Everton Res 1, Man City Res 1
Nov 1 2006 Daily Post
A YOUNG Everton Reserves side came from a goal down to a creditable draw with Manchester City at the Halton Stadium. Everton, with no senior pros in their lineup, were under pressure from City early on. Ashley Grimes had a glorious opportunity after just six minutes but put his shot wide and then Johnson too missed a chance minutes later. Everton grew in confidence and went close when James Vaughan tested keeper Joe Hart in the City goal. However, the visitors were still the dominant force and had further chances in the first half through Stephen Ireland and Nathan D'Laryea.
Stuart Pearce's second string took the lead just before the hour mark when the ball fell to Ashley Grimes in the box and he fired past Iain Turner. Adam Clayton should have made it two mid way through the second half but Turner saved again and that save proved to be vital. Everton levelled on the 71st minute when defender Mark Hughes headed home his third goal of the season to earn a point for Andy Holden's side.
Indeed the equaliser seemed to stir Everton as Vaughan, Molyneux, and Vaughan again had chances to win it. EVERTON RES: Turner, Irving, Molyneux, Hughes, Dennehy, Connor (Elder 88), Phelan, Morrison, Kearney, Anichebe, Vaughan. SUBS: Agard, McEntagart, Harpur, Densmore. MAN CITY RES: Hart, D'Laryea, Jordan, Onuoha, Mills, Johnson, Clayton (Marshal 79), Laird, Grimes, Ireland, Moore. SUBS: Matthewson, Mee, Williamson, Williams.
Fulham 1, Everton 0 (Echo)
Nov 6 2006 By Dominic King
SOME things never change. Everton lose at Craven Cottage, the West Coast mainline is subject to infuriating maintenance delays and, most maddeningly of all, Andrew Johnson finds himself at the centre of a diving storm. As they headed for home on Saturday evening, irked that electrical work in Cheshire meant an extra two hours being added to their journeys, it was no shockto learnthat the patience of some travelling Evertonians was stretched to breaking point. Had they seen their heroes smash the hoodoo Fulham have held over the Blues forthe best part of 40 years to smithereens, the chug-chugging of the rattler back to Merseyside from London Euston would, perhaps, have been bearable. Sadly, it wasn't to be. But they knew - asdid David Moyesand his players, who endured a similarly miserable return trip from the capital - that things should have been different. Everton's failure to take any points off Fulham was as baffling as a large Sudoku grid. Not as puzzling, though, as referee Martin Atkinson's failure to point to the spot when Ian Pearce sent Johnson sprawling on 16 minutes, just as the Blues' record signing was getting ready to pull the trigger.
Moyeshas made avow this season not to criticise officials and his players are similarly reluctant to put the boot in after perceived miscarriages of justice. Think Newcastle United and Manchester City. This observer, however, has no such constraints.
Atkinson was poor throughout and appeared to preside over this feisty contest running Arsene Wenger's Machiavellian rhetoric through his mind. After all, Arsenal's manager implied recentlythat Johnson has a history of 'winning' penalties.
Richcoming from aman whohas directed thespians such as Robert Pires, Francis Jeffers and Marc Overmars to make the most of tackles in high profile games. Remember the free-kick from which Arsenal scored in last season's Champions League final? Yet it seems as if Wenger has sown the seeds of suspicion in some minds, and if that is the case, it is nothing short of diabolical. If Atkinson had awarded the penalty that he should have done, Everton -in all likelihood - would have run out comfortable winners. Of course, given the outstanding afternoon Antti Niemi enjoyed between the posts for Fulham, there is no guarantee that either Johnson or Mikel Arteta would have converted from 12 yards. But that is not the point.
Johnson was too quick for Pearce. Everton have been awarded four spot-kicks during the current campaign, two of which were for fouls on Johnson, but should have had a couple more.
Quick, skilful and nimble, the 25-year-old is always going to cause defenders problems. But some clearly feel he goes to ground too easily. Ifthat was the case, would he not have made more of another Pearce challenge on 82 minutes?
