Club Focus – Everton – Beckford guns down Chelsea to mark a season of improvement

Jermaine Beckford has rarely been out of the spotlight this season. Whether it was doubts over his ability to make the step from League One to the Premier League, anxiety over the seven goalless league games at the start of the campaign or elation at his spectacular first in the top flight, a curling injury time effort to give the Toffees a point against Bolton Wanderers, the former Leeds United striker has made headlines with regularity. The one-man show that gave Beckford his 10th goal of the season, a staggering solo effort that signalled the end for Carlo Ancelotti, was just the latest instalment.

Sprinting the length of the field, Beckford beat a host of Chelsea players before lobbing the onrushing Petr Cech to put Everton on course for a famous victory. There was some fortune in the goal – a happy bounce putting Beckford clear on goal, although repeated viewing begs the question if Beckford’s touch was calculated – but regardless, he made the most of it, and the finish was of the highest class. It is a goal that will be replayed for years and eroded the memory of two earlier and, seemingly, much easier chances, one that drifted out for a throw-in when Beckford got the angle totally wrong, and another that was comfortably saved by Cech. There were other sights on goal for Beckford in the 80 minutes of action he saw before being replaced by Victor Anichebe, mostly glimpses from long range that the striker grabbed at rather than passing to a better placed teammate, but it is that same single-mindedness that allowed Beckford to burst through the Chelsea defence to score when he again had colleagues in support.

The difference between the goal Beckford scored and the excellent chances he spurned was not so much what he did himself, but what goalkeeper Cech did instead. The two earlier opportunities saw Beckford with time to think, even over-think, but for the one that nestled in the back of the net, Cech decided Beckford’s mind for him by rushing out of his goal mouth. Beckford could only lift the ball over the goalkeeper, and did so with aplomb, in much the same way he could only head past Cech at Stamford Bridge in December or against Wolverhampton Wanderers in April – when playing on instinct Beckford can be lethal. It is when he has time to prevaricate and ponder Beckford struggles, but that goal scoring intuition combined with lightning pace and a boxer’s build render Beckford a competent and capable Premier League striker. Even the goal against Bolton fits into this category – once Beckford had turned, with the clock running down he had to shoot, and to score the ball had to go into the top corner on the far side of the goal, and that is exactly what happened.

Everton will still be in the market for a striker this summer, despite the strides made by Beckford from the first game of the season to the last, but displays such as the one that downed Chelsea mean any new forward will be in addition to Beckford, not instead of.

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