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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Terrific Day for Everton

By Paul Traill   ::  01/02/2012
 14 Comments (Last)
Having spent nearly the entire day trying to work only to repeatedly scour the internet for rumours and transfer deals, I was down the East Lancs Road and parked up in good time to catch up with the guys in the pub. I knew I was parked in a legal parking area though some busy Parking Inspectors where present taking photos and leaving tickets on the windscreens of some of the less legitimately parked vehicles. Unlucky for some eh?

Onto the pub and at the time we understood Jelavic was confirmed and was likely to be paraded onto the pitch before the game or at half-time, whilst in other news it was becoming less and less of a secret that Saha was going to Spurs. Gary couldn?t hide his glee at that one. We?d also heard rumors that either Pienaar or Adam Johnson could have been coming in on loan with the general consensus that either or would be great.

Any excitement regarding transfers was somewhat dampened when we saw the team news with nobody too chuffed to see Hibbert was starting at centre-back. Not that any of us have anything against Hibbert but obviously he isn?t your natural centre-back. Otherwise it was pretty much as you were from Fridays win over Fulham with the exception of Drenthe starting in place of Gueye. Dennis Stracqualursi given another opportunity in attack whilst our bench was rather youthful and inexperienced. A look at the Man City team made you shudder. Silva, Aguero, Dzecko, Nasri, Kompany, Lescott and Clichy all featuring in a very decent team. We had it all up against us. With that we were onto the match ? well not before I managed to rather embarrassingly walk into a stool in trying to exit the pub.

The atmosphere was bubbling as we took our seats to Z-Cars, Everton even winning the toss and attacking towards the Park End in the first half. Man City got into the swing of things a lot quicker than Everton. I think they tried to take the sting out of the game early on and certainly did a good job of that, keeping the ball well and dictating the pace of the game. In truth, come the break we were rather lucky to be all square. We shot ourselves in the foot countless times, gave the ball away several time far too easily and were quite simply our own worst enemies throughout the half.

Despite this we did come mighty close to scoring when Stracqualursi headed a Drenthe corner goalwards only for our old friend Joleon Lescott to head the ball clear from the goal line. At the other end Nasri came just as close to breaking the deadlock with a wonderful curling drive from roughly 25 yards which came back down off the underside of the bar and out. Aguero hit the rebound goalwards but Howard thwarted him with an excellent save though it mattered not as he was in an offside position.

Thankfully as we headed towards half time Everton got themselves more into the game with Fellaini coming quite close flashing a volley wide of the post. Before the break we had a lengthy interruption in proceedings as some maniac had somehow gotten onto the pitch and handcuffed himself to the Park End goalpost. It seemed to take several Police to remove him and resulted in five minutes stoppage time at the end of the half. At the break we were all square but certainly had to improve to get anything out of this game.

I went to see Ste and Sean at the break and we saw Jelavic be introduced to the crowd and receive an excellent reception. It?s been a while since I?ve seen such excitement at Goodison Park. Onto the second half and the excitement remained as Everton turned things on and cut out the silly errors. We battled hard that second half and were much more positive. That?s not to say Man City weren?t threatening but Everton really got amongst them. This roused the crowd which I think fed into the players.

The goal came when Drenthe fed Baines down the left whose cross went all the way to Donovan on the far side of the box. Rather than shoot he fed the ball back to Gibson at the edge of the box who drove at goal first time, the ball taking a sizeable deflection and smashing into the corner of the net. Goodison erupted. Gibson went sliding off on his knees. It was funny because in work earlier in the day some of my colleagues who are Man Utd fans were saying ?1-0 Gibson goal. About time he?s done something for Man Utd?.

Following the goal and with half an hour still to play the attitude from the players was exemplary. Everyone filling their positions and completing their tasks heroically. Players defending as if their lives depended on it. We really were not to be denied in this one as the crowd roared the team on. The full-time whistle was met with terrific applause. It was just a shame that less than 30,000 turned up?maybe they?ll be back next week now we?ve a few wins under our belts.

