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by Hamish Dufton @efchamishdufton

The Echo

West Ham 1 Everton FC 2

REFEREE Anthony Taylor was the pantomime villain in West Ham and Everton FC's final match before Christmas as two needless red cards spoilt the latter’s victory at Upton Park.

Taylor all but handed the Toffees three points and a place back in the top four after controversially deciding Cole had left his foot in on Leighton Baines midway through the second half.

 The official evened up the red-card count in stoppage-time, finding Gibson guilty of a similar offence, having earlier angered Everton by chalking off Leon Osman’s early header.

Cole gave West Ham a half-time lead and Victor Anichebe marked his Everton recall with his first goal for three months three minutes before Cole saw red, with Steven Pienaar making the man advantage count six minutes later.

Today’s game was a test of how Everton and their opponents coped without their midfield heavyweights, with Toffees star Marouane Fellaini starting a three-match ban and Hammers talisman Mohamed Diame still out injured.

There certainly appeared to be a lack of drive from both sides in the opening moments and it was no surprise to see the first chance arrive via a set-piece in the ninth minute.

Baines delivered the type of devilish free-kick that is certain to keep him in the thoughts of bigger clubs with the transfer window looming, the unmarked Sylvain Distin nodding it into the ground and over the crossbar.

Baines produced another special three minutes later for Osman’s disallowed goal, his corner headed home by one of the smallest players on the pitch but ruled out seemingly for Anichebe’s block on Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Having yesterday called for clarification on "grappling" in the box, the irony surely could not have been lost on Everton boss David Moyes.

His players were furious and their ire only increased when Cole fired West Ham in front two minutes later, the striker cutting inside the recalled Johnny Heitinga far too easily before cracking in a low drive from the edge of the box.

Heitinga continued to flounder and Moyes must have been ruing his decision to switch Phil Jagielka to right-back in order to accommodate the surprise return of Phil Neville from knee surgery, the Toffees captain filling in for Fellaini.

The pace dipped again, although Osman almost provided a moment of inspiration when Nikica Jelavic just strayed offside onto the midfielder’s through-ball.

Jelavic got his timing all wrong again four minutes after half-time when a rare mistake from James Collins saw the ball ricochet through to the striker, who could only send it straight at Jaaskelainen.

Gibson curled a free-kick narrowly wide and Everton continued to probe, prompting West Ham boss Sam Allardyce to replace Gary O’Neil with Modibo Maiga just before the hour mark, a move that almost paid off immediately when the Malian scuffed Cole’s cross wide.

And that was when it all went horribly wrong.

Maiga got himself booked for pushing Pienaar over in the 64th minute and, from the resultant free-kick, the ball was worked left to the South African, whose cross was glanced home brilliantly by Anichebe.

Three minutes later, Taylor made a the call that swung the game.

Cole hung his leg out in a bid to control a dropping ball and definitely made contact with Baines but it looked anything but a reckless lunge.

To Cole’s horror, Taylor thought otherwise, brandishing a straight red card.

The momentum was all with Everton and they completed their comeback six minutes later, Osman’s cross inadvertently played against Pienaar by Kevin Nolan before trickling into the net.

Ten-man West Ham refused to concede defeat and Nolan almost made amends by volleying narrowly wide.

Several substitutions followed, including Jack Collison’s first appearance of the season after knee surgery.

And just as the game was drifting towards the final whistle, it exploded into life in the dying seconds.

Jelavic sent a rebound wide from barely six yards and Nolan was unable to prod home after being played in at the other end.

And Gibson then saw red for an almost identical challenge to Cole’s on Mark Noble, although this one was slightly less debatable.

The Guardian

West Ham United 1 Everton 2

Everton's quest for Champions League qualification is back on track but only after a series of controversial detours against West Ham. Anthony Taylor's direction of proceedings baffled and infuriated both teams and caused swift shifts of momentum at crucial times.

Everton prevailed and even though their third victory in 12 Premier league matches lifted them into the top four before Chelsea's home game with Aston Villa on Sunday, David Moyes's joy was tempered by his dismay at the display of a referee who disallowed a goal and issued two contentious red cards.

