Another top four team, another win. Following wins against Man City and Chelsea this time it was the turn of Tottenham to face defeat at Everton. There’s something about Goodison under the lights, the atmosphere is incredible and the noise is amplified.
The game was a tale of two halves. Everton completely dominated the first half, creating four or five decent opportunities. The one leading to the goal saw a lovely 30-yard ball from Leighton Baines to Leon Osman, playing for the first time since an ankle injury. Osman twisted past Younus Kaboul and played a perfectly weighted square ball to Nikica Jelavic, who was unmarked on the edge of the box but still had a great deal to do. The big Serbian striker allowed the ball to run across his body and placed it neatly past the flailing Brad Freidel, who could only tip it further into the right hand corner.
At this point Spurs were still in second gear, with Everton thoroughly on top. But when Spurs kicked off the second half they had an instant urgency about them, and eventually the visitors’ pressing gave them their first chance within five minutes of the restart. Jermaine Defoe, who looked like the only one up for it in the first half, twisted and turned before getting away a fierce shot only to find a previously untested Tim Howard diving to his right to fend the shot off.
When the 4th official held his board up to indicate Louis Saha was coming on I was despondent, having been under the impression there was a gentlemans’ agreement for Redknapp not to play Saha against us, with Steven Pienaar also being unable to play against his parent club.
For the next 20 minutes it was more of the same, Spurs pushing hard but Everton holding strong. Everton only had the one chance, after Gareth Bale tried to con the ref Seamus Coleman broke forward to set up Osman for the shot, but his angle was too tight and could only sting Freidel’s hands.
I thought we had blown it when Defoe neatly converted, only to be rightly judged offside. Then at the death Saha had a clear chance, only to see his shot hit the post, rebound against Howard’s leg and bobble to safety.
Full time was met with sheer relief from the home support. We had done so well in the first half that we should have won more comfortably, but 1-0 was good enough. Spurs fans will be confused and annoyed, as they dominated the second half and will feel they should have had at least a point. But the last laugh went to David Moyes, who once again did Everton proud as the side head into the Merseyside derby on Tuesday night, just one day before the 10-year anniversary of Moyes’ stay at Goodison Park.