Date: 11th September 2011 at 9:08am
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Who dares to suggest that the claret and blue match day support is in decline? Not in dear old Glensider`s world it isn`t. No siree bob. Far from it. Five of us made the trip to the northwest this bright and breezy September Saturday morning (hoorah for Saturday afternoon football, 3.00 p.m. kick off time, particularly away-days!!), as opposed to the usual four of us.

Invited along today for his first ever taste of premier league football was my youngest`s latest beau, twenty two year old Gavin, from Greenock in the west central lowlands of Scotland, a devoted Greenock Morton supporter. Gavin has resided in beautiful Brum for a mere four months, his move to the most wonderful city on earth being work related, and has been ‘dallying` with daughter number three Kayleigh for just over a couple of months. It was clearly only a matter of time, before discussions about his need to embrace AVFC if he planned to continue seeing Kayleigh, would enter the equation, and so despite threats from my better half and indeed young Kayleigh herself, I sat Gavin down, and we had our first serious man to man chat. The bottom line is that Gavin was extremely enthusiastic about attending a Villa game, hence him joining us for the trip to merseyside, and lo and behold on Wednesday last, he cemented his place in my good books by purchasing his first ever Villa replica shirt, a garment he proudly sported as we left Brum, cruising down the M6 northwards, destination Everton Football Club. Chalk that up on the scoreboard. Another newly converted Villan, courtesy of the efforts of Glensider.

Plenty of Villa banter as we journeyed towards Beatle country, plus a sprinkling of Greenock Morton trivia of course. After all, we had to show willing. Not quite sure what Gavin thought of our musical entertainment, he was no doubt probably too polite to comment, but put it this way, he`ll never again respond to the question, ‘What do you think of Wishbone Ash, Rory Gallagher and Taste, Pentangle, Janis Ian, and Humble Pie with the response, ‘Never heard of them`. All part of the education we provide.

Friend Neil suggested that we take Gavin on the Beatles tour as opposed to inflicting the game on him, but after it was decided that the four of us had ‘done` the tour more times than we`ve visited Villa Park, then perhaps Goodison Park was the more attractive option. For the four of us at least.

We stopped off at our regular watering hole in Lymm, our port of call whenever we have a game out this way, and Gavin noted that there were more Villans inside the pub, than Morton attract to one of their home games. Top lad. I`ve decided I like him.

Arriving at Goodison we did our now standard walk around the stadium, taking in the sights and sounds, while soaking up the atmosphere. Ah, away match day, you really cant beat it. Not quite sure why this walk around the ground has now become part of our away day experience. I think we are all trying to convince ourselves that we are keeping up with the exercising as the ‘golden years` approach, but at least it gives us the chance to meet up with, and bump into, fellow travelling Villans with whom we`ve become associated with down the years. Some of these acquaintances are people we first became familiar with back in the mid-sixties. Its good to know that like the four of us, these other guys are still keeping the faith, and have done so through thick and thin, through the good times and the bad.

A group of Everton fans, well when I say group, I`d say that there were probably five or six hundred of them, were holding a protest against Everton`s lack of spending, but from what we witnessed of the demonstration, it was extremely peaceful, and rather good natured, certainly nothing like the embarrassing and rather infantile scenes, that we unfortunately witnessed outside of Villa Park during the summer.

Well the big surprise when The Big Eck`s starting line up was announced, was that there was no place for new loan signing Jermaine Jenas, either from the get-go, or on the bench. Clearly he must have picked up an injury in training. By the time you guys are browsing through this set of ramblings, no doubt the reason for his absence will have been made clear to all. No start for Barry Bannan either despite his ‘Man of the Match` performance for Scotland the other evening, but our other deadline day signing from Tottenham Hotspur, Alan Hutton did get the nod, Alex McLeish preferring him to Chris Herd, who as we all well remember, put in a top notch shift against Wolverhampton Wanderers in our last outing. One of the very few bright spots of that disappointing local derby.

