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As Everton's exclusive 500 club opened its books to admit a new member, it was in memorable fashion. David Moyes celebrated a landmark occasion with a substitution of counterintuitive brilliance to increase hopes of winning the first trophy of his long reign. Exit the Scot's specialist goalscorer, Nikica Jelavic, enter Johnny Heitinga, a centre-back by trade, and onward Everton marched, propelled into the last 16 by the replacement.
If the change, which was greeted with a sprinkling of boos, was designed to allow Marouane Fellaini to operate further forward, bringing on Heitinga to anchor the midfield, it had an unexpected benefit. "We needed to try and find another tactical way of trying to create a goal," said Moyes, who quipped his touchline briefing to Heitinga consisted of one word: "Shoot." He did just that when Bolton failed to clear Magaye Gueye's corner, the Dutchman drilling a shot through a crowded penalty area.
"I thought Bolton had done enough to get a replay," Moyes admitted, deriving more pleasure from the outcome than the process. "The job is to get through in the FA Cup and I have had many years where I have not." But now Everton, semi-finalists last season, are two games away from a return to Wembley. With Gueye, another replacement, then hitting the bar, it made for an emphatic end to a close contest.
Only Harry Catterick and Howard Kendall had previously reached 500 matches as Everton manager. Unlike the Goodison greats, Moyes has no medals to show for his service. The quest for silverware has entailed fielding strong sides, a policy that seemed to have backfired when the influential Kevin Mirallas, starting for the first time in seven weeks, limped off with a recurrence of his hamstring problems.
Within a minute, however, Everton led. Steven Pienaar, the only player rested for the third-round tie at Cheltenham, marked his entrance to this season's competition with a fortunate opener. Victor Anichebe met Leighton Baines's low cross with a sidefooted shot that was turned in, seemingly inadvertently, by the advancing Pienaar.
Since relegation in May, Bolton have tumbled into the lower half of the Championship. Yet top-flight opposition bring the best from one of their number. Marvin Sordell has a solitary league goal this season but has four in three FA Cup ties against Sunderland and now Everton.
An expertly-executed equaliser followed a similarly precise centre from Darren Pratley. "It's the way I want to play football," the Bolton manager Dougie Freedman said. "For the next hour we played possibly the best football since I have been here."
Belying their league position, Wanderers pushed for a second. The Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, a scorer from 104 yards against them last season, saved from rather closer distances, twice denying the excellent Marcos Alonso and once thwarting Pratley before Everton's resolve brought a reward.
"A small detail at the end let us down," Freedman lamented. His players had provided 90 minutes of endeavour, the groundstaff and volunteers 24 hours of work to clear a snowy pitch. "It was a kick in the teeth."
DAVID MOYES is emerging as a genuine candidate to become manager of Chelsea in the summer.
Rafa Benitez, Chelsea’s interim boss until the end of the season, is not wanted by the Stamford Bridge fans.
And if Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich looks elsewhere for his next manager, Everton’s Moyes will be in the frame to become the Russian’s first British boss.
Moyes, 49, would be a contender, along with Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp and possibly Real Madrid’s former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
His Goodison contract is up at the end of the season and Moyes has to decide whether to continue his 11-year relationship with the club – or make a career-changing decision.
Moyes has revealed he has ambitions to manage in Germany’s Bundesliga one day – but it could be a case first of London calling.
The Everton boss enjoys a special relationship with Goodison chairman Bill Kenwright which would be difficult to end.
But a Chelsea offer would be hard to resist for the boss who has been LMA Manager of the Year on three occasions while operating on a restricted budget at Everton.
Chelsea also have an interest in an Everton player – Belgium’s Marouane Fellaini.
Benitez, meanwhile, goes into today’s FA Cup tie at Brentford knowing he probably needs to win the competition, qualify for the Champions League and possibly succeed in the Europa League, too, to have a chance of extending his stay at Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Moyes’ contract stalemate with Everton has been labelled ‘disappointing’ by Goodison Park legend Alan Stubbs.
Former Toffees star Stubbs, now a reserve team coach at the club, said: “The manager has got his destiny in his own hands now.
