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.