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v Southampton

Saturday 26 April K.O. 12:45

April 2007

April 2007

After the lull that was March came the storm of April - memorable victories, heart-breaking defeats and six matches in 26 days.

But the biggest event of April was the untimely death of Everton legend Alan Ball. One of the finest players to don the blue shirt - and one of the greatest to ever play the game in this country - died of a heart attack at his home in Hampshire.

Evertonians all over the world mourned his passing. The club opened a book of condolence that received thousands of entries and Alan's family were the guests of honour for the game against Manchester United at Goodison a few days later.

If only the match had ended as it should - with an Everton victory.

There was frustration after the first game of the month as well - an away trip to Aston Villa in which Joleon Lescott netted the first goal of his Everton career.

The former Wolves defender - a boyhood Villa fan - took great pleasure in netting the opening goal during an opening 45 minutes in which Everton played some of the most eye-catching football of the season.

 

Joleon Lescott and James Vaughan celebrateJoleon Lescott and James Vaughan celebrate

 

James Vaughan, handed a shock start in the victory over Arsenal, continued in the side and caused countless problems for the Villa defence, whilst Mikel Arteta produced a couple of moments of real magic.

But a second half equaliser from Gabriel Agbonlahor with just seven minutes of the game remaining denied Everton the win their play merited.

There were no such worries a few days later, although Fulham took the early lead in the game at Goodison. Having never come from behind to win this season, there were fears it was going to be a night of frustration for the Blues.

Instead Lee Carsley, head bandaged, equalised and further goals flowed from Alan Stubbs, James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe to complete the rout.

 

Colin Harvey, Howard Kendall and Sir Bobby Charlton join members of Alan Ball's family for the minute of applauseColin Harvey, Howard Kendall and Sir Bobby Charlton join members of Alan Ball

 

A draw at fellow UEFA Cup contenders Bolton on the following Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend maintained the stalemate - and denied Everton the chance to move up to fifth and put fourth placed Arsenal under pressure.

But the draw was the right result, with both sides matching each other in a physical contest that saw James Vaughan equalise for Everton before having to be stretchered off with a severed vein in his foot.

He missed the trip to West Ham as a result as Everton suffered a shock defeat that threatened to derail the UEFA Cup hopes.

Reading and Portsmouth were hot on Everton's heals and the Blues had tough fixtures remaining.

Manchester United were next up - and they arrived at Goodison desperate for the points to keep Chelsea at arm's length in the race for the title. Things started badly for them though.

Everton bossed the opening hour of the contest and fully deserved the 2-0 lead they took into the final third thanks to a thunderbolt from Alan Stubbs and an even better effort from Manuel Fernandes. Alan Ball would have been proud.

But then a slip-up from Iain Turner - in the side because of the ineligibility of Tim Howard - presented John O'Shea with a simple tap-in and the game turned dramatically. By the final whistle the Blues were 4-2 down and shell-shocked.

It meant the final home game of the season against Portsmouth had become a UEFA Cup play-off.

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