Our team then:- Shay Given, Alan Hutton, Richard Dunne, James Collins, Stephen Warnock, Fabian Delph, Stan Petrov, Charles N`Zogbia, Gabby Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey, and Darren Bent. On the bench, awaiting the call if needed, Guzan, Herd, Clark, Bannan, Ireland, Delfouneso and Albrighton.

The game itself was a strange one. It has to be said that the hosts must surely be kicking themselves for not picking up all three points on offer. They dominated possession throughout, created enough openings, and twice threw away the lead, when in truth it looked to all intents and purposes, that there would be no way back for us on either occasion after we fell behind..Credit though to us I suppose, for twice clawing our way back into a game in which we never really impressed, looked slow and cumbersome, short on ideas and creativity, and way too many performers wearing the claret and blue looked way below par.

Everton certainly didn`t look a team short on confidence as they got at us right from the off, and while they went into the game without a recognised striker, Osman and Cahill soon gave notice that they would be more than capable of filling that role, and they kept our defenders fully on their toes throughout the ninety minutes. Moyes actually threw on a specialist striker late in the day, a guy named Vellios, and he looked quite impressive in the brief time that he was on the pitch. I have to say that after having seen his all too brief cameo appearance, I have to be pleased that he wasn`t out there from the start.

The home players and supporters were appealing for a penalty inside the first sixty seconds, when Osman went down following a Richard Dunne challenge, and then Darren Bent of all people, cleared a Phil Jagielka effort off the goal line, following a Leighton Baines corner. Baines then whipped in a low cross for Osman to turn and shoot, but fortunately Shay was alert to the danger and was able to make the save. It looked like we were going to be very much second best when Jagielka put another opportunity just wide. It was surely only a matter of time before the home team broke the deadlock?

McLeish sent on Barry Bannan to replace the injured Emile Heskey on the twenty minute mark, but in little more than a minute we were behind and up against it. It was no more than Everton deserved, and when Stan Petrov and Richard Dunne failed to clear a Coleman pass, Tim Cahill squared the ball to Osman who finished adeptly, giving Shay Given no chance.

Everton continued to dictate, and it wasn`t until the thirty minute point, that we had our first shot on goal, Barry Bannan`s long range effort easily gathered by Tim Howard. Shay Given made another good save from an Osman effort, a sweet curler from the edge of the box, and then Fellaini sent in a powerful left foot strike, which just about cleared Shay`s goal.

How it was still only 1-0 I couldn`t imagine, but on the stroke of half time the home team went even closer. A long range Rodwell effort clipped Fabian Delph, and deflected just wide with Shay well beaten.

A very poor opening first half showing from our lads, extremely disappointing, and definitely unacceptable. Just not good enough, nowhere near good enough in fact. Clearly plenty of work for the Big Eck to complete at half time, in order to sort the shambles of a performance out.

It seemed as though he may well have expressed a few home truths at half time, because we certainly seemed a little more ‘up` for it as the second half got underway. Darren squandered a chance to level matters, Delph went on a good run before he was halted by Fellaini, and then Distin thwarted Gabby with a superb tackle.

At the other end though, Everton were still threatening and looking dangerous, however a superb finish on the hour mark from Cap`n Stan sent the players and travelling support into celebratory mode. Finding space on the edge of the box, the much maligned (and often undeservedly so) skipper, curled a beauty inside Timmy Howard`s left hand post, giving the American international keeper no chance. Pick that one out Tim. 1-1, and back in business. Yes, we were fortunate to be back on level terms, but I didn`t see any of the travelling support complaining.

The goal definitely gave the lads a lift, but Everton certainly weren`t finished yet. Tim Cahill brought a fine save out of Shay Given, following a header from a Leighton Baines corner, but when Fabian Delph clearly fouled Jagielka inside the box, Baines accepted the opportunity to put The Toffees back in front from the spot.

