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The Road Is Long

By Paul Traill   ::  07/10/2012 Naivety at its finest in thinking I’d feel just fine after a late night on Friday evening and with all sorts of running around to do before the match, it was around 9.30am before I set out for the day. First grabbing Steve to make a dash to Goodison Park to look at some new seats given our current view is thwarted by some tall chaps in front of us. Kudos to the Everton Box Office staff. They were very friendly and helpful and we’ve managed to get hold of some excellent new seats.

With that taken care of I then had to go back over the water, drop Steve off back at home and then pick up Dave…and then, en-route to Wigan divert through Skelmersdale to pick up Mark...quite a hectic start to the day and it was nice to finally get to Wigan. Despite all this running around we were in Wigan in good time. Conscious of the time it took to get out of Wigan last time I drove there I parked just off a side-street though totally misjudged the distance to the ground and it turned out to be quite a walk to the pub…

The Queens Arms has become pretty much my favorite away pub I’d say. It’s awkward layout, good service and friendly locals always makes for a pleasant visit…lets hope Wigan continue to defy the odds season after season and remain in the division, particularly now we’ve been stripped of two other local favorites in Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers.

Onto the ground and it was no surprise to see the team was unchanged from that which dismantled Southampton so impressively in the first 45 minutes at Goodison Park last week. It was a furious opening to the game and Wigan certainly had the better of it from the off as we began sluggishly and you had to say the goal had been coming even after only nine minutes when Kone headed in from what was possibly an offside position.

It mattered not however as Everton’s response was immediate. With Wigan’s defense completely switched off, Pienaar floated a ball into the box which Jelavic read well and nodded home nicely at the far post completely unmarked to level the scores. A remarkable start to the game.

You hoped this might have clicked Everton into gear but this wasn’t the case. Kone in particular was causing all sorts of problems for Heitinga up front and this battle was key to Wigan’s second goal. Heitinga just stood off Kone from up near the half-way line right to pretty much the dead ball line and it was just too easy for the Ivorian. He picked out his team-mate Di Santo who finished emphatically to put Wigan ahead again. Really poor defending by Everton.

Wigan seemed to take their foot of the gas following this as Everton toiled to get back into the game. Osman perhaps came closest to scoring when his deflected drive was brilliantly saved by Al Habsi, though Baines did also roll the ball onto the post, with Fellaini dreadfully unlucky that the ball didn’t bounce back to him for an open goal.

The referee really began to irritate with some baffling decisions roughly 30 minutes into the game. I don’t think his performance affected the outcome of the match but I was left thinking Kevin Friend genuinely had no idea what he was doing. Whilst Everton were attacking somebody was cynically hacked down inside the Wigan half in what was quite a clear case of a booking but nothing materialized. Slightly later Fellaini challenged in the air and the linesman flagged like a maniac. Friend booked Fellaini when I doubt he even saw the incident. Surely it was either just a simple push, and so just a foul and no card, or an elbow and hence a red card. To book him for it was just obscene. Baines was also booked for a foul on the halfway line which was by no means malicious, Neville and Jelavic both carded for dissent I believe as to was substitute Anichebe when having been fouled twice and then pulled up for an apparent foul by himself dared question Friend and also found himself in the referee’s notebook. Caldwell somehow avoided caution when wrestling down Tim Howard as he tried to launch an attack and how Jelavic didn’t win a penalty was beyond me. He had to finally give the one he did give us for the foul on Mirallas, though is there even perhaps an argument that should have been a red card? Surely that was a “clear goal scoring opportunity” for the Belgian? It really was a poor show and I’m glad the travelling Evertonians let their feelings known towards him at the full-time whistle.

Back to the game itself, and it was credit to Moyes for discarding Heitinga at the break as Kone was running rings around him. Distin applied himself far better when he was on the pitch. It was a decent second half by Everton, a determined push to get something from the game and we got what we deserved on 86 minutes with the penalty. Baines stepping up and converting perfectly into the top corner…was nice to see Leighton grab the ball after the conversion and sprint back to the half way line. He wanted more than a point.

