Everton managed to get back to winning ways in the Premier League after seeing off Reading by three goals to one.
The biggest change to the Blues’ side was the debut league appearance of Slovak Jan Mucha in goal. He replaced Tim Howard who picked up a knock in the 3-1 win over Oldham on Tuesday, just 2 consecutive appearances short of a club record. Marouane Fellaini returned to the starting line up and Victor Anichebe returned to the bench after missing 2 games.
Reading brought in centre back Alex Pearce to their starting eleven after their heavy 3-0 home loss to Wigan last week. Adam Le Fondre, the man to undo the Everton side twice in the reverse fixture, started due to Pavel Pogrebnyak‘s suspension. Former Blue Hope Akpan started in midfield and the Royals also had a goalkeeping worry, needing 3rd choice Stuart Taylor to line up between the sticks.
The game started off as if it were a pre-season game, neither team threatening combined with sloppy play and a lack of urgency to attack. Two injuries were the only happenings in the first 10 minutes, as Jagielka limped off after a late challenge from Le Fondre, and Jimmy Kebe pulled up and also hobbled off. John Heitinga was the man to come on for Everton and Hal Robson-Kano was the man to join the action for Reading.
Just into the tenth minute came the first chance, and it was to be for Reading. A corner came deep into the Everton penalty area, it wasn’t cleared well, the ball found its way to Le Fondre who smashed it against the bar.
From there, Everton took the game by the scruff of the neck and started to play. Nikica Jelavic was put through on goal by Pienaar, but the Croatian’s shot hit the Reading goalkeeper. Kevin Mirallas was involved most in the Toffees’ play, as he switched over to the left and caused havoc but just lacked that final ball.
A goal came just before half time, and it was Everton that struck first. Seamus Coleman had been bursting down the right all afternoon and this time the men in yellow were made to pay. The Irish right back clipped a ball into the area, which found Fellaini’s afro tucking it into the top left of the net.
The Second half began and the game took shape just as it did in the first, with both teams giving it away needlessly in the opposition’s half. After 15 minutes Everton got a grip, started to dominate and Reading gave way. In the 59th minute the Blues got a second. Fellaini laid a ball off to Steven Pienaar 40 yards out, the South African then drove towards goal, throwing in step-overs and ducking the shoulder until he reached the edge of the area where he unleashed a ferocious left foot finish into the top left of the goal.
David Moyes’ men only had to wait 6 minutes for the goal that would seal the comfortable win. Pienaar, now flowing beautifully, played an exquisite ball right through the Reading defence into Kevin Mirallas who slotted home coolly. The tricky Belgian had fully deserved a goal in an afternoon in which he’d been tormenting the away side’s defence.
The game rather petered out until Reading, who had never given up trying, grabbed a late goal. Left back Ian Harte delivered a cross which found an unmarked Robson-Kanu to head past Mucha.
There was to be no miraculous comeback similar to other weeks for Reading, as the men in Blue kept the ball for the remaining 10 minutes to see the game out. A late chance was to be had for Everton, as substitute Victor Anichebe broke free and steered a shot past Taylor, but the Nigerian striker saw his effort cleared off the line.
Evertonians now await a home clash against Wigan on Saturday, a game which could take thousands of Blues down to Wembley in the semi final of the cup with a win.
The Everton Forum’s Man of the Match – Kevin Mirallas. Although Pienaar was better in the second half, Mirallas performed brilliantly for 90 minutes and is showing us what he can do with a run of games.