Brave Carlisle Utd sunk by late Everton double
Last updated at 11:52, Monday, 04 January 2010
Everton 3 Carlisle United 1: A piece of metal about four inches thick can today take its place in the long history of FA Cup villainy.
Should Everton hoist the old pot in four months’ time, they should hang a medal from the crossbar in front of Goodison Park’s Gwladys Street End.
Margins, margins. Danny Livesey’s 71st minute volley crashes off the frame of Tim Howard’s target and goes over the line, and Carlisle advance to a highly possible upset for the ages.
That scenario can be stuffed in the Cup’s bursting file headed “If Only”, because what really happened was that Livesey’s sweeping strike bounced back out – via the very tips of Howard’s fingers – and was snaffled by Everton’s goalkeeper before another red-shirted player could pounce.
It was Carlisle’s final, clear chance of the game. Everton duly marched downfield and snaffled a brace of scarcely-deserved goals in the final eight minutes, and Premier League authority was reasserted.
Saturday’s 3-1 scoreline implies that top-flight power suppressed League One ambition, but Everton’s superiority was strictly numerical two days ago. When David Moyes, their manager, proclaimed “the result” as the most satisfying feature of his team’s display, he was passing comment not only on his own team’s imperfections, but on the quality and application of United’s performance that pushed the lords of Goodison Park to the brink.
Carlisle were the width of the bar and a refereeing non-decision away from conquering last year’s beaten finalists, who were English football’s fifth-best team in the previous campaign and who remain alive in European competition as 2010 coughs into life. That’s something that deserves an ovation today, even accounting for Everton’s loss of various key players to injury, international duty and indiscipline (Jo, their Brazilian striker, was suspended by Moyes on the eve of the game for making an unannounced trip to his homeland).
To the irritation of Greg Abbott and his team, Seamus Coleman’s grapple with Matty Robson in the 82nd minute went unpunished by the referee, Jonathan Moss. From the substitute’s surge, Tim Cahill claimed the goal that killed the Cumbrians. It was quite something, at this point, to observe the relief scored into legions of Evertonian faces in the directors’ box as the Toffees went 2-1 ahead.
And something, too, to witness the generous applause with which the home supporters dispatched Carlisle down the tunnel at close of play. “That shows the Everton fans are proper football supporters,” said Abbott, who described United’s own boisterous, 6,000-strong following as “awesome.”
Gallant defeat is always a part of the narrative on Third Round day. But Carlisle brought more than a biting underdog spirit to their engagement with one of Merseyside’s twin giants. There was such a rare quality about much of their play that it almost seems trite to write this result off as plucky failure.
The raw facts: Everton are in the Fourth Round, Carlisle are not. But for the majority of Saturday’s face-off, that outcome was light years from being a certainty. United’s appetite for the occasion flashed up as quickly as the second minute, when they forced the game’s first corner and an off-target volley from Adam Clayton, more of whom shortly.
For 10 minutes, Everton were grinding through the gears, and as such their surprising opening goal arrived not through their own craft, but a United howler: from Clayton, specifically, as the midfielder retreated under pressure and underhit a pass towards Adam Collin. The pacy James Vaughan accepted his gift, sidestepped the Carlisle ‘keeper and stroked the ball home.
The 12th minute seemed an unreasonably early stage for Carlisle’s dream to be crushed, yet that fear must have been alive in the away seats. Then, memorably, Abbott’s men snapped back. Tom Taiwo, back in for the unfortunate Peter Murphy, began to exert his energy on proceedings, drawing a yellow-card foul from Everton's giant midfield fulcrum, Marouane Fellaini.
Then, six minutes after Vaughan’s strike, United were level: a purposeful pass from Taiwo, a perceptive flick from Vincent Pericard and a charge into space from Clayton, whose poked shot was deflected by Howard and nudged home by the sliding Kevan Hurst. It was an outbreak of attacking class, and Clayton’s involvement – so soon after his blunder – said plenty about the young loanee’s character.
The truth is that Clayton and his midfield accomplices shaped the first half and duly restricted Everton to token surges, such as the run from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov which led to a Cahill shot which Collin impressively parried (Vaughan, following in to score, was flagged offside); a Leighton Baines cross which Vaughan flashed across goal; and a Steven Pienaar volley which Collin repelled.