Had the goal have come sooner I think we might have nicked the win. I’m not exactly satisfied with the point, I really felt we could have gotten all three before the game but it was certainly a fair result and a relief to have at least gotten something from the game, particularly going into an international break. Next up on the other side is QPR away, who are yet to win and in all sorts of bother. Call me cynical, but wouldn’t it be just like Everton to go and blow it in a fortnight in front of the Sky cameras?

Heading off after the game, and it was a long, long walk back to the car thanks to my parking inadequacies. It seemed further than on the way to the game as it was uphill on the way back up the long road and it was 7pm before I was finally settled down at home.

The season, as we know, is also a long road. Continue picking up points and who knows where the path will take us come May.

Player Ratings:
Howard: A good solid performance by Howard, important after a few recent blips. 7
Baines: Outstanding. Was absolutely determined to get something from this one against his old club. My man of the match. Pretty much the perfect performance. 9
Heitinga: Was a bold move by Moyes to substitute Heitinga at half time. I thought it represented a waste of a substitution at first but Moyes got it right as Kone’s threat dissipated somewhat once Distin was on the field. The international break could do him good. 4
Jagielka: Appeared a little lost at times but recovered well in the second half and was much improved…one last ditch interception before Kone pounced was particularly impressive. 7
Coleman: Had a tough game. Was all over the place at times in the first half though did improve slightly after the break as Everton reshuffled. I think games like that will be good for him in the longer-term. 5
Neville: Held things together reasonably well before substituted. Will be interesting to see if he stays in the team when Gibson returns. 6
Osman: Was probably our best player in the first half though wasn’t quite as visible after the break as the game became quite scrappy. Had a decent game overall. 7
Pienaar: Was busy throughout. His link up play with Baines was mostly good and Emerson Boyce did struggle with him. 7
Mirallas: Still learning his trade a bit in the Premier League and given time I think he’ll be an exceptional player. Does winning the penalty which is then scored count as an assist? 6
Fellaini: Was pulled into central midfield for the second half as Mirallas went forward alongside Jelavic. It was necessary as we needed much more a presence in there. He did OK, though didn’t reach the performance levels he has in other games this season. 6
Jelavic: Lead the line very well and another goal to his name. Seems to be finding form. 7

Substitutes:
Distin (for Heitinga): Had a very good second half and kept Kone quiet. Has probably done enough to play his way in for the QPR match. 8
Anichebe (for Neville): Tried hard to impact on the game and with a bit more time on the field maybe would have done so. 7
Naismith (for Mirallas): Not on long, difficult to judge. As Chris pointed out, the amount of instructions Moyes gave him before he took the field was ridiculous given he only had about three minutes of play.

Reader Comments

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Dave Charles
614 Posted 08/10/2012 at 07:36:57
Can't disagree about the officials, some baffling decisions throughout the game. In the end, I was glad to get the point.
Sam Hoare
615 Posted 08/10/2012 at 08:03:26
I know what you mean about QPR. It feels horribly clear that after the international break they will suddenly play their best game of the season and pick up their first win against us and then we will be under pressure for the RS.
Paul Joy
616 Posted 08/10/2012 at 08:12:07
Paul - the referee totally affected the result.
He allowed them a goal that should not have stood.
He turned down 2 clear penalties for us on Jelavic 2nd half.
He booked 6 of our players whilst allowing wigan players to foul repeatedly without equal treatment.
Which makes him 1 of 2 things - either he is a shit ref or he is bent. I would suggest he is shit - unfortunately we seem to be attracting shit officials this season.
But please don't state that Friend did'nt affect the result.
Kieran Fitzgerald
628 Posted 08/10/2012 at 10:30:33
Sam, I would agree. I've just got this horrible feeling that the game against QPR will be a disaster. It's weird. It's almost like we aren't allowed to get too far ahead of ourselves. I was all pumped up going into the Leeds game and look at the performance and the result. I was all confident again by the time the Wigan game came around and was really made to sweat for a point.
Martin Mason
629 Posted 08/10/2012 at 11:13:45
Be confident, it's a game that we can and should win.
Steve Nico
630 Posted 08/10/2012 at 11:30:19
Chaps, let's be honest here, this was a game last year we'd have probably lost considering the way Wigan roused themselves on Saturday. We didn't have anywhere near the attacking talent we have now and let's be reminded, without Gibson, we look ever so open and vulnerable when attacks break down within 30/40 yards of the opposition box. Gibson will be fit and back in at QPR, probably with Ossie, and – providing no injuries over the next week – our strongest side will go there and win... comfortably.

