Monday, 18 March 2013

Goodi boo hoos - EVE 2 - 0 MCY

Despite a recent new addition to the household (my son James is now 6 weeks old), I was able to accept a kind offer from the Football Pools and attend Everton's home match against champions Man City. I've always had a soft spot for Everton because they are not Liverpool (I remember willing on Stuart McCall in the 1989 FA Cup Final). Despite now being the main competition for Man United, I also don't mind City. I've been to see the blues a few times both back in the Maine Road days and at COMstad - after all they are a Manchester team, although, like United, they don't quite feel like it these days.
Still I was firmly behind the Toffees for this game, understandably, but was pessimistic about the team's chances after the previous week's four minute capitulation against Wigan. However Everton are very much City's bogey team.
I've since read that City started the game with three at the back, but that didn't seem readily apparent. Certainly there was no early pattern to the game apart from one of petulance, sparked by Edin Dzeko's bizarre reluctance to approach the ref for a talking to. The ref ended up having to call the captain Zabaleta from full back just to bring the forward to him. This attitude seeped into the game in general with Everton players picking up niggly yellow cards - Pienaar in particular picked one up after shouting in the ref's face after being pienaar-lised for a foul.
The first bit of real goal mouth action occurred when Mirallis brought down a ball in the area and immediately SPANKED it into the corner of the goal, but this was called offside. A very marginal call as it happened. After that City got their act together a little and had one or two half chances, one after a particularly good bit of close control from Dzeko. However they were all gobbled up quite easily by Mucha in goal.He didn't quite look the part Mucha, I think because we're used to seeing the Everton keeper jersey filled out by the ripped Tim Howard. However Mucha is of a far slighter build and the shirt just kind of hung off him.
City were well policing Baines at left back, but it seemed that the focus on that side of the park opened up space for Seamus Coleman on the opposite side and he was exploiting it. It was his square pass that found Leon Osman, who hit a sweet curling effort that bamboozled Hart at the last minute, and nestled in the goal to the roar of the crowd.
The needle on the pitch had translated into a buzzing atmosphere in the stands and the needle twitched even further when Pienaar tangled with Garcia. It was a late tackle with studs, so Pienaar could be lucky he didn't get a straight red rather than a second yellow, but Garcia's Ronaldo impression on the floor provided the crowd with a sense of injustice. Performance levels did improve after the red card, but only in the crowd. City played with the same lack of intensity, but the extra space on the pitch did allow them to be more incisive; there seeming to be an extra man on their right side on several occasions, leading the maligned Mucha to make a handful of impressive and important stops.
During this pressure, City should have had a penalty when Fellaini blocked a shot with his hand above his shoulder. But the linesman and referee gave a free kick outside the area. In fairness to the ref, everyone in our box, including the City fan, assumed it was the right call in real time, so it was a bit of a surprise to see that the Belgian was so far inside his box when the infringement occurred. Given he had earlier been denied a penalty himself when being held back in the City area, it was karmically evened up.
Everton's best player, marginally, was Darren Gibson. He stepped up when Everton were down to ten men and appeared everywhere. Even Anichebe had a good game; full of selfless running. Kolo Toure panicked every time the striker bore down on him. But it was his replacement that brought the house down.
Injury time and the ball breaks to Fellaini with City overcommitted. We were cheering the attack like a horse at Cheltenham and the ball made its way to Jelavic whose shot looped in over Hart and sent Mancini down the tunnel to stew. It wouldn't have made much difference anyway as the angry Italian only seemed to watch two thirds of the play anyway. In contrast Moyes was like an exasperated father, moaning to the bench whenever Baines went over to take a corner despite Everton being down to 10. But the Scot on his 11th anniversary as Everton boss had got the upper hand on Bobby once again.
I'm not sure if it's a song they play at the end of every match, but Goodison Park rang out at the tune of 'Baby, Give it up' after full time. A point being made to the visitors' title challenge, perhaps?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Pixel that one out

Just came across this site - and they have recreated a lot of emotive goals on there. The only one for Fulham is Simon Davies' sensational equalizer against Hamburg. Oddly it looks even better when rendered in Sensible Soccer. Wonder what Dempsey's Juve goal would look like - or Murphy's at Pompey?

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