Sam Allardyce was even more aghast and the West Ham manager will seek a meeting with Taylor's superiors to ensure the 34-year-old official never repeats this performance.

West Ham benefited from the referee's first significant intervention, which came in the 12th minute. Leighton Baines delivered a typically precise corner to Leon Osman, who nodded into the net from 10 yards.

The midfielder's joy was curtailed by the referee, who, on the advice of his assistant, chalked off the goal. The grounds for that decision were far from obvious, the best guess being that Victor Anichebe was penalised for some gentle jostling with goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

"I was really annoyed with that decision," Moyes said. "I can't see how the linesman can give that decision when he is 50 yards away and the referee is only 15 away. It was tough to take."

It was even tougher to take two minutes later, when the reprieved hosts went in front. Matt Taylor slipped a pass through to Carlton Cole, who shrugged off Johnny Heitinga before firing a low shot into the net from the edge of the box for only his second goal of the season.

Heitinga struggled to contain Cole all afternoon and had only been assigned that task because Phil Jagielka was shunted to right-back in the absence of the injured Seamus Coleman.

West Ham, however, failed to create any further chances in the first period, and Everton had the better of the play but they too struggled to conjure clear opportunities.

Nikica Jelavic should have equalised in the 49th minute when the ball broke to him six yards from goal. The Croatian shot smartly on the spin but straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen.

The mounting threat from Everton persuaded Allardyce to make a change, and the substitute Modibo Maïga shot weakly wide after a counterattack led by Cole.

Four minutes later, Everton drew level thanks to a superb finish by Victor Anichebe, who headed home a Steven Pienaar cross into the corner of the net from seven yards.

West Ham had barely digested that when another controversial decision by the referee left them spluttering.

Taylor showed Cole a red card in the 67th minute after the forward challenged Baines for a bouncing ball. While Baines stooped to head it, Cole raised his foot to kick it and instead prodded the defender near the chest. Baines did not even pretend to be hurt and both managers confessed to being shocked at Cole's expulsion.

Allardyce wondered how Cole's challenge differed from a similar incident in the first half involving Anichebe and James Collins.

"We didn't get consistency from the referee and that had a massive effect on the result," Allardyce said.

Everton took advantage of the swing in fortunes. In the 73rd minute, Osman dribbled past two defenders to the byline and pulled the ball back across the face of goal, where it ricocheted off Matt Taylor and then Pienaar before trickling into the net.

Jelavic missed a wonderful chance to increase Everton's lead when he blasted the ball into the side netting from four yards in stoppage time, and Kevin Nolan shot wide when he only had Tim Howard to beat.

In between those two chances, referee Taylor found some consistency, dismissing Darron Gibson for a challenge on Mark Noble similar to Cole's one on Baines. "After the first one he probably felt that if there was another foot raised high he'd have to do the same," Moyes said. "I said to him, I don't think that's the way to referee."

Both managers confirmed they will appeal against the expulsions and Allardyce said he will take the matter further. "I'd like to know what the referees' coaches or whoever think about what happened and what is the right way forward for Anthony Taylor," he said. "I'll pursue that quite vigorously to see what answers they give me. He has a difficult job but if he's not getting the right feedback and coaching and just told 'Well done, carry on,' then we've got a real problem."

Sunday Telegraph

West Ham United 1 Everton 2: match report

Sam Allardyce and David Moyes will support each other’s appeals against the red cards Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson received in a game that will be remembered more for its controversy than its quality.

The fact that Everton enhanced their reputation as comeback kings by recovering from a losing position to win yet again, and move back into the top four in the process, was almost lost in the condemnation from both managers for an inept display from referee Anthony Taylor.

The Manchester-based referee took his toll of red cards for the season to five, the highest in the Premier League, after dismissing Cole and Gibson in separate incidents of raised boots that might have been considered yellow- rather than red-card offences by many observers.

Taylor also disallowed what appeared to be a good goal by Leon Osman, the game’s outstanding player, and made a litany of other mistakes, including allowing Victor Anichebe to escape unpunished from kicking James Collins in the head in the 35th minute.

