The words mostly being muttered as we descended the Paxton Road stand stairs at the end of the game were â€˜tiredâ€™, â€˜sluggishâ€™, â€˜never got goingâ€™ and â€˜crap refereeâ€™ and that pretty much sums it up.
Lunch time kick-offs are always strange and this one had a downbeat atmosphere from the word go. The minuteâ€™s applause for Bill Nick, Eddie Baily and Mel Hopkins was enthusiastic enough (and very well respected by the Everton fans) however once the game started a general flatness on and off the pitch was for the most part the dominant mood. Evertonâ€™s no frills and unambitious attitude was enough to cause drowsiness even in the perkiest of spectators, our inability to regularly pierce a five man midfield and uncompromising defence wouldnâ€™t have harmed the sales of ProPlus.
From what I recall Everton had no shots from inside our box, hoping instead that one of the many free-kicks awarded by fussy, yellow card shy and generally poor ref Mike Jones would lead to something, which it did after 17 minutes when Baines drifted one inside Gomesâ€™ near post. Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart and especially Crouch were all victims of the more physical side of the Toffees approach but it was the latter of these who â€˜createdâ€™ our equaliser when a Hutton cross unexpectedly bounced off him back across goal to an unmarked VdV who belted home from 8 inches. Crouch had for once managed to escape from the away teamâ€™s double teaming tactic but probably only because Jagielka etc had been distracted by the flapping of keeper Howard.
Crouch shouldâ€™ve put us 2-1 up going into half time when he directed another cross from Hutton straight at the keeper. He was given a hard time in the second half by most fans which I thought a little harsh given the fatigue generally being shown behind him plus the treatment he was getting from the Everton back four plus the fact that the Everton tactics meant he was isolated for long periods in the game. Having said that, the fact that our best opportunities in the second forty five fell to his feet rather than his head shouldnâ€™t mean that he didnâ€™t get anything meaningful struck on target.
Our biggest plus point was a strong and disciplined performance from the returning Younes Kaboul.
Not a good point, not a bad point. Somewhere in the middle.
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