A tough 24 hours for Steve Clarke stole the headlines, both nationally and locally, by one of the club’s few new signings; not the arrival of Scott Sinclair but Nicolas Anelka, who wasn’t involved at Goodison Park for personal reasons – but was the talk of the fans on the coaches travelling north.
With the Frenchman unavailable, Clarke opted to stick with the 4-4-2 and the usual back five and the same midfield four selected against Saints. But there was a new partnership up front as Long was partnered by Rosenberg. Sinclair made the bench and, as Myhill had obtained a hand injury, Luke Daniels was our back-up shot stopper.
Everton stuck with their usual line up and no surprises – Kone was on the bench along with Naismith, two players that were heavily linked to us in the past and we could certainly do with now!
Inside the lovely away end Everton have, our fans were as pessimistic as ever over the 4-4-2 but we actually started the game well, controlled the ball and although chances didn’t come, the patience on the ball was good and helped us get a small foothold in the game.
The freedom within the formation was something we lacked last week yet found this week. Rotation occurred and movement was good. Everton had clicked on to the movement though and passed players on well, although their chances were few and far between. Long seemed to be in for a tough day’s work of usual kicks and nicks from every angle going.
Pienaar had a chance though early on, a header inside the box, he was totally free but Foster, being watched by Sir Roy, produced a save and caught the ball, something ‘keepers don’t do enough of nowadays! He then did the same from a low shot from the South African minutes later.
Morrison and Mulumbu then saw shots go over and wide, respectively. Nothing really there to worry Howard as Jagielka and Distin covered Long and Rosenberg well, it was always going to be down to the midfield to produce.
Mulumbu then got a daft yellow card, handball was given, whether it was or it wasn’t he shouldn’t have gone in hand first. The free kick was blocked by the wall and cleared as Albion fans lauded Everton over the potential sale of Leighton Baines to Man Utd.
Foster then produced a world class save to deny Mirallas, a shot from outside the area that was goal bound, our ‘keeper at full stretch to keep the ball out.
A poor pass let Everton in, a ball across the box looked set for Jelavic, another player we have previously wanted, to be 1 on 1 with Foster until Claudio got there and stopped the pass into the striker.
The half was ending when Foster held a Coleman low shot and Everton pressure was being applied, corners arrived and Jones was blocking crosses, headers being made to clear and ultimately we were dealing with the aerial threat produced by the home side well as half time arrived.
Dorrans was on set piece duty and when he delivered a decent free kick onto the head of Olsson it found the body of Jelavic in front of the goal.
Minutes later, Olsson was in the other box clearing the ball away. He was starting to look like the Olsson of old, confident, reliable and simpler. No playmaker in him and putting his foot through it when needed.
We were almost fruitless in front of goal but when Mulumbu slid a low ball to Longy a chance was possible only with the ball behind him Shane couldn’t adjust his body and feet allowing an impressive Distin to clear.
Foster was forced into another save with Mirallas firing low for the England shot stopper to save.
The best chance finally arrived past the hour mark. Dorrans fed Morrison, Morrison then found Rosenberg who just rolled the ball back to the on running Morrison to fire one on target (finally) forcing Howard into a good save.
Subs were made for both sides but it was someone on from the start that got the next opportunity. It was a great chance with Morrison and Dorrans combining well to find Shane Long in the box and the shot from the Irish international wasn’t strong enough allowing Howard to parry away from danger.
Ross Barkley had rave reviews against Norwich the previous week and maybe we could take a note from their book with his development. He played well on loan and then played him (Dawson) a good, young, English, creative midfielder who tested Fozzie with a drive from 20 yards out, parried into the path of Felliani who was met again by our number 1 reaching out an arm to concede another corner.
We expected a debut at Goodison Park, the fans were expectant and we got one as Ben Foster limped off with an ankle injury he was replaced by Luke Daniels who was given his first Premier League appearance in 9 years.
With the third choice ‘keeper in goal it was back to wall stuff for the last 10 minutes. After a good spell you could sense Everton were pushing for a win in front of a home crowd and with the injuries that we had suffered and the off field issues they were always going to push forward.
Kone tested Daniels who was quick off his line to deny the Ivory Coast international and then flagged offside although Billy Jones (who has gone rather unnoticed development wise of late, he is rather reliable) made a goal line block to deny the Toffees.
Long was off for Brunty as Clarke threw another midfielder in. I agreed with that move. The decision was that we were to press and push, we already had 2 strikers on, Vyrda on the counter very possible to score our first for the season as the new man looked fast and hard working enough to maybe win a throw in/corner to get a chance.
Felliani then tested the woodwork after smashing the post with a shot, beating Daniels and then Olsson cleared away from any rebounds that were on for Everton.
Coleman had a good game and when he cut inside into space to get a shot off, Daniels was forced down low at his near post to deal with the shot which he parried out for a corner.
Four minutes of added time went up as Everton’s expectation continued to rise; the away end got even more nervy thinking back to the week before with Southampton. Coleman managed to get a late chance with a cross into the box ending up into a shot which beating Daniels but not the woodwork as it again kept the clean sheets intact.
Late chances didn’t really arrive for us, we tried to counter but the final ball was lacking. Vydra and Morrison could’ve released each other but the pass wasn’t easy and defended well by the hosts.
Time ran down and the full time whistle went to the delight of the away fans.
It’s good point that we didn’t get last season and that should only create positive vibes. Talking of creating, we haven’t done enough of it. The 4-4-2 formation doesn’t suit our midfielders. Mozza wants to be behind the striker, Mulumbu and Yacob would ideally want him in front of them to make it more compact so playing the rather rigid formation is hurting the side rather than helping it.
Obviously we need players in, that’s clear. Anelka is not an away day player anyway, hardly going to be quick on the counter. But we had strikers willing to push into midfielders today to do the nasty, dirty work to get the point and ultimately they deserved it.
Vydra impressed, Mulumbu and Yacob were both solid and Jones rather good yet again, can’t say anyone had a poor game, although Foster probably the best of a decent bunch. Just need to create more and stop giving away daft fouls in dangerous areas.
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