Mucha More Like It!

Match Report: Reading (H)

Paul Traill 03/03/2013 17comments  |  Jump to last
A busy start to the day took in a trip to take our unwell old car to We Buy Any Car before we had a few other things to do in town. It was 1.30pm before we got to the pub for a few pre-match drinks. Gary and Sue joined us a little later, and later still Ste and Janine. Groans throughout the pub met the news on the TV that Howard had not passed his fitness test and that Jan Mucha, some three years after signing for the club, was to make his Premier League debut. The only other change to the starting XI was Fellaini coming in to replace Neville. Anichebe was back amongst the substitutes.

With Pogrebnyak suspended after his diabolical Suarez-esque stamp last week, Le Fondre, who scored against us twice earlier this season, began in attack. Elsewhere Stuart Taylor made his first Premier League appearance for five years and Hope Apkan who made a solitary appearance for Everton against BATE Borisov in the Europa League a few years back, will have been chuffed to make a return to Goodison Park. Anthony Taylor, who amazingly sent off Darron Gibson earlier this season at Upton Park, officiated.

Just as we were about to set off to the ground, Ste asked what we were doing about tickets for next weekends FA Cup Quarter Final with Wigan Athletic. Gary and I replied that we already had our tickets. Id also read somewhere that after full time the tickets were then on general sale, and thus Ste may not be able to guarantee his usual seat. Ste looked back at me in horror and with barely a word turned and ran out of the pub and straight to the Box Office.

Gary and I went on to the match. It was good to see Jan Mucha given plenty of encouragement as he took goal - both by his team mates and supporters alike, Everton attacking the Park End in the first half. Just a couple of minutes into the game Le Fondre was cautioned for a late tackle on Jagielka as our stand-in skipper cleared the ball. Heitinga replaced Jagielka and went straight to Le Fondre to make it clear he wouldnt be taking any of them tackles. Still no sign of Ste.

A little later Kebe pulled up injured and was also substituted. Eventually a furious Ste turned up saying how he had gone to the Box Office to join the queue and had been turned away by the stewards. Why on earth they wouldnt let him queue for tickets then I just dont know. He then had to run away from Goodison Park onto County Road just so he could get enough reception to buy the ticket onlinethough a swift phone call probably would have done the trick. Regardless, he arrived unhappy, and we were nearly all unhappy when Le Fondre was unlucky not to score when he smashed a fantastic volley onto the post from a corner. Reading getting the better of things in the first 15-20 minutes.

Everton slowly got themselves into the game. Jelavic was put through on goal but could only shoot straight at Taylor. The confident Jelavic would have put that one away no problem but its still not happening for Nikica. The breakthrough came shortly before half time when fantastic wing play by Coleman resulted in a tasty cross for Fellaini to attack. Attack it he did and a great header by the Belgian found the corner of the net. It was a little reminiscent of the sort of headers Big Dunc used to put away. Actually, a lot of his game reminds me of Big Dunc. I dont think Duncan was ever as technically good as Fellaini but the problems he caused opponents when fully fit were similar, as was he treatment from referees. Fellaini gives as good as he gets and is often pulled up for fouls by him which are often not fouls at all but hes a bit of a marked man. Oppositely, he is often fouled by defenders or markers with nothing given in return. I guess its something he, and we, are just going to have to live with.

Into the second half and Everton now had quite a firm grip of the game and the performance was much more like the sort we were treated to earlier in the season. Mirallas and Pienaar are both instrumental to that. Its great to have two positive, attack-minded wingers in the team and when Jelavic begins firing again we could be well equipped for the run in. Both wingers showed their ability in putting Reading to the sword. Pienaar when he was released by a good Fellaini pass though the South African still had tons of work to do. Do it he did, taking on a few defenders and opening up a shooting opportunity onto his left foot to unleash an unstoppable drive past Taylor to make it 2-0. The goal reminded me a bit of Andrei Kanchelskis in his heyday. The crowd by this point were buzzing and hungry for more.

Mirallas also got in on the act. This time from an exquisite pass from Pienaar, Mirallas timing his run perfectly, composing himself and finishing neatly into the corner of the net. There were further opportunities for more also. Fellaini had a good chance blocked just short of the line; Mirallas shot across goal missed the far post and Fellaini passed up the chance of a tap-in; and substitute Anichebe looked to have scored but had his effort well cleared off the line by Ian Harte.

With seven minutes to go Robson-Kanu threatened to spoil the party after a brilliant header gave Mucha no chance, though Everton put the brakes on from here and saw the game out quite professionally. A great performance by Everton, especially in the second half. Hopefully we can keep that up now and see if we can get back into race for fourth. Someone, be it Tottenham, Arsenal or both will drop points today in the North London derby, and though you cant ignore them, Liverpool trouncing Wigan 4 - 0 may actually do us a favour for the FA Cup Quarter Final next Saturday, though it may also ensure a reaction I suppose. Either way, the Reading match was much more like it and we can go into next weekends game completely full of confidence.