“He’s done a fantastic job. He’s basically irreplaceable – but he’s probably looking at his career and looking for that next challenge.”
John Heitinga thumped in a winner in added time to take Everton into the fifth round.
Marvin Sordell had cancelled out Steven Pienaar’s opening goal and the tie looked to be heading for a replay before substitute Heitinga drove in the first minute of stoppage time.
Avoiding a replay will thrill David Moyes, who celebrated 500 games in charge of Everton at the Reebok Stadium, after his thin squad suffered another blow when Kevin Mirallas limped off in the early stages with what looked like a recurrence of the hamstring problem that has frustrated him over the last three months.
Moyes admits he his lack of options means he has little choice but to play a full strength side in the cup and he saw his side move in front when Leighton Baines crossed from the left and Victor Anichebe’s deflected shot hit Pienaar and went in at the near post.
Although Bolton have continued to struggle since last season’s relegation to the Championship, they responded well, with Chung-Yong Lee heading wide from on-loan Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing’s corner.
And they drew level before the half-hour when Darren Pratley made a fine burst and drove a cross to the near post for Sordell to turn in.
Earlier this month manager Dougie Freedman revealed his concerns about the Sordell’s “obsession” with Twitter.
The striker, who played for Great Britain at last summer’s Olympics, has made a minimal impact since a £3 million move from Watford just under a year ago but the FA Cup is providing hope.
He scored twice in the 2-0 victory at Sunderland and made the most of just his second start since August – and only his sixth in a year – to fire his team level.
Pratley and Marcos Alonso were also denied by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard as they impressed before the interval, while Anichebe headed wide twice from good positions.
The visitors were dominant after the break but Nikica Jelavic failed to capitalise on a good throughball from Magaye Gueye and Pienaar also curled wide from 20 yards.
At the other end, Sordell was sent too wide by a cross from Eagles after a quick breakaway before Andy Lonergan turned wide from Pienaar.
The home supporters were cheered by the sight of American midfielder Stuart Holden, whose past two years have been wrecked by serious knee injuries, coming on for the final 10 minutes for his first appearance at the Reebok Stadium since March 2011. But Heitinga thumped in after Bolton failed to clear a succession of corners to take the visitors through.
A goal from Johnny Heitinga in time added on denied Bolton a replay that was the least they deserved from this fourth-round tie.
Relegated last season and currently an undistinguished 16th in the Championship, the Wanderers belied that modest position and were well on their way to providing a stumbling block to a Premier League side for the second round in a row.
That was until Heitinga, the Dutch defender, was brought on as a late substitute in midfield. When Bolton failed to head clear in the 91st minute, he was on hand to volley powerfully through a crowd of players and spare his team a re-run they did not need.
“I thought Bolton deserved a replay,” the Everton manager, David Moyes, admitted. “But if anyone was going to go on and win it, I thought it would be Everton.”
After 11 years and 500 games in charge of Everton, the closest Moyes has been to a trophy is the FA Cup final defeat by Chelsea in 2009.
That is good enough reason to continue to take the competition seriously and Moyes accordingly fielded a full-strength team at the Reebok, minus the injured Darron Gibson.
Bolton were surprise replay winners at Sunderland in the third round. Less surprisingly, Dougie Freedman gave the main striking responsibility to Marvin Sordell, the scorer of two goals in that tie.
He had precious little chance to shine during an opening quarter which was one-way traffic in Everton’s favour. With any number of neat attacking touches, it looked to be only a matter of time before they took the lead – and it was.
After 19 minutes Bolton committed the cardinal sin of allowing Leighton Baines too much room on the left flank. From his low, whipped-in cross, the lively Victor Anichebe had his initial effort blocked, only for the ball to find the net via Steven Pienaar’s chest.
It was a messy goal, but one in keeping with the balance of play thus far. The startling thing was the revitalising effect it had on Bolton.
Almost immediately, Chris Eagles was brought back for a marginal offside when clean through. Then Darren Pratley, pushing through from midfield, attacked the by-line and pulled the ball back for Sordell, lurking at the near post, to turn in neatly.