The bitter irony is that had he not been so desperate to score, seemingly anxious to atone for missing two chances in the opening period, Atkinson would have had no option but to point to the spot when Pearce tried to rip the shirt off Johnson's back. This young man is not a cheat. Wenger and some Premiership officials would do well to take note. Such a shame that that incident and the unsavoury matter of Fulham's goalscorer, Claus Jensen, being struck by a missile dominated post-game discussions, as there was muchto like about Everton's first half display. With Johnson causing havoc, Tim Cahill always on the prowl and Arteta using his full rangeof passing, Everton should have had matters wrapped up before the interval. Fulham were nothing short of hopeless. It made the turn-around after the break all the more unfathomable, as they went from slickto sloppywithin 15 minutes. As a result, Alan Ball still holds the dubious honour of being the last Everton player to grab a winning goal at Craven Cottage. "In the first half we controlled the game," observed Moyes, whose side failed to score forthe first time this season. "But to Fulham's credit they upped the pace, we didn't pass it as well at the start of the second half and that put us on the back foot. "We didn't play well, but I certainly didn't think the way we played merited a defeat. We had opportunities and you have to take them." Quite right. Everton had more attempts at goal and muchmore possession, yet Fulham secured the victory when Jensen's shot deflected off the unfortunate Lee Carsley. Their only other chance came via a Brian McBride header which Tim Howard saved well.
Lessons must be learned. This was another episode when the Blues failed to capitalise after making an impressive start. More worryingly, there was something else with shades of the Riverside. There, Mark Schwarzer was almost hit by a mobile phone flung at him from the visiting section. This time Jensen was not so lucky, a coin hitting him on the cheek. Everton have a passionate army of travelling fans whocan invariably be relied upon to sell out their section. Thevast majority are impeccably behaved, interested only in watching the game and upholding the club's proud name.
But it seems that ahandful of cretins seem intent on causing mischief wherever they go. Everton have promised that if the culprit is found a life ban from Goodison awaits. With any luck, they will be rooted out and receive the punishment they deserve.
FULHAM (4-1-4-1): Niemi; Rosenior, Pearce, Knight, Queudrue; Bocanegra; Routledge (John 89); Jensen, Boa Morte (Volz 84), Radzinski; McBride (Helguson 89). Subs: Lastuvka, Zakuani.
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Stubbs, Yobo, Lescott; Arteta, Carsley (Anichebe 85), Davies (Beattie 72), Osman; Cahill; Johnson. Subs: Turner, Valente, McFadden.
BOOKING: Neville (foul).
REFEREE: Mr M Atkinson.
Everton 0, Arsenal 1 (Echo)
Nov 9 2006 By Dominic King
BLAME Graham Poll and blame the injustice of another spurned penalty appeal. But, when the draw for the Carling Cup quarter-finals is made on Saturday lunch-time,Everton will not figureamong the remaining eight teams for two different reasons. True, Poll's preposterous officiating helped turn what should have been a rousing Cup tie into a farce. And his decisions to send James McFadden off after he failed to award Andrew Johnson a penalty kick will rankle for months.
Yet David Moyes and players won't need any reminding that it should have been so very different. Infuriatingly, however, missed chances and lax marking are the root cause of why Everton's first hopes of putting a silver lining on the season have been dashed. No wonder there were so many long faces around Goodison Park. As they headed for home, supporters, players and management alike were running the contentious moments from a spiky tussle with Arsenal through their head.
How did Poll fail to point to the spot when Philippe Senderos sent Andrew Johnson sprawling early in the first half? Why did he banish McFadden seconds later? Where, fatally, did the marking disappear in the final, crucial minutes? Whether it was a penalty or not - really strong claims can be identified by the number of players whoappeal - McFadden cannot hope to be defended for picking up an absolutely ridiculous red card if he allegedly questioning Poll's integrity. Poll was clearly seen mouthing to both Tim Cahill and Lee Carsley on television replays McFadden had called him a "f****** cheat". Inexcusable. Madness. Some referees would have laughed off such profanities but not this one, especially not this week. Few love being in the spotlight more than the man from Tring - Poll was busy signing auto-graphs before commencing his pre-match warm up - and, having come under fire from Jose Mourinho and Ashley Cole in recent days, he looked desperate to make a mark.
