Bolton v Everton
A last minute goal by Marouane Fellaini gave Everton a valuable 1-0 win from a disappointing match at Bolton Wanderers.
Neither side had produced anything like the quality that the respective managers would have liked but it was a fine goal that settled the issue at the last gasp.
David Moyes opted for the same eleven that had done so well four days earlier with the returning duo of Tim Cahill and Tony Hibbert beginning the night on the bench.
Everton controlled the opening 20 minutes or so and some of the midfield possession play was really pleasing on the eye.
Louis Saha and Yakubu stretched the home defence and the four-man midfield worked hard to be destructive and creative in equal measures.
All that was missing was some tangible reward.
Jussi Jaaskelainen only needed to get his positioning right to save an early header from Yakubu and a well struck 20th minute drive from Saha.
The Blues French striker, still searching for his first Everton goal, had steered the ball into the net earlier on but referee, Phil Dowd, spotted a handball by Yakubu during the build-up and disallowed the effort.
Bolton were poor in the first-half and Tim Howard was totally untroubled. Matt Taylor curled an angled free-kick high over the bar but it was an attempt that was both highly ambitious and extremely wasteful.
Saturday’s goalscoring combination against Manchester United almost crafted another opening before the break but this time Fellaini headed wide from another accurate delivery by Phil Neville.
After watching both sides struggle for fluency and momentum at the start of the second period, David Moyes shuffled his pack for the closing 25 minutes when he withdrew Yakubu and introduced Tim Cahill.
But it was the home side that looked slightly the more menacing and Taylor was close to prodding the ball home from a low centre by Johan Elmander.
For the most part though, this was poor fayre for the spectators that braved the bitterly cold weather on a Wednesday night.
Riga tested Howard with a first time drive in the 80th minute and then Elmander’s effort was deflected over the bar for a corner-kick as Gary Megson’s side launched a late salvo.
But the sting in the tail was provided by Everton and the man of the moment, Marouane Fellaini.