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Five Draws In A Row Neatly Side-Stepped

By Paul Traill   ::  10/11/2012 It’s actually a little over a month since our last 3pm Saturday match at Goodison Park though it felt like that was a lifetime ago as we made our way to the match today. After a manic morning I drove on to the game, picking up Steve and Gary en-route. We parked up hassle-free and had a good laugh ay the pub pre-kick off. The day had a nice feel to it with everyone in cautiously optimistic mood.

We’ve moved seats since our last game and are now much nearer the front in the Lower Gwladys. The new seats are fantastic as you really feel like you are much more in the action than where we sat previously. Having dominated the game against Fulham last Saturday it was of no surprise at all that there were no changes to the starting XI. Sunderland featured the busy Stephen Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon in attack with Adam Johnson and James McClean on the wings and a tall backline including John O’Shea and Carlos Cuellar. You can see how they don’t concede many goals…though you can also see how they don’t win too many matches either.

It was quite a busy Goodison Park and it was nice to see the minute's silence for Remembrance Sunday respectfully observed by all. Lee Mason blew his whistle to bring that to a close and the game was soon underway. It was a lively beginning to the match with Sunderland, and the classy Sessegnon in particular causing a few early headaches. We did manage to get a grip of the game for quite a period and play more of the game in the Sunderland half of the pitch with a bit of pinball inside the penalty area on a few occasions ultimately concluding with nothing. Our momentum was stifled somewhat on the half hour mark when Mirallas hobbled off clutching his hamstring to be replaced by Naismith. Before the break Phillip Neville of all people came close to scoring with an excellent long-range drive which Mignolet did well to push away.

Just as we were closing in on half time all square Sunderland won a corner. Jelavic cleared it towards the edge of the box where it was hoisted back in and somehow Adam Johnson found himself in acres of space to comfortably place the ball past Howard. 1-0 at half time, Everton making it tough for themselves as usual with some really poor defending. At the break we were pretty worried given how difficult we’d already found it to break Sunderland down. On we went into the second half and from the start you could tell Everton had shifted up a gear or two and we were pretty dominant throughout the remainder of the game really. The impressive Heitinga twice came close to scoring, once with a shot from the edge of the box which hit a defender and the second time with a header from a corner which was cleared off the line. We were getting closer but were struggling to get past Sunderland’s tight backline with the play very congested in the midfield.

We seemed bereft of ideas as the game wore on into the last 20 minutes and it took the introduction of Vellios to help change this game around. He replaced Neville and went up front alongside Jelavic with Fellaini dropping back into the midfield. It took only four minutes for the impact to be made with Fellaini fizzing a low drive past Mignolet before his compatriot had a chance to react. Another brilliant goal from Fellaini, his sixth of an already mighty impressive season from the tall Belgian.

He wasn’t finished either as just two minutes later he was at it again, cutely touching the ball on for Jelavic (through the legs of O’Shea), the Croat pouncing with one touch to put Everton ahead, and nearly bringing the house down as he did so.

Of course that wasn’t all the drama over though thankfully Everton didn’t sit too deep and didn’t invite unnecessary pressure on themselves. A few slings into the box from Sunderland were either repelled by the rock that is Phil Jagielka or gobbled up by Tim Howard as Everton held out the questionable five minutes of stoppage time. We got over the line quite comfortably in the end and it was more relief than anything that we weren’t going to be finishing the game with our fifth successive draw. It’s nice to get back to winning ways and with the attractive games coming up at Reading (a), Norwich City (h) and Arsenal (h) you would like to think we’ve a great chance of it staying that way.

Player Ratings

Howard: Pretty helpless with the goal. Distribution poor at times but he did make some very good and important catches during the closing stages. 7
Baines: Not quite at his rampaging best but did combine better with Pienaar as the game wore on. 6
Heitinga: Looked very assured at centre back. Probably his best game of the season so far and came close to scoring more than once. My man of the match. 8
Jagielka: Solid and dependable at the back. Made some very good tackles and clearances in the closing stages. 7
Coleman: Did quite well today I thought. Certainly a bit tighter defensively and kept his zip going forward also. 7
Neville: Had quite a good game before subbed I thought. 7
Osman: Did very well in the middle, particularly in the second half. Kept things ticking over nicely and made some good tackles. I, like everyone I’m sure, look forward to seeing him play for England on Wednesday evening. 7
Pienaar: Very busy and caused them problems, particularly in the second half as we chased the game. 7
Mirallas: Was doing very well until he had to come off early. I hope it’s not a serious injury as he’s been quite outstanding so far this season. 7
Fellaini: I thought he seemed to be playing within himself a bit for most of the game but boy did he turn it on when it was essential with a great goal and assist…he was then brilliant filling holes at the back whilst Sunderland fought for an equalizer. Brilliant work from the giant Belgian. 7
Jelavic: I was actually quite surprised in the car driving home when Graeme Sharpe and David Moyes both said Jelavic hadn’t had a good game because I thought he was great. Worked very hard, generally kept the ball well and scored a typical poachers goal. Let’s hope he’s back on the goal-scoring road again! 7

Substitutes:
Naismith (for Mirallas): Seemed to drift in and out of the game for the most part but got livelier near the end of the game. I think we’ll need to be patient with Naismith as he adapts to the league, particularly after the bad injury he had last season. 5
Vellios (for Neville): Made quite an impact on his first appearance of the season and caused them a few problems. 6
Hitzlsperger (for Jelavic): Gave the ball away once, kept the ball with good composure on another occasion and had a shot drift tamely wide. I’d like to see a bit more of him as I remember him being a good player for Aston Villa and Stuttgart. 6

Reader Comments

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Andy Meighan
023 Posted 10/11/2012 at 21:08:23
I'd love to know how you come up with a 7 for Pienaar... he was awful and just looked disinterested.
Tony Cheek
101 Posted 11/11/2012 at 09:46:54
Good read again Paul, I enjoy the pre match banter as much as the game report! Keep `em coming!
David Hallwood
115 Posted 11/11/2012 at 11:02:51
Good report as ever Paul I didn't go to the game so I can't comment on the ratings but, to quote the old cliche, when you're playing badly and winning, you might be onto something, and I'd take scrappy wins for the rest of the year.
Roger Trenwith
125 Posted 11/11/2012 at 12:37:08
Great report as usual, Paul. Always like the way you add a bit of pre-match atmosphere, which is good for us who can't get to the games. Keep up the good work!

What do you all think of Shearer declaring us favourites for 4th spot on MotD last night? Kiss of death?

Tom Bowers
419 Posted 13/11/2012 at 16:00:57
Is Thomas Hitzelberger the first German to play for Everton... and if so, Lewis Holtby may just possibly be the second?
Andrew Ellams
421 Posted 13/11/2012 at 16:08:40
Stefan Wessels was the first I believe, Tom, a reserve goalkeeper we had a coupll of years ago but I don't think he played a league game so Hitzlsperger does have that honour.

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