Heads Were Buried In The Sand

There were two events at Southport yesterday, one being the Liverpool Senior Cup Final and the other being the air show, from an Evertonian´s point of view the latter would have been more exciting.

Everton swapped the sights of the babooshka dolls and Moscow Red square for the beach and other attractions Southport is reknown for and to contest for the Liverpool senior cup which overlapped from last season as neither team to accommodate it to their fixture calendar at the end of last season. In the semi finals Everton had overcome their neighbours Liverpool and Southport beat a strong Tranmere Rovers outfit to reach the final. Southport had not won this competition since 1999 when Ricky Martin was doing well in the charts that summer with livin´ da vida loca and Everton had won this back in 2007 when they defeated Marine.

The Sandgrounders had two ex Everton players in their ranks, one was John Paul Kissock and the other being Scott Spencer who left Everton in 2009 without making a first team appearance. Colin Harvey, no stranger to Evertonian´s sat in the stands and as the players came out onto the pitch Alan Irvine and Kevin Sheedy took their seats in the stand as Alan Stubbs took to his position in the dug out. The weather conditions were ideal for a game of football with a slight breeze but not enough o trouble the game.

Everton kicked off attacking the home end playing with a 4-5-1 formation and Joao Silva playing as a lone striker. Only 90 seconds into the game Southport´s Andy Owens took a long throw in front of the main stand and Karl Ledsham got onto a header without any challengefrom Everton´s defence to send a looping header over Mateus Taudul the recently signed keeper from the Polish goalkeeping academy MSP Szamotuly very little chance. Everton were surprised by this first attack and a few times Everton´s defenders played the ball back to the keeper who looked troubled by this whose confidence was looked shaky. The home side doubled their lead on 8 minutes when they were awarded a free kick for a foul on Ledsham 30 yards from goal. Ex Everton player Kissock drove the ball from distance which went into the left hand side of the net to give Taudul no chance and Everton´s hopes were severely dented.

The visitors tried to settle down and find some rhythm and a pass from Jose Baxter found Silva but somehow lost his footing and any hopes of an Everton threat were dashed.

On 11 minutes Baxter again collected the ball deep into his half from Forshaw and went on a run down the right and was brought down by Shaun Whalley to give Everton a free kick which Baxter took but unfortunately hit the Southport wall who stood strong. On another Blues attack, Baxter switched a pass to Garbutt playing on the left but the pace of the ball was too much for him which resulted in a Southport throw. Tyias Browning swept a ball out to the left on 14 minutes which looked a promising move but Mr A Jackson raised his flag for offside . 60 seconds later another Baxter free kick from the right was collected by the untroubled McMillan in the home goal. Southport always looked like the better of the two teams with Kissock pulling all the strings and orchestrating all Southport did. Another opportunity went by for the home team when Kissock again played a nice ball to Whalley who misread the situation and let Everton off the hook.

Eighteen minutes had gone on the clock when Bidwell won a free kick who took it from his own half and Baxter and Silva seemed to conjour up something between themselves only for the Souhtport defence to capitalise on Everton´s lack to finish and clear a rare attack. 3 Minutes later Everton inherited another free kick when Garbutt was fouled. Baxter took another free kick which looked to be going to the head of Duffy but McMillan beat him to the ball with a strong punch. Not long after Silva again was played the ball by Baxter the captain but clumsily lost the ball and frustration was clear. Southport came at the Toffees again on 24 minutes when Moogan the home captain knocked a ball across from the left along the penalty area and Lundstram seemed to move away from the ball which fell to full back James Smith but thankfully Shane Duffy snuffed out the threat. A free kick was awarded on 29 mins forward Tony Gray was brought down on the edge of the box and as ref Mr Johnson walked the Everton defence 10 yards back as Kissock who had already been victorious with a goal from a free kick earlier fancied another which went narrowly wide

Baxter was the only player who seemed to ignite a spark in the Everton midfield with any creativity but sometimes his passes just seemed to be too hard. A volley from Whalley never troubled Taudul but he did well with a comfortable catch from a corner from Whalley on this occasion as the Sandgrounders tried to put this game to bed and seal victory. A good move from the visitors but with 9 minutes remaining which was started again by Baxter and involved Forshaw and Silva but McMillan saved which fell again to Silva who put just over. The yellow card was shown to Silva for retaliating with Whalley as something had gone on under the referee´s nose. 5 minutes from the break Forshaw on the right played Silva in but even two attempts was enough for a breakthrough but got a corner instead which was taken by Garbutt but Mustafi failed to connect. Just before the break Lundstram went upfront to aid Silva and Everton went into a 4-4-2 and try and get something from a game which they never really deserved.

