Birmingham City put aside all their off the field problems as they hosted Everton in a pre season friendly at St Andrews on a very hot afternoon.
Birmingham were aiming to bounce back after their defeat to Everton’s opponents from the night before Oxford United in a mid week 2-0 defeat .the hosts who have had a lot of on goings at St Andrews with their former manager McLeish going to their bitter rivals Aston Villa and players departing after their relegation from the top flight in May
David Moyes fielded a strong team to play the Championship side whose season stars next week with a trip to Derby County and Everton a week later at Tottenham. Birmingham played in an all blue strip and Everton in their new gold shirts and in short sleeves to compliment the conditions as Everton had endured heat problems in the United States a week previously. Everton kicked off attacking the home end and playing a 4-1-2-1-2 formation with Beckford and Anichebe leading the Toffees front line. Birmingham showed first when Morgaro Gomis put Nathan Redmond away and the Dutchman Heitinga was Everton’s saviour. Tim Howard playing his first game of pre season for Everton after being involved with his country in the Concaf cup was called upon early in the opening stages to block a good shot at close range from a very promising move with Burke making space to be foiled by Howard. Hibbert the full back knocked a long ball into the path of Beckford when Myhill in the hosts goal who had only signed 24 hours earlier from nearby West Bromwich |Albion came off his line to head the ball away under the nose of the Everton front man.
Anichebe was foiled after the much rumoured talk of Jagielka going to north London Arsenal long ball was helped on by Bilyaletdinov but never troubled at all. Anichebe after 9 minutes was set up by midfielder Osman whose crisp shot was hit first time but went wide of the goal. Birmingham in the early stages were looking more like the Premier side and Everton vice a versa and Hibbert was put under pressure for failing to hold onto a ball and was robbed by Fahey who unleashed a shot from 25 yards out. Birmingham were playing some nice football under the newly appointed Chris Hughton whose name was ringing out with chants from the locals. Leon Osman seemed to be upset for a decision as Referee Iain Williamson gave the home side a free kick, the former Tottenham man Stephen Carr’s effort was blocked by Howard and made Baines a victim for a tongue lashing
Howard was busy again moments later when he had to put a cross come shot from the lively Burke over the bar and out for a corner, as the corner was played over from the right the ball was in the home side’s box and only for Hibbert saving a goal line effort and saving their blushes Everton would have been one down but thankfully weren’t. Howard must have not expected to be called upon as much as he was when again his athleticism was called upon to catch a swinging cross from the dangerous Gomis who again later threatened but was thwarted by Coleman Baines was the victim of another concern from the USA goalkeeper Howard when he blocked a shot from Redmond but was upset with something that he saw.The home side pressed again when Redmond miss kicked after Burke had once again deprived Hibbert of a good challenge.
On 27 minutes Everton had an effort which fell to Beckford to create a shot but never really troubled Myhill who in return produced an easy save. Everton’s Osman who had been the best player towards the end of the last campaign managed to hit his shot wide of the left hand post but Everton’s hopes to create were severely disappointing without putting the hosts under any serious pressure and being the inferior side at this stage.
Everton seemed to be at a walking pace from the back as they tried to build an attack and threaten the home side but the heat was probably taking it’s toll on the players. With 40 minutes gone Baines and Bilyaletdinov combined together on the left hand side and a good cross was not met from Anichebe who for some reason failed to jump to head the ball and the ball was wasted, with the first half coming to a close Coleman on the right cut inside and played an unselfish ball to Osman who again felt a first time shot was on but again narrowly went wide of the post. Everton’s defenders seemed to make things too easy as a chance at the end of the half troubled Everton and Bilyaletdinov put his body in to block a tackle and earn a warm round of applause for his work.
The fourth official Simon Barrow seemed to find a minute to display on his board but the 1,166 away fans who made the trip just wanted the first half to end as it was not a good performance at all. The half time whistle was a welcome boost for the Everton fans and Tim Howard was the busiest of the keepers and taking the man of the match award for the first 45 minutes. If Birmingham would have gone in at the break 4-0 up I don’t think there would have been many complaints.
Half Time Birmingham City 0 Everton 0
Moyes made two changes at half time bringing off Jagielka and Beckford and replacing them with Distin and Cahill
Howard had to carry on where he left off in the first half when he tipped over another inviting cross as the Brummies came forward. Burke hit a grass cutter outside the box only for the American Howard to gather comfortably and Saha was warming up on the far side after recovering from his oxygen tent hoping to make his first appearance of the pre season campaign.
Coleman was active and was brought down on the edge of the area when he cut inside from the right but was fouled as he tried to restore some dignity to this ordinary Everton team performance. But with 58 minutes gone Baines the master of the free kicks took up his position to give Myhill no chance and put Everton into an undeserved lead then immediately replaced Anichebe with Saha . Neville went to the left back position for the goalscorer Baines and Cahill dropped back into midfield after playing for a short while up front. 4 Minutes later the sub Saha was set up by Bilyaletdinov to play into the path of King Louis when his effort outside the box seemed to take a bobble and bounce over the agonising Myhill.
The last 23 minutes saw the introduction of the much talked about future star Ross Barkley who had played for an hour for the reserves at Oxford the night before who replaced Seamus Coleman. A minute later Bilyaletdinov who had a good game for Everton was replaced by the new look Yakubu who then partnered Saha upfront with Anichebe moving to the right hand side of midfield. With 17 minutes remaining Burke beat Phil Neville to the ball who ran like an athlete but was met by Anichebe who had other ideas. But only a minute later Burke who was having a good game for the Mdlanders hit a shot which seemed to take a deflection off Rooney and deceive Howard to bring the deficit down to one goal and give the home side hope.
8 min utes remained when Hibbert’s deep cross was aimed to Saha but Myhill collected the ball without being troubled. On 87 minutes a substitution from both sides Gueye who also played the night before at the Kassam Stadium replaced Anichebe and Asante replaced Rooney. Considering. Barkley was only brought on late in the game his presence really lifted Everton and was clearly a handful for his marker. He won Everton a free kick as he charged forward and was cruelly brought down but from a quick free kick Gueye made Myhill put a 2 fisted punch to the ball to clear the danger.
In the 2 added minutes that were awarded Howard made a good save at the near post from a desperate Birmingham attack.
As this was a game of two halves and Howard being Everton’s best player for the first half Ross Barkley was credited with his performance in the second half
Full Time Birmingham City 1 Everton 2
Birmingham City line Up Myhill , Carr. Murphy Caldwell, Davies, Burke, Gomis, Mutch, Fahey , Redmond, Rooney(Asante 87) Unused Subs; Doyle, Kerr, Valles , Michel. Hubbins Ozturk
Everton Line Up Howard Hibbert, Baines(Saha59) Heitinga, Jagielka(Distin 46), Bilyaletdinov( Yakubu 68), Beckford, (Cahill 46) Neville , Osman. Coleman,(Barkley 63) Anichebe (Gueye 87) Unused subs: Much, Vellios, Silva, Mcaleny
Referee Iain Williamson (Berks) Assistants Richard Bartlett and Nick Hobbs.4th official Simon Barrow