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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Eight goals and a broken finger

By Paul  Traill :  06/02/2011 :  Comments (11) :

Teeming it down with rain, I felt it easier to drive for this one. There were more cars than usual parked up where we usually park, the road leading towards Goodison Park was also a little busier than is the norm, and the pub was just chocka. The atmosphere was pretty good, you sensed this could make for a noisy Goodison Park and hopefully a nice, open game of football.

Simon met us in the pub, bringing with him a couple of optimistic Blackpool supporting friends. They informed us the away end was sold out. I was keen to see what all the fuss was about with Charlie Adam, and to see exactly how Blackpool?s tendency to ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK! Would compromise their necessity to defend.

With the team unchanged I had an inkling of a 2-0 win and so put the bet on with Saha first goal scorer. Oh how wrong I was! Blackpool featured James Beattie in attack. He was afforded a generous reception from the home crowd. Another ex-Blue Keith Southern was amongst the substitutes for the Tangerines. We won the toss and attacked the Park End in the first half.

I thought we started the match pretty well, coming pretty close in and around the penalty area, though Blackpool were also let in a few times mostly due to flat defending by Heitinga. Still, we appeared quite comfortable and it wasn?t exactly a total shock when we got our noses in front. Bilyaletdinov doing well down the left side, skipping past a few meek challenges and laying the ball across to Saha who couldn?t miss from six yards with the whole goal to aim at.

Everton were noticeably buoyant from this and continued to take the game to Blackpool though without adding the second goal. Down at the other end Blackpool earned themselves a free kick following a Sylvan Distin handball. Adam?s drive was blocked by the Everton wall, the ball deflecting behind directly towards me. I attempted to catch, only to not get my hands under the ball and badly fumble it, completely jarring my ring finger in doing so? Closer inspection at the hospital today confirms I?ve even managed to break the bloody finger?looks like I?ll now be getting a lift to work for the next week or so.

To make matters worse, Blackpool only went and scored from the corner. Adam taking poorly, Everton defending terribly, Ian Evatt stabbing goalwards, Baines clearing off the line but then Baptiste on hand to poke home. Oh for goodness sake.

Everton picked themselves up pretty quickly though, with Saha finding the net again, though this one being chalked off as the referee had already blown up for a free kick to Everton. Having now seen it since, I struggle to see why the referee didn?t just play the advantage as every player on the pitch carried on. Regardless we went in all square at the break.

Chatting to Ste at half-time, I wondered if Arsenal could perhaps go on and win 8-0 as they led 4-0 at the interval. Well I was proved wrong with that one. We all felt we could still go on and win the game here also.

We began the second half very positively and it wasn?t long into the half when Louis Saha got on the end of a low Baines cross to steer the ball home to put as back in front. It was just what we deserved at that point. Everton then created more chances to score with Rodwell just steering the ball wide with a good chance, and Bilyaletdinov also coming close, forcing Rachubka into a good save.

Things were looking good but then, as is the Everton way, we let Blackpool back in. Gutless defending by Heitinga, losing out on a 50-50 ball to DJ Campbell I believe and Blackpool were all of a sudden in. Beattie squared the ball across the box for Puncheon to slot into the empty the net. The noisy Blackpool fans went mad. Once again, after all that hard work Everton were level.

Rodwell came particularly close to scoring just after this I think, when Rachubka came out of his box unnecessarily, was robbed by young Jack, who placed a delicious chip towards goal, though somehow it was cleared off the line by a Blackpool defender.

The mood turned a little sour shortly after when ridiculous play inside his own half by Distin presented the ball to a Blackpool player. As they took it forward Campbell?s shot came back off the crossbar? only for the rebound to be headed home by Adam. Blackpool supporters went berserk. This was all just unreal.

Everton meant business though and put quite a determined shift in to get back into the game. Bilyaletdinov and Rodwell were replaced by Cahill and Beckford as Everton went for it. A Fellaini volley had already been cleared off the line again when we got ourselves a corner. Arteta whipped it in, Saha lurked at the back post to head home and complete his hat-trick?what a mad game this was turning out to be.

