A crisp sunny afternoon and where better to spend it than Goodison Park to watch the Blues strive for three valuable points that, if nothing else, will keep us more than interested in other teams' scores. We gathered at the Temple of Learning and retired to the Room of Nonsense to disseminate the loss at the Emirates and the chances for a win today. We also enjoyed the company of 20 or so of Cardiff fans and, from their strong rendition of Delilah, they were on a mission of booze, fun and a win. Their contempt for their new owner was marked and they informed us that the true Cardiff fans always wear the Blue. I have much sympathy for them as I mused the thought of a new owner for us dictating that we played in Red.

The friendly banter was good and then time for the walk-up. The amount of fans about suggested a big gate and indeed over 38 thousand were in attendance. At the top of Spellow Lane, in the last house before Goodison Road, there were some paintings depicting many things Blue for sale at reasonable prices. I wondered if any of our American visitors availed themselves of a locally produced memento. The outlets down the strip were doing a roaring trade and the Winslow now appeared to have ‘Door Staff’ replete with a necklace supporting ID. The times they are a changing...

Teams announced and Howard back in goal. This prompted me to wonder why a home game versus a bottom-of-the-table team warranted the first-choice keeper, when an away game at Arsenal, for the chance to win a trophy, didn’t... Modern football management and thinking baffles at times.

The game itself would be one that never really caused any rise in blood pressure but it would have its moments... yet, by the end, the mood of the assembled faithful on leaving the stadium would swing from blood-curdling condemnation to the faint praise of "a win is a win" and "we will have to keep digging them out" — all courtesy of a 93rd-minute miss-hit shot that foxed all.

The half started with us attacking the Park End and we soon gained the upper hand but for all the nice approach work, the final third is still barren territory for us. We do get chances, though, and early doors Mirallas, receiving the ball after good link-up play, measured a curler toward the far post but the keeper pulled off a superb diving save. Then our Belgian got on the end of good link-up between Coleman and Lukaku with the latter’s ball almost putting it on a plate until a sliding well-timed tackle rescued Cardiff. Everton were dominating possession but not getting an end-product, thus giving Cardiff the smell of chances on the counter — one of which saw Howard having to race out and thwart Campbell with an outstretched foot.

Deulofeu, who from the off looked off the pace enough for a fan near me to question his interest in the proceedings so far, made a determined run to get on the end of a fine move that set him up for his shot, only for the excellent keeper Marshall to dive down and across with elastic reactions and palm the ball behind. As well as both players did, I thought that — considering Deulofeu was quite central to the goal — a fiercely struck shot may have benefitted more... Just opinion, though.

The half went on and, due to lack of real goalmouth action, my eyes wandered to what was happening all over the park irrespective of where the ball was. Barry was sitting in and ever ready to either sit in between the centre-backs or move forward to help dictate play. McCarthy was full of running all over the park; when he wasn’t closing down, he was racing to support the attack. Osman seemed to be nominally wide left but mostly tucked inside and play-making. Baines seemed a little lacklustre, with Coleman much the same, leaving Deulofeu, Lukaku and Mirallas as free spirits.

This scenario, I believe, was the reason for our many final-third breakdowns as players seemed unsure of who was doing what. This led to the occasional Cardiff break, leaving our centre-backs too exposed. However, we were holding our own; near the end of the half, we had a shocking tackle on Osman receive only a yellow and then a superb save from that man Marshall as a superb powerful shot from Lukaku was tipped over after a good Blues quick break. Half-time came and went; during the break, the words I heard most were "Same old, same old"...

Still the second half to go and no changes made... but both sides were out of the traps quickly which produced immediate results at both ends. First Cardiff repelled Lukaku at the near post with a good block; then, down the other end, a Campbell strike was saved by the foot of Howard whilst the crowd showed displeasure at the ease with which he got through. You could say the game settled down then, and produced little in the way of anything much more than disappointment, as move after move broke down at the 18-yard line... but at least I thought we were probing and maybe something would turn up; on the hour mark, it did.

