The Everton Soapbox: a good day at Goodison, Liverpool to come

Sixer by Jake

Pete Sixsmith who, as ever, was part of the noisy invasion of Merseyside, enjoyed a pre-match pint or three, has praise for our keeper and the referee and calls for the signing of a diminutive Glaswegian crossdresser to improve our prospects of scoring from dead ball situations …

A good day at Goodison.

We don’t have many of those, but yesterday was one of them. It was a good ‘un from start to finish. We left home when it was light, supped three pints of Cain’s Bitter pre match, got a hard fought draw and got home when it was light. In my book, that constitutes a good day out.

It wasn’t a bad game, although I am sure some of the more refined media pundits would disagree. Two teams, separated on goal difference, with a league season going nowhere and a chance of a first trophy for one manager in his first season and a first trophy after 10 relatively successful years for the other. You are not going to get an artistic game like Brazil v Hungary 1966 or Everton v Sunderland 1985, with free flowing football and wonderful goals.

Instead, we got a wholehearted cup tie, well refereed and played in front of a passionate and partisan crowd. Both sides could claim that they dominated certain stages, both sides had chances to win it (Everton probably more than we had) and at the end both sides knew that they had been in a scrap.
There is little between them, although I think that we are a more controlled side who play more football. We always looked to play it to feet and we have outlets in McClean and Larsson which allows us to squeeze the opposition.

Everton, meanwhile, have a tendency to move the ball quickly upfield and put pressure on central defenders. It can work, but when you have a resolute pair like O’Shea and Turner at the heart of the defence, it begins to look like lumping the ball a la Wimbledon.

We started well and the goal was a good one from our point of view and a sticky one from that of the Toffees. Their defence was guilty of paying absolutely no attention as the impressive and calm Jack Colback slipped it to Phil Bardsley, who moved forward and hit a low shot past the heavily camouflaged Tim Howard.

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We needed to hold that lead until half time, but they scored a decent equaliser, when the impressive Jelavic beat Turner to a header and, as bloody usual, Tim Bloody Cahill was on hand to divert it over the line.

That lifted the Everton fans for a while and the Park End in particular were convinced that it is against the laws of football to tackle a Toffee as they howled for a free kick/sending off/ritual disembowelling whenever there was contact between a Sunderland player and an Everton one.
Andre Marriner (not wildly popular with Sunderland fans) allowed the game to flow and did well, although I feel that those of a blue persuasion may disagree with me. It’s all about opinions, as the man with the wooden leg said.

The second half saw us limited to breakaways, while Everton became more frantic and did resort to lumping the ball up front. They had one good chance, when that man Jelavic, no doubt pleased to exchange the frugalities of Ibrox for the relative generosity of Goodison, followed up Heitinga’s shot, only to be thwarted by yet another excellent piece of goalkeeping from Simon Mignolet. His initial save from Heitinga was very good, the second one was brilliant and shows how fit he is as he sprung up from a prone position to foil the Bosnian born Croat. He really is becoming an impressive keeper and could be our No 1 for the rest of eternity if he maintains this form.

In midfield, we worked hard, but we lacked the spark that Sessegnon and Cattermole give us and their return for the replay is eagerly awaited. Everton fans moaning at Jacko on BBC Merseyside clearly assumed that Sess was some super hero who would beat them single handed – and they may well be right at that.

They are a demonstrably decent side and the replay will not be straightforward, but I hope that we saw them at their best on Saturday. Their midfield lacked inventiveness, with Coleman having a poor game and Osman getting nowhere near the penalty area to trip himself up.

R R Drenthe is an interesting one. He reminds me of the clockwork mouse so beloved by the writers of children’s fiction in the pre and immediate post war days. William Brown would set one off and it would run around in circles, frightening those of a nervous disposition, before it ran out of steam. That’s Drenthe.

Everton staff and fans claimed a penalty when Gardner tackled him (I’ve seen them given), and Steve Round, David Moyes’s assistant, said that Drenthe goes down easily because he is so small. Interesting one, that. Maybe we could sign Jimmy Clitheroe and Wee Jimmy Krankie in the hope that we can get loads and loads of pennas and free kicks – although I gather Jimmy C is rather immobile these days.
We now have a busy week. Blackburn on Tuesday in a vital game for Rovers and then, on the Saturday, QPR with three old boys returning. After that, we can but hope that the Toffees become unstuck in the replay.

