Monday, May 09, 2005

An example to us all

Saturday saw us confirm our position in the bottom half of the table, and also saw us given a lesson in team spirit and hard work by an Everton side who (following Liverpool's defeat on Sunday) claimed the coveted fourth place in the league.

Enjoying the better of the first half, we carved open chances only for Ambrose, Kluivert and Milner to all fail to beat the keeper. However, with only a couple of minutes left before the interval Jean-Alain Boumsong competed for a ball on our right hand touchline and referee Barry Knight blew for a foul. Regardless of Souness's gripes as to whether or not it should have been a free kick, there was little danger posed, and no need for Boumsong to even get close enough for the referee to consider giving it.

Nonetheless, we went from being in little danger to having to defend a free kick. The ball then came in, and nobody picked up David Weir's run to the back post, allowing him a free header past Shay Given to give Everton a barely deserved half time lead.

The second half began with Newcastle still competitive, looking to force an equaliser and salvage something from a game which we should already have been winning, when Shola Ameobi got rattled by Tim Cahill, and swung out in frustration. Shola caught the back of Cahill's head, and inevitably was given his marching orders, taking with him any hopes we might have had of taking a point from the game.

Our chances of even fluking a point vanished shortly afterwards, as Cahill was afforded the freedom of our defence (with Boumsong in the left back slot, and Babayaro in the middle covering, neither was able to close the massive gap around the D) to put the ball into the net, and bring delight to the Blue half of Merseyside, heaping more grief upon our already beleaguered support.

The rest of the game rolled by, with Everton content to play out time against ten men, and only Patrick Kluivert's attempt to finish the job started by Shola and chin Cahill mercifully considered only worthy of a booking by the referee.

Souness might bleat about the referee being biased against us, and in truth the "foul" by Boumsong was maybe harsh, but it in no way excuses the crap marking that followed, nor does it excuse Shola's rush of blood. If only he channelled all that energy and frustration into his football, he'd be a decent player, rather than one who all too often looks like he can't be arsed.

Still, only 90 more minutes of the season to endure.

An Everton fan's perspective: Toffeeblog

Other reports: Talk Of The Tyne, BBC, Guardian


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