A minute before the break Duffy won a strong header from a Southport move and Tyias Browning showed his strength in the tackle winning a ball from his marker. On the stroke of half time Baxter´s free kick was high but well caught by McMillan and the whistle couldn´t have come at a better time.
Half Time Southport 2 Everton 0

Southport made a change at half time by introducing Spencer for the influential Kissock and it was Spencer who was played through only just coming on but squandered a chance and put it past the left hand post. Taudul acrobatically made a two handed punch from a cross from the right by Brown and on 55 minutes Mr Mardine the 4th official was busy when the two side made a change, Hallam Hope replaced the hard working Barrow, McGinn replaced Whalley who had a decent run out. Southport who didn´t seem to be the side they were in the first half and looking very ordinary attacked the Toffees from the right but the stocky and solid Bidwell blocked the attempt but a second chance came when the ball fell back into the oppositions path when a high cross was met by Ledsham whose header was trouble free. Hope managed to win a corner for the visitors when Garbutt played a short corner to Forshaw whose delivery was met by the lively Hope whose effort was low and saved with ease again by McMillan. With very little constructive attacking play out there it was evident that any hope of a goal seemed unlikely and the damage seemed to have been done in the first eight minutes of the first half. On 61 minutes Stubbs threw on Forrester for Garbutt who didn´t look too pleased at being substituted and words seemed to be exchanged as Garbutt made his way to the bench.

62 minutes and Mustafi intervened a good Southport move, and as Everton broke forward Silva who was poor ambitiously tried his luck from30 yards which McMillam made an easy save. 65 minutes had now gone and Bidwell´s cross into the box from a Silva pass was just too high for Hope to get on to. Southport made another change with 21 minutes remaining replacing Andy Owens with Chris Lever. A long ball from Duffy on 77 minutes to the disappointing Silva was an easy catch again
for McMillan who had an untroubled afternoon and could have even gone to the beach for what he had to do.

There was a sight of a Vulcan and a Lancaster bomber that flew overhead from the air show that made the afternoon an interesting one as there was no way back for Everton, Lundstram from 30 yards had a shot from distance which hit a Southport player on the back and yet another Everton substitute was introduced with a non effective display from Silva going off when Adam Thomas emerged the field of play and Thomas immediately going wide on the right with Forrester strengthening the front line with Hope. A poor back pass from Duffy made Taudul react from his line and not do much for his confidence but his clearance fell to a Southport player who hit straight over the bar and thankfully for Taudul.

Chances were not clear cut for the visitors and a free kick from forshaw again was too high for Duffy and a chance again by Hope which again never troubled McMillan was the best Everton could do but no result for their efforts. As the game wore on Duffy had a header which sailed over and a rare Baxter effort was as good as it got with time approaching the last ten minutes. On 89 mins Spencer went through and a suspicion of offside but no flag was raised only for Duffy to save Everton´s blushes with a good challenge. 2 Added minutes was signalled from the 4th officials board but too late for anything to happen for a very disappointing Everton display the performance was very much below par and maybe their minds were still in Moscow from the previous week and I wouldn´t think for one minute Alan Stubbs would have been pleased with that display either.

If only I´d gone to the air show!!

Everton Team Taudul, Browning, Bidwell, Barrow, Duffy, Mustafi, Forshaw, Baxter( c), Silva, Garbutt., Lundstram Subs Roberts (GK), Hope, Forrester. Thomas

Southport Team McMilan, Smith, Owens, Akrigg, Grand. Moogan (,C). whalley, Ledsham,Gray, Kissock, Brown. Subs Davis, Lever, McGinn, Spencer, Williams

Ref M Joe Johnson, Assistant Referees Mr. M Murphy and Mr A Jackson 4th Official Mr J Jardine
Attendance 538

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