Fair play to Moyes as well on Saturday: swift decision at half-time re Distin etc, tweaks with Felli and Kevin, going for it with Anichibe for Neville, and the team were clearly the better side in the 2nd half with some of the one-touch penetration and movement exceptional, especially down the left.

What we are seeing so far this season is light years ahead of 12 months ago; we'll have the odd blip as 'lower' teams raise their game against us – especially when they're at home – but like I say, I will be confidently betting on a good away win in 2 weeks... injuries permitting?!

Sam Hoare
639 Posted 08/10/2012 at 12:49:56
Kieran. I know. Its like a weird premonition that suddenly we will be down in 7th and all this early season optimism will start to melt away. I desperately hope not and yet it feels bizarrely inevitable. I suppose its called being an Everton fan.

Martin. I hope you're right. If Gibson is back I will feel better.

Brian Harrison
641 Posted 08/10/2012 at 13:04:00
Funny how us football fans can be super optomistic and very pessemistic about the same game. I keep thinking we should beat QPR but then I remember how good we are at getting beat by teams who up to that point havent won a game. I suppose all fans are the same, of our first few games most fans would have predicted a win at West Brom and Wigan yet nearly lost both.

Although we are playing some great football, Villa, Swansea and Newcastle are hardly sweeping all before them. See there I go again looking for negatives out of really positive results. I will have to ask my doctor to prescribe something for it, although he just might say it comes with the territory of watching Everton. You would think after watching them for over 50 years it would start to get easier.

Roger Sunde
642 Posted 08/10/2012 at 13:15:21
Mirallas: Does winning the penalty which is then scored count as an assist?
It does.
Andrew Ellams
644 Posted 08/10/2012 at 13:23:29
West Brom have a 100% home record from 4 games this season, I don't think it's a fair comparison with QPR who haven't won a game anywhere and appear to be all over the place. If we hit them at 100 miles an hour like we did with Swansea it should be 3 points.
Roger Sunde
645 Posted 08/10/2012 at 13:27:01
@Andrew I agree, and I hope QPR hang on to Sparky over the break, the guy is clueless. He bought 100 players to City and now done the same in QPR.
Drew O'Neall
651 Posted 08/10/2012 at 13:55:23
Agree that Distin has a shout to start at QPR and he is generally my preferred CB but I suspect QPR will play with one up front meaning our CB's need to be more composed in possession and that's JH's calling card.
Martin Mason
652 Posted 08/10/2012 at 13:53:44
Looking back given WBA's form we were probably completely unrealistic to expect a win and unfair to criticise the defeat. Whilst we had a much better chance at Wigan, they are no mugs and the draw with moral victory was actually quite good. QPR is different, they are in total disarray and playing badly and this is a game we really should win if we want to say we have turned the corner. With Gibson back and at full fitness I can't see how we will not win. I think we are very much better now and I believe that if he can steer clear of injury Gibson will become one of the most important players we've had at the club.

I may be back for the game and hope I can find a ticket, I will go there very confident of seeing Everton get 3 points and will be distraught if we lose.
Yes there is the EFC factor but hopefully we have broken through that barrier now.

Christopher Timmins
656 Posted 08/10/2012 at 14:04:36
Andrew, a great report and in fairness to Moyes we did dominate the second half. Worryingly we have conceded 2 against Newcastle at home and Leeds, West Brom and Wigan away so far this season. Hopefully, Gibson's return will be a help as we are too light in the central midfield area.
Six months is proving to be a very long time in football terms as the Dutchman was our best defender back in March, receiving all the plaudits.
Now he looks a liability. It great to be critical 7 games in with 14 points on the table and goals flying in from all areas of the team.

