Everton have recently found a streak of good form, losing only two of their last fifteen matches and also booking a date at Wembley with rivals Liverpool. So West Brom always knew that this trip to Goodison Park was going to be tough, but with our impressive away form this season, a point looked like a realistic aim.
However, two goals either side of half-time were decisive, as West Brom lost to Everton for the third time this season, after an early season loss in the Carling Cup and a defeat on New Year’s Day.
The Albion made four changes from the side that lost against Newcastle with Chris Brunt, Paul Scharner, Somen Tchoyi and Shane Long replacing the injured James Morrison, Youssouf Mulumbu, Jerome Thomas and Marc Antoine-Fortune in a 4-4-2 formation. Everton made two changes from the team that beat Swansea 2-0 last week with Johnny Heitinga and Marouane Fellaini replacing Sylvain Distin and Phil Neville.
Everton started the game stronger, with Leon Osman heading wide in the opening minutes and Darron Gibson soon firing over from 20 yards. The Everton pressure was unrelenting and with just 15 minutes on the board, Scharner was called into action when he blocked Nikica Jelavic’s shot. Then, just minutes later Everton took the lead with a rather lucky goal.
Osman and Jelavic exchanged the ball outside the box and the midfielder’s left-footed shot took a massive deflection off of Gareth McAuley, to send the ball past a confused Ben Foster. The travelling fans already had the feeling that this was going to be one of those games again, with the luck well against us.
The Albion soon jumped back into the game, and Scharner’s shot from 15 yards forced a save from Tim Howard. Everton quickly jumped back into the game, and could well have been two goals up if it wasn’t for Foster pushing away Fellaini’s shot after he had beaten Peter Odemwingie. Steven Pienaar was next to have a shot, only for this to go wide.
It was Everton who started the second half the better side, with Fellaini shooting wide just before Jelavic headed the ball straight at Foster. The Albion still tried to go for an equaliser and Keith Andrews had a shot at goal that went wide.
After a few more chances for both sides, Everton were soon to strike a fatal blow for the away team, with Victor Anichebe’s shot from 20 yards out flying in off the post.
Soon after, Everton could have made it three when Pienaar was denied by Foster who managed to block the South African’s shot. The Albion seemed to jump to life and looked likely to score when Odemwingie saw his ball deflected into the side netting by Heitinga. There were a couple more chances for both sides before the final whistle, but Everton never looked like giving away their lead.
This was West Brom’s third loss in four games, and the team looked as unlikely to score as they had at Wigan last time out. The problem seems to be a lack of confidence in front of goal, something I didn’t think I’d say after the hammering of the Wolves, but perhaps we just need to get a big win behind us. With Blackburn up next on Saturday, we have the opportunity to do just that. It will be a tough game, but one we should get all three points from. Boing Boing!
Man of the Match: Ben Foster. He always seems to be the man of the match at the minute, but he’s single-handedly reducing the goal deficit for us and it really is essential that we secure the keeper’s signature at the end of the season.