BOLTON WANDERERS 1
Everton had Jermaine Beckford’s late, stunning effort to thank for saving a point against Bolton Wanderers in a game that occasionally threatened to spark into life but never quite delivered. The former Leeds United striker’s first Premier League goal was the individual highpoint of a disjointed Everton performance dominated by the excellent Marouane Fellaini, until the moment the Belgian midfielder was sent off for kicking out at Wanderers’ defender Paul Robinson.
Fellaini was one of three Everton changes to the XI that drew with Blackpool on Saturday, brought into the side in the absence of John Heitinga, with Louis Saha and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov replacing Yakubu and Seamus Coleman respectively. The trio of new faces came into Everton’s customary 4-4-1-1 formation, but in the early stages it was Bolton looking the most likely to open the scoring until Everton exerted some pressure as the half went on.
In what became a familiar sight, Phil Jagielka was unusually shaky at the heart of the home defence, needing his centre-back partner Sylvain Distin to cover for him more than once. Distin, the only Everton player to rival Fellaini for the man of the match award, coped well against the movement and strength of Bolton’s strike pair Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander, but Jagielka had a poor game by his high standards even before his hesitation allowed Bolton to launch the break that led to Klasnic’s opening goal.
While Jagielka was the first culprit in the build-up to Klasnic’s strike, he was certainly not the only one. Blunders by Tim Howard have been something of a recurring theme this season, stretching back to the opening day against Blackburn Rovers and a few weeks ago against Tottenham Hotspur. The American has been reliable for Everton, the most solid goalkeeper seen at Goodison Park since the heyday of Neville Southall, but Howard’s despairing dive as the ball flashed past him was not the stuff of top level goalkeepers. There was another close shave in the first half, when Howard was rooted to his line as the ball dropped from on high around his six yard box and a commanding punch clear was needed but not forthcoming. Moyes will rightly stand by his first choice stopper but Slovakian international Jan Mucha is lying in wait should the periodic lapses from Howard become any more frequent.
Everton’s unbeaten streak has now chugged along to a seventh game, but it must be remembered how fortunate the Blues were in the two outings preceding last night’s encounter. Both Stoke City and Blackpool had goals harshly disallowed, while but for Beckford’s moment of brilliance Everton would today be waking up nursing the hangover of defeat. Against Owen Coyle’s side the problems were almost all of Everton’s own making, from the slips leading to their goal to Fellaini’s inability to contain his frustration and receiving a needless red card as a result. That is not to discredit Bolton, who at times were sharper and more incisive than their hosts, but rather to warn Everton that similar careless play will be ruthlessly punished by Arsenal on Sunday.
18 Neville – 6 Jagielka – 15 Distin – 3 Baines
7 Bilyaletdinov – 25 Fellaini – 10 Arteta – 20 Pienaar
66- 23 Coleman on for 7 Bilyaletdinov
81 – 16 Beckford on for 8 Saha
22 Yakubu on for 18 Neville