Everton 2-2 Aston Villa Match Review
Sep 2011 13

A late goal from Gabriel Agbonlahor cost Everton what would have been a well-deserved first home league win of the season as Aston Villa somehow escaped from Goodison Park with a 2-2 draw.

The fun started early with what has been reported as anything between 650-1500 disgruntled Evertonians making a peaceful demonstration against the board in the form of a short march from behind Everton One to the directors’ entrance at the ground. It was hardly 1917 St. Petersburg but a start at least – the highlight definitely being a clown walking around with what I can only assume was the world’s first and only John Heitinga cake.

Despite suggestions that protesting would create a negative feeling that would seep into the stadium and kill the players, it ended up being one of the better atmospheres for a standard fixture in quite a while, especially considering the attendance was the lowest for a Saturday 3pm kick-off in nine years.

Everton started brightly and dominated possession throughout the first half against a Villa team whose plan of attack seemed to be built around Emile Heskey winning headers against Leighton Baines, which in fairness worked for Arsenal when they did the same thing using Nicklas Bendtner two years ago. Unfortunately for Alex McLeish his master plan was thwarted when the shock of playing a decent through-pass caused Heskey to pull a hamstring.

Seamus Coleman returned to the starting line up after an injury lay-off and looked great against ‘The Man of a Thousand Broken Ankles’ Steven Warnock. Coleman’s pace and aggressive running is a breath of fresh air in a team that is generally slow and methodical going forward, and though he was out on his feet towards the end, his was one of the day’s most encouraging performances.

Leon Osman put the finishing touch on a nice move to open the scoring on 19 minutes. It looked for a second like Tim Cahill had cost Osman a decent shooting opportunity when he took the ball off his team mate’s toes on the edge of the box, but a clever reverse pass from the Australian allowed Osman to guide an excellent left-footed finish beyond the reach of Shay Given.

Soon after the opener came a quite surreal moment as Bill Kenwright’s face was shown on the big screen for about 15 seconds. The sight of Kenwright, who gave a bizarre sob story interview in the Daily Mail that was put out on the morning of the match, was initially met with a chorus of boos, only for a fair chunk of the ground to counter with a sustained round of applause.

It was so surprising that the cameras went back again to make sure it had really happened, and lo and behold, the man who ring-fenced £30m for the Kings Dock and provided us with an effectively free, world-class stadium received a warm clap. Score one for the Everton PR machine.

After the break everyone was reminded that there was a football match going on when Stilian Petrov curled a cracking effort past Tim Howard on 63 minutes for 1-1. The crowd and players responded immediately though, and within six minutes Everton’s lead was restored after the awful Fabian Delph made a ridiculous challenge on Phil Jagielka and Baines converted the resulting penalty.

Everton should have also had a penalty in the first half when Baines was blatantly tripped by substitute Barry Bannan, only for the referee to somehow fail to spot a foul that happened no more than five yards in front of him. It was a decision that David Moyes and his team would go on to rue after Agbonlahor’s 83rd minute equaliser stole a point for the visitors.

Agbonlahor fed to ball out wide to Mark Albrighton and made his way into the box where he took up a position in the middle of Jagielka, Howard and Sylvain Distin. Tony Hibbert, in because Phil Neville was presumably too upset by the despicable actions of the Blue Union and not in the right from of mind to play, made no attempt at closing him down and his cross was able to pick out Agbonlahor, who took advantage of Distin’s complete failure to react and headed Villa’s second.

It was an overall strong performance that deserved three points, but I suppose Everton were due some bad karma after mugging Blackburn at Ewood Park last time out. It was surprising to hear Moyes and Cahill criticising the fans in their post-match interviews (something you never see from Alex Ferguson or any of the United players), and all indications are that Everton are looking to marginalise the Blue Union by turning the rest of the fan base against them.

Hopefully the board will name a price sooner rather than later and we can find out exactly how hard they’re trying to sell the club.

Written by Matthew

Si Will make me famous and I am ungrateful