Bolton Wanderers 1 Everton 2

heitinga bolton

The deafening noise at the end of this fourth round FA Cup tie was the sound of scores of internet match reporters furiously pressing ‘delete’.

When John Heitinga replaced Nikica Jelavic on 81 minutes the reaction at the match was certainly the old one of ‘typical negative Moyes’, however the move ended up looking positively inspired when the Dutchman set himself and picked his spot for an absolute cracker of a winner in injury time.

Late winners are always ace, especially away, and especially in the cup, and they allow you to overlook poor performances to a large extent, and this was one that certainly wants forgetting. In many ways it was typical of Everton, with everyone excited and thousands packing the away end and large pockets of the home stands too, it was almost inevitable that they would play like a load of shite. It should never surprise us.

The withdrawal of Kevin Mirallas after only 17 minutes was the first sign that all wasn’t going to go smoothly, especially as he was replaced by Magaye Gueye. It’s fair to say the jury has pretty much adjudicated on this cat now.

On 18 minutes though, Leighton Baines low cross initially evaded Steven Pienaar but the South African ended up perfectly placed to unwittingly deflect Victor Anichebe’s shot past Andy Lonergan in the home goal.

After that though, Everton faded badly and Bolton, for whom Jay Spearing ran the show, looked the far livelier side. It came as little surprise that the lead lasted less than 10 minutes – Chung-Yong Lee burst down the right and Marvin Sordell swept a low shot inside the near post.

A lot’s been made about Nikica Jelavic’s barren spell in front of goal but he’s certainly not been helped by the fact that the team aren’t creating many decent chances. Everything comes down the left from Leighton Baines – opponents seem to know that if they can defend crosses from that source then the job’s more than half done.

The central midfield is also a concern in the continued absence of Darron Gibson. Marouane Fellaini was given a start in his supposedly favoured position, in front of the back four, and reminded everyone why he got shoved up front in the first place. According to some newspapers Moyes is in talks with FC Twente about Leroy Fer, although talk of a £7 million fee seems fanciful unless someone gets shipped out.

Thankfully we were spared a replay with Heitinga’s intervention – and in fairness the Blues were on top in the closing stages. Gueye even smashed a screamer against the crossbar in the very dying seconds although almost no one saw this, preoccupied as they were with watching the spirited exchanges of views taking place between opposing supporters in the home end.

Oldham away in the next round. Anything could happen there.

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Bolton Wanderers And That

Bolton Wanderers Press Conference

We’re Bolton and we’re barmy and we’re on the piss tonight.

A short jaunt up the road for this FA Cup fourth round tie is a good opportunity to see how bleak things can get awfully quickly even for teams who look like Premier League fixtures. Bolton Wanderers, and especially their chairman Phil Gartside, were never shy of talking themselves up as the brash new face of thrusting top-flight football, what with their new stadium and Big Sam Allardyce’s extensive team of sports scientists and ProZone professionals that would have put Sugar Ray Robinson’s entourage to shame.

Well they are fucked now, and Dougie ‘spelt with an ‘oo’, like the tea’ Freedman is their manager.

Allardyce’s shadow still looms large over the Reebok – legend has it that when the wind blows in a certain direction you can still get a faint whiff of one of his infamous ‘steak bake guffs’ in the directors box bogs – and indeed over any sort of website that exists almost exclusively to take the piss out of football. They’ve fallen a long way since their most recent ‘glory’ days of watching Youri Djorkaeff and Jay Jay Okocha and regularly finishing in the Premier League top 10. Now it’s Keith Andrews, Marvin Sordell and a number of ex-Liverpool shitehawks. Oh, and Kevin Davies, still.

Obviously Everton will be expected to win this then, but they will have to perform a lot better than they did at St. Mary’s on Monday night, regardless of the level of the opposition.

There seems to be an increasing number of people if not demanding then at least suggesting that David Moyes should drop Nikica Jelavic for this one and replace him with Victor Anichebe following their respective ‘horror miss’ and ‘lively substitute appearance’ in the week. The Everton boss has his own methods for dealing with these matters, but you would like to think that he would approach Jelavic and ask him whether he wants to be rested and then gauge the Croatian’s reaction. Ideally he would respond by saying that he wants to get back out there, work hard and put things right. In which case he should start. The problem with just dropping Jelavic, almost as a ‘punishment’ for his drop in form is similar to one faced whenever Tim Howard is playing badly. If deep down you don’t really believe that the replacement is better than the fella being dropped then you risk further denting the main man’s confidence. If Anichebe starts against Bolton, for instance, and has a poor game himself, where does that leave you? Arguably worse off than if you told Jelavic that you believe in him regardless and are confident that he will come good.

Whether Kevin Mirallas is match fit enough to start yet isn’t clear – if he does though, hopefully he plays out on the right wing. Moyes seems unable to resist the temptation to play him through the middle, presumably just to try and have his pace and shooting skills stationed closer to the opposition goal. He seems to get bogged down there though, fighting with cavemen for knee-high bobblers, and causes more panic when he picks the ball up wide, gets turned and runs at defences.

No ballboys were harmed in the production of this article.

Bolton Wanderers Press Conference