Roger Trenwith
657 Posted 08/10/2012 at 14:28:01
The ref was awful, wasn't he? But I agree with Paul T that I don't think it affected the result. Paul J omits to mention that Fella could so easily have been sent off for flapping his hand in the face of the Wigan player. That counters all the penno claims we had. I reckon that down to 10 men and with a fair ref, we still would have nicked a draw.

Fella worried me in that he seemed to let Wigan get to him and he reverted to his "booking waiting to happen" style of old. If I were Ted Rodgers watching that I'd drop the 3-2-1 formation and tell my midfield to wind him up, and he's a gonner. We'll see, but all the omens are against us what with Shite's poor home form leading into it....God I hate derbies. As for the QPR game if Gibson's back we'll win, otherwise a draw.
Andrew Ellams
658 Posted 08/10/2012 at 14:36:24
I don't see how the ref didn't affect the result when he allowed a goal that should never have stood.

As for the Fellaini 'elbow' situation, it was his hand that came into contact with the face, never did he look at the Wigan player to even see where his face was, and when players like Rooney and Stevie Me are involved in incidents like this they are apparently using their arms for leverage when they jump.

Roger Trenwith
659 Posted 08/10/2012 at 14:43:12
Andrew - you're prob right about the offside goal - forgot all about that! Doh!
As for Fella, another ref could easily have sent him off regardless of the rights and wrongs so that was deffo in our favour.
Andrew Ellams
660 Posted 08/10/2012 at 14:49:23
If these do even themselves out over a season we are now owed 3 major decisions. Any chance of calling them in for the derby match.
Paul Hughes
664 Posted 08/10/2012 at 15:23:27
Andrew, we got one error back when the ref missed Fellaini's handball assist against Swansea. We could still do with the other two back against the RS though!

The point is though, it wasn't the ref or lino that affected the result, it was poor defending on our part that did.

Despite his lack of pace, Heitinga still pushed Kona wide, but then let him cross from the byline.
Coleman's feeble effort for their first goal was a salutary demonstration of why he isn't to be trusted at right back - Hibbo would never have allowed Maloney to skip past him.

Tony J Williams
667 Posted 08/10/2012 at 15:31:35
Andrew, we had one for our first goal against Swansea.

Hopefully the rest will be against the shite, denial of a stonewall penalty and the diving one to be sent off for two yellows for simulation.

Mike Allison
671 Posted 08/10/2012 at 15:46:07
"Andrew, we got one error back when the ref missed Fellaini's handball assist against Swansea."

What, the one that happened because he flinched away from a thigh high studs up tackle that should have been given as a penalty? In the same game where Ashley Williams should have been sent off but wasn't? No, I'm not having that. Try again.

Even if you do take that off us we won 3-0 and gained no points whatsoever from that incident.

We're well down on decisions and I think its cost us four points against Newcastle and Wigan.

Edward Simpson
677 Posted 08/10/2012 at 16:31:30
I'll always say that we need to take our chances in attack. We had 11 shots in target, which is very positive compared to last year but we have to bury our chances, Mirallas was to blame for one that he skied but not the other.
We should have had at least one penalty, but I can't get myself to blame the ref after the game if it doesn't go in our favour.
I'm fairly confident that refs are doing their best but video technology has to be implemented as soon as possible as it's clear refs are struggling with big decisions.
What would of happened if we got both goals against Newcastle? Or given at least one penalty to draw in the 2nd half.

Looking forward to the next few games, and we realistically look good enough to beat QPR and Liverpool. We should have a fully fit squad for both games as we really need Gibson back as soon as possible.

Edward Simpson
680 Posted 08/10/2012 at 16:42:10
Also, all this nonsense about decisions evening themselves out is bloody nonsensical rubbish.
Mick Davies
695 Posted 08/10/2012 at 19:14:48
Paul Hughes, Coleman slipped up, his one mistake and you're calling for 'Kung-fu Herbert' to come back? If you look at how impressive we are now – except for the centre of the field without Gibson – we're years ahead of the Stubbs, Weir, Hibbert days.