Everton's point of view, however, is different. Yes, McFadden swore in Poll's direction but they claim 'cheat' was never mentioned. If that is the case - and to see how furious the players were at the final whistle adds lustre to what they assert - then the Scotland international can consider himself to have been extremely harshly treated. Likewise Everton, as it would appear that someone will have to mow Johnson down with a machine gun in order for them to get another penalty. As at Fulham on Saturday, the referee appeared to base his judgement with Arsene Wenger's words about Johnson in mind. Surprise, surprise, though, Poll would not explain his decisions afterwards. The irony of the situation, however, is that Everton enjoyedtheir best spell of possession for a short period after. They went closest to scoring, too.Joseph Yobo grazed a post with a header. Cahill forced a flying stop out of Manuel Alumnia. Nuno Valente, bizarrely,nearly found the top corner after intercepting a pass 40 yards from goal. Before losing McFadden, they were subdued and looked ill at ease when Arsenal shuttled the ball around at pace.Mathieu Flamini excelled in the centre of midfield, while Theo Walcott was a high-speed menace down the right flank. Wenger may have chosen to name acompletely different starting line-up to the one that lost in controversial circumstances at West Ham on Sunday but it was still crammed with quality. How they make the art of pass and move look easy. But that shouldn't surprise - five of the 11 Wenger started with had been to this summer's World Cup. With space and tired legs to exploit as the tie progressed, Arsenal were, of course, long-odds on favourites to secure a place in the quarter-finals. But, resilient to the end, Everton would not give up without a fight and continued to pose questions, in the process waking the home supporters from their slumber. The atmosphere early on had been strangely flat. Johnson, especially, never stopped hunting for the breakthrough. Up front on his own and dwarfed by the hulking Senderos and Johan Djourou, the England international showed the tenacity that has helped make such a popular figure amongst supporters. Sadly, the Midas touch so evident in the opening weeks of the campaign has disappeared for the time being. Without a goal since September 30, he was anxious when opportunity knocked against Arsenal but he should not be blaming himself for this defeat.
Natural predator that he is, missing from three yards in stoppage time will haunt him until he hits the target yet he, more than anyone, has helped Everton make an impressive start to the campaign. The season, however, is about to reach a crucial juncture. The Carling Cup was there to be won this year and the fact Emmanuel Adebayor was allowed to knock the Blues with an unmarked header so close to the final whistle galls more than anything else. But Moyes cannot let this defeat have an adverse effect. The squad maybe down to its bare-bones - two central defenders made up half last night's subs bench - and options are limited yet they need to tough things out. Aston Villa, galvanised since Martin O'Neill took over as manager, will arrive at Goodison Park in 48 hours desperate to bounce back after being humbled 4-0 by Chelsea. But it is a game, simply, that Everton cannot lose. In the pantomime which is modern football, it only takes a small sequence of games without a win to trigger ludicrous claims in some quarters of a 'crisis'. The Blues are nowhere near that stage but, equally, they need to get the momentum rolling behind their season again. It's time to rediscover that cutting edge.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Valente; McFadden, Carsley (Anichebe 90), Arteta, Osman; Johnson, Cahill.
ARSENAL (4-4-2): Alumnia (Poom 46); Eboue, Senderos, Djourou, Traore; Walcott, Flamini, Song, Denilson (Randall 46); Aliadiere, Adebayor.
GOALS: Arsenal - Adebayor (83)
BOOKINGS: Arsenal - Song (14), Aliadiere (32), Adebayor (55)
SENT-OFF: Everton - McFadden (19)
Everton 0, Aston Villa 1 (Echo)
Nov 13 2006 By Dominic King
INTERNATIONAL breaks are usuallythe bane of a manager's life but how David Moyes must wish next weekend presented Everton with a blank fixture list.