Yet when Cole caught Leighton Baines half an hour later, with no apparent intent or injury, he was dismissed immediately.

Allardyce was still angry an hour after the match finished, saying: “It is how quickly the referee got the red card out, he couldn’t wait, he didn’t deliberate over the decision or anything.

“If you compare Anichebe on Collins with what Carlton Cole did, they were the same types of challenge but one went without a word and the other gets a straight red card. There was no consistency during the game.

“It had a massive effect on the result, and the punishment would be twofold if Carlton is banned. We will appeal and hope he gets off.”

Moyes was just as unhappy with Gibson’s dismissal in stoppage time for a raised boot on Mark Noble, and suggested the referee was trying to even things up.

He said: “I didn’t think either of them was a sending off, but after the first one he probably thought he had to do the other. They were both honestly going for the ball.

“I’ll have a word with Sam as well, because I don’t think you could put the word frivolous next to that appeal. I think you would say there was genuine reason why maybe you could appeal that.

“Now, you don’t want to go and appeal and find out that maybe you get an extra game on it. That’s what you don’t want to do.”

Moyes was also unhappy that Taylor ruled out Osman’s header in the 12th minute, after one of his assistants ruled that Anichebe impeded goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen – a harsh judgment according to television replays.

Everton’s sense of injustice was compounded when West Ham promptly opened the scoring moments later. Cole had no obvious route to goal when he received a pass from Matt Taylor 25 yards out, but he sidestepped John Heitinga a little too easily, made space for a shot and drilled the ball inside the near post.

Moyes fired up his players at half-time, and they proceeded to take hold of the game. Anichebe, back after two months out injured, headed a cross from Steven Pienaar into the far corner of goal to equalise in the 65th minute.

Within two minutes Cole was dismissed and when Everton scored the winner six minutes later, chants of “2-1 to the referee” rang round Upton Park.

The goalscorer was not clear, as the excellent Pienaar exchanged passes with Osman before charging towards the near post. The ball squirmed through a tangle of legs before crossing the line, and Pienaar claimed the strike.

The drama did not end there. Nikica Jelavic missed two great chances for Everton, Kevin Nolan put the ball wide from close range, and then Gibson was dismissed in stoppage time.

It meant Everton had come from behind to win for the fourth time, and with five draws and only one defeat in the previous nine occasions, shows their strength og character. But it was West Ham’s fourth defeat in six games, and Allardyce admitted his depleted squad are struggling.

“We are suffering badly enough with illness and injuries without decisions going against us. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

Match details
West Ham (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Tomkins, Collins, Reid, O'Brien (Spence 81); Taylor, Nolan, Noble, O'Neil (Maiga 57), Jarvis (Collison 87); Cole
Subs not used: Spiegel, Diarra, Moncur, Lietget
Booked: Maiga
Sent off: Cole 67
Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Osman, Neville (Naismith 85), Gibson, Pienaar (Oviedo 87); Jelavic, Anichebe.
Subs not used: Mucha, Hitzlsperger, Barklay, Vellios, Duffy
Booked: None
Sent off: Gibson
Referee: A Long

The Independant on Sunday



Match Report: Sam Allardyce sees double red as Everton comeback secures victory over West Ham United

West Ham United 1 Everton 2

Blood and thunder at the Boleyn. Two red cards, neither of which carried any malice, and a rousing second-half comeback that took Everton into fourth place. This was just the kind of game Everton were drawing earlier in the season, but David Moyes's tight-knit unit answered his call for a pre-Christmas push to deliver the gift of three points.

Sam Allardyce predictably heaped the blame for West Ham's third home League defeat of the season on the referee, Anthony Taylor. The exit of Carlton Cole in the 67th minute for a raised foot against Leighton Baines did not help, but Everton had equalised minutes before his dispatch and had, up to then, dominated possession.

The miscarriage of justice was levelled with the dismissal of Darron Gibson for the same offence in added time. It was too late to affect the outcome but both decisions are likely to be appealed against.

"It is difficult to take," said Allardyce. "Anichebe on Collins after 30 minutes was the same challenge. One goes without a booking, the other is a straight red.