At last, a joined up move down the left saw Distin and Baines involved; the latter fed in Deulofeu who slalomed into the box at pace and fired one in that deflected and at last beat the excellent Marshall and nestled in the net. Roars of relief were heard and the faithful reminded the taunting Cardiff fans that "We only sing when we are winning."

Cardiff, now realizing the consequences of defeat, put a spurt on but we seemed more than capable of handling that as we went in search of a second. This was hampered, though, by the manager making a double substitution right after the goal; he took off the scorer plus Mirallas for McGeady and Naismith. The Irishman went wide right and the Scotsman wide left, allowing Osman to go in the hole. The team were adjusting to this when, just ten mins after our goal, we were adjudged to have committed a foul on our right. The kick was delivered in, regulation fashion, and none to high, and the visitors swept the ball home. What a downer, the silence was deafening from the faithful whilst the visiting fans made merry and loudly.

They say teams are always vulnerable right after scoring and today almost backed that up when we went straight into the heart of their defence, Osman curled one at pace that beat the keeper but also the angle of post and bar. It had a draw all over it now as both teams strived in vain to fashion much... but, as 80 mins came up, that man Marshall somehow got to and tipped a powerful deflected shot from Lukaku around the post. If Cardiff go down — "Sign him up", I say.

Then, Cardiff sub Zaha twisted and turned into our box and went down as Distin attempted a block; furious appeals from Cardiff... "Play on" said our Ref, Mr East... "Thank you," said I as Cardiff frustrations reached fever pitch. Four mins added time went up and Cardiff were to get even more frustrated as, 2 mins into time added on, and hoards of Blues left the stadium. Tika-taka now abandoned as "get it up and into the box" prevailed. Third minute of added time reached, more left. The ball hit into the box, Barry got a head to it, and the ball went square toward Coleman, who hit it first time, in mistimed fashion, which completely wrong footed ‘Marvellous Marshall’, and it nestled... Oh, the roar!

And then we had a one-kid pitch invasion. He was soon captured and led off clapping excitedly and what was left of the crowd clapped him back. There was hardly time to kick off again when the whistle went and soon we were all singing If yer know yer 'Istery...

MotM – McCarthy

As always a good day out; whatever is made of the performance, a good three points gained. After our game v West Ham Utd, I said then I thought we would have games very tight until season end — and I still stand by that, the fact being: the team to get the points, no matter the performance, will determine the final table. There are some right tight looking games coming up — not just for us, but all teams... and what some people call 'luck' will decide many of them.

Back to the Room of Nonsense for the inquest and, along with cheese butties, it was the Blues of Everton singing whilst sympathising with the Blues of Cardiff as they contemplated their future through the bottom of a glass. We have promised them we will see off their neighbours next week but, as ever, it won’t be easy... so bring the prayer beads — and don’t leave until that final whistle blows.

One promising observation from today was the display of McGeady when he came on. If he can consistently play like he did today for 90 mins, then he may well turn out to be every bit as good as our manager says he will.

The manager, players and staff have a full week to practice so that they may once again send us home celebrating three points. (I hope!)

See you there to find out... UP THE BLUES

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Peter Mills
004 Posted 16/03/2014 at 08:45:18
Excellent report as ever Ken (although I think the shocking tackle you mention was committed on Barry). I agree with every point made by Ian, and suspect Deulofeu may have been afflicted by the doubts so many experience about running at full tilt after a hamstring strain.

Roberto had decided on his substitutions before we scored the first goal, they were waiting to go on. I was surprised he didn't at least delay making the changes when we scored, allowing the game to settle for a few minutes. Deulofeu was on a high after scoring and was mighty disappointed to be hooked.

Eddie Dunn
014 Posted 16/03/2014 at 09:41:26
As usual an insightful report from Ken.

On the positives, McGeady looks a well balanced player, Barry was much improved and Lukaku gives us a target.