But if you have to pick on individuals, what about Fellaini's and Mirallas's dreadful misses over the past 2 weeks; Osman's dallying on the ball that almost led to a Wigan winner until Coleman got back and deflected it over; Howard's flapping; Neville's ball-watching; Pienaar's wasteful passing, and Moyes's team selection v Leeds!!!

Give the lad time to bed in and we'll see how good he is after a dozen games, not four. Hibbert's had 10 years and we still wince when he has a tackle to make.
Dick Fearon
728 Posted 08/10/2012 at 23:03:24
I cannot decide yet whether Referee Friend is guilty of or even if on the grounds of temporary insanity (his, not mine) he is guilty of anything or was he badly let down by an incompetent assistant.

Apart from the assistants failure to do his much simpler job Mr Friend missed two clear cut penalties which points to poor eyesight or poor judgement or something of a more serious nature. I will be kind and put the blame on the assistant.

There were numerous other 'incidents' where Everton were shown no mercy while Wigan's misdemeanours, not the responsibility of assistants went unpunished. The referees association is becoming more secretive than the Masons and its time for it to be opened up to more scrutiny.

Supporters carry a costly burden also gamblers as well as clubs have a huge financial stake on results of games. To quote an old saying,'Justice must be seen to be done'. While officialdom is allowed to hide behind its smokescreen of secrecy we will just have to cough up the hard earned with no comeback.

Keith Glazzard
733 Posted 09/10/2012 at 00:37:50
Dick - its difficult to follow the drift of other people's posts, but I have myself been saying much the same for a few seasons now. Yes, its a fast moving game, human error inevitable etc etc. But its getting worse, not better.

Moyes likes to give the impression of being a dour, miserable sod, but he is not a moaner and not the kind of bloke to refer to officials lightly. And his track record is nothing like the SAFs and Wengers of this world. Never forget that when the FA started disciplinary proceedings against him following the Clattenberg derby they later, as quietly as they could, quashed them. He was right, he usually is.

The thing that the FA/FIFA will defend to the death is that the ref is the only, and final, decision maker in a game. He's the FA's man out there. Nobody can touch him. He doe their bidding. And, as you say Dick, they will get more secretive about this, not less. Ask a ref to explain a decision? I don't know, but I'd guess they'd never be allowed to ref again if they ever did that.

The first rule about decisions is: You do not talk about decisions.
The second rule about decisions is: You do not talk about decisions.

But hey, we've been promised 'goal line technology'. So someone other than the (on-field) ref is going to award a goal, or chalk one off? Like in Rugby League? Never going to happen. Bet you.

For this reason, sometime in the possibly distant future a group of football clubs will break away from FIFA etc and sell their product to a world -wide audience without the aid of their officials, the best of which they will employ anyway - Mr Friend not included - and tournaments, and corruption, and every player in the world will aspire to play for one of those clubs.

And the TV rights will leave existing leagues with them. FIFA will of course warn every player that playing for one of these clubs will mean that you will never be able to play for your country or Stockport County again.

Come to think, it might happen sooner rather than later.

David Chait
764 Posted 09/10/2012 at 10:23:22
Sam 639 ... I have wondered the same thing.. every time we slip a couple points we wonder if this is the beginning of the end. We know only too well going 15 games with as many points... and are always therefore fearful.

the likes of Mancehster "know" dropped points will be fixed the next week based on history.

With the ifs and buts we could be 7 for 7 and on 21 points... at least we should be on 17 and with breathing space.. but due to the lack of oxygen between us and the chasing pack any stumble is a concern of being swallowed up.

Sam Hoare
769 Posted 09/10/2012 at 11:05:25
David, I know. I guess that the buzz of football. Paradise or pain. if we beat QPR we will be in the top 3 or 4 and on a good run with confidence high to beat the RS. if we lose we will drop down the table into 7th or 8th and be in mid table obscurity.

The good news is we do seem to be playing well and consistently creating chances, so fingers crossed.

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