"We are looking for consistency from referees. We did not get that today and it had an affect on the result. We are bitterly disappointed. We don't know what would have happened after that.

"You want to lose it by your own default not by the referee's. Gibson's wasn't a red either. We have suffered today."

Moyes had some sympathy over the red cards. "I don't think any of the sending offs were justified. I don't think you could put the word frivolous at the side of an appeal."
Allardyce would do better to recognise the stranglehold on creativity exerted by the excellent Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman, whose twinkling feet always held sway.

Pienaar was rewarded with the winning goal after a sweet exchange with Osman. As Moyes said, the pair were in a class all of their own. "If ever there was an England player today it was Osman, he was exceptional, top notch. The two of them were excellent."

Everton had the ball in the back of the net early on, Osman heading home a Baines corner from the right. The linesman flagged for an infringement involving Victor Anichebe backing into the keeper.

Moyes was not amused. "I don't see how the linesman could give that decision from 60 yards away," he said. "That was harsh on us." His mood darkened further when Cole, taking a pass from Matt Taylor, cut inside John Heitinga to fire the home side in front in the 14th minute. Everton did not deserve to be behind and the game suddenly acquired a heightened sense of purpose.

The introduction of the £1 Singing Fish Man from neighbouring Green Sreet Market, described as a recording phenomenon, failed to rouse the audience with his new single at the interval. But with the second half just minutes old Nikica Jelavic raised the tempo, picking out the keeper Jussi Jaaskalainen with a volley in the six-yard box.

The miss was symptomatic of Everton's afternoon, plenty of possession but too little on the end of it. When Jelavic missed again after Osman played him in, the returning Phil Neville gave him both barrels. The judgment, if harsh, hinted at the frustration bubbling in the Everton ranks.

The visitors finally gained their reward 20 minutes into the half when Anichebe climbed highest to meet Baines's free-kick after Pienaar had been felled by the West Ham substitute Modibo Maiga. Everton were a different proposition now, aided no end by the decision to send off Cole. Baines was straight on his feet unharmed, but that did not savethe Hammers striker.

Eight minutes later Everton took the lead, a goal fashioned down the left, where the probing of Osman and Pienaar finally resulted in a bundled goal by the latter. The finish, which bounced in off Pienaar's shin via Nolan, bore an inverse relationship to the build-up, which was Barcelona-esque.

After Jelavic wasted a chance to wrap up victory for the visitors with a shot that hit the side-netting, Nolan missed two opportunites to equalise for West Ham, with a deflected shot then a late wayward effort.

The match closed with an equally odd red card for Gibson, whose foot was no higher in the tackle than Mark Noble's. "You don't know what you're doing," sang both sets of supporters.

"We have played like that all season – maybe not turning football into goals. You have to show character coming here and we did that," said Moyes.

West Ham (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Tomkins, Collins, Reid, O'Brien (Spence, 80); Noble; O'Neil (Maiga, 58) Taylor, Jarvis (Collison, 88), Nolan; Cole.
Everton (4-1-3-2): Howard; Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Gibson; Neville (Naismith, 84), Osman, Pienaar (Oviedo, 88); Jelavic, Anichebe.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Man of the match: Pienaar (Everton)
Match rating: 8/10

Sunday Mirror

Reffing hell! West Ham bemoan controversial dismissal as Everton seal comeback win at Upton Park

West Ham United 1-2 Everton

Carlton Cole scored the opener and was later controversially sent off as Everton came from a goal down to defeat West Ham 2-1.

A match of high controversy at Upton Park ended with two red cards, further proof of Everton’s potential to push for a Champions League place and a reality check for West Ham.

Hammers manager Sam Allardyce could point to the somewhat baffling dismissal of Carlton Cole in the 66th minute as a major turning point in the game.

But in truth, Everton looked a transformed outfit in the second half, had equalised and looked the more likely to go on and win. True, the red card shown by referee Anthony Taylor to the West Ham goalscorer helped their cause, but the momentum of Everton’s game looked more ­threatening leading up to the dismissal and they made the numerical advantage count after Cole left the pitch.

And although they trailed at half-time, Everton were aggrieved that they were not at least on level terms.

