Following dreary and disappointing displays which appear to have strangled Everton’s season at birth, manager David Moyes opted for a more youthful, attacking lineup ahead of the Carling Cup 2nd round home tie against Huddersfield Town. With new blood desperately needed to up the tempo of Everton’s play, Seamus Coleman filled in at right back for the ineffective Tony Hibbert.
Other changes were made with new signing Jermaine Beckford replacing top gun Louis Saha, French youngster Magaye Gueye filling in for Mikel Arteta, and Jack Rodwell starting in the lineup rather than on the bench. Overall, Everton have an appalling history in this competition and in general have found themselves particularly susceptible to cup upsets against lower league opposition:
As such, many were expecting a genuine challenge from Huddersfield, and for the first half, that is exactly what Everton got. Huddersfield were dubbed by some pundits as the “Man City of League One” with their respectable amount of wealth. The Terriers boasted a strong starting eleven which included former Evertonian Gary Naysmith at left back, ex Liverpool trainee Lee Peltier, and goalkeeper Alex Smithies, who David Moyes was once apparently eyeing as Tim Howard’s backup.
Everton got off to the perfect start, showing lower league opposition zero respect and storming into a 2-0 lead after just fourteen minutes. On six, Marouane Fellaini opened the scoring after Gueye’s precision cross found the lurking afro-topped Belgian giant, who headed past the helpless Smithies. The lead was then doubled by Jack Rodwell, who picked up the ball and controlled brilliantly to lash it low and into the corner from about 20 yards.
Things are never easy at Goodison Park though and in suitable fashion, Everton began to slow the pace of their game and produce sloppy distribution, eventually giving their opponents a way back in to the game five minutes before the break. It was another absurd goal which stems from a lack of concentration and must be avoided if any silverware is to be won this season. Striker Gary Roberts hit the crossbar and from the rebound, Johnny Heitinga headed into the back of Jan Mucha’s net for an avoidable and potentially regrettable own goal.
However, Huddersfield ran out of steam in the second half, and it would be a stroll in the park once Jermaine Beckford restored the two goal cushion with a well taken penalty. Another spot kick was awarded when Peltier was sent off after fouling Coleman, but Heitinga’s nightmare continued when his poorly struck penalty was easily saved by veteran substitute goalkeeper Ian Bennett.
Louis Saha then came off the bench and sealed the game for Everton. His crisp finish in the box may be testament to his potential as a “super sub” rather than a natural starter, since Beckford apears to have the greater stamina level. And soon after, the coup de grace was delivered with Leon Osman heading home to open his account for the season.
Ultimately this should be an eye opener for Moyes, as he looks to challenge the upcoming adversity and danger which lies in wait over the coming weeks. Although Huddersfield are not Aston Villa or Manchester United, it feels good to win, and to win convincingly with a youthful squad of limited Premier League experience. Particularly eye catching was Seamus Coleman at right back, who may even have a future in midfield if an injury crisis should ever rear up again.
Tony Hibbert looks like a spent force, and will soon be surplus to requirements when Coleman blossoms into a regular first team player. Magaye Gueye still has a long way to go despite some impressive moments, but in times of trouble, Moyes would be best advised to pick a lineup such as this against Villa and United – especially since his current charges on a guaranteed higher wage appear to have lost interest in the Everton cause
EVERTON (Out of 10):
Mucha – 6 – Not very much to do, one or two important saves, but otherwise untested.
Coleman – 8 – Has never in memory (touch wood) put a foot wrong for Everton, and looks like a more than worthy successor for Hibbert.
Heitinga – 4 – An own goal and a penalty miss, best to sweep this one under the rug and look forward to Sunday (if that is at all possible).
Distin – 6 – Worked another solid shift, looked vulnerable during Huddersfield’s best moments leading up to their goal.
Baines – 6 – Again showed skill in his passing game and provided good coverage on the left.
Pienaar – 6 – The unsettled winger was not a standout player, but worked his way infield to great effect and showed a better overall attitude.
Osman – 7 – Looked lively and scored a good goal, starting to look a bit more like his old, above-average self.
Fellaini – 7 – Took his goal well and always dominated the midfield.
Rodwell – 8 – Fantastic performance which will have Fabio Capello’s gaze momentarily away from White Hart Lane or Eastlands.
Beckford – 7 – Looks like the natural penalty taker and fought all night to try and rub it in for his ex club’s Yorkshire rivals.
Gueye – 6 – Looks like he has potential, and with the right nurturing could become a great asset.
Bilyaletdinov – 6 – Decent game for once, like Saha appears to be a potential “super sub”.
Saha – 7 – Appeared dangerous throughout his short time on the pitch.
Hibbert – 6 – The game was over before Hibbert came on, so didn’t have an awful lot to do.