Joe McMahon
6   Posted 07/12/2009 at 19:40:06

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Paul- The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are a great band. Check out "Heads will Roll" although it does sound a little like PIL "This is not a Lovesong"

I will say one thing though, we only seem to get thinsg right from Moyes through forced substitutions; if Yobo had still been on the pitch there wouldn’t have been any crosses from a full back for the goals. You would have thought after nearly 8 years that he (Moyes) would be able to address this?!?

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