Apr 262014

Everton FC’s bid for Champions League football appeared to self destruct at St Mary’s as a brace of own goals from Antolin Alcaraz and Seamus Coleman saw them slump to defeat.

Injuries forced Martinez to make two changes to the side that started the 2-0 win over Manchester United six days earlier.

Both Sylvain Distin (hamstring) and Kevin Mirallas (groin) are now expected to be out for the remainder of the campaign so Alcaraz and Gerard Deulofeu stepped up to the starting line-up.

View gallery

Southampton 2 Everton 0

View gallery

On the bench, 16-year-old Liverpool-born midfielder Ryan Ledson was included in the senior squad for the first time.

Everton got off to a nightmare start as Alcaraz headed past stand-in skipper Tim Howard with barely a minute on the clock.

Lifelong Liverpool fan and World Cup hopeful Rickie Lambert cut inside from the left and his right foot cross was inadvertently but spectacularly nodded in by the Paraguayan under pressure from Sam Gallagher.

The Blues had a major let-off in the 21st minute as Lambert again turned provider, marauding inside from the left before cutting back a square pass to Steven Davis only for the midfielder to skew his effort wide of Howard’s left hand post with the goal gaping.

Everton’s first real chance of any note came just before the half hour mark when Leighton Baines whipped in a free-kick from the left but visiting players were able to make contact.

Unfortunately Martinez’s men were far more clinical at the other end and amazingly with 32 minutes on the clock, the Blues suffered another self-inflicted wound as Nathaniel Clyne’s right wing cross was headed into his own net by Coleman.

It was galling enough that lightning had struck twice but while Alcaraz’s effort was wild and spectacular, Coleman’s header was seemingly cushioned and controlled but caught his keeper totally flat-footed.

Scarcely able to believe their good fortune the home fans mocked Everton with the chant: “Who needs Rodriguez we’ve got your back four” in reference to their striker who recently suffered a long-term injury.

After not getting much change out of Southampton’s defence down the left flank, Deulofeu switched to the right and managed to find Romelu Lukaku with an accurate delivery but the on-loan striker headed over the bar.

The Saints then had a penalty claim rejected when the ball bounced up onto John Stones’ arm from an attempted Adam Lallana cross from close range.

Following an unimpressive first half from everyone in a royal blue jersey, Martinez decided to make a change at the interval with veteran Leon Osman replacing youngster Ross Barkley.

Everton still found chances at a premium and when a rare opportunity arose for Steven Naismith after Southampton failed to clear their lines from a Deulofeu free-kick, the Scot’s effort was deflected wide.

On-loan Barcelona starlet Deulofeu had endured a frustrating afternoon with few of his tricks coming off and his individualistic approach appearing out of sync with his team-mates’ tempo and just before the hour he was withdrawn in favour of Aiden McGeady.

Lambert had the home fans on their feet again as he flashed a powerfully-struck free-kick just wide of Howard’s left-hand post.

McGeady’s dancing feet had a more immediate impact as he fashioned a tempting left-wing cross for Lukaku but while he managed to make good contact on his header it was straight into the arms of Artur Boruc.

In a similar fashion to the first half, their were loud screams from the home fans for a penalty when Lallana again struck the ball against Stones’ arm but the defender was in such close proximity to his opponent there was little he could do about it and referee Michael Oliver sensibly waved away the claims.

There looked no way back in the game for Everton but they seemed to miss out on a potential lifeline nine minutes from the end when following a tussle in penalty area, Dejan Lovren appeared to pin James McCarthy to the ground with his arm.

With a minute left on the clock, Martinez handed left-back Luke Garbutt his Premier League debut as the youngster came on for Baines.

Having worked so hard to try and overhaul Arsenal for fourth place, the Blues brave bid ultimately looks to have gone out with a whimper.

Why is this happening? Find out more about the shortage of Everton branded football boots.

 Posted by at 1:56 pm

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>