The negatives, we struggled to put away a poor side, and had it not been for the miss-hit volley, we would have all been pissed off again. Still, we were due a bit of luck.

Dave Williams
018 Posted 16/03/2014 at 10:44:56
Great,balanced reporting Ken. We played some nice stuff at times and Aiden looked like a proper winger playing for the team whereas Mirallas has started to believe he is better than he is and goes for personal glory rather than looking to see where his teammates are. Shame as he has a load of ability but a bit like the young Ronaldo he doesn't know how to use it- trouble is at 25 he should have learned by now!

James was great and I agree with Ian that if he was let off the leash and told to get forward more we could have a terrific young player.

Stones continues to progress and learn but if only Oviedo was fit he would surely play as Baines has had a very ordinary season- a few flashes of what he used to do yesterday but he seems to have lost his dash.

I don't see Lulu as a player on whom we should lavish £20 m or more. He is so raw and cannot play as a target man or link player. Very good at running at defenders and getting a shot away but we have a few who can do that rather than play as orthodox wingers and we can't accomodate both- either we have wingers to provide chances to the striker or a striker who will create chances for the wingers but at the moment we have two wingers and a striker who all play for themselves and that is what was so refreshing about Aiden when he came on as he tried to create openings for others.

Not too bothered about how we win now and we were due a bit of luck. Fifth is wide open and we don't need too many results to go our way to open up fourth. Arsenal have some awful fixtures all in a row now and we still have to play them at Goodison.If we are thereabouts come our last three home games against Arsenal,United and City .............

Come on!!!

Phil Sammon
023 Posted 16/03/2014 at 11:38:41
McGeady was brilliant yesterday. His acceleration over the first 10 yards is incredible! You never know which way he is going either. He will lose possession from time to time, but how long have we waited for a player who can beat a man like that. Not sure the cameras picked it up but he did that trick Ronaldinho used to do yesterday. Flipping the ball from his instep onto the outside of his boot and then burst past his marker. Absolutely brilliant technique...and it's not showboating, it's skill that finds him space. More of the same please Aiden.
Paul Thompson
024 Posted 16/03/2014 at 11:41:45
All strikers are necessarily a bit selfish, but there is a massive difference between Mirallas and Lukaku. The latter is coming back into form and was unlucky not to score yesterday. The former is ever-frustrating and shows terrible decision-making. I think Lukaku has not had good service and will score more if we give McGeady an extended run from the start. The lad can cross a ball, though bizarrely it was Barry on the end of his superb cross to set up the winner.
Mark Tanton
026 Posted 16/03/2014 at 12:11:21
I don't understand the vitriol associated with Mirallas - he was unlucky not to score twice yesterday. He does make the wrong decision too often yes, but he is bold and direct and we don't have enough of what he offers. When you consider the absolute dross that Leon Osman serves up, to pick on Mirallas seems very harsh.
Linda Morrison
027 Posted 16/03/2014 at 12:11:33
Agree Paul that's why Barry will be a good addition to the club, despite his age

I still think Lukaka will be a great player when he gets the service, which club that will be with who knows?

Brian Hill
029 Posted 16/03/2014 at 12:19:03
A lot more long range shots yesterday although the usual lack of invention in the box. Osman is becoming an embarrassment, he offers nothing in any aspect of the game – he would not get into Cardiff's side. With two very good wide players on the field, why did Lukaku (Linda) spend so much time on the wing? I often find our tactics incomprehensible.

Anyway, my voice is still recovering from my screams at the winner and can't wait for next week.

[Completely off topic, where is Ricardo Humphries? Am I alone in Cape Town?]