After making abright start to the season and firing the imagination with riotous victories over Tottenham and Liverpool, all of a sudden the Blues look to be running out of gas. Defeat against Aston Villa on Saturday showed a pitstop is urgently required. Everton aretheir most formidable when operating at full-tilt: the players excel when their energy levels are cranked into overdrive and they can badger their opponents into making mistakes. Think of those wins at White Hart Lane and in the derby. If that approachis, as everyone hopes, going to fuel a push for a European place next spring, then Moyes needs to have a big squad from whichto choose. At present, he simplydoesn't have that. No wonder, then, he will be spend the next few days anxiouslypacing up and down his office at Bellefield, wondering whether those players who have joined up with their countries today will report backfully fit.
Andrew Johnson and Phil Neville head to Amsterdam for England's tussle with Holland, Simon Davies will play for Wales against Liechtenstein in Wrexham, while Lee Carsley should be involved when the Republic of Ireland play Denmark.
In normal circumstances, that wouldn't give Moyes too much cause forconcern butwhen you takeinto consideration the casualty list thatphysio MickRath-bone and his team are dealing with, it becomes a huge headache. Tony Hibbert, Gary Naysmith, Alessandro Pistone and PaddyBoyle are all out for the foreseeable future, Nuno Valente has struggled all season, while Richard Wright is onlyjust training again after wrenching his back, likewise Andy van der Meyde. Added to that list over the weekend, however, was a man whois unquestionably one of Everton's most influential performers. The sight of Tim Cahill being carried off on a stretcher was asickening way to end a morbid seven days.
Yet the way he sustained the injury was symptomatic of the luckEverton are enduring.
The Australian, somehow, ended up on the receiving end of a thunderous Lee Carsley challenge and now seems likely to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
TheBlues cannot afford to lose anymore from an already threadbare squad.
Take into account James McFadden's foolish suspension and John Ruddy's loan at Stockport, if the injury bulletin doesn't clear, Moyes will have 17 players availablefor next weekend's vitally important meeting with Bolton Wanderers. And that figure includes five novices whose first team experience barely amounts to a dozen games.
Suddenly options are limited as Moyes seeks to halt to a sequence of one win in eight Premiership matches. Alarmingly, that is not his only problem. Another headache Moyes could do without is seeing his strikers firing so many blanks. Johnson's game is being betrayed by anxiety and alack of confidence - how did he miss such a glorious first half chance, when clean through? - then there is the eternal conundrum that is James Beattie. Listening to the post-match phone-in on the wayhome from Everton's third consecutive 1-0 defeat, supporters were only too happy to make Beattie the scapegoat for what they perceived to be a limp performance against well-organised Villa. He came in for the kind of abuse that Furious of Fazakerley usually reserves for Simon Davies. There is no disputing this was not Beattie'sfinest hour in a Blue shirt - it was anything but - and few would argue that Villa's matchwinner Chris Sutton gave amaster-class in how to playas a threatening target man. Not surprisingly, the vast majority demanded he be sold during the transfer window and it is easy to see why so many are so disillusioned. His body language did not look good and there were a couple of occasions he could have done moreto chase his marker down.
But ask yourself this: Is chasing the ball into channels really what Beattie's game is about?] When he played for Southampton, he thrived on an endless supply of crosses from the flanks and was the focal point of the team. That certainly isn't the case on Merseyside, where he finds himself having to adapt to a different approach.
Beattie needs to get sustained run alongside Johnson before the jury can reach its verdict. Onlytime will tell if he is up to the challenge. Ironic, then, he should be the onlyToffee who forced a serious save out of Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen.
This may have been the most disappointing effort of the campaign but Moyes saw his side fashion anumber of presentable opportunities. "It's worrying me because we are making lots of chances but they aren't going in," he noted. "We did everything we could to try and score but it wasn't to be. Andy has to be concerned butwe need others to start scoring at the minute." Correct. Aside from Cahill and Johnson, Beattie and Mikel Arteta are the only players to have scored in the Premiership for Everton since August. That is clearly not good enough. Defenders need to be chipping in, likewise do the other midfielders. Save for Sutton's goal, there wasn't much between the sides.