It was a terrific night up until then and it didn?t stop there. We were away early, home quickly and whilst checking Twitter writing this report received further excellent news that Steven Pienaar has returned on loan until the end of the season with an option to buy him in the summer. Brilliant! I can?t recall a January when we?ve been so busy and effective:

IN: Donovan; Gibson; Jelavic; Pienaar
OUT: Bilyaletdinov; Saha

I think we?d have all settled for that on 1st January. Maybe, just maybe we?re finally looking up this season. What a terrific day.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Would like to se quicker distribution sometimes as he seems to keep hold of the ball a bit too long when he has hold of it. Otherwise he was fine. Handled crosses and caught well. Surprisingly he had very little to do. 6
Baines: A little sloppy in defense at times but generally fine. 6
Hibbert: Did very well in an unfamiliar position. Certainly proved me wrong as I thought it was a poor decision to play him ahead of Duffy. Got turned a few times but cleared and headed out on several occasions. 7
Heitinga: Quality performance from Heitinga. He?s been absolutely fantastic this last month or so since we lost Distin and Jagielka to injury. Could easily have been my man of the match. 9
Neville: Did just fine. 7
Fellaini: As is often the case ? he took a while to get into the game but then really grew into it and was colossus at times in the second half. 7
Gibson: Was struggling, quite badly I think but following the goal seemed a different player and had a lot more energy. It?s amazing what confidence a goal can bring. 7
Drenthe: Started poorly, giving the ball away far too often but like many others he really stepped it up a bit on the second half. His pace was a great asset, even forcing Mancini to move Clichy to right back to counter it. 7
Donovan: Had a superb second half after a quiet first period. Showed a lot of energy and intelligence with the ball. A really good shift and an assist for the goal. He?s assisted our last three goals now?and four of our last five. Shame he only has three more games with us. 7
Cahill: Absolutely brilliant. Much more like the Cahill we know and love. Was a real menace throughout and used the ball well. 9
Straqualursi: I was delighted with the reception he received when he was substituted on 87 minutes. I bet he was ecstatic. He didn?t give Kompany, Lescott or Richards a moment?s peace all night. A phenomenal shift? I wonder if he?ll end up a permanent signing after all? My man of the match. 9

Substitutes:
Vellios (for Straqualursi): Put himself about. 6
Baxter (for Drenthe): Just didn?t quite get going. 5

Reader Comments

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Michael Summers
605   Posted 01/02/2012 at 14:28:14

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Bottle passion grit determination skill and Pride in wearing the royal blue shirt was what we seen last night. For the first time in a long time, this is what we the fans want and have craved all season. Last nite the players were brilliant: Fellaini, Hibbert superb but the man who stood out the most was Big Den ? absolute legend... his workrate is scarey, he never stops... brilliant. So come on, Blue men ? more of the same and we just might turn are season round. COYB
Kevin Tully
611   Posted 01/02/2012 at 14:37:57

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Can everyone please stop counting Donovan as an "in" or a signing. We have loaned a player for a few weeks, FFS!
Danny Broderick
630   Posted 01/02/2012 at 15:17:38

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I can't believe you have only given a 7 to Hibbert, Heitinga and Fellaini. They were all 9s for me. I would give the Strac 9.5.
Howard Don
671   Posted 01/02/2012 at 16:16:34

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Agree with you Paul. Heitinga was immense as was Straq, who just edged it for me due to his phenomenol effort and work rate, he battered and shook up real top class defenders into submission. However I've got to agree with Danny, Hibbert and Felli both have to be worth an 8 at least.
Mike Allison
702   Posted 01/02/2012 at 17:36:19

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If Fellaini only gets a 7 for that performance...?! Bloody hell I'd hate to see when he played really well.
James Stewart
713   Posted 01/02/2012 at 18:06:39

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Cahill 9!? Wtf! Didn't even realise he was playing for most of the game. Fellaini bossed that midfield
Wayne Smyth
718   Posted 01/02/2012 at 18:14:11

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I've not been a big fan of straq since he arrived and I never thought he'd make the grade having seen his few bit-part games.

The one thing I didn't quite appreciate the benefit of is that his workrate really shames the other players into putting in a shift, which is what many of them have been lacking for a lot of the season.

