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Bark at the Moon - Everton Away Report


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The third in a sequence of 4 away games in 10 days ended up like the previous 2 - scores level, and fairly so.

This game at least was at the rather novel time of 3 pm on a Saturday. Marvellous.

Following the traditional pre-match beers with Bickster in a most estimable liverpool boozer, we got the taxi up to the ground and settled into our seats. Villa made a change with Emille Heskey in for Big John from the start, but otherwise the team was the familiar line up. Everton's side was missing a fair few regulars, but they still have a decent enough squad to put a good side out. They certainly started the brighter, having, for the first 15 minutes or so the majority of possession and pinning Villa back. With our passing again not so hot, we weren't really able to get into the game in the early part. But Everton's early storm waned and Villa then had a period where we were much more in the game. Neither side really, though, troubled their opponents' keeper too much.

There were a couple of harsh bookings for Warnock - who cleanly won the ball, and Cuellar who tried to get out of the way of the Everton player. Other than that, there wasn't a great deal to report. Signs of Ashley Young regaining some form and the usual excellent defending from Villa apart. Until 45 minutes and 47 seconds when Everton got a decent goal - an attack down their right, a cross held up by Yakubu, and knocked back for their unpronounceable full-back to hit past Friedel off the post.

At half time the limping James Milner, who had looked a bit knackered anyway, went off and Big John came on, with Gabby taking up the wide right position.

It worked immediately. Nice play by Heskey, Ashley and Warnock saw the cross played in low, Gabby shot, the keeper saved, but Carew tapped in the rebound. All square and game on.

Villa were better in the second half - at times in the first I was wondering why exactly I do pay so much to go around watching them play - few tricks and little in the way of treats - but the second half reminded me why. Without ever being on top, we were certainly having a good go, as were Everton, I suppose. Petrov had a powerful shot deflected just over, and there were a few close things at both ends.

The game heated up first when Cahill chopped down Ashley Young, then again when [insert name of unpronouceable full back] lunged in on Petrov and was sent off for serious foul play. The Everton crowd roared their disapproval, but given the way the ref had given out some soft bookings to Villa earlier on, they didn't really have much to complain about. I did worry that he'd jump at a chance to even it up and send one of ours off, and Cuellar who had had an excellent game gave him the chance with a missed tackle over on the far side. Normally I doubt it would have been a booking, certainly not for a player already harshly booked, but anyway, off he went.

Finally, in a decent atmosphere, the two teams had a last go at trying to win it. Stan, clearly still suffering from the two-footed horror lunge of that full back chappy, was replaced by NRC at the same time as the sending off of Carlos Cuellar.

The (almost) full moon put in an appearance, the floodlights had the players casting shadows, but there was no spooky recurrence of the last minute nail in the coffin we saw a year ago, though there was 4 minutes of injury time.

Fans and players applauded each other at the end of the game, as seems to be the way these days - and nice to see it is too.

Some Marks.

Brad - 6 - not much to do, truth be told.

Carlos - 7 - would have been more if he'd managed to stay on the pitch. Played well, though.

Dunne & Collins - 7. James Collins was perhaps the pick of the two, but they're a top pair.

Steven Warnock - 7 - He's looking a really good player.

Milner - 5 - looked a bit tired, unsurprisingly, and went off injured at half time.

Stan - 7 - excellent

Steve Sidwell - 5 - industrious, but I think we need more from him.

Ashley Young - 6 - a welcome improvement from Ash. He played with more confidence and did less moaning than recently.

Emille Heskey - 6 - He plays for the team and held the ball up well. I just wish sometimes, he'd really say to himself "I'm having that ball" rather than just closing a player down without actually committing himself to get the damned thing.

Gabby - 6 - worked hard and used his pace well.

Sub Carew - 6 - had his shirt pulled in a tussle out wide, somehow got the foul given against him and got booked for kicking the ball away. It's noticeable how often he gets fouled, but gets nothing given his way. No wonder it drives him mad. Took his goal easily enough.

NRC - only on for a few minutes.

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