Date:Sunday December 7 2008
Attendance: 31 922
Well for its its supposed faults and failings, its lack of technique and so called individual artistry, the ninety-four minutes or so of virtual non-stop action highlighted to the thirty thousand plus inside of Goodison Park, and a watching tv audience of millions, just why the premier league stands supreme as the best sporting spectacle out there. Yes, you get your inferior offerings, lets face it, last weekends Villa Park contest against The Cottagers will hardly remain in the memory for long, but this evenings encounter, at one of the 'true' football stadiums in the country, warmed the cockles of the hearts of those in attendance on merseyside. Well, those of us wearing the claret and blue, at least.
Lets be perfectly honest from the get-go, we've played a lot better away from home in recent times and received no reward, so I'm certainly not going to make any apologies here for the fact that we returned home to Brum with the all important three points, following a performance when we played well in fits and starts, but otherwise had to be fully prepared and committed to roll up our sleeves, and battle for our lives, and to the credit of every individual sporting the claret and blue, no one shirked their duty.
Despite their relatively dismal home showings to date this season, Everton remain very difficult opponents. David Moyes has put together a pretty decent outfit up there, and rest assured they'll be there or thereabouts, competing for a top six finish come next May. You get the distinct feeling that all that is lacking at Goodison Park, is a lack of financial backing for Moyes, a failing that will no doubt see Everton's challenge to become a real force certainly stutter, if not stall completely.
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, nor any concern or worry of mine, I'm concerned totally about our lot, how we're progressing and developing, and whether we really have what it takes to make a serious and sustained challenge for a top four finish. If we are going to be taken seriously, then we really need the three points on offer this afternoon.
We set off for merseyside just after noon, the topic of conversation on route being the norm, i.e., what would Marts starting line-up be, and more importantly, which Aston Villa would turn up? Would we get to once again be enthralled by the Villa that thrilled and excited at The Emirates, or would we be subjected to a repeat of the team that looked anything more than an average mid-table team, when getting rolled over at St James Park?
Well the answer to question number one was answered moments after arriving at our seats, as we learned that Mart had decided upon the following line-up:-
Brad Friedel, Carlos, Capt Martin, Curtis, Luke Young, Sidders, Stan, Super Gaz, Milly, Gabby, Ashley Young.
Subs, Non of them eventually used: Guzan, Harewood, Delfouneso, Knight, Reo-Coker, Shorey, and Gardner.
Question number two appeared to be answered pretty quickly too, with Stevie Sidwell rifling in a beaut from the edge of the box with barely thirty seconds on the clock.
Oh what fun it is to see the Villa win away! Long, long way to go, but we were off to a flyer, and looked to be in total control, Everton all at sea, us comfortable at the back, dominating midfield, and lively up front.
Nothing in this life ever stays the same though, particularly when AVFC are involved, and when Moyes pushed Tim Cahill more forward, the home team started began to get a foothold in the game, and had us on the back foot.
It was no real surprise when on the half hour mark the home side got back on terms, Arteta’s free-kick, given for a needless challenge by Carlos Cuellar, was flicked for Brummie boy Lescott to turn the ball in from a couple of yards out.
Our hopes that the goal might shake and wake our lads up a little though were denied as The Toffees continued to push forward, and just before the break Carlos came to our rescue, clearing off the line, with Brad well beaten, a header from the lively Fellaini.
1-1 at the half, and despite our bright opening, it has to be said that Lescott and co had forced their way back into the contest, and had began to look the more threatening side.
No worries though, we knew Mart would sort us out during the interval(?).
The second half had barely got underway though when Fellaini again, he was beginning to become a right pain, headed against the bar following an Arteta corner. Discussions started amongst us as to whether Brad had actually got a hand to the ball. If indeed he had, it was one superb stop, and it very definitely kept us in the game.
We traveling Villans were becoming a slightly worried lot, when suddenly an early appearance by Santa Claus, in the shape of Phil Jagielka, with 55 minutes on the clock, turned the shape of the game. He played a gift of a backpass, completely without looking, straight to Ashley Young, who without so much of a thankyou, raced onto the ball, lifting it past a completely exposed Timmy Howard in the blue scouse goal. 2-1 to The Good Guys.
Oh what fun it is to see the Villa win away!
Everton, pressed, pressed again, and then pressed some more, but with ninety minutes up, and a mere four minutes to see out, we looked home and dry.
But, if there's a team in the premiership that has that uncanny knack of conceding late goals, and throwing away a point, or even the game itself, then its Mart's boys.
Barely twenty seconds after the guy in front of me had assured me that Everton would strike to level matters, sure enough, they did, that traitor of a Brummie Lescott again, volleying home impressively.
Damn, blast, fiddlesticks! We've thrown away a game at the death once again. Can you believe it? A few unhappy, disgruntled Villans headed for the exit, what a miserable end to a game we should have controlled and won comfortably.
Goodison Park is a sea of blue and white, in full celebration mode. A miserable trip home back to Brum awaits us Villans. A draw yes, but it seems like a defeat.
Wait a minute. What's this?
We break from the kick off, Gabby flicks on, Ash picks the ball up, races for goal, ball past Howard, 3-2 to The Good Guys, Goodnight Everton.
Mass celebrations amongs the traveling hordes. Hug and kiss anybody within reach.
Ref blows his whistle, the celebrations continue, only this time the players join in.
Have we won the Cup? It almost feels like it.
Oh Indeed What Fun It Is To See The Villa Win Away!!
Well, I'm back home now, still on a high, better half more than happy to see me, because I've returned almost completely minus a voice. What a great way though to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Right, marks out of ten (the marks are an average made up from the opinions of the four of us who traveled up together):-
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Date:Sunday December 7 2008
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