LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Liverpool and Everton mascots pay tribute to the Hillsbrough 96 before the Premier League match between Everton and Newcastle United at Goodison Park on September 17, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
On a wet Monday night under the lights at Goodison Park, not only did the officials severely dampen Everton's chances of claiming all three points and moving up to third in the Premier League, our defending did too.
David Moyes shuffled his pack due to the injury to Anchor Man Darron Gibson, with Phil Neville moving into the centre of the park and the very lively Kevin Mirallas earning his first league start in a blue shirt.
Everton started the better side and shortly into the game Mirallas beat two Newcastle men and flung the ball across the face of the goal. Marouane Fellaini took a shot which Steve Harper in goal parried only to Nikica Jelavic to slide in and finish, clatter into the post and be given correctly offside.
Everton were on top, dominating possession with the stats showing 78% at one point. Newcastle struggled to cope with the slick passing and movement, especially down the left from Baines and Pienaar, and down the right from Mirallas. The blues were so dominant that at one period the only Everton player in our half was Tim Howard.
On 15 minutes the much deserved breakthrough came. Some creative improvisation from Steven Pienaar in back heeling a through ball presented the on rushing Leighton Baines with an opportunity to strike from eight yards. It was a chance the England man took, blasting low into the corner. 1-0.
Kevin Mirallas sparked into life once more, linking well with his team mates before spinning his marker and letting an excellent shot fly. It was going in until the very last second, when it seemed to move to the left and brush the Park End goalpost. He then beat Steven Taylor before again testing the gloves of Harper.
Phil Jagielka was next for shooting practice. He was laid off by Nikica Jelavic and smashed a drive off the other post and out for a goal kick.
The only opportunities of note for Newcastle in the first period came through Everton defensive errors. First, Phil Neville failed to clear a high ball properly, misjudging a header which fell for Cisse, who volleyed wide when he clearly should have done better. Secondly, Leighton Baines was again the hero for Everton, clearing a Vurnon Anita effort off the line after good work by Hatem Ben Arfa.
Nikica Jelavic's battle with the post had taken it's toll, and he was replaced before the break by Victor Anichebe. Incidentally, Jelavic has pain in his shin and left the ground on crutches purely to take any pressure off the leg.
A deserved lead for Everton at the break. 1-0.
The second half saw the introduction of Demba Ba by "Tippex head" Alan Pardew, who was enjoying the comfy seats in the directors' enclosure. I don't like him. I think he's arrogant and thinks he's better than what he, and his side actually are. His comments about Everton this week have been nothing more than sheer ignorant, and personally I wanted us to show him what we're all about.
Ba certainly made the difference, unsettling both Jagielka and Distin with his excellent touches and sheer strength holding up the ball and linking up with Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Cisse. It was to be an Everton error though which gave Newcastle a passport back into the game.
Leon Osman, who was bang average tonight, took one touch too many and was dispossessed by Cabaye, who played a lovely through ball to Ba, who somewhat scuffed a weak shot with his left foot first time. What Tim Howard was doing is beyond me. The American stopper seemed to accept defeat and didn't even stretch out an arm to try and stop the ball as it trickled into the empty net. 1-1.
The officials then took centre stage.
First, some excellent interchanging down the left hand side resulted in Steven Pienaar cutting inside and threading Marouane Fellaini through who placed the ball passed Steve Harper, only to be incorrectly ruled out for offside.
Then a further case for goal line technology to be introduced.
After a foul by the Newcastle left back, Tony Hibbert floated a cross to the far post. Sylvain Distin rose highest and nodded the ball across the face of goal to Phil Jagielka who unselfishly headed back across for Anichebe to head towards goal. Steve Harper's excellent attempt to save looked to be in vain as the ball struck his hand, then the bar and dropped half a yard over the line, confirmed by TV replays. However, the linesman who was perfectly positioned did a Wenger and indicated for play to continue. A disgraceful decision.
Shortly afterwards though, the Nigerian Anichebe would get his moment.
More good work by Pienaar presented Anichebe with his back to goal. He spun his marker with an excellent first touch and finished well, low in the corner with his left foot. Into injury time we went 2-1 up.
Straight away though, another mistake cost us all three points.
Williamson played a long ball from the back for Newcastle. Jagielka was drawn out to challenge for the header, one he didn't win, Sylvain Distin seemed to have switched off and Tim Howard star jumped over the ball as Ba prodded the ball home. Distin, I feel, could have cleared it with his right foot, but decided to slide and miss with his left.
A side note, but a very important one, was the show of solidarity and support for the families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster in the start of their road for Justice. Both teams stood side by side in the centre circle as two small mascots took centre stage. The Everton mascot wore the number 9, and the Liverpool mascot wore 6. Rapturous applause broke out as the start of "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" played, the first words being "The road is long, with many a winding turn...." Appropriate.
Full time at Goodison Park. 2-2.
Who was your man of the match?
Tim Howard (1 vote)
Tony Hibbert (1 vote)
Phil Jagielka (0 votes)
Sylvain Distin (0 votes)
Leighton Baines (14 votes)
Kevin Mirallas (5 votes)
Leon Osman (0 votes)
Phil Neville (0 votes)
Steven Pienaar (4 votes)
Marouane Fellaini (2 votes)
Nikica Jelavic (2 votes)
Victor Anichebe (2 votes)
Steven Naismith (0 votes)
31 total votes