Tim Howard scored against Bolton at Goodison last season. Yesterday, he was kept busy with more conventional duties, like saving from Eagles and Marcos Alonso as Bolton continued to press.
For much of the second period, both teams seemed to have left their best work behind in that “half of two halves”. The best chances fell to the Wanderers, with the impressive Alonso forcing a leaping save from Howard.
Then Josh Vela, who formed an industrious engine room with the Liverpool loanee, Jay Spearing, robbed Marouane Fellaini of the ball and surged forward, only for Eagles to waste the opening with a poor cross.
Against that, Andy Lonergan was called into action once, to tip Pienaar’s shot around the post.
After Heitinga’s winner, there was still time for Magaye Gueye to hit the bar and for Benik Afobe to have a chance of an equaliser at the other end. A proper Cup-tie in other words, and one that Everton knew they were fortunate to win at the first attempt.
Freedman, the Bolton manager, paid tribute to the army of volunteers who made the game possible, despite heavy overnight snow.
“I was disappointed with the result but not with the performance,” he said. “I thought we probably played our best football since I’ve been here. There were a lot of positives.”
Those positives included a good all-round performance from Sordell, a player Freedman says is still having to work hard to build up his fitness, and an emotional return by Stuart Holden, a late arrival off the bench.
All in all, Bolton had a little more to congratulate themselves on than Everton, but, as Moyes said, the Cup is always about getting through to the next round – no matter how scratchily.
TWO teams with great FA Cup traditions produced a tepid tie for all but the final 10 minutes.
Everton won it through a thundering last-gasp drive by John Heitinga and even then Bolton, who had given as good as they got for much of the afternoon, had a last chance to equalise. But Benik Afobe blazed the ball over from 18 yards with almost the last kick.
It is afternoons like this in the deep midwinter when the ball bounces your way that dreams of Wembley begin to take shape. Though Everton’s priority will be to secure their return to the Champions League, David Moyes would dearly love to point to a piece of silverware to mark nearly 11 years at Everton. For all Arsène Wenger’s wishes, there is no trophy for finishing fourth in the Premier League.
Moyes honoured his commitment to the FA Cup by picking his first team, but, as he pointed out, that was partly due to his lack of options. “It’s a big week for us and I might run aground later on if my players start to get tired,” he said. “But if I’d played a weakened team your questions would have been very different.”
Everton dominated the opening quarter and went ahead through a Steven Pienaar goal after good work by Leighton Baines. Disoriented for a moment by the loss of Kevin Mirallas through injury, they then stood back and admired their handiwork, paying the price when Marvin Sordell swept home Darren Pratley’s low cross with the authority of a top-class striker.
Bolton picked up the tempo of the game and Tim Howard was immediately forced into two important saves, from Pratley’s stinging drive and an acute-angled shot by the excellent Marcos Alonso. An anxious Moyes began pacing the touchline as Sordell was allowed to twist and turn out of two tackles to set up a flurry of Bolton pressure.
Only in the last 10 minutes did the whiff of the cup properly fill the nostrils as Jay Spearing and Marouane Fellaini were booked and the tackles began to fly. But just as Bolton were contemplating the financial bonus of a replay, their defence failed to clear a corner and Heitinga, a late substitute for the ineffective Nikica Jelavic, blasted Everton into the last 16. “We didn’t play as well as we could have done,” said Moyes. “But we’re in the draw for the next round.”
Bolton’s heroics in getting the game played in the first place after heavy overnight snow deserved better reward.
Everton boss David Moyes wants to snap up Barnsley defender John Stones – if he can do a bargain £2million deal, writes the Sunday People.
The Toffees boss has little cash to spend but fancies a gamble on the England youth star, who is being chased by a handful of top-flight clubs.
The Goodison gaffer is worried about his right-back position – highlighted by Seamus Coleman’s injury – and the fact that Stones could also develop into a centre-half makes him very attractive.
Barnsley have so far fended off approaches from Wigan, Fulham and Sunderland for the 18-year-old.
But Everton are the first of the clubs contending to finish in the top four to show real interest in this window.