Gabriel Agbonlahor and the excellent Stiliyan Petrov caught the eye for Martin O'Neill'smen but they are certainlynot darkhorses for aChampions League place, as some suggest. Neither, on the evidence of recent weeks, are Everton and that is quite simply down to the fact that they are lacking in numbers. When everyone is fit and available, the Blues have anexcellent first team and are more than capable of securing a place in the top six. For the time being, though, it is a question of riding out this little stormand hoping that the Everton treatment room clears as quickly as possible.
EVERTON: Howard, Neville, Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott, Osman (Anichebe 68), Carsley, Davies, Arteta, Cahill (Beattie 22), Johnson. Subs: Turner, Weir, Hughes.
BOOKING: Stubbs, Carsley.
ASTON VILLA: Sorensen, Mellberg, Cahill, Ridgewell, Bouma, Agbonlahor, McCann, Osbourne, Petrov, Angel (Agathe 76), Sutton (Davis 90). Subs: Taylor, Baros, Berger.
BOOKING: McCann, Angel, Mellberg.
REFEREE: Phil Dowd
NEXT MATCH: Everton v Bolton Wanderers, Barclays Premiership, Saturday November 18, 3pm
Wigan Athletic Res 0, Everton Res 2
Nov 16 2006 Daily Post
JAMES McFADDEN was the star of the show as Everton's Reserves beat Wigan 2-0 in the FA Premier Reserve League North. The victory at Robin Park Arena was secured courtesy of goals in the 60th and 74th minutes from the Scotland international. But the bitter irony for Everton manager David Moyes is that McFadden will be unable to translate that form into this weekend's Premiership encounter with Bolton because of suspension. McFadden certainly showed suitable hunger and a keen eye for goal against Wigan. His first strike was a precision finish following an eye-catching solo run into the opposition penalty area. The second 14 minutes later was the result of a perfectly timed run that beat the home side's offside trap and left keeper Russell Saunders in no-man's-land as McFadden turned the ball in from a John-Paul Kissock centre. The win was tarnished somewhat in injury time when young centre-back Darren Dennehy was dismissed after a second yellow card.
EVERTON: Wright; Irving, Weir, Dennehy, Molyneux, van der Meyde (Connor 79), Phelan, Kearney (Kissock 46), Vidarsson, McFadden,Vaughan (Agard 84). Subs: Jones, Harpur.
Everton 1, Bolton 0 (Echo)
Nov 20 2006 By Dominic King
JETLAG invariably leaves you drained, puzzled and disorientated. So perhaps Sam Allardyce should be given the benefit of the doubt for his post-match remarks on Satu rd ay. Having made the most of a rare window of opportunity to treat his wife, Lynn, with a trip to Las Vegas this week to see Celine Dion, Allardyce must have been feeling the effects of a gruelling transatlantic flight when he met the media.
Why? How else could you explain these preposterous comments? "I thought we totally dominated Everton for 90 minutes. Iwould have been gutted with nil-nil, so I am even more gutted that we've lost the game." To borrow a few lines from a song he would probably have heard Ms Dion perform at Caesar's Palace: "Right in front of you, right in front of me,wewerelooking on, but somehow, some way, you simply couldn't see . . ." That Everton deserved three points. Games involving Bolton would not be the same without Allardyce finding something to grumble about afterwards, but do not for one minute take his outlandish suggestions seriously. True, this instantly forgettable fixture may not have been one for the purists and was more a war of attrition than an expression of class and craft, but it was a war that David Moyes' side deserved to win. There were moments when they rode their luck - notably when Ivan Campo and former Blue Idan Tal rattled Tim Howard's woodwork within 60 seconds - yet they were hardly subjected to the kind of pressure that would have given Allardyce's claims credence. Aside from that, Everton possessed the game's best player by some distance, aman who consistently tried to sprinkle stardust on proceedings and eventually brought it to life with a moment of outstanding quality.
There was not a lot on for Mikel Arteta when he picked up possession inside Bolton's half on the hour, but when he skipped past Abdoulaye Meite and sashayed around Tal Ben Haim, the 25 yard exocet he unleashed was fit to win any match. Brilliant.