Referee Taylor and his officials made their initial impact of any importance in the 12th minute.

A corner from Leighton Baines found the head of the influential Leon Osman and Jussi Jaaskelainen was comprehensively beaten.

But up went a flag and Taylor ruled out the effort for a foul on the Finnish goalkeeper.
Everton were non-plussed. “How the linesman can give that from his position and the referee not see anything wrong fifteen yards away, I don’t know,” said Everton manager David Moyes.

Within two minutes, ­Everton paid for that decision.

Matt Taylor found Cole at the edge of the area and he shrugged off John Heitinga – not for the first time, by the way – and drove the ball past Tim Howard into the net.

A Darron Gibson free-kick was tipped over by Jaaskelainen five minutes from the break and Moyes admitted: “Some of our football was magic today, but at times we lacked the cutting edge.”

Not in the second half they didn’t. Inspired by Osman and the foraging runs of Baines, ­Everton took a vice-like grip on the game.

If Nikicia Jelavic had been in any kind of form in front of goal, Everton would have been level before they did score through Victor Anichebe in the 64th minute.

Steven Pienaar was the architect with a cross that was delicately glided home by the Nigerian. Allardyce had already responded to Everton’s superiority by ­replacing Gary O’Neil with Modibo Maiga to provide another outlet.

But the partnership ­survived only seven minutes as Cole went in high, but not ­maliciously on Baines. Referee Taylor showed a straight red and Allardyce was furious.

“Anichebe made a similar ­challenge on James Collins in the 32nd minute and yet ­nothing for him, not even a talking to never mind a yellow card,” he said. “What you want is consistency from a referee and we didn’t get that.”

The winning goal was a scrappy one, after what was an intricate build-up.
Osman – who else – squared the ball, and though Pienaar got an involuntary touch, the ball went in off a combination of Kevin Nolan and keeper Jaaskelainen. But the South ­African will claim it.

Jelavic could have made the game safe but found the side-netting and it was ref Taylor who provided West Ham with an equaliser – although not the one they wanted.

In added time, Gibson went in high on Mark Noble and out came the red card. “I don’t think either was a red card,” said Moyes, but he at least had the consolation of three points to soften the blow.

No such luck for Allardyce.

Mail on Sunday

West Ham 1 Everton 2: Allardyce and Moyes united in their anger after two sent off

Rival managers Sam Allardyce and David Moyes vowed to launch appeals over what they both regarded as the unjust dismissals of Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson.

Hammers goalscorer Cole was given a red card for raised studs as he challenged for the ball with Everton defender Leighton Baines.

That gifted Everton the initiative and helped contribute to Steven Pienaar's chaotic second-half winner.

West Ham boss Allardyce said: 'I'll appeal and I'll be asking the referees' bosses questions and pursuing quite vigorously the answers to make sure I know the channels the referees go down on this one.'

When card-happy referee Anthony Taylor waved another red at Gibson in the dying minutes, Hammers fans seemed equally outraged on behalf of the official's latest victim.
Moyes said: 'I will appeal it. I'll have a word with Sam as well. I don't think you could put the word "frivolous" next to this appeal.'

The FA have the power to extend suspensions if they regard appeals as frivolous. But the only cavalier attitude on Saturday appeared to belong to referee Taylor. Cole's dismissal was seemingly the most ridiculous decision and came just after Everton had equalised through Victor Anichebe.

The striker was clearly going for the ball and although his studs were dangerous at head height, they came down to do no more than scrape the shoulder of Leighton Baines. Even Everton manager Moyes admitted: 'Baines never even flinched, he got up and moved on.'

Allardyce demanded: 'Does he do it on purpose? Did he mean to do it? His eyes completely follow the ball and Baines comes from his blind side. It's about how quickly the ref got his red card out, he couldn't wait.

'Yet earlier Victor Anichebe kicks James Collins in the neck with a similar type of challenge and nothing is given. We ask for consistency but there wasn't consistency and it may have cost us the match after we were in a good position.'

Even Baines sympathised with a horrified Cole when the official brandished his red card to upset the balance of the game.

Moyes believed Gibson was no more deserving of a red card for raising his own studs as he clattered into Mark Noble in added time, though it was certainly the worst of the two incidents.

