Sammy`s Super Subs
No matter what way you look at it, Sunday brought home three fantastic points. It`s always nice to put one over on the Mackems of Merseyside, with their shocking patter, Z-Cars and second hand Celtic songs, but yesterday saw us beat one of our genuine rivals in the race for a European spot. Following last season`s 1-1 draw a lot of us feared a similar result would leave us adrift of the likes of Pompey, Blackburn and Villa who seem to be grinding out the results with alarming regularity.
Everton came into the game following some serious exertions in the Ukraine on Thursday night, beating FC Gulag 3-2 and scraping into the group stages of the UEFA Cup. That game saw in form Scottish striker James McFadden notch along with last season`s Goodison Park nemesis Victor Anichebe and defender cum goal machine Jolean Lescott. Moyes tinkered with his squad slightly, especially in the forward areas, as Fat Yak made way for Anichebe. Otherwise it looked a pretty solid Scouse side.
For us there were changes all round. Cacapa, King of Napa, came in for Taylor at the back, following the youngster`s Martin Petrov induced mauling at Eastlands and new dad Rozenhal dropped to the bench in favour of Abdoulaye Faye following one too many sleepless nights. Jose 'I can be your hero baby` Enrique slotted in at left back as the Zog was pushed forward into midfield, whilst Smithy shifted up front for the absent Duke. Our bench looked the strongest it`s been for years as Owen and Emre came back from injury.
The game itself saw a pretty much Newcastle driven first half. Martins should have had us in the lead as early as the 4th minute but proceeded to screw his one-on-one v Howard disgustingly wide. Everton`s best effort saw an Anichebe challenge against Given loop towards goal only for Faye to hack clear. On the stroke of half time though Everton failed hilariously to clear about five times and Butty lofted a delicate chip over Howard into the top corner.
Half time came and went with the 'genius` McFadden hauled off after a typical Scottish 45 minutes to be replaced by penalty king Andy Johnson. A barnstorming run by Baines on the left saw the ball dinked into his path and he put a cracker across the face of goal that the bald one bundled in. Following that the game ebbed and flowed without a great deal of action, the Scousers being denied to shooting from long distance. Meanwhile we started turning the screw as soon as Owen came on. Owen himself had a cracking turn and shot saved before the tubby Turkish talisman launched one from 25 yards into Howard`s bottom corner. Cue bedlam.
So it came that 8 days after having his groin hacked open in Deutschland, EMO stole in on an Emre free kick and grabbed all the post match headlines with a header in off the bar. The ball seemed to come off his shoulder but who cares?
Everton still had one last say and Arteta`s cross took a huge loop of Smithy and over Shay. The keeper tried to bat it out but ended up smacking it into his own net to credit an OG. Still - an edgy but overall satisfying afternoon`s work by the lads. With players to come back in and Spurs on a cold Monday night next up there is the chance to make a real impact before the November international break.