United continued to throw a bridge over the two-division canyon by pushing Everton back, particularly down the left, where Robson was an effervescent threat. Ian Harte, meanwhile, was a picture of class in defence, and when the ex-Leeds man advanced further forward he tested Howard’s reflexes with a 35-yard blast.
The second half’s early stages were again notable for Carlisle’s zip. Three minutes in and Clayton was testing Howard again, as Lucas Neill lay prone in the home area. Then the American goalkeeper had to deal with a Hurst cross-shot, as the Goodison faithful grew increasingly tetchy at the blue-shirted diet of unsuccessful balls from the back.
They perked up on the hour, driven by the combative Fellaini, who drew a solid save from Collin, before Robson and Taiwo chased back to deny Tony Hibbert and Vaughan respectively. From this inspiring defensive work came another Carlisle counter-attack, which led to a cleared corner scooped up by Evan Horwood and fed to Harte.
His diagonal, arrowing ball was met at the corner of the box by the leaping Hurst, and Livesey – who had remained forward from the set-piece – met the dropping ball with the cleanest of volleys that skimmed Howard’s glove, rattled the bar and gave Everton the most marginal of reprieves.
How cruelly did Moyes’ men then capitalise on their good fortune. Onto the 82nd minute, and Coleman – on for Hibbert – made the surge that spun the match, wrestling free from Robson’s attentions and digging out a cross which Bilyaletdinov nodded down for the arriving Cahill, who smashed his first shot against Harte but leapt on the rebound and slid it cleanly past Collin.
This example of the Australian’s opportunism, which has been seen on so many occasions down the years, was the moment the tie was taken. Everton’s injury-time penalty, converted by Baines after Collin had upended another substitute, Kieran Agard, was merely salt in the scar.
Soon enough the violins will have to be shoved back into storage, since United’s approaching League One collision with Millwall is, in many ways, of more significance than this dance with the stars. And through all the hard-luck stories that will be justifiably peddled in Carlisle today, there must be an acceptance that fortune will drop in the Blues’ favour on other days this season (it has happened already, occasionally).
Yet football tends to be sparing with days and occasions like this, so it’s right and proper to commit to print a proper appreciation of what United brought to England’s most evocative football city, in its most blood-stirring competition.
“Carlisle were always a threat, they had great support with them, and their team did their supporters proud,” acknowledged Moyes. Romance swerved Goodison Park in the end. But only just.
ADAM COLLIN - Former Workington man made some excellent saves before conceding forgiveable late penalty.
RICHARD KEOGH - Pienaar only made token contributions to Everton’s attacking effort. Keogh was robust and upstanding in United’s defence.
EVAN HORWOOD - Grew into the game with a mature and watchful defensive effort, and made a couple of decent attacking surges.
DANNY LIVESEY - Only the woodwork denied the skipper a piece of Cup history, after a sturdy display at the back.
IAN HARTE - His class and composure were on full view here, and the ex-Leeds man used the ball intelligently throughout.
TOM TAIWO - Energy, persistence and aggression in midfield shone against international opponents. Let this not be his final game.
ADAM CLAYTON - Atoned for his early howler with the run that brought Carlisle level. His most impressive performance for the Cumbrians.
GRAHAM KAVANAGH - Steady effort in midfield alongside his more youthful team-mates, given a warm send-off from home fans when subbed.
MATTY ROBSON - Winger’s pace and vigour down the left consistently troubled the Premier League hosts.
KEVAN HURST - Determined slide to bring Blues level. Tireless effort and his header set Livesey up for the moment that could have won it.
VINCENT PERICARD - Classy flick led to Carlisle’s leveller. His presence and effort gave hosts umpteen problems, before tiring in second half.
Subs: Scott Dobie (for Pericard 76) - Battled away; Joe Anyinsah (for Kavanagh 85) - Tried to create. Not used: Lenny Pidgeley, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, Peter Murphy, Michael Burns, Tony Kane.
Goals: Hurst 18.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert (Coleman 80), Baines, Neill, Heitinga, Neville, Fellaini, Pienaar, Bilyaledtinov, Cahill, Vaughan (Agard 86). Not used: Nash, Duffy, Forshaw, Baxter, Mustafi.
Goals: Vaughan 12, Cahill 82, Baines 90 pen.
Booked: Fellaini, Neville.
Ref: Jonathan Moss (West Yorkshire).
First published at 11:23, Monday, 04 January 2010
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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