During pre-season, the Spanish midfielder caught the eye in every game he appeared and one performance at Aberdeen prompted his manager to declare that Arteta was ready to become one of the Premiership's star attractions. For some reason, he didn't really catchfire in the opening weeks as many had hoped he would. Though since the nights have started to draw in, suddenly Arteta's influence on Everton's team has increased dramatically. Just at the right time, too. Eye-catching against Sheffield United, industrious against Fulham and Arsenal, Arteta effortlessly surpassed those displays at the weekend, dragging the Blues forward before he eventually made the defining contribution and lifted the home crowd from its slumber. With Tim Cahill sidelined until the New Year, it is vitally important the fit midfielders ease the goalscoring burden on Andrew Johnson, and this was an encouraging start from Arteta. His tally now stands at three and it would be nice to think he could at least double that before Cahill returns. He certainly has the ability. "We can play him on the right, on the left, in the middle of the park," offered Moyes, thrilled to see his side return to winning ways. "All around, he's just a very good football player. He can be the one who to make us play in the right areas." Why, then, is he consistently overlooked to represent his country? Spain may have some superb midfielders in their squad, but Arteta would not look out of place alongside any of them. But if he's not appreciated at home,that's not the case on Merseyside. To say he was the onlyreason Everton triumphed, however, would be both wrong and grossly unfair to his diligent team-mates. They will certainly play with more flair at times in the coming months but their application here was faultless. It had to be. Bolton's sledgehammer style frequently exposes chinks in the armour of their opponents, so it is to Everton's credit that, after three galling defeats in the space of seven days, that they stood up to be counted. Some have wondered whether Nuno Valente has the appetite for the blood and thunder of English football, but his manager has described him in the past as a "Christian" for the way he plays on with injuries, and he was nothing but committed against Bolton. The awful El-Hadji Diouf caused makeshift right-back Joseph Yobo some early problems, but when switching wings, he got no joy whatsoever out of Valente. The Portuguese also provided some quality crosses from the flanks.
Howard, meanwhile, was again faultless in goal. Apart from dealing confidently with one free-kick from Tal in the first half, he did even better to tip adrive fromthe Israeli onto the post just after Arteta had poked Everton's noses in front. There was also a fine parry from a Gary Speed volley in the 73rd minute and it was again encouraging to see him bark and bawl orders at his defenders to ensure their levels of concentration never dropped. He will rightly have taken pride from his first clean sheet since October 21 and all things being well, Howard's stay at Goodison Park will be made permanent. Few would disagree that he has not put a glove out of place since his arrival from Manchester United. "It's at times like this that we are looking to see the team spirit and togetherness show through," Moyes wrote in his programme notes. "During periods of adversity, we have to be strong enough together to get the result."
They certainly were against Bolton and Moyes can take a great deal of encouragement from this win, as he prepares his troops for the defining period of the season. Things are about to get interesting.
EVERTON: Howard; Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott, Valente; Osman, Neville, Carsley, Arteta; Beattie (Anichebe 76), Johnson. Subs: Wright, Weir, van der Meyde, Vaughan.
BOOKINGS: Neville 19, Anichebe 86 (both fouls), Johnson 88 (dissent).
BOLTON WANDERERS: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Ben Haim, Meite, Pedersen, Campo (Stelio 84), Speed (Faye 90), Tal, Diouf, Davies (Vaz Te 90); Anelka. Subs: Walker, Fortune.
BOOKINGS: Meite 89 (foul).
REFEREE: Uriah Rennie.
Everton Res 0, Middlesbrough Res 3
Nov 22 2006 Liverpool Echo
A YOUNG Everton Reserves side suffered their heaveist defeat of the season away to a strong Middlesbrough line-up last night. The Blues had goalkeeper Richard Wright, Mark Hughes and strike pairing James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe, as the only players with first team experience. Vaughan came close to opening the scoring early on when he shot wide and Anichebe looked bright in the early stages. But the home side began to dominate and nearly scored only for Darren Dennehy to clear off the line from Christie's low drive. Boro took the lead on the half hour mark when Adam Johnson's pass was met by Malcolm Christie who struck from 15 yards. Boro were soon 2-0 up when Graeme Owens raced down the right, passed to Graham, who found Josh Walker and the striker finished from six yards. Everton came back strongly in the second half with Lee Molyneux, Alan Kearney and Anichebe all going close, but Boro wrapped up the points with a further strike from Danny Graham after a pass from Adam Johnson gave Wright no chance. The Blues' next game is against Bolton on December 5.
