A week is a long time in politics and ten minutes is a long time in a football match. With about five minutes of normal time to go against Bolton, Everton, already a goal down, became Everton a man down as well, after Marouane Fellaini, having a good game, was sent of for a foolish foul on Paul Robinson. Fast forward to the few seconds added by Phil Dowd to the already elapsed three minutes of added time; Leighton Baines won a fierce contest with Lee on the touchline and managed to prod the ball to Jermaine Beckford loitering on the edge of the penalty area, he turned his man, found a yard of space and shaped a shot of such perfect trajectory that it curved over Jaaskelainen and into the far corner of the net; not a power drive just deadly accurate. Defeat had been avoided and smiles replaced frowns, a draw felt like a win. Earlier, an uncharacteristic mistake by Phil Jagielka, when he dawdled over a regulation clearance and allowed himself to be robbed in the middle of the park, led directly to the quick break from which Croat Ivan Klasnic scored from close range.
The match statistics, courtesy of The Guardian Interactive Chalkboards, show that the Klasnic strike should have been a mere footnote, a consolation. Had Everton put away even a tiny proportion of the chances created they would have won by a hatful. Everton had 26, yes 26, attempts on goal, of which 15 were on target. Even more telling; Everton as a team successfully completed 338 passes during the game, Bolton completed just 110, these numbers tell a story very different from the bland 1-1 scoreline now written into the record books. Saha played well; he had a header cleared off the line, shots deflected wide, and on another day might have got to keep the match ball, he had a total of 6 shots; 2 on target, 3 blocked and 1 off target. So lets not be too hard, too critical, ‘the rub of the green’ is an over-used expression, but it is valid to say that with a bit of luck this would have been a comfortable win.
In his last two games Yakubu has looked in good shape and, in fact, not just back to his old self, but better than his old self; a goal against Stoke and an assist, yes an assist, against Blackpool. Last night he was joined by Saha who looks fit and sharp and Beckford’s confidence will now be sky high. We are convinced that the goals will start to flow.
EVERTON XI (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville © (Yakubu 81), Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Bilyaletdinov (Coleman 67), Fellaini, Arteta, Pienaar; T Cahill; Saha (Beckford 81)
Unused subs: Mucha, Rodwell, Baxter, Hibbert
BOLTON WANDERERS XI (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson (Ricketts 59), G Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Lee Chung Yong, Holden, Muamba, Taylor, Elmander (Klasnic 62), K Davies ©
Unused subs: Bogdan, Petrov, M Davies, Moreno, Blake
Referee: Phil Dowd
Gate: 31,808 (down 4,695 or 12.9% from last season)