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Saturday 30 August K.O. 17:30

January

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A New Year gave to rise to a reinvigorated Everton as the Blues finally began to build some momentum.
 
The key hours of the month - and arguably the Club's season - would ultimately come on its final day with news of two last-ditch signings and a corner-turning victory over the champions-elect.
 
It all started well enough for the Toffees with a 1-0 New Year's Day victory at West Bromwich Albion and the second coming of Landon Donovan, the American arriving for another loan spell from LA Galaxy.
 
But despite the presence of the returning hero, the victory at the Hawthorns was followed four days later by more Goodison Park misery.

Adam Bogdan can't claim Howard's long puntAdam Bogdan lets Tim Howard's long punt forward drift over his head
 
This time is was Championship-bound Bolton who spoiled the home fans' day, David Ngog and Gary Cahill netting late on to cancel out a bizarre and astonishing goal from goalkeeper Tim Howard, the American's clearance from the edge of his own box bouncing up and over his helpless Trotters counterpart Adam Bogdan.
 
A first goal of the season from defender John Heitinga and a Leighton Baines penalty ensured a possible FA Cup third round slip-up against Blue Square Premier minnows Tamworth was avoided later that week before a sluggish showing led to a 2-0 defeat at Spurs.
 
After days of speculation, midfielder Darron Gibson arrived from Manchester United to become the Club's first permanent signing of the transfer window and in time to make his debut in the next fixture, a trip to Aston Villa.
 
Injuries to Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka also meant a first Everton start for youngster Shane Duffy, and the Irish pairing laid down impressive markers as Victor Anichebe stepped off the bench to cancel out Darren Bent's opener and earn a 1-1 draw.
 
Having stood static for over 12 months, the corner flag in front of the Gwladys Street took a long-overdue pounding from the fists of Tim Cahill in Everton's next game, though the Australian's joy at ending his domestic drought with a close-range tap-in against Blackburn was somewhat tempered by a late, scrappy David Goodwillie leveller.

Cahill wheels awayTim Cahill heads for the cornerflag after netting against Blackburn
 
Focus returned to the FA Cup the following Friday as Fulham travelled to Merseyside for round four and the sight of Denis Straqualursi rising to meet Landon Donovan's cross and head his first Everton goal sparked some of the wildest celebrations of the campaign. Marouane Fellaini later met another teasing centre from the loanee to secure a 2-1 win and a fifth-round home tie against Blackpool.

Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov completed a move to Spartak Moscow before the final game of the month, the visit of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

And it proved to be an evening few Evertonians will forget.
 
A 1-0 victory, courtesy of a deflected thunderbolt from Gibson, was celebrated as loudly at Old Trafford as it was in Walton on a night when auxillary centre-half Tony Hibbert produced one his finest displays to reduce City talisman Sergio Aguero to little more than a peripheral figure.
 
More significantly, however, was the half-time unveiling of one Nikica Jelavic, the striker who had been so prolific in Scotland for Glasgow Rangers. A warm salute to the Croat, it wouldn't be the last.
 
And as Blues fans filed out from the stands thinking their day just couldn't get any better, news filtered through that officials were thrashing out a deal to bring an old favourite, Steven Pienaar, back to the Club on loan from Spurs, with Louis Saha moving the other way on a free transfer.
 
With just minutes of the deadline remaining, the deal was confirmed.
 
The revival of Everton's 2011/12 campaign was about to get into swing.

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