Player Ratings:
Mucha: I was really pleased Jan Mucha didnt let anyone down. Its been a miserable move for him as he came to Everton probably expecting to play and has gone from being his countries no. 1 keeper to retiring from international football because of lack of opportunities. He made some decent saves, got rid of things when he had to and did the job. What more can you realistically expect for a stand-in goalkeeper? In a funny sort of way, I felt the defenders performed better with Mucha there as they knew they had to protect him more than they do with Howard. Nice one Mucha! 7
Baines: Did fine, his consistent, though perhaps not most enterprising self. 7
Distin: I dare he say hes currently our most important defender as he just heads everything out empathically. I think its now a case of Distin plus one of Jagielka / Heitinga. I hope Duffy will be capable to do the same job when it comes time to replace Sylvain. Another solid performance. 8
Jagielka: Hardly featured as was forced off so early. Could be out for a few weeks also apparently as the gash is a deep one. I hope Heitinga is ready to step up. Cant really rate him as he wasnt on long enough.
Coleman: Ive had my concerns about Coleman previously but hes really improved and is now looking a much more complete player. His defensive game is now much better but his real asset is of course his attacking play and he did this splendidly once again to tee up Fellainis goal. An excellent performance. I like the idea of him and MIrallas on one wing and Baines and Pienaar on the other. 8
Gibson: Did well. A good solid game from Darron. 7
Osman: Is looking tired is Leon and was given a 20 minute breather to give Anichebe some game time. 6
Pienaar: Seemed to get more joy from the right hand side, perhaps because teams are now doing so much preparation work to alleviate the threat of Baines and Pienaar down the left flank, though now we have Mirallas back and in full swing teams will struggle to defend against the two of them. In the second half Pienaar was just awesome, was everywhere. Scored a belter and made an excellent assist. A great performance and my man of the match. 9
Mirallas: Hes so quick and skillful he causes teams all sorts of problems. His confidence seems to back and its great to see him firing again. Took his goal nicely. 8
Fellaini: Had a great game, particularly once Everton got over that first 20 minutes or so. Covered so much ground and was very instrumental with the outcome. Easily, could, and should, have scored two or three. Good to see him back in good form, his best performance for some time. 9
Jelavic: Its just not happeneing for Nikica. Hes getting the opportunities but they just arent going in. Im sure hell get it back somehow or other, but maybe itll have to come from more unconventional means, such as a lucky deflectionan underhit backpass he latches onto, a goalkeeping howler, etc, etc, as he just doesnt seem capable when presented with good opportunities at the moment exemplified by his first half miss when put through on goal. Key thing is that hes not hiding and is still working hard. If he keeps that up surely the goals will come. 6

Heitinga (for Jagielka): Coped fine. Will have been pleased to play again as hes been left out of the last three games. Hope he can get back to performance levels hes more capable of. 7
Anichebe (for Osman): Perhaps could have done more to stop the cross for Readings goal and could have done a bit better with a few things but was generally OK. Unlucky not to score and is a good alternative to Jelavic. 6
Hitzlsperger (for Pienaar): Struggled to get into the game and didnt really contribute an awful lot. Will have been pleased to get on the pitch though. 5

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Reader Comments (17)

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Ciaran Duff
1 Posted 03/03/2013 at 22:08:20
Glad to hear Mucha did well. Being a backup keeper has got to be one of the weirdest roles in (professional) football. Imagine sitting around for years waiting for the main keeper to have an absolute howler or get injured. That's the only way you are ever going to get a game unless you move. Any other position on the team you might get a run for the last 20 or 30 mins of a game.
Brian Garside
2 Posted 03/03/2013 at 22:04:51
Keep Mucha in next week. More solid and better with crosses than TH. He did OK. I expect Wigan to play a pressing game on our back line with Jags out, JH not known for his ariel abillity DM will never play Duffy unless in crisis and Bains half crocked. You are very kind to VA. It was his fault we conceded the goal by not following his man thereby leaving SC exposed. The cross would not have been played had VA done his job.
Jimmy Srheim
3 Posted 04/03/2013 at 06:13:10
This game tells us nothing in terms of where we are form wise.

Also, Mucha was rusty in his movements, the whole team had to work extra hard to protect the goal. If this game had been Spurs then we would have lost.

We can only hope that this victory gives the players some morale back. Specially Heitinga and Jelavic is in need of a morale boost, their performances look nothing like last season.

We will lose the game to Wigan because of Heitinga, he just can not cope with pacey strikers, and I do not look forward to watching us with Heitinga in the team, plus Jelavic who simply can not do his job and stay in position as a striker.

Despite this win I am far from filled with confidence.

Steve Jones
4 Posted 04/03/2013 at 08:09:38
Mucha is nowhere near as good as Howard, he stopped one with his elbow and was actually stood behind the line when they hit the bar. He comes off his line even less than Howard, and his kicking is poor.

Heitinga will get run ragged and out muscled by Kone, it's so obvious, we just have to make sure we score more than the pie eaters.