The fact that referee Taylor had earlier disallowed what looked like a perfectly good goal from Leon Osman contributed to Moyes's decision to wait for the official as he left the pitch.

Moyes said: 'I thought neither of them were reds, just two players going honestly for the ball, but he (the referee) probably thought that because he had given one, he ought to give the other. I told him that wasn't the way you should referee.'

Allardyce admitted: 'I didn't think Gibson's was a red card either.'

Moyes added: 'I also thought we'd scored a perfectly good goal through Leon Osman's great leap and header, which the referee disallowed. But Kevin Nolan blocks his own goalie better than our player does. How can an assistant give that decision from the touchline when the referee is only a few yards away?'

Cole drilled West Ham's opener moments later, but Anichebe's deft header levelled it in the 65th minute. Cole was sent off just two minutes later and it didn't take long for Pienaar to bundle home the winner with the Hammers a man down.

Gibson followed Cole on a scarcely deserved walk of shame when red carded in the dying seconds.

But handing out cards at Christmas was never meant to be like this. And after highly critical, almost identically damning managers' reports on the match official, the FA and the independent panel will be forced to examine referee Taylor's performance very carefully indeed before they uphold his red cards and enforce any suspensions.

It was Osman's performance, though, which inspired his side's climb back into the top four and Moyes was anxious to remind people that there really had been some sumptuous football on offer, despite all the nonsensical sideshows.

'Osman was top notch, he deserves a special mention,' Moyes purred. 'And if he plays like that he'll have more than one England cap.' But, once again, it was the referee's performance which was the central talking point. What would have helped, of course, was a few seconds of careful deliberation with the help of a fourth official with access to a video replay.

It is certainly difficult to see how Cole would have been dismissed had Taylor's team been given the benefit of the TV images. But as Allardyce recalled bitterly: 'We put TVs in the dug-outs in 2005 and they were ripped out by the Premier League in 2006.'

Match facts
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Tomkins, Collins, Reid, O'Brien (Spence 81), Noble, O'Neil (Maiga 58), Taylor, Nolan, Jarvis (Collison 88), Cole.Subs Not Used: Spiegel, Diarra, Moncur, Lletget.
Sent Off: Cole (67).
Booked: Maiga.
Goals: Cole 14.
Everton: Howard, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Gibson, Neville (Naismith 85), Pienaar (Oviedo 88), Jelavic, Anichebe (Duffy 90). Subs Not Used: Mucha, Hitzlsperger, Barkley, Vellios.
Sent Off: Gibson (90).
Goals: Anichebe 64, Pienaar 73.
Att: 35,005
Ref: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

The Sun

Allardyce and Moyes both set to appeal red cards from pantomime villain Taylor

Sam Allardyce and David Moyes were united in their condemnation of referee Anthony Taylor after he controversially sent off one player from both sides in Everton's 2-1 Barclays Premier League win at West Ham.

Taylor was the pantomime villain at Upton Park in each club's final game before Christmas, showing needless red cards to both Hammers striker Carlton Cole and Toffees midfielder Darron Gibson.

Both were sent off for dangerous play after catching opponents while raising their legs in respective attempts to control and win the ball.

West Ham boss Allardyce and opposite number Moyes each confronted Taylor after the final whistle, confirming they would appeal the dismissals.

Allardyce accused Taylor of being trigger-happy, saying: 'It is how quickly the referee got the red card out, he couldn't wait, he didn't deliberate over the decision or anything.
'There is nothing much we can do about the result but we can appeal the decision and hopefully we can get Carlton down to a yellow card and get him off.'

Moyes added: 'I will appeal it. I'll have a word with Sam as well, because I don't think you could put the word frivolous next to that appeal.

'Because I think you would say there was genuine reason why maybe you could appeal that.

'Now, you don't want to go and appeal and find out that maybe you get an extra game on it. That's what you don't want to do.'

Allardyce was planning more than an appeal, however.

'I spoke to the ref but that is between me and him,' he said.

'We will go through the channels of 'reporting' that the system has in place and I will take that up and pursue it quite vigorously.