Matt Traynor
036 Posted 16/03/2014 at 12:45:03
Brian #032, would you have Moyles as manager of that lot?
Doug Nestor
043 Posted 16/03/2014 at 13:06:03
Love that Lukaka!!!!.............on a serious note thought Mcgeady looked a lot like Davey Thomas yesterday.............just need a big Bob Latchford in the middle............
Colin Glassar
049 Posted 16/03/2014 at 13:23:25
I like your comparison with Dave Thomas, Doug. If he's half as good then we've got a gem on our hands.
I thought we were very good btw just that their keeper had a blinder yesterday.
Brian Hill
050 Posted 16/03/2014 at 13:22:10
Mat Trainer, Moise was are best manger. Wish we culd bring back Gravsun, Alegzandesun, an all de udder suns.
Brian Hill
052 Posted 16/03/2014 at 13:29:27
Dave Thomas? Wow!! No chance of a player like him today. And he played under Gordon Lee, one of the most hated managers on this site. If we played now like we played then we would win almost every game. And we have the players to do it.
Bill Griffiths
125 Posted 16/03/2014 at 15:03:44
Just thought I’d give my take on yesterday. Though was glad of the victory I couldn’t say we deserved it, there again it’s good to win when perhaps we didn’t deserve to after getting nothing from games that we did deserve something from.
I thought most of the lads performed either very well or adequately. However I thought Mirallas, Lukaku, Osman and DelBoy were absolutely awful, especially Mirallas and as far as I am concerned we should get rid of him.
As awful as DelBoy was though, I was surprised when he was taken off as he is someone who can conjure something up from nothing as per the goal. I would normally stick up for Ossie but yesterday he couldn’t seem to do anything right and my five year old granddaughter could easily knock him off the ball.
One promising thing was that McGeady showed signs that he could be a very useful addition to the squad. He’ll never be as good as Dave Thomas at hitting the line and crossing but if he’s half as good he’ll do ok.
Jim Harrison
141 Posted 16/03/2014 at 15:24:09
I kind of understand Kev getting some flack, but to be honest, at least he is trying to make a difference. If I were him I would be frustrated at not getting any real chance to get in behind defences, as every team sits so deep against us.
Jim Bennings
147 Posted 16/03/2014 at 15:29:45
It could all be worse guys.

We could still be stuck with David Moyes haha fucking over rated manager that fella if ever their was a media love in with a manager.

Well about yesterday, three important points despite another frustrating performance that only started getting better once McGeady came on and put in the quick early quality crosses that we have been craving lately.

Plus points yesterday from my opinion.

Lukaku played with a real vigour and looked very fresh and ready.

Stones continues to look like he is ice cool.

Deulofeu showed some flashes amidst frustrating play.

Mirallas is the new McFadden..Capable of scoring wonderful goals but in the main frustrates the bollocks off fans and team mates alike with his reluctance to look up and his wayward shooting.

Osman on the left?? Roberto what the Fuck?
Ossie cannot hurt teams by playing as a wide man especially when you have a outright winger sitting on the bench in McGeady.

Again Baines form worries me slightly, could be the fact he has no real competition for his place now I am not sure but he just doesnt seem right.

All in all it was a performance and result which we have become accustomed to with Everton this year..Slow start no real urgency and no real guile until the second half when a positive substitute comes on.

What can we aim for the rest of this season?

Probably target 5 more wins and finish above United or Spurs or both, then get to the summer and start backing Martinez with some money and let him get more of his own players.

Dean Adams
149 Posted 16/03/2014 at 15:40:15
Thought we deserved to win, took longer than it should have though. KM played well and was unfortunate not to score on a few occasions. We really do not need to be playing two deep defensive midfielders every game and the substitutions are just sickening. If you want to score more then you need to push more players further up the pitch. Roberto is probably playing it safe this season, but we need to have a more balanced attacking mentality. We always seem to be that player short up front. I thought our defence was supposed to be our strength, but two covering midfielders makes me think that the reality may be different.
Ajay Gopal
239 Posted 16/03/2014 at 17:37:25
Dean, (149), I think Martinez will take off the shackles a bit next year and play with only 1 defensive mid-fielder most games - that player is likely to be McCarthy with Gibson as cover. With Stones coming of age, I see Jags and Stones as our main centre-backs next season, and Barkley, Mirallas, McGeady and Oviedo being our main attacking mid-fielders. I expect Distin, Osman and Pienaar to fade away over next season and gradually replace them in the squad (Duffy, Browning, McAleny?). Martinez will surely target 1 centre-forward and another creative mid-fielder to build the squad and probably as replacements for Lukaku & Deulofeu.
Dean Adams
245 Posted 16/03/2014 at 17:57:33
Ajay

