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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Entirely unconvincing

By Paul Traill   ::  07/01/2012
 12 Comments (Last)
Following Wednesday's disaster it was important to see a good performance from the boys in blue this afternoon. Sadly though the result was ultimately what was required the performance was again sadly lacking.

With Christmas over and the bleak slog of January now in swing I decided to drive to today?s game picking up the usual crowd en-route and parking in the usual spec. We headed onto the not-so-busy pub to wash down a couple of ales pre-match, bumping into a couple of friends in there who join us for the game from time to time. All in good spirits we headed onto the game.

We decided on a change of scene for this one and got some great seats very central in the Park End. It?s always nice to try a different seat and it was interesting to see how the Gwladys Street looks from the other side of the ground and to get an alternative view of the away fans.

The team news took us all by surprise. Anichebe and McFadden starting in attack, Gueye on the left, Donovan on the right, Bilyaletdinov tried out at central midfield alongside Fellaini with Coleman right back and Neville at left back. Three attackers (Vellios, Stracqualursi and McAleny) were also named on the substitutes bench along with Drenthe, Hahnemann, Baines and Duffy.

I?d read in the Echo in the week that the Tamworth goalkeeper Joe Collister was an Everton supporter from Heswall, Wirral. I was therefore surprised that when he took goal to a generous reception from the Park End he didn?t bother to acknowledge the support. I don?t get hung up about this ?keeper not clapping the supporters? stuff normally, but figured he would be making the most of it given it?s his club and probably the biggest game he?ll ever play in?regardless, we were on with the game....

Well not quite. We first of course had the important matter of giving Gary Ablett a fitting send off with a well-observed period of applause. Some of his teammates from the 1995 FA Cup winning team (Duncan Ferguson, Graham Stuart and Joe Parkinson) and both Howard Kendall and Joe Royle were all present on the pitch to observe the applause. This served as a reminder of how long it?s been since we last won a competition, and hopefully an indication to the team of what is required to go all the way in the FA Cup. RIP Gary Ablett.

Onto the game and we began just as you?d have hoped we would have done ? at a good tempo and on the front foot. You hoped Heitinga?s early headed goal from a corner would be enough for Everton to build on but this sadly wasn?t the case. Following this we had a few openings around the box though failed to press home our advantage. Buoyed by their noisy supporters, Tamworth weathered this storm before creating a few chances of their own with Kyle Patterson running at our defence before firing wide and a few minutes later driving straight at Howard. They were in the game alright. I was even fairly relieved to get into half-time with just the 1-0 advantage.

Everton failed to sort out this mess in the second half and Tamworth continued to enjoy their day out. Having said that, they did create very little and Everton were playing within themselves for most of the game but you just couldn?t relax at 1-0. Moyes shuffled his pack and it paid dividends. The first sub was forced with Coleman suffering a re-occurrence of his thigh strain and being replaced by Baines with Neville switching to right back. Drenthe replaced the subdued McFadden and with around 20 minutes to go Anichebe was replaced by Stracqualursi. The sealer came from the penalty spot after Drenthe (apparently fortuitously) won a penalty having been hauled down by Habergam. Baines effortlessly converted and that was game over.

Landon Donovan came close to scoring his first goal in his second spell for Everton with a curling drive which hit the angle of post and crossbar and bounced over. This would have put some unfair gloss on the scoreline. At the other end Francino Francis headed narrowly wide with a great chance from a corner.

So that was that. A quicker than usual get-away from the game from the Park End and I was home for 5.45pm with dinner and a cup of tea. Happy days. We?re into the next round but Good Lord, play anything like that away at Spurs on Wednesday and we?ll get destroyed. Fingers crossed we can somehow pull it out of the bag.

RIP Gary Ablett

Player Ratings:

Howard: Little to do really. 6
Neville: Generally comfortable throughout though sloppy with possession at times. 6
Distin: Comfortably Man of the Match. Was well-positioned on countless occasions to head out Tamworth attacks. As Graeme Sharpe said on the Radio City football phone-in ? it?s a bit embarrassing that a centre-back gets man of the match against Tamworth. You?d hope a player further up the pitch would stand out. Regardless, Distin will need to be on very top form in the coming weeks. 8
Heitinga: Rather comfortable and got on the scoresheet of course. As with Distin ? top form required from Jonny over the coming weeks. 7
Coleman: Was coping OK until coming off injured. I thought he?d get more opportunities to attack than he did do but he ended up overseeing quite a bit of defending. 6
Fellaini: Probably the pick of the midfielders but was wasteful with possession at times even though he did cover a lot of ground. Top form also required from Marouane in the next few games. 6
Bilyaletdinov: We?ve been waiting to see how Diniyar does in central midfield for around two years now and it?s sadly painfully apparent why he hasn?t had any opportunities there. Didn?t look comfortable tracking back, rarely looked forward with the ball and gave the ball away cheaply too often. You need more from central midfield than that. 5
Gueye: Started well though faded as seems the norm. Appears much better suited to a role as an impact substitute to me for now. 6
Donovan: Good in flashes, unlucky not to score though not quite there yet. Still that?s two full games under his belt in less than a week which will surely help for match fitness. Lets hope he can settle some demons on Wednesday night ? you may remember he missed an open goal last time around at White Hart Lane. 6
Anichebe: Started well but tired as the game went on probably mainly due to lack of games. Money in the bank though as they say. Lets see if he can crack on for the remainder of the campaign. 6
McFadden: I was really pleased to see him start the game as I felt there?ve been games lately where there?s been opportunities to introduce him into the game and he hasn?t been given the opportunity. Well?he had that today and didn?t perform sadly. As with some of the others though ? more minutes on the pitch can only be useful as he?s hardly kicked a ball in 18 months. 5