EVERTON RES: Wright, Irving, Molyneux, Dennehy, Hughes, Phelan, Kissock, Vidarsson, Vaughan, Anichebe, Kearney. Subs unused: Morrison, Jones, Connors, Densmore, Agard.
MIDDLESBROUGH RES: Turnbull, Johnson, Grounds, Ehiogu, Wheater, Goulon (Robson 66), Owens, Walker, Graham, Christie (Porritt 66), Johnson. Subs unused: Steele, Langthorne.
Charlton Athletic 1, Everton 1 (Echo)
Nov 25 2006 By DOMINIC KING at The Valley
NOT for the first time this season, Everton let slip a glorious winning opportunity as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Charlton. Despite enjoying the majority of the possession and taking the lead early in the second half when Hermann Hreidarsson put through his own net, Everton eased off and paid the price as Andy Reid crashed a left-footed drive past Tim Howard. Manager David Moyes and his players will know that they should have had more for their afternoon’s efforts but similar to games against Manchester City, Fulham, Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic, Everton paid the price for not making their superiority count. Moyes was forced to make a couple of changes to the side that had beaten Bolton Wanderers seven days previously, James McFadden replacing the hamstrung Andrew Johnson while Simon Davies took over from Alan Stubbs. But the disruption to the starting line-up did not stop the Blues from beginning the game in an impressive fashion. Lee Carsley had a goal-bound effort diverted for a corner, while McFadden was thwarted by Talal El Karkouri after a mazy run. Davies also warmed the fingers of Charlton keeper Scott Carson from long range but it was McFadden who continually caught the eye, as Everton dominated possession without getting their rewards. Foolishly sent-off in the 1-0 Carling Cup defeat against Arsenal earlier in the month, the Scotland International looked desperate to atone for his mistake, some fancy footwork making light of the sodden surface. Unfortunately for the Blues, though, he couldn’t find a way through the home side’s resolute defence and it was frustrating that the only other attempts Everton mustered on goal in the remainder of the period were a couple of free-kicks from long range.Charlton are bottom of the table for a reason - they don’t score enough goals and concede too many - and Tim Howard was virtually a spectator during the opening 45 minutes. No surprise, then, that Moyes headed to the dressing room with his brow furrowed. Happily, though, the manager did not have to wait long after the re-start for something to smile about. Having threatened to poke their noses in front all afternoon, Everton did just that on 52 minutes, even if the goal had an element of good fortune about it. Having been tripped by the clumsy Amdy Faye, Mikel Arteta dusted himself down to swing in a free-kick that caused panic in the area. Leon Osman wriggled in between two defenders to get a flick on and the ball squirmed past Carson off Hreidarsson. The lead, however proved to be short-lived. After receiving an almighty let off when Faye - unmarked - headed wide from three yards, Charlton levelled on 68 minutes. Nuno Valente dithered and handed possession to Reid, who fired in from 25 yards. Moyes tried to went for broke when he replaced McFadden and James Beattie with James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe but they never got a real sight of Carson’s goal and had to make do with a point.
CHARLTON (4-5-1): Carson; Young, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Traore; Rommedahl, Holland, Faye, Reid, Ambrose (M Bent 66); D Bent
Goals - Reid (68)
Bookings - Hreidarsson (48, foul), El Karkouri (75, foul)
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Valente; Osman, Davies, Carsley, Arteta; McFadden (Anichebe 78), Beattie (Vaughan 78).
Goals - Hreidarsson (og 52)
Bookings - none
Manchester United 3, Everton 0 (Echo)
Nov 30 2006 By Dominic King
IT'S easy to be magnanimous when your side has just notched up a 3-0 victory but there was nothing trite about Sir Alex Ferguson's post match musings.