As this season progresses, I feel that Roberto is keeping it tight to prove to those who said we would defend like Wigan (last season) that he is not the gung-ho madman that some suggested. He wants to prove a point and I believe in the summer he will bring in players who he has already identified. Next season. I believe we will see a lot stronger team and performances.

Nigel Gregson
249 Posted 16/03/2014 at 18:02:48
@Ajay - I hate talking about next season with 30 points still up for grabs. But here are a few things that I expect to happen next season :
1. Return of the long term injured : Oviedo, Gibson, Kone and Alcaraz - like new signings (?)

2. Return of Gareth, Gerard and Jack (Barry, Delefeou and Rodwell). Lukaku will probably return and sold to the highest bidder and we probably wont be contention.

3. Emergence of Stones and Barkley - they both have a taste of the real thing and they both now know what is required and how fine the margins are. I fully expect them to step up a notch or two next season

4. The decline of Hibbert, Osman, Pienaar, Distin - I will be really sad to see them go. But their time has come, I expect at least 1 of them to retire. They are all squad rotation players at best now and they wont be taking us to the next level.

5. New signings. Some exciting loans (how about that Rafinha fella – another Barca kid on loan at Celta – why not get them both playing together here at a higher level for a year?). But we really need to buy a serious goalscorer or two. We have goal threat from all over the park except from strikers. We also need a proper creator of goals. These two have to be the absolute priorities when building the squad.

6. Our current style at a slightly faster pace when in the opposition half. Imagine that. I expect the team to up their game now that they know how to hold the ball and mentally they know that can beat anyone anywhere.

Dave Williams
252 Posted 16/03/2014 at 18:09:32
That would make some sense, Dean!

I criticise Mirallas because he has so much ability but so often flatters to deceive by either scuffing his shots or failing in the final third to find a teammate who may be better placed. He always looks like he could be the one to find the answer when we need a goal and he just needs to adapt his style of play that little bit rather than try to do it all himself.

I don't see how we were lucky yesterday though. We played some decent stuff and Roberto had clearly had words about shooting as Brian says above we did try more shots and if their keeper had not been so good we would have scored four or five.

Fifth place is looking good after today's results and who knows what might happen yet.

Best thing about the weekend has to be Gerrard missing that third penalty – can you imagine the TV and papers if he had scored a hat-trick of pens at OT?

Thank heaven for small mercies!

Steve Carter
370 Posted 17/03/2014 at 08:28:41
Always love Ken's reports, and that Patrick fellas historical articles.
Phil Walling
390 Posted 17/03/2014 at 11:00:28
A committed ’seventh is heaven’ man, I do believe that whilst the top four are in a different league to Everton, there is now every chance for us to pinch fifth place.

With Spurs and Man Utd on the wain, only a big drop in form (and good luck!) will deprive us of ’the best of the rest trophy’.

How’s that for a pessimistic old bugger who stands to lose two hundred notes if we can clinch that ’title?

Brian Denton
394 Posted 17/03/2014 at 11:22:10
Phil, I don't see how you can be 'committed' to Seventh Heaven. 'Resigned' to it maybe. You can't be 'committed' to being the tallest midget, surely?
Brent Stephens
395 Posted 17/03/2014 at 11:40:59
Brian, as one of the world's tallest midgets, I can assure you I'm committed as well as resigned. Resigned is glass half empty, committed is glass half full. Resigned and committed gets me a full glass. Even if I am only a half pint.
Dave Richman
399 Posted 17/03/2014 at 12:22:14
Brian Hill: Look these lads up ..... Official EFC supporters club in Cape Town:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/371413479482/?fref=ts

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