It was raining goals at Goodison in the I Want My PPI Back Trophy, and nobody told poor old Leyton Orient to bring an umbrella. Oh yes, we actually just said that.
Before we go any further, there is the small point about the opposition being from English football’s third ‘tier’ – or ‘division’, even – and so any superlatives about the Blues’ performance must be viewed in that context. All true.
However, equally relevant is the fact that Everton and David Moyes’s record in this competition is littered with horrible defeats at the hands of sides from the lower leagues. Resting players and rotating the squad is almost always seen as the root cause of such upsets, and Orient manager Russell Slade – who sounds like a young comedian in an ironic t-shirt who does jokes about iPods and ‘sexting’ – might have been slightly encouraged by the absence of Nikica Jelavic, Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar from the Toffees starting line-up. Magaye Gueye and Victor Anichebe were given starts, as was new signing Kevin Mirallas.
All three got on the scoresheet but it was Belgian international Mirallas who took almost all the plaudits in a match that was over by half time.
Everton’s pace and decisiveness were apparent from the first whistle as the visitors struggled to keep up. In fairness to Orient, when they did get the ball they tried to play neat football through midfield, and never resorted to kicking the shite out of their opponents, but the gulf in terms of ability was massive.
Leon Osman will have fewer easier games in midfield, where he was aided considerably by the work of Steven Naismith who has a similar easy-on-the-eye style to the Everton stalwart. On 15 minutes Naismith played a precise through-ball down the inside right ‘channel’, perfect for the run of the already lively Mirallas. The moment that Orient keeper Jamie Jones, who is said to be in love with rock and roll, woah – you had to see that one coming – hesitated instead of coming out to clear he was as good as beaten.
There was no way Mirallas was going to miss as he calmly tucked a low shot into the far corner of the Park End goal.
Six minutes later it was 2-0. Mirallas attempted a backheel in the box, the ball actually struck his standing leg and wrong-footed the entire visitors’ defence, and Osman gleefully (probably) stabbed at a low effort that faded away from Jones and into the opposite corner of the net.
Everton were positively tumescent by this point, and it was no surprise at all when, on 28 minutes, Mirallas scored his second. A square pass to Anichebe looked his best option, as he tricked his way into the Londoners’ area, but a slightly selfish low shot embarrassed Jones and ended up in the satsuma bag.
Why does it always have to be onions? Free your mind, squares.
Jones was at fault again on 35 minutes when Anichebe accepted a pass from Mirallas just outside the box and watched his low shot squirm out from under the keeper and into the net. Despite the two errors by Jones though, the scoreline was far from flattering for Everton. Naismith in particular seemed to enjoy no luck whatsoever when he got a sight of goal – to the point where he actually looks a little bit over-anxious to ‘open his account’ for the Blues.
With the result all but guaranteed, Everton made three changes at the break, sending on Luke Garbutt, Ross Barkley and Shane Duffy. There’s always a great deal of interest in Barkley because of the reports coming from within the club about just what a talent he is. In this game though it was left-back Garbutt who was the most impressive of the young substitutes. He looked quick, competitive and comfortable on the ball, and his slightly stiff-looking run and unfussy manner were reminiscent of a young Gary Neville.
As previously stated though, it was only Leyton Orient, and we shouldn’t see Garbutt as direct cover for Leighton Baines just yet. Indeed, the Blues are apparently looking to bring in Costa Rican left-back Bryan Oviedo in from FC Copenhagen before the end of the transfer window.
Another who impressed on the night was Seamus Coleman who was deployed at right-back but had complete freedom to attack all night. In all three appearances he has made so far this season he has looked back to something approaching his best form following the tough, injury-blighted season he had last time out.
Perhaps some people have been a little bit hasty in writing him off already.
It was yet another strong run from the Irishman that produced the game’s final goal. He burst down the right, drew the Orient defence and then chipped a ball to the far post that invited Gueye to smash a volley into the roof of the net.
With Phil Neville withdrawn and Everton down to 10 men for the final 20 minutes of the match, Orient enjoyed a few sporadic attacks, culminating in Jan Mucha making a save in the 89th minute.
All in all though, it was exactly the sort of relaxed night’s entertainment that you hope for at this stage of the competition.