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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

A hard fought win

By Paul Traill :  31/10/2010 :  Comments (8) :

Early for the game, quite a few of us congregated in the pub pre-kick off.  It was quite a good laugh in the boozer and I?ve had happily stayed in the pub a little longer... but on to the match we had to go!

Just the one switch from the draw at Spurs with Arteta recovered and in to replace Bilyaletdinov.  Rodwell was also back but only on the substitute bench.  It was a reasonably attacking line-up from Stoke City with Kenwyne Jones, Tunçay, Walters and Etherington all in from the start.  The match programme almost got the referee?s name correct but failed with the surname.  Lee Probert officiated, not Lee Mason as listed.  We switched ends and so attacked the Lower Gwladys in the first half.

I thought we got into the game quite promptly though it didn?t take Stoke long to settle into the game either with Jones and Faye spurning reasonable opportunities early on.  Everton?s best chance in the first half fell to Yakubu who, a little typically of Yakubu on recent form, dragged his shot tamely at Begovic with a reasonable opportunity.

The main flashpoint of the first half was much ado about nothing.  Seamus Coleman charged through into the box though the ball was just too far ahead of him and Begovic was able to collect.  Coleman hadn?t give up on it though and stuck out a leg to try and get the ball and barely brushed the keeper's face.  I saw it well as it was right in front of me.  It was a little criminal the way Shawcross tried to make more of the situation than was necessary though it was all distinguished quickly by Probert.

Stoke?s time-wasting on throw ins, goal kicks and free kicks was a little criminal also given it was still the first half.  You got the impression the referee (who had a decent first half I thought) was getting a little aggravated with their tactics also.  At half-time it was goalless, you felt maybe just the one goal would settle this one.

At the break I had to locate some German friends of friends who had come over to visit and wanted to take in a Premier League game.  The plan was for me to take them home after the match so in broken, cringe worthy, pigeon-English, I organized to meet them by the church after the match?  I hoped this loose plan would work.

In the second period, both teams went for it a bit more whilst Probert got a little fussy.  The Everton crowd had been quiet for most of the match, much to the delight of the travelling Stoke support.  Somehow, when the referee got over-fussy just one time too many for the taking of a short corner I think, the crowd kicked into gear a bit.  This seemed to help the players who clicked up a gear or two, I felt.

Prior to this, Stoke had a great chance to score when Everton failed to clear and the ball bounced back nicely to Shawcross who struck on the half-volley but just wide of the post with Howard stranded.  The busy Tunçay DID have the ball in the net when he bundled the ball in from a free kick but Probert blew up for a push by the Turk.  Replays suggest there wasn?t much of a push at all...

Regardless, we pressed on.  Moyes went more bullish, taking off Coleman and putting on another striker in Saha. Cahill nearly scored when Faye blocked his half volley from a cross on the left hand side.  The goal did come shortly afterwards though when Yakubu robbed possession from Faye inside the box and played a neat, quick ball back to Cahill.  The Australian?s shot skewed back off the post and drifted out to the right side of the box where Yakubu picked it up, shimmied past his defender and smashed an unstoppable drive past Begovic.  A great, deserved strike from Yakubu and hopefully that?ll get him going now.

There was still plenty of time on the clock though Stoke didn?t really manage to make it too uncomfortable for us and we saw out the victory reasonably comfortably.  My pigeon-English wasn?t perhaps as bad as I thought and I navigated the Germans home following the full-time whistle.

So we won.  Perhaps not a fully deserved win but there was certainly a few games at the start of the season which we deserved more from than we got so I?ll take the scrappy win.  With Blackpool and then Bolton next up we could really get close to that top four if we perform as we can do over the next few games.

Player Ratings

  • Howard:  Not a great deal to do generally. A bit hair-brained with distribution at times but generally OK. 6
  • Baines:  Did alright though can offer more than he did do in attack. 6
  • Distin:  Had a solid game. 8
  • Jagielka:  Had a few shaky moments but was generally sound. 7
  • Neville:  Carried on where he left off last week. 7
  • Heitinga:  I thought he was a bit more like the Heitinga we know and got stuck in a lot more. Much improved. 7
  • Arteta:  Did OK if not spectacular. 6
  • Cahill:  Not one of his better games. I lost count of the amount of times he jumped early and missed his header. Still, was busy as always and played an important role for the goal. 6
  • Pienaar:  Did well. Was busy and kept on going. 7
  • Coleman:  Still edging his way in on the right wing really. Needs more games to develop experience but puts the work in at least. Looked a little lost at times. 5
  • Yakubu:  My man of the match. Took his goal well, was lively and took the fight to Stoke. I?m hoping he?ll go on a bit of a roll now. 8
  • Saha (for Coleman):  Was quite lively. 6
  • Bilyaletdinov (for Yakubu):  Not on long, Hard to judge.

Reader Comments

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David Hallwood
1   Posted 31/10/2010 at 17:49:42

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Paul, good report, but I can't agree about your player ratings. I went to the game and I must be the only person that was disappointed with the Yak. I thought he was well marshalled by the, admittedly excellent Shawcross, but made no attempts to lose his marker and was generally static. Chances were few and far between especially in the first half and considering that Cahill was playing up front as opposed to his usual position.

Maybe I'm just prejudiced against forwards that don?t bust a gut to get into the box, when there?s half a chance going begging (Saha anyone?) or work the back line like Kevin Davies does every game. He took his goal well and I?m delighted for him, but apart from that, very lacklustre.
Stephen Kenny
2   Posted 31/10/2010 at 18:21:49

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Hopefully the goal will be the start of a good run for the Yak. As strikers go, he is probably streakier than orange barmaid's legs out of the winny.
Tony J Williams
3   Posted 31/10/2010 at 21:50:50

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Agree with the Cahill mark, this wasn't one of his better games.
Martin Clark
4   Posted 01/11/2010 at 05:38:46

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I thought Heitinga did alright. More involved and spreaded the ball around well showing more interest than in previous matches this season!

The Yak for me, seemed to get involved when he could and his distribution was much better, though struggled when Everton started hoofing the ball up as Huth and Shawcross were well on top of that and the only process it served was to give Stoke the ball back.

Am hoping the Yak is Back! Would be fantastic to have a geniune goal fret from upfront.
Trevor Lynes
5   Posted 01/11/2010 at 14:24:29

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I wish we could find a centre forward like young Carroll at newcastle...he is really strong, great in the air and has pace too...The Yak is strong but nowhere near as mobile and I have never been impressed with his heading ability...I still think that Anichebe could be the answer so long as he regains form after his long injury..I would like to see him paired with the Yak as i dont think Beckford is the answer and I also think that Saha is very injury prone...
Norman Merrill
6   Posted 01/11/2010 at 14:47:01

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Paul, I am glad you mentioned the Shawcross incident, this is the so called good boy who broke a players leg, and sobbed afterwards.
And yet, wanted to make something out of nothing.
Short memories.
David Price
7   Posted 01/11/2010 at 16:33:31

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Accurate comments on the players, this game is vanishing fast from the memory banks. 3pts, great goal,
The End.
Jamie Sweet
8   Posted 01/11/2010 at 23:40:56

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Stephen Kenny # 2. Could you please expand on that comment. Who is this orange barmaid and what's up with her legs? That was a bit cryptic for me! Cheers!

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