Season Review: February
Fellaini the fitting hero as Community celebrates 25th birthday.
It may be the shortest month in the calendar but there was no let up for the Blues in February as five games provided mixed results.
Off the field, Everton in the Community celebrated its 25th anniversary, with a wide range of activities taking place as the hard-working charity targeted a fundraising total of £1million.
To promote their cause, the visit of Aston Villa on 2 February was designated as a day of celebration, with main sponsor Chang donating their traditional space on the front of the shirt to allow the charity’s logo to instead take pride of place.
Villa weren’t feeling quite so charitable unfortunately and striker Christian Benteke drilled Paul Lambert’s strugglers ahead inside two minutes.
The Belgian, an international teammate of Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas, was a menace throughout the contest, but Everton had a powerful presence of their own, the rejuvenated Victor Anichebe using his strength to roll Ciaran Clark and hammer home an equaliser on 20 minutes.
Yet, no sooner had the game kicked off again, the visitors were back in front through Gabriel Agbonlahor.
And as Everton pushed for a second equaliser, Matt Lowton seized the chance to counter-attack and Benteke steered the defender’s lofted cross beyond Tim Howard.
It seemed, despite the occasion, that the afternoon would not belong to Everton. But with 20 minutes left, Fellaini offered hope.
Anichebe, again at his bullying best, was able to receive a pass from the Belgian before laying the ball back from where it had come. A 12-yard finish from the midfielder got Goodison believing.
Chances came and went and it looked as though the Blues would be beaten by the clock.
But Leighton Baines' corner was met by Fellaini in the sixth minute of injury time - the Club’s No.25 the fitting rescuer of a 3-3 draw and a precious point.
Old Trafford was the port of call the following weekend, but Everton were unable to repeat their August triumph over Manchester United as Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie helped the would-be champions to three more points.
Saturday 16 February saw a return to FA Cup action - and that unshakeable knack of conceding early.
Oldham welcomed the Blues to Boundary Park having already knocked out Liverpool in the previous round. And it was the League One outfit who took a shock lead through on-loan Reading man Jordan Obita on 13 minutes.
A lashed effort from Anichebe and a header from Phil Jagielka either side of the interval then looked to have put the Blues 90 minutes from Wembley.
But deep into added time, giant Latics frontman Matt Smith bundled home to force an unwanted fifth-round replay.
Next, two Norwich goals in the final seven minutes saw Leon Osman’s opener cancelled out in cruel fashion at Carrow Road before the month was concluded with a much-desired win.
Strikes from Kevin Mirallas, Baines and Osman – his 50th for the Club - finally saw off Oldham at the second time of asking as David Moyes’ men ended February sixth in the league and with their Cup ambitions still burning.