The atmosphere by this point was simply electric and you thought there was only going to be one winner really, though you can never rule out Ian Holloway?s team. It was Everton though who secured the points with two more excellent goals. First Beckford got himself in a good position on the shoulder of the defender. His marker let Baines ball go past him but Beckford finished beautifully to put Everton 4-3 ahead. Goodison erupted.

We weren?t finished either, Saha amazingly bagging himself a fourth goal and probably the pick of the bunch. Fellaini, dominant as ever, picking up the ball, looking forward and picking out a great pass for Saha. He ran it into the box before finishing smartly past the by now demoralized Rachubka. 5-3. What a game.

Moyes shut up shop now, withdrawing Saha to a standing ovation, and giving Jagielka a cameo in midfield. That was that. A thrilling match and with the table still just about tight enough to progress up that league it makes next Sunday's trip to the Reebok all the more important.

The light still flickers.

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: Could possibly be called into question for some of the goals but wasn?t exactly helped by his defenders for any of them. 6
  • Baines: Good and productive. Had a hand in a few of the goals and was always forward-thinking. 8
  • Distin: All over the place at times. Maybe he needs the re-assurance of Jagielka alongside him. 5
  • Heitinga: I think we?ll need to play Jagielka instead next Sunday to compete with Davies and Elmander. Certainly culpable for one of the goals. 5
  • Neville: Fine defensively, and got involved going forward also. 6
  • Fellaini: Quiet at times but boy was he present when needed (i.e. when we were trying to get back into the game). He really kept us moving and was very dominant in the second half. 8
  • Arteta: Not great, not bad either. Still struggling for form at times but certainly getting better than he was six or seven games ago. Set-pieces much improved. 6
  • Rodwell: I thought he was excellent and was very unlucky not to score, and also to be subbed. Will be interested to see if he starts next week with Cahill back. 8
  • Bilyaletdinov: Offered a lot more than he has previously. Did particularly well with the first goal and was also a little unlucky to be subbed but something had to change. 7
  • Coleman: Kept going, worked well but not as productive as he has been and can be. 6
  • Saha: You?ve got to be man of the match if you get four goals I suppose. A constant thorn in the side. His confidence should be flying now. Hopefully he can rest well for the week and carry on where he left off at Bolton next weekend. 10
  • Cahill (for Rodwell): Got involved but didn?t see a lot of the ball. Similarly to Saha, hopefully he can rest up for the week and have a big game next Sunday. 6
  • Beckford (for Bilyaletdinov): Scored a cracking goal and showed plenty of movement. Will always score goals you feel. 7
  • Jagielka (for Saha): Not on long, can?t judge.

Reader Comments

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Anthony Hawkins
1   Posted 06/02/2011 at 17:34:27

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What? I do not see how Howard could be called into question for any of the goals. The defense cocked up and, if anything, Howard did very well with what he had to work with.

The only others I could question are Heitinga and Distin. Whilst they weren't great, they weren't that bad either. Could safely give them both at least a 6.
Jamie Barlow
2   Posted 06/02/2011 at 17:47:40

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Johnny's a liability. I'm not sure he is up for the fight judging by some of the tackles he minces into. It's all right throwing your hands up to the crowd and acting like the tough guy. I think he's already made his mind up that he's not here for the long haul.
Ian McDowell
3   Posted 06/02/2011 at 18:53:18

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Type or paste your comment here. No txt-speak, please try to use proper grammar, all-lowercase posts are likely to be deleted
Sam Fitzsimmons
4   Posted 06/02/2011 at 19:39:55

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A fantastic game of football yesterday and without doubt Saha's performance was the highlight of Everton's season so far.

However, as much as our attacking game was sublime at times, it was another dire defensive display and underlines a weakness that has blighted our season so far and contributed to games we could've won turning into draws and that is loosing the ball in the middle of the park. Artetta, Rodwell and Osman have all been guilty, yesterday it was Distin and Hetinga. Is this a problem that Round should be addressing or is it simply the players need to man up and stop being mugged so easily?

