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Confident Blackburn Grab Deserved Point At Goodison.

Saturday 21st January 2012
A Tim Howard clanger cost Everton dearly as David Goodwillie's equaliser gave Blackburn a share of the points at Goodison Park on Saturday. Earlier Tim Cahill broke his 13-month goal drought to give Everton an unwarranted lead. In truth, a draw was the least Steve Kean's men deserved after a confident performance in which they pinned Everton back for long periods.

Both sides made changes from their previous games, with Victor Anichebe taking Royston Drenthe's place on Everton's left - Scott Dann and David Goodwillie replacing Chris Samba and suspended ex-Everton striker Yakubu for Rovers. Blackburn dominated the opening 20 minutes with David Dunn pulling the strings in the hole behind Goodwillie. Slick passing created two good chances for Dunn, the first well saved by Howard, the second blocked by Heitinga.

Everton were hanging on with Landon Donovan on the right the only player causing Blackburn any problems. And naturally it was the American who was at the centre of Everton's opening goal on 24 minutes as he combined with Leighton Baines to fashion a chance for home debutant Shane Duffy.

Duffy headed back across goal causing Cahill to slip, but after some good work from Anichebe, Donovan crossed for Maruoane Fellaini to tee up a simple tap-in for the talismanic Cahill - his first goal since December 2010. Replays showed that Fellaini handled the ball, but this went unnoticed by referee Mark Halsey. Everton were noticeably buoyed by the goal with Darren Gibson and Phil Neville working well with the impressive Landon Donovan down the right.

Donovan could have doubled Everton's lead after a great back-heel from Cahill but forced his powerful wide from inside the box. Blackburn almost drew level when a dreadful Maruoane Fellaini mistake gave Dunn the chance to attack. After David Hoilett laid the ball off to Goodwillie, the Scotsman's deflected shot ran straight to the onrushing Dunn whose placed shot bounced back off the post with Howard well beaten.

A late blocked effort from Fellaini, followed by a decent Robsinon save from Cahill's header was all the latter stages had to offer with David Moyes happy to get to half-time a goal up. The second-half started just as the first had with Blackburn passing the ball around confidently, the outstanding Hoilett frequently skipping past challenges to stretch Everton's defence.

Despite Blackburn creating few chances, Morten Gamst Pedersen's frequent deliveries into the box caused trouble for the Everton defence, though Shane Duffy's excellent performance was one of the few positives for the Toffees. The introduction of Royston Drenthe for the anonymous Louis Saha gave Everton's attack a different dimension, and the Dutchman was unlucky not to grab an assist after getting to the by-line and drilling across goal.

After yet another bit of quick feet from Hoilett brought about a yellow card for Darren Gibson, Pedersen's lofted ball into the box caused havoc and forced a mistake from Tim Howard on 71 minutes. The Everton goalkeeper flapped at the ball, and after Cahill's goal-line clearance was charged down by Goodwillie, Blackburn drew deservedly level.

David Moyes threw on Apostolos Vellios and later Denis Stracqualursi as the Toffees finished much the stronger side. Steve Kean gave a debut to new signing Anthony Modeste who came on for Goodwillie though in truth, he barely had a kick. Duffy almost capped an assured debut with a goal as his header from a superb Leighton Baines free-kick crashed against the bar. On 89 minutes, Stracqualursi held the ball up well to lay off for Baines – who has crossed more balls than any Premiership player this season – to send in another fantastic delivery.

Fellaini's powerful header was saved expertly by Robinson as Everton threw men forward for the corner. Again it was Fellaini who rose to head past Robinson only for Dann to clear off the line, with Stracqualursi's stabbed follow-up deflecting off the fortunate keeper to allow Blackburn to clear. The result, or rather the performance, was greeted with boos from the Goodison Park crowd as Everton failed to win at home for the eighth time this season.

As for Blackburn, Steve Kean will be delighted with the application of his players despite the fact that QPR's victory over Wigan sends them back into the bottom three.
Chris Smith

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