The support on Saturday was outstanding. Can there be many better feelings than being one of 6,500 (or was it it 5,800 – ed?) in a proper old-fashioned football ground, roaring your team on? To add to the pleasure of the day, we found the Leigh Arms, and fell in through the front door as the bar staff arrived. Great atmosphere and a safe pub.

Liverpool in the semi-final if we get through. Blow up the beach balls lads and lasses.
And of course, the whole thing doesn’t matter one bit in the light of the sad news about Fabrice Muamba. Here’s hoping that he makes a full recovery. Our thoughts are with him and his family.

STOP PRESS: Hetton Lyons beat Oyster Martyrs 2-1 in the semi-final, so it is Co. Durham 2 Merseyside 1 at the moment. I will ignore Liverpool’s win at The Academy on Saturday morning.

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9 thoughts on “The Everton Soapbox: a good day at Goodison, Liverpool to come”

  1. I’m sure you think the ref had a good game, missed a pen when Drenthe’s leg was tackled (not the ball) and a clear handball. I’m not sure your eyes are the best. Heitinga headed the ball not a shot for the double save.

    • You must have thought the ref had a good game on Boxing Day too Ray when Osman’s contact with a blade of grass cost us two points.Two wrongs of course don’t make a right and it’s a well used cliche that things even out over the season. That’s one all I think – handball not in my opinion.

  2. Moyes took a gamble playing a weakened side against Liverpool and it didn’t pay off, really thought we should have pushed for a second instead of retreating 30 yds, but all in all with Catts and Sess out and Jimmy McClean having a poor game and Gardner not at his best it was a great result, we must not think it is over, lets get the job done then I can book my flight back to Blighty for the final

    • MON’s approach seems to be based on work rate, defending deep and counterattacking. I am not going to criticise him for that as it is proving effective, though like you I’d prefer to see a more sustained attack minded side.

      Likewise I’m not going to criticise McClean who has done fantastically well in such a short space of time My concern shortly after his debut was that defences would suss him out and his effectiveness would diminish. I hoped and continue to hope that this concern is unfounded. He is certainly giving the team balance and his commitment and work ethic, in attack and defence is commendable.

      The greatest change to my mind that MON has brought, is the fact that players now get forward in numbers. Bendtner has attracted a lot of undue criticism from some quarters for not being an “in the box” prolific goalscorer. Under O’Neill there are now players running into the gaps that he creates by dragging defenders about. He has shown he is an effective player and for the rest of his loan spell will play an important part in the team.

      Everton will be no pushover in the replay. I just hope it doesn’t come down to penalties.

      • Yes I agree with your statements and am not critising McClean who I believe equally, has been a revelation, just he didn’t have a good game and kept going but was running at players and not getting past them, generally won a fair amount of freekicks in dangerous areas which is exactly what Larsson wants. Bendtner is a class player holds and shields the ball well but doesn’t seem to hit it off with Campbell who also was ineffective on Saturday. I would love to see Bendtner stay but listening to what’s going on seems unlikely. It might seem silly but if Bent had been playing under MON he would score 30 goals a season not the 9 he has Can we get him Back? He can’t be happy at Villa

  3. A fair and interesting read for me as a blue
    A good game but not of our best should be a cracker at your place .As said means little compared with Muamba but I still would love to win ,A lot of pressure for Davey Moyes now after the Liverpool debacle
    Hoping for a good game played in the same spirit and may the best side win

  4. Ref Tim Howard. Why is he allowed to enter the field of play looking like he’s just returned from Afghanistan? Must make him hard to spot. The FA should get him to wear a nice yellow jersey a la Mignolet.

  5. Stats say Baines put in 8 crosses yesterday. This is one area we have to improve on, he must be made to defend in the replay.

  6. With tickets at £20 let’s hope we get a huge turn out for the replay and roar the Lads onto Wembley.

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