Mike Gaynes
5   Posted 06/02/2011 at 22:20:06

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Well-written, Ian!
Duncan McDine
6   Posted 07/02/2011 at 11:16:56

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Heitinga's 50-50 challenge to let them in for their 3rd was soooo gay!... he's been found out to be a bit of a wimp (remember a similar 50 -50 he lost in the centre of the park against Brum I think it was, laid on the floor like he'd been fouled and they went off to score).

That poor excuse of a tackle is enough to get him dropped in my book. Get Jags back in for Bolton.
Alan Peters
7   Posted 07/02/2011 at 14:25:47

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Having been lucky to be able to get to my first game this season on Saturday I wanted to raised a few comments and concerns...

1) RE MOYES .... WHY WHY WHY does Moyes never leave one player up when there is an opposition corner? Everytime Blackpool had a corner and it was cleared it just came back to us. Considering one of their goals was from a corner having extra players in the box doesnt always help. I assume this has been the same tactic for every opposition. Blackpool on the otherhand left at least one and sometimes two players up when Everton had a corner. I think one their other 2 goals was from a break away from an Everton corner!

2) RE ARTETA. Arteta appeared to have a better game than of late but can anyone tell me what was Everton's but particulrly ARTETA's % of hitting the wall from a freekick or the hitting the first man from corners (prob 95%). Why was ARTETA shaking his head when leaving the pitch at the end? He couldn't wait to get off. I would consider dropping him at the moment and playing CAHILL or trying him right mid and dropping COLEMAN.

3) RE HEITINGA ....Why did Heitinga make a point of going to the Gladwys Street at the end of the match. Was it so he didn't get too much abuse for poor performance. He just doesn't seem bothered to me.

4) RE BAINES ....What are others thoughts about Baines playing left midfield instead of left back? We would need someone to play left bak but do we have one?!!

5) RE COLEMAN Was hoping to have my view changed that I think Coleman is overated but I didn't. He seems to be in a rush when ever he gets the ball and isnt able to make the right decision about when to pass the ball. I think that once players have played against him a couple of times he will struggle.

6) Knowing that the accounts are being released tomorrow can anyone tell me how many of the many "suited" staff that are on the doors at Everton games are paid. If they are volunteers great. If they are paid why are there so many? How many of these does it need to check tickets?

Gary Russell
8   Posted 07/02/2011 at 14:29:03

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Just a word about Johnny H. Watching him lose the challenge that led to one of Blackpool?s goals, what struck me even more was his shocking lack of desire to make amends. Watch it again and watch his 'I couldn?t give a fuck' jog back. Absolutely appalling attitude....

http://www.hellofooty.com/everton-vs-blackpool-highlights-05-02-2011

Trevor Lynes
9   Posted 07/02/2011 at 16:04:00

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A great win but... Wolves and Birmingham results mean we still need to keep up the good work. I really don't think that 40 points will be enough to stay away from danger... we need to get something from Bolton at the weekend.
Jay Harris
10   Posted 07/02/2011 at 16:33:15

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Although Heitinga was wimpish in the tackle that led to that goal Coleman was more at fault for an atrocious back pass.

I think Heitinga has been playing well recently and his distribution puts Jags well into the shade.
Brian Garside
11   Posted 08/02/2011 at 18:50:45

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A game of footy at its best.
One attack minded team and one forced to follow suit but being much the better for it. So lets be happy that we saw a game as it should be played and accept that errors are part of the game. How would goals be scored otherwise? Do we not cheer when an opponent fluffs it?
Isn´t that what we pay for?

Don´t just blaim outfield players. Howard puts the defenders under pressure by staying on his line instead of coming out and claiming the ball ie dominating the penalty area. Defenders are often are forced to hoof a clearence because of his indecision thereby loosing the inititive. Give Mucha a game. It is long overdue.
Otherwise a very joyful afternoon.

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