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Linderoth keeps it simple

By Chris Kirwan
August 23 2003

Everton got their season up and running with three first half goals that defeated a Fulham side who only got going after the interval, replying with the only goal of the second half.

The Blues’ first half display was excellent, with Everton ‘bossing’ the midfield. But in the second half the Blues somehow managed to make a 3 goal cushion look unconvincing. This was partly down to a significant upturn in Fulham’s performance, and partly down to sloppiness from Moyes’ players.

Moyes told after the game: “I thought that at three goals up at half-time we should have been able to do better, but Fulham went a little bit gung-ho to try and get the goals and put us under pressure. We were never really that comfortable in the second half.”

But Moyes was delighted with the first half, reflecting: “It was nice to score the goals and give the crowd something to cheer about. Some of our play was very good and resulted in good goals as well”.

The pick of the Everton side was Tobias Linderoth. Linderoth was in good form last season before he picked up the injury that ended his involvement, and today he showed that he aims to secure a place in the Everton midfield.

The Swede was quick to the loose ball, and played a crucial role in covering for the defence when they got slightly over-ambitious in the second half. He is a footballer who goes about his business without a fuss, and who rapidly presents the ball to his more attack minded colleagues when he has won it. Both Linderoth and Pembridge set the tone by comfortably winning the central midfield battle.

Naysmith was also in prime form. He worked willingly down the left flank and contributed well in both attack and defence. Naysmith has declared his preference for the left back spot, but with Pembridge’s legs starting to look weary it could well be the case that Moyes will favour the willing running of Naysmith down the left side of midfield.

Steve Watson was just as enthusiastic as Naysmith on the opposite flank, and both men put their names on the scoresheet. It will be of great contentment to Moyes that all three goals came from unlikely sources. A weakness of the Blues last year was the reliance on Radzinski, Campbell and Rooney to increase the goal tally, but today’s goals came from the left back, and both wide midfielders. With Moyes lacking cover up front he will be hopeful of a similar outcome against Charlton.

The second half threw up a few worries. Pistone had an extremely shaky game, and in the second half Fulham frequently got in down the Everton right. Richard Wright also had a few ‘moments’, though he also made several crucial stops. But the second half nerves were largely down to an improvement by Fulham. Nonetheless the game would have been over if Naysmith had decided to attempt to connect with the ball when clean through, or had Rooney not tried to chip a 7 foot goalkeeper.

The introduction of the despised Barry Hayles galvanised Fulham, and gave them more of an impetus to their attacks. But Moyes released some of the pressure with the introduction of Nick Chadwick for the tiring Rooney. Chadwick occupied the Fulham defence, and helped Everton territorially. Fulham boss Chris Coleman reflected on their first half display:

"We tried to change it round a little but the game was finished at half time. You could say that we won the second-half 1-0 but we got nothing out of that game at all.”

Despite not convincing in the second half it was an excellent win for the Blues, and a rare two goal victory margin. They also overcame having to play a team with possibly the worst kit since the green and yellow Manchester United kit with lace up neck. Hopefully the Blues can suppress the rampant Charlton attack on Tuesday and sneak a point or two, and then go on to maintain the 100% home record against the rabble from across the park next Saturday lunchtime.

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