Jamie Sweet
5 Posted 04/03/2013 at 08:52:56
"If this game had been Spurs then we would have lost". What an odd statement. If we played Barcelona every week, we'd get relegated too.
Jimmy Srheim
6 Posted 04/03/2013 at 10:07:15
Nothing odd about it. If we had played a top four team we would have lost, we are nowhere near top form, this game was more a one-off as Reading are poor at best. Perhaps this can be the start of something good, but based on our last few matches I am not confident we will beat Wigan at all.

As Steve Jones stated above, Heitinga will get overrun by Kone, plus we probably have to stay with Mucha in goal. Wigan will get shots on target, our defence cannot keep a clean sheet if their lives depended on it.

Overall I would like us to get 4th much more then winning the FA Cup. CL is where we want to be, Europa League is hardly worth it with the small amount of money you get from it.

The way I see it, the FA Cup is a good way to get back into form in order to fight for that 4th spot. Once you hit good form you want the games coming fast, but we are not quite there yet.

Trevor Lynes
7 Posted 04/03/2013 at 10:38:14
After watching us against Reading then Spurs against Arsenal, there seemed such a gulf in class that it quite took the edge of my enjoyment. We are not playing anywhere near as well as we were earlier in the season. I really did not feel the slightest apprehension whoever we played. But we look a lot more vulnerable at the back and toothless up front nowadays.

I'm delighted Mirallas is back but the team is looking a bit jaded as a whole. We were playing football as good as Spurs, Man City and even Man Utd at the beginning of the season. Much better than Chelsea or Arsenal... I really had high hopes. The January transfer window put the mockers on all that optimism and brought us down to reality. I can see us getting past Wigan but I'm not optimistic of winning the cup. I felt sure that we would bring in a couple of decent signings to give the team a boost for the run in.

I'm so deflated at the lack of signings that I now feel has been reflected in the subsequent team performances. We are truly bereft of adequate subs for our first eleven and it just emphasises to me the inadequacies of this miserable board. If we miss a European spot and cup trophy win, then it's down to them.

I'm sure that BK and his cohorts are sighing with relief that we are safe from relegation without spending money.

Roy Jordan
8 Posted 04/03/2013 at 11:34:42

Not sure if your mate Ste got fixed for tickets for Wigan game but I have 2 in the main stand. I can't go.

Anthony Hawkins
9 Posted 04/03/2013 at 12:32:38
Whilst not a certainty, this game starts to confirm what I've been thinking for a while - that Howard is not communicating clearly enough with the defense or owning the box.

The back 5 HAVE to talk to each other all the time to keep things tight.

James Stewart
10 Posted 04/03/2013 at 13:06:42
@Steve Jones did you even watch the game?

Mucha's kicking was constantly praised on the match day forum and was far better than Howard's. Very strange observation

Paul Ryan
11 Posted 04/03/2013 at 14:31:00
I must have been at a different game than everybody else. I thought Mucha showed no control of his box and was constantly rooted to his goal-line. I've been saying for some time that Big Tim's best days seem to be behind him but I don't think Jan is good enough even as a back-up.
Anto Byrne
13 Posted 04/03/2013 at 16:28:43
Give the bloke a chance, ffs, 1 game in 3 years, let's see how he does after 4-5 games (not that Moyes will give him a chance). He really can't be any worse than flapper Howard.
Dean Adams
14 Posted 04/03/2013 at 16:23:30
Do some of our fans live in a parallel universe and actually see a different game? Mucha looked fairly solid. His passing was a vast improvement on Howards. He looked strong on crosses until he got fouled and the ref just ignored it. After that he looked a bit apprehensive but was solid enough.

Mucha must have been as nervous as hell. He has been at the club for years and finally got his league debut. For me he was more than good enough to keep his place.

Same with JH. How many headers did he make in clearing corners? He looked solid and was just unfortunate to be the player under the precise cross that he had no chance of reaching. His passing was good and never looked under any pressure.

James Martin
15 Posted 04/03/2013 at 17:29:56
I thought Mucha looked good just because he didn't take an eternity to roll the ball out, he just did it, or threw it to the full back or kicked it accurately. Every time Howard picks up the ball he pretends as though he's going to bowl it out to someone but never does. Hoofball starts from the back unfortunately. Mucha also looked good on crosses and made a decent low save at one point. One good game doesn't make a top keeper but equally if Howard wasn't fit the next game I wouldn't be awash with panic.
Andy Meighan
16 Posted 04/03/2013 at 20:06:39
"If this game would have been Spurs we'd have lost." Er didn't we beat Spurs 2 -1 at home in December? What a bizarre thing to say. You can only beat what's in front of you. And we did that comfortably. Fuck me, some people are never happy unless they're unhappy.
Adam Fenlon
17 Posted 05/03/2013 at 04:20:00
If we'd been playing Spurs would we have been Arsenal? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Rhetorical questions confuse me.
Tony Cheek
18 Posted 05/03/2013 at 15:30:38
"Being a backup keeper has got to be one of the weirdest roles in (professional) football. Imagine sitting around for years waiting for the main keeper to have an absolute howler or get injured".....made me smile a bit Ciaran, just thinking about how many absolute howlers Howard has had without losing his place.

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