Substitutes:
Baines: Settled into the game in no time at all and helped himself to a goal. Can?t ask for more than that really. Top form also required in the?.etc, etc. 7
Drenthe: Won the penalty though didn?t really get going otherwise. Could be a useful weapon in the next few games but most likely from the substitutes bench. 5
Stracqualursi: Good running but usual hopeless end product. 5

Reader Comments

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Leigh Lewis
1   Posted 07/01/2012 at 20:58:29

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When I was a young boy, I used to go and see my Grandfather every Saturday. He had a vivid scar on his face and the first time I saw him I just could not resist asking him how he received such a disfigurement.

He regaled me with stories of adventures at sea, having cutlass fights with pirates; much daring do. When I asked him if it true he said, ?Of course not son, but come back next week and I will tell you what really happened to me.?

I was hooked and duly returned week after week for more entertainment.

Compare this with supporting Everton, a club with a gaping wound heamorrhaging the life and soul out of this once great club.

I turned up today, against a non-league team, hoping to be entertained, but unlike my Grandfather the team yet again failed to deliver.

We really are papering over the cracks, but there are air bubbles in the paper, the pattern doesn?t match at the joins, some pieces have been stuck upside down, and we haven?t trimmed it at the skirting board. Has Moyes even checked the ?batch number?? There is no pattern to our play, it is the cheapest woodchip on the market.

My grandfather, if he was still here, would be shocked into silence.

Nick Entwistle
2   Posted 07/01/2012 at 20:59:13

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Everton had no need to convince or give good performance today. They did what was needed with a winger at right back, a right back at left back and two wasters up front. There's a game at Spurs on Wednesday and the more rested the better.
Mark Riding
3   Posted 07/01/2012 at 21:05:42

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Nick, Im glad you think that the 20,000+ Evertonians all paying good money to watch today didnt deserve a good performance..
And why did the Tamworth 'Evertonian' goalie spray his water on the ball before the pen ?
Sam Hoare
4   Posted 07/01/2012 at 21:16:17

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Going to Spurs. Not confident at all.
Dave Lynch
5   Posted 07/01/2012 at 21:32:29

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My thoughts are with you Sam.
Mark Riding
6   Posted 07/01/2012 at 21:34:39

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Sam, Phil Neville will mark Bale out of the game again.. you just wait and see....
Dick Fearon
7   Posted 07/01/2012 at 21:40:44

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Mark # 7, Course he will, Bale after all is just a twenty trick pony.
The ignominy will be when 'Appy' decides we are that bad he can loose SP his so far unused secret weapon on us.
Mark Riding
8   Posted 07/01/2012 at 21:53:14

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Ok then Dick, we better let Hibbert mark Bale out the game, Phil can come into centre midfield and stop Modric then..
Nick Entwistle
9   Posted 07/01/2012 at 22:01:20

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Deserve Mark? Absolutely. Doesn't work like that though does it.
David Hallwood
10   Posted 08/01/2012 at 13:43:00

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Good report Paul, just a few thoughts: I've always been a main stand man(well since the mid 80's) and whenever I go to another part of the ground, especially the lower bullens, I'm always a bit disoriented.

Wednesday's game v spurs, is a game that Moyes loves, in that he can park the bus a la vs all the big clubs, so I can see the game panning out like Citteh, the Arse etc-we won't win but we won't get battered either, unless we concede an early goal, then it's Plan 'B'-a plan so secret none of us know what it is,

BTW Leigh Lewis#1 nice analogy
Brian Waring
11   Posted 08/01/2012 at 15:24:50

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Nick, this game was a chance to put on a performance, and more importantly, be a confidence booster to players and fans, neither, I believe, was achieved.
Christopher Arellano
12   Posted 10/01/2012 at 19:40:44

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As with Ken, I am posting to show support for Paul and his column.
I read the column and...enjoy it but don't bother thanking for taking the trouble.

Sign of the times, and a sad one, to read how "relieved" you were that EFC led at the half 1-0.

Glad you got the perspective from a different seating location...Thanks again.

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