Two goals from Demba Ba along with two contentious refereeing decisions which fell in favour of Newcastle were enough to give the away side a share of the spoils at Goodison Park last night.
With fans clamouring for change of formation, tactics, personnel, and pretty much anything else actually, those requests were duly obliged when the starting line ups were announced. Enforced absences by Fabricio Coloccini, Cheik Tiote and Danny Simspon were compounded by the dropping of Demba Ba who had to make do with starting the match on the bench.
Likewise there was a change in formation with United dropping the rather rudimentary 4-4-2, a source of everything that has been going wrong according to fans, and started off with a more popular 4-3-3 kind of setup, which should have guaranteed us the win if you listen to the way some fans go on about it! More about that later though…
What followed then was a poor 45 minutes by Newcastle, really poor in fact. Everton seemed to be able to make chances at will and had already had one Nikica Jelavic effort correctly ruled out for offside before Leighton Baines managed to put the home side ahead with a thumping left foot effort after good interplay down the left.
James Perch was tasked with playing at right-back and was having rings run round him with little help forthcoming from Sylain Marveaux who really should have been helping the utility man out more than he did. Further chances followed for Everton as Leon Osman, Kevin Miralles and Phil Jagielka all went closing to extending the lead for the Toffees. Luckily nothing came of it though and Newcastle went in at half-time just the one goal down despite Papiss Cisse sendong a volley inches wide of the post and Vurnon Anita having his effort hack off the line by Baines.
Half-time: Everton 1-0 Newcastle
Demba Ba was sent on for the second half in place of the disappointing Marveaux, and it was the super sub who made an immediate impact when he ran onto a through ball by Yohan Cabaye (you, the one who does nothing…) and slotted an early shot past Tim Howard who really should have done better.
Then came the two big talking points of the game, but it wasn’t referee Mike Jones who was to blame and instead his assistant must surely answer some questions as he is there to help the referee in these kind of calls.
Firstly Marouane Fellaini saw his effort ruled out for offside even though TV replays show that he was at the very least level with Mike Williamson when the ball was played to him. Not long after that more controversy followed when Victor Anichebe saw his header tipped onto the bar at point blank range by Steve Harper. The ball hit the underside of the crossbar before seemingly dropping over the line just before Mike Williamson hacked away.
No doubt Everton will fell aggrieved by those two decision, but then Newcastle managed to break away with Hatem Ben Arfa leaving Steven Pienaar trailing despite having his heels clipped by the South African giving Newcastle a three on one breakaway attack only for Mike Jones to fail to play the advantage and pull play back for the foul on Ben Arfa.
Victor Anichebe looked to have sealed the points for Everton when he turned Steven Taylor and shot past Steve Harper with just three minutes remaining, but a much improved (in the second half at least) Newcastle were not to be denied as that man Demba Ba ran onto a Shola Ameobi chest down and prodded the ball past Tim Howard on the stroke of 90 minutes.
Full-time: Everton 2-2 Newcastle
Apparently Alan Pardew was “angry” at half-time, and rightly so. Clearly he gave the players a telling off as they were much improved in the second half and finally started to look like the side we saw last season. I wasn’t expecting anything for the game last night so to come away with a point is a massive bonus for me.
Moving onto formations… People have been fixated by using a system other than 4-4-2. This is fair enough as we all have our own opinions, but I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter about formation if players fail to perform to an acceptable level. That has been our problem so far this season, not formation, which is why I was pleased with how we performed in the second half, especially with that useless 4-4-2 formation that people seem to hate.
It was a point tainted with good fortune, I don’t think many NUFC will disagree with that after watching the officials balls up those two decisions for Everton, but sometimes good fortune can be a catalyst for good things. Maybe this could be the start of our season?
Howay the lads!
Everton: Tim Howard, Tony Hibbert, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Phil Neville, Leon Osman, Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini, Nikica Jelavic, Kevin Mirallas
Subs: Jan Mucha, John Heitinga, Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, Magaye Gueye, Steven Naismith, Victor Anichebe
Newcastle: Steve Harper, James Perch, Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor, Davide Santon, Yohan Cabaye, Vurnon Anita, Jonas Gutierrez, Sylvain Marveaux, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse
Subs: Rob Elliot, James Tavernier, Gael Bigirimana, Dan Gosling, Gabriel Obertan, Demba Ba, Shola Ameobi