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Season 2011-12
COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Sheffield Utd (H)

By Ken Buckley   ::  25/08/2011
 5 Comments (Last)
Well it was a night out... Less than 18,000 assemble in the ground and it was pretty dull and lifeless outside as half empty pubs would testify.

The team selected seemed quite strong on an individual basis but team wise you could just see the imbalance with no recognised wide men and the chance for the third choice striker to stake a claim. This is something both fans and players will need to get used to and accept the manager will have to find a way of playing that gives us the best chance of victories probably at the expense of joined up free-flowing stuff, well at first anyway until we all get used to the circumstance we find ourselves in and then perhaps confidence on all sides will return and the football become more palatable. It all adds up to another slow start though and the Blackburn game may well be revealing.

Last night?s game, as it turned out, was a good work out and minutes on the pitch for at least three of our main players. Arteta and Fellaini grew into the game and after tentative starts seemed to gain in confidence and look further than treating the ball as a hot potato. Saha got game time but with his injury failings I think it will be more good luck than judgement once again this season.

The game started with the Blues well on top and Arteta was rather wasteful with one good chance before around the 30-min mark we witnessed once again one break from the opposition, Jags seeming to miss-read the flight and see the ball bounce of his head into the path of Quinn who flashed the ball across goal and the evergreen Cresswell quickest into the box sweep home. What a downer and murmurings were heard from the faithful. Many wondered if they would now shut up shop and with our lack of craft and guile in the final third and yet another embarrassment being on the cards.

Hang on though, where we were lacking in craft and guile up front lady luck took a bow. Just a couple of minutes later Rodwell strode in from the left of the box, shot, and their keeper, our old keeper Simmo seemed to parry the ball into the path of their goal scorer who trundled it into his own net. Who is claiming that one?

Then just a few more minutes and the impressing Barkley was bearing down on goal from the right side of the box and was as ever ready to try a shot and from my seat his effort was screwed but turned into a peach of a lay off for Victor to joyously find the net, his first goal for a long time, maybe the bit of luck he needed, we will see.

Just a few mins to the break and some decent joined-up stuff broke out, you could just see the confidence as we not only kept the ball but advanced the upshot being Barkley attacking the box only to be stopped by a decent tackle but the ball broke to Arteta who sized things up in a flash and curled a peach around the diving Simmo and into the net for the goal of the game. Half-time and the conversation was of a predictable nature.

The second half was a bit of a bore. We knocked it about and played around them but without ever overexerting. Not a lot of note to report. Rodwell went down injured ,recovered but was soon subbed by Saha who looked fit and lively but by Saturday you never know. Arteta and Fellaini picked up yellows as they went that bit harder for match fitness.

Around 80mins Barkley came off to a tremendous reception to be replaced by Baxter and in the same break Neville replaced Osman. Looks like Ossie and Barkley are certain starters on Saturday. By the end we were well on top and I am sure if the players had really wanted to a couple more goals could have been had. The ref was a Mr Miller and looked a lot like H. Webb, reffed a bit like him as well. His final whistle was a bit of a relief though as it meant I was off back to my watering hole for the inquest.

"Who was your man of the match?" I was asked, difficult one that as no-one really stood out so I said Hibbert as he put in a respectable and solid professional shift all game.

Overall a win is a win and we are in the draw from a performance that suggests we still a bit off the pace and for some reason lacking a bit of confidence. Heitinga looked more comfortable as a centre back, Mucha got a game but didn?t have much to do except worryingly fish the ball out of the net, Jags seems a bit distant at times even though he had the captains armband.

Still no two games are the same and we owe Blackburn one on their pitch after last season. Will we shake off the cobwebs of doubt and collect all three points???

See you there to find out

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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john salmon
1   Posted 25/08/2011 at 19:13:59

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Well Davey must have read my comment before the match as he played his strongest side just about, if you need any more advice Davey it will cost you, say a quarter of Roundies pay
Dick Fearon
2   Posted 25/08/2011 at 22:24:06

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Thanks for your report Ken also those of Luke and Paul. Here in the back blocks it was a bit like the old days when we relied on bush telegraph for our match reports. The RS game vs Exeter dominated all media and the I found dear old Toffeeweb's own game blog.
Grateful as I was for it at the same time I think it could be improved if contributors realised that some of the time there are those of us who do not have any kind of visuals of the game in progress.
I found it difficult and frustrating to keep track of the game time wise. The occasional clock watch would br appreciated.
Jeff Armstrong
3   Posted 25/08/2011 at 22:19:02

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Thought it was a decent performance at a time when a few of us would not have been surprised at a defeat, Arteta, Osman, Hibbert, pretty decent, Rodwell grew in to it after his "goal",
Fellaini, rusty.
Barkley, early Gazza anyone?
Anichebe, cruel, but I think he found his level (Div 3).
Jags,bit vacant, somthing on his mind?.
Baines, 7/10
Heitinga, "for sure, this is where I play"
Mucha, as good/bad as Howard?, yes
Saha, came on, started feeling his hamstring, thought he was actually looking for an injury, honestly!
Neville, learnt a lot there Moyes, why bring HIM on with 15 minutes to go ?
3-1 up against a 3rd division side, you had Wallace and Vellios on the bench, you negative manager you, oh and everyone back for a corner with 2 minutes to go.
Right, there where 16,000 blues there last night , I dont blame anyone for voting with there feet, but when wembley bekons in Febuary, and it will, do not whinge about ticket allocation!!!
Ajay Gopal
4   Posted 26/08/2011 at 13:20:46

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Thanks for the report, Ken.

We need to get back to the 'clean sheets' days - it seems that nowadays we rarely ever get a clean sheet.

I will take a 0-0 against Blackburn. Something to build on ...

The 5 man mid-field of: Arteta, Fellaini, Osman, Rodwell & Barkley looks very solid - the right mix of defensive solidity and creativity. If only we had a proficient striker....(sigh)
Dalziel Kane
5   Posted 27/08/2011 at 19:56:26

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let's not kid ourselves, most neutrals agree that the League Cup is a third rate competition some supporters couldn't give two rats about, they change the name of it nearly every season, and sometimes the eventual winners don't even get a European place, I can see this competition in years to come going the same way as the old ECWC and becoming obselete as those in authority chop and change things and come up with something else.

Obviously pleased to have got through, thought things may have got a bit sticky, I genuinely do wish we could do well this year even though I have openly berated the trophy, it is still a piece of silverware and after so many years away it would be nice to see again an Everton captain lift something and add to that the club have never before won this competition.

Moyes has to take the domestic cups with some objective, we can do well in this competition with a few breaks, remember the present holders are now occupying the second division of english soccer, but McLeish is a good manager and they did have a handful of good players, why can't Everton duplicate their achievements this term and finally end our 17 year wait for a domestic trophy, Mickey mouse or otherwise, I'll take it.

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