Saturday, 26 March 2011

Inevitable - EVE 2 - 1 FUL

On one of the roads alongside the reassuringly old school Goodison Park is a terraced house painted in a lurid red with two massive Liverpool FC flags hanging from the upper floors specifically designed as a massive fuck you to the nearby club. You have to wonder about the mentality of the fan that owns the house - they clearly get some kind of perverse pleasure from their quite confrontational actions when surely if their feelings for their club run that strong they could just move. It's far more in your face than the Chelsea supporting owners of the Eight Bells at Putney Bridge who are glad to welcome all the away fans at Craven Cottage. Anyway the house typifies the problem that Everton has in the city - the more numerous Liverpool fans looking down their noses at a less successful club, which also happens to be every club in the country.
I was fortunate enough to be a guest of the football pools for this match and so watched the game from some of the country's more idiosyncratic executive boxes. Retro fitted into an old style stadium, these boxes are much lower down than what you'd normally see. Our box was actually directly behind the Fulham 'dug out' which offered an unusual alternative spectacle to the game - a welcome diversion in a tepid first half. You could hear the curses of both managers very clearly and it seems that the job of Hughes' number two is to continually talk to the fourth official. Watching Hughes and Moyes was quite fascinating actually - their body language was almost identical. At times it felt like they were mirroring one another for some variety stage show. Moyes also loved up to his growly image by barking at a ball boy to get the ball, even though it was still on the pitch and they'd probably been trained not to enter the field of play.
The number of Fulham fans who made their way up to Goodison Park was quite low - which is not really surprisingly considering the late evening scheduling of the game meant that the last train down to London had gone while the match was still in progress. Still they were in relatively good voice - you were more likely to hear Fulham songs than Everton ones for the first half hour of the match - the 33,000 home fans were pretty quiet until Coleman opened the scoring.
I'll be honest, I wasn't too upset at this development. When I saw Salcido was starting and knowing how good Everton's right winger was, I had a fiver on the your Irishman to score first. In fairness to Salcido, it wasn't really his fault and for his standards he hada  good game. Also knowing how much stronger Fulham are in the second half, there was a likelihood that they would peg the toffeemen back. Unfortunately Saha scored soon after the restart, Ethuhu unfortunate to give a way a free kick that the former Fulham man arrowed past the wall and into the bottom corner.
Fulham were getting the ball, but not doing anything with it. Zamora was flung on and immediately provided a focus and an assist, Dempsey abruptly sweeping a lay off past Tim Howard from outside the area which caught everyone in the stadium by surprise. Fulham kept pressing, with Everton on the break, but didn't really fashion a clear cut chance. The second half was actually quite entertaining with Hughes going for it by putting on Kakuta, who was surprisingly wayward with his passing, and the porcine Gudjohnsen who seemed to be playing in midfield. In the end Everton were good enough for their extremely predictable win - that's 18 in a row for them against Fulham at Goodison Park.

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