Marc Albrighton came on for the disappointing Charles N`Zogbia, but in truth Zoggy wasn`t the only player to perform below par. He was clearly far from happy to be hauled off, but surely that`s good? Isn`t that the reaction one would hope for. A bit of passion from a Villan, it had certainly been lacking out on the pitch from most of the lads, for most of the game. A few of them should feel disappointed and frustrated at their efforts, or lack of, as they allowed Everton to dictate the pace throughout the majority of the game.

Albrighton`s arrival though brought about Gabby`s equaliser seven minutes from time, Marc`s curling cross being met at the back post by Gabby, who headed past Howard to ensure we returned home to Brum with a point. Even then though, we had to see out a nervy final five minutes, as Everton laid siege to Shay Given`s goal, and but for more heroics from our keeper, they might just have snatched a late, late winner. Well played Shay, my ‘Man of the Match`.

Was it a deserved point? Well on the strength of our second half improvement I suppose you could argue that it was, but in truth, had Everton scored a second goal at 1-0, which they probably deserved to do, then I don`t think that we`d have been able to stage a comeback. We were definitely second best for most of the game, and Alex McLeish quite clearly has a lot of work on his hands, before we can start suggesting that we are anywhere near where we need to be.

Hopefully when Charles N`Zogbia can get himself up to speed things will improve on the creativity front, while a lot rests on the shoulders of Jermaine Jenas, when fit, to provide the spark in midfield that is so clearly lacking. Unbeaten after four games yes, but our points return of six from twelve is probably a couple of points or four less that where we really would have expected to be.

So, its Newcastle United up next, followed by Bolton Wanderers, also at Villa Park, in the Carling Cup. Are two much needed wins too much to hope for, to set us up nicely for the trip to Loftus Road on September the 25th?

 

16 Replies to “Glensider at Goodison Park”

  • Great report as always Glen. Beats me how you saw that much to write. The view from where I was only allowed about 60% of the game to be seen. Awful stand EFC should be ashamed.

  • Ah, a man of my own generation and facing the trials and tribulations of a father of a new generation. It gladdens the heart! A lovely report. Well, about the pre-match situation at least, the match itself does not appear to have warmed the cockles except

  • Difficult to know what to make of the season so far. An ‘easy’ start to the season, or as easy as it gets in the PL, and we have only one win, on the other hand we’ve performed poorly and haven’t lost a match yet. Everton are supposed to be a club in cris

  • Glensider another thing we have in common… A love for the Beatles… Best band bar none… Have seen Macca in concert all over the world… Man is a legend! As for the game its a good sign to get something out of a game whilst playing that badly! Finger

  • top report as ever glensider, can’t argue with a word, think we can consider ourselves the luckiest of the two teams and nowt wrong with a bit of luck! Thought Petrov’s goal was great and Albrighton’s cross for Gabby goal very classy. Also agree, Zoggy

  • Cheers Kevin for another great match-day report. I agree there is a lot of work to be done by Alex. I still feel he hasn’t picked the correct team yet to play the system he likes.

    However, I’m sure that he is aware of that and is working on it with his

  • great dayout as usaul in liverpool nice to see another convert to the villa cause . thought we was a bit overun in midfiled need a reo coker player to break up thngs a bit thought stans goal was fab even though when he hit thought no chance of it going

  • One thing I’ve come to rely on, Glensider, even if my team don’t play like Barca, are your reminders of great music: Wishbone Ash for instance. Just listened to The Groundhogs ‘Thank Christ for the Bomb’ for the first time in years, and then moved on to a

  • As ever a brilliant read, we were lucky, but our two goals were very good at least, love the image that anyone who sits down for a man to man chat with your good self will result in tremendous enthusiasm for whatever you want them to have tremendous enthu

  • I can hear your passion and your love and thoroughly enjoyed reading your report. No wonder Gavin was converted.

  • Thankyou good people, your comments are as always very much appreciated. I’m just sorry that I couldn’t report on a better Villa performance, and a three pointer. Glad you appreciate the musical references BobTheBuilder, our away-day experience wouldn’t b

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