'If he is not getting the right feedback or coaching and is told it was okay and 'Carry on' then we have got a big problem.'

West Ham 1 Everton 2

SAM ALLARDYCE can moan about the ref all he likes.

But the long and the short of it is that West Ham’s big ’uns giants were duffed up by two little ’uns.

Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman are 5ft 7in and 5ft 8in respectively. Yet they scared the life out of physically the Premier League’s biggest squad.

Everton are back in the top four thanks to their pint-sized pair — and the fact that West Ham had their heads in the clouds and failed to see off the danger under their feet.
David Moyes was left cooing over his tiny terrors.

He said: “Leon Osman — if ever there was an England player, that was him out there today. He was top notch. He turned on the ball and dribbled past people. He and Steven were excellent but Osman was on a different level.

“Our football was magic today. Even in the first half. So much so that at half-time I couldn’t really think of much to change.

“All we were lacking were shots on target and goals scored. My players showed great character to come back the way they did because you need it to do so against one of Big Sam’s teams.”

The inconsistencies of a referee play a big part in the outcome of matches. But the Hammers had been warned Everton’s mighty midgets were in ruthless mood.

Just 12 minutes into the game, Osman was able to out-jump West Ham’s strapping defence and head home from full-back Leighton Baines’ corner.

Yet the goal was disallowed in the first moment of controversy as Victor Anichebe was spotted grabbing Hammers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen on the line.

It was a let-off for Allardyce and an early warning which his players did little to heed. And all thoughts of the trouble to come was dispelled when Carlton Cole put West Ham ahead just two minutes later.

Even Big Sam admitted it was a big plus and a break he did not quite expect. But it was a class finish and a shame that West Ham’s wholehearted centre forward would later leave the action early through a straight red card.

Mark Noble dribbled through the centre circle and picked out Matt Taylor with a short pass.

Taylor turned and fed Cole and the big man rounded Johnny Heitinga and shot low into the net from the edge of the box.

But it only served to inspire Everton’s diminutive double act.

Pienaar had a 20-yarder well saved on the stroke of half-time with Osman’s technical skills a constant threat. Everton’s set-pieces were dangerous and after the break they returned resurgent as West Ham wobbled.

Anichebe equalised 20 minutes into the second half.

Pienaar floated in a delicate cross from the left and the big man flicked it on with his head from six yards with Jaaskelainen stranded.

Cole’s harsh sending off in the 67th minute was the big talking point and it was unfair. But it also gave Allardyce an easy get-out by blaming ref Anthony Taylor for everything that went on afterwards.

Cole’s foot was coming down when it made contact with left-back Baines’ arm.
Both managers described the incident as two players “honestly” going for the ball. And they had a point.

But seven minutes later Everton hit the winner and the red card was nothing to do with it.

Osman was allowed to dance to the byline in West Ham’s area, dragging three opposition players with him.

Cleverly, he spotted Pienaar advancing and cut the ball back for his team-mate to tap it in from six yards. That was poor defending and Cole would not have been involved had he been on the pitch — he would have been waiting for the breakaway so it was irrelevant.

West Ham also had chances to get an equaliser — but fluffed them.

Sub Modibo Maiga dithered over a golden opportunity and Kevin Nolan poorly placed a shot with the goal gaping in the closing seconds.

Darron Gibson’s injury-time sending off for a high foot on Hammers Mark Noble made sure everyone could have a pop at Mr Taylor as he left. Merry Christmas.

West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Tomkins, Collins, Reid, O’Brien (Spence 81), Noble, O’Neil (Maiga 58), Taylor, Nolan, Jarvis (Collison 88), Cole Subs Not Used: Spiegel, Diarra, Moncur, Lletget.
Sent Off: Cole (66).
Booked: Maiga.
Goals: Cole 14.

Everton: Howard, Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Gibson, Neville (Naismith 85), Pienaar (Oviedo 88), Jelavic, Anichebe (Duffy 90) Subs Not Used: Mucha, Hitzlsperger, Barkley, Vellios.
Sent Off: Gibson (90).
Goals: Anichebe 64, Pienaar 73.

Att: 35,005

Ref: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).


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