The one thing I saw from yesterdays match was that our players wanted it more than City, we had more fight and that counted for more than all the hundreds of millions they have spent.

If only Moyes and the team had started our season with such a mindset - rather than moping about how everyone else has more money - we may have won a lot more of our games.

Before the game I reckoned it was the wrong decision by Moyes to drop Duffy who I thought had been the outstanding centre back in the few games he's played. However I can't argue with a clean sheet and two superb performances from hibbert and heitinga.

We've got some tough games coming up, but with Pienaar and Jelavic available, the confidence from this win and maybe one or two more coming back from injury, lets hope for some more points and see how high we can finish.
Matteo Rosingana
722   Posted 01/02/2012 at 18:31:07

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I agree Wayne, what a difference having a striker who's willing to run after lost causes, to close down one centre back then the other - this really helped galvanise the team spirit last night, and the crowd really responded to his attitude too. All good.
Paul Olsen
723   Posted 01/02/2012 at 18:39:17

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Cahill 9? Couldn´t really see that.

Also didn´t think Heitinga(although mostly superb) was a full 2 points better than a terrific Hibbert.

Agree with Baines being the weakest link last night, he certainly appears to be a bit out of sorts lately, shame we have no valid contestants for his spot in the team.

MOTM: Straq, Fella, Heitinga, Hibbert. Any of those would be fine with me.
Mike Oates
726   Posted 01/02/2012 at 18:48:01

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Straq was immense and as stated already was/is the catalyst for our mini revival . He does the work we all wanted Saha to do in giving opposing defences not a minute's peace .

Unfortunately there comes a time when you need a "true" clinical finisher , a man capable of 20 goals a season and I dont think that man is Straq . I think any forward putting the work the Straq has done in the last 2 games would struggle to have the energy, the alert mind required to make space, get onto real scoring positions and finally doing the business of putting the ball in the net on a regular basis .

I hopes Moyes realises this before converting Jelavic into a raving looney chase everything down man , who like Saha, Yakubu could become a failure after a season or so.
Peter Bourke
781   Posted 01/02/2012 at 21:56:03

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James. Cahill was involved in just about everything. A lot of what he does goes unnoticed as most people only see him when he has a shot on goal or scores. His workrate was up there with Straq, even so I would probably have scored him an 8 as opposed to 9.
Michael Brien
857   Posted 02/02/2012 at 07:27:07

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Malcolm Allison, Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee, Francis Lee, Carlos Tevez, Tony Book, Joe Corrigan, Jason Manford, Coronation Street, The people who make Boddingtons, Oasis, Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher......can you hear me Liam Gallagher .......we gave your boys a hell of a BEATING!

I posted that in another article in the mailbag - let's not get involved in arguments about who should have got an 8 out of 10 or who had the best work rate. We won!! We beat a team that cost Hundreds of millions to put together and which has been at the top for most of this season.

Only there in spirit - watched the highlights and was PROUD of the team and the supporters at Goodison. Thought it rather funny that the guy from the BBC mentioned to Mancini about how unlucky they were!!! For most of this season City have had tons of luck - in the game v Spurs last week they should have had 2 players sent off - Lescott and Balotelli - they got away with actions that would have got them sent off if they were playing Rugby let alone Football.

Anyway Tuesday was our night - we have had more than enough gloom this season - let's smile for a change !!!
Trevor Lynes
938   Posted 02/02/2012 at 14:03:08

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The best and gritiest performance was needed to beat Man City and I just hope that the effort put in will be continued against lesser sides....Hibbo was singled out by Gary Neville and I agree wholeheartedly...he never panics and does his job without histrionics. I also hope that Strac doesn't burn himself out as he shouldered most if not all the attacking threat and kept all the Man City defenders on pins.

I had a very big grin on my face for the rest of the evening and was happy to note that most teams below us either drew or lost.

It was not the most fluent display but effort and tenacity gained the day !!!!!
Tom Owen
393   Posted 04/02/2012 at 17:16:03

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What a shame that we couldn't follow this up with 3 points and a good performance at Wigan. ah well.

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