Pete Sixsmith offers his measured assessment of a game that Sunderland might have won, but will feel satisfied not to have lost – and also remembers a true Stadium of Light character, one year on from his untimely death …
The 18th century American polymath Ben Franklin is widely accepted as being the man who said that there are “only two things certain in life and that’s death and taxes”. Were Mr Franklin still on this mortal coil, he could add: “And Tim Cahill will score against Sunderland.”
When he headed home in the sixth minute of this frenetic but not particularly skillful game, I feared the worst. Fortunately, Everton had an attack that was even more toothless than Old Mother Riley after a visit to the dentist, with Louis Saha doing a very passable impersonation of Jonathan Stead.
A tidy spell of pressure lead to an excellent wriggly run by our ageing Dutch Superstar, Bolo Zenden, and a low cross that was turned in by Danny Welbeck and things began to look up. Another win would propel us up the league and into a Europa place. All we had to do was turn the screw as we had at Stamford Bridge and it would be all right.
However, like CJ, Reggie Perrins’s managing director, Everton and David Moyes didn’t get where they are today by rolling over and dying. Not blessed with the biggest or most talented squad, Moyes makes the best of what he has and his team are damnably difficult to beat.
We cleared a couple off the line before a sublime centre by Richardson was headed into the net by the ever improving Welbeck. The win and the steady shuffle up the league was on.
By this time, Everton had decided that the only way to score was to knock centres in from the full back positions. Neither Turner or Ferdinand had looked particularly comfortable in the air at the start (indeed, Turner missed Baines’s cross, allowing Cahill to perform his usual trick of netting against us), but as the game went on they settled and it looked as if we would hold on.
Unfortunately, we stopped tackling in midfield and three of ours allowed an Everton player to cut inside, pass to Arteta, who then side stepped some half hearted challenges before pinging his shot off Bardsley and into the net.
It was frustrating, it was annoying but it was fair and both managers afterwards seemed happy enough with a point, although I suspect Bruce was the more satisfied of the two.
Welbeck had a very good game and took his two goals, er, well. He looks a much more confident player, even to the extent of annoying Phil Neville, when he fell over in the first half. The Everton skipper remonstrated with him quite aggressively and was booed for the rest of the game.
Other than that, it was a reasonable performance with some highs and lows. Wee Shuggie McBardsley had another canny game while Jordan Henderson started off well, but faded. Maybe he needs to read the tempo of a game a bit more carefully; it will come with experience.
The brother from Greece enjoyed it, only partly because the threatened cold temperatures did not materialise. He commented on the way that both sides moved the ball around and the overall pace of the game. Much better than Greek football – where Lord Frodsham is currently banging them in for Panathinaikos.
On a sad note, Monday marked the first anniversary of Dave Lish’s death (see Pete Sixsmith’s affectionate tribute by clicking here). His sharp and witty observations have been much missed as has his kindness and good company. A good man, sadly gone from us.