Whether you love or loathe him, the Manchester United boss' words invariably generate great interest, so it was understandable that ears pricked up around Old Trafford when he was asked to evaluate the test Everton provided for the league leaders. Some will dismiss his comments as futile as he was sticking up for a friend, yet there was little to suggest Ferguson was being anything other than genuine when he suggested United had been forced to endure some uncomfortable moments before seizing control. "Their set piece play is very good and they put you under pressure," noted Ferguson. "They are very committed and Davie Moyes is, without question, building a very, very good Everton team. It is one he can proud of. "They were minus Andrew Johnson and minus Tim Cahill plus Tim Howard. But he can be proud of his players, every one of them. They showed tremendous character and Everton are a growing force." Growing being the operative word. Though it would be wide of the mark to say Everton were unfortunate not to take anything from their squabble in Stretford, there was certainly no way they deserved to end up losing by three goals last night. But if numbers are low and injuries are high like they are now, it is contests such as this that show Everton are still very much a work in progress. When the rare opportunities to turn the screw arrived, the Blues lacked the necessary tools to take advantage. Some visiting teams go to Old Trafford with their sole ambition being not to concede a hat full of goals, yet Everton - while not going all out for the jugular - made the short trip down the M62 with plenty of fire in the belly. They just lacked a bit of extra quality.Maybe had Johnson and Cahill been available last night, things would have turned out differently as a ragged United appeared to be there for the taking, as Everton were the better side for 35 minutes as they prodded and probed.
One moment of magic from Cristiano Ronaldo, however, completely changed the game and from going along at a nice pace, Everton were suddenly asked to raise the bar and couldn't deliver. The Portuguese winger's thunderbolt knocked the stuffing out of everyone. Why? For starters, take a glance at the respective benches.
Had things not been going well for Ferguson, he had the option of throwing on Paul Scholes or Louis Saha - proven match winners. Could you have imagined Moyes turning to the enigmatic Dutchman who was among his substitutes and saying: "Go and win it for us, Andy!" Exactly. With James Vaughan, Victor Anichebe and David Weir, Everton didn't have that something to turn the game. Such a shame as it seemed early on that Moyes might just get his pre-match wish of seeing Everton win at Old Trafford for the first time since August 1992. Showing plenty of fight, James McFadden and Leon Osman particularly caught the eye. Both were eager to try and cause havoc and they gave Edwin van der Sar a couple of scares. Osman testing him with a drive from long range while McFadden dragged a fine opportunity wide.
When they faded, so did Everton. Once Ronaldo had pounced on something that wasn't even a half chance, there was a sense that the game was over and for all Everton's huff they never threatened to blow United's house down. That, clearly, is something which needs addressing and the goals they conceded late on to Patrice Evra and John O'Shea will have particularly galled Moyes and his coaching staff. Both were avoidable. What wasn't avoidable was another meeting with Wayne Rooney who, suitably wound up by the taunts from the visiting section, felt the need to angrily snatched at United club crest and kiss it - sparking howls of laughter rather hoots of derision. When Phil Neville thundered into him in the second half and left Rooney writhing on the floor in agony, Everton's supporters celebrated almost as if a goal had been scored. This is one relationship that will never be reconciled. The occasion seemed to get to Rooney, who did not reach the levels he is capable of, but maybe that was down to another magnificent performance from Joleon Lescott. He never put a foot wrong and was comfortably the best defender on the pitch. Lescott has a big future ahead of him and it would not come as a surprise if he proved to be Moyes' best signing of the summer. Lescott is exactly the type of performer that will be required to help fulfil Ferguson's predictions that Everton are a growing force as, for all the progress that has been made, they are still short in a couple of areas. But though it might not have seemed that way last night, the nod of approval Ferguson gave the Blues is proof that the club is on the move. Sometimes it is painful lessons such as these that help accelerate progress.
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2): Van der Sar; G Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Evra; Fletcher, Carrick (Brown 73), O'Shea, Richardson; Ronaldo (Heinze 68), Rooney. Not used: Kuszczak, Saha, Scholes.
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Wright; Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott, Valente; Arteta, Neville, Carsley, Osman (Vaughan 75); McFadden, Beattie. Not used: Ruddy, Van der Meyde, Anichebe.
REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)