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Everton FC 2 Bolton Wanderers 0 - Blues rueing slow start to season
Published : 22 Mar 2010 00:00:00
THE Premier League may well be more of a marathon than a sprint, but Everton would be on the brink of great things if only they could come out of the blocks faster in future seasons. Statistics show that the Toffees' form from January to May in recent campaigns has been so good, that if the season started at the start of each year Everton would have been consistent Champions League qualifiers. It doesn't of course, and a habit of starting seasons slowly has persisted, meaning David Moyes' men have had to claw back ground on the top six clubs. Last season they turned in a sterling effort to finish fifth, as in the campaign before, and keep a sense of progression about the club. But this season's stuttering start, for all the mitigating circumstances, was so bad it might have made the task of European qualification beyond the Blues. It is a great shame, because Everton continue to grind out results, beating all and sundry since that first derby defeat last November. Saturday's 2-0 triumph over an obdurate Bolton Wanderers shoved them into eighth place, and made it seven successive wins at Goodison in the league for the first time in 20 years. Refreshingly, David Moyes had an almost fully fit squad to choose from, minus the influential long-term casualty Marouane Fellaini. Add the Belgian to the mix and pray for a better injury record next season, and the sky is the limit for this Everton squad. There is strength in depth, a potent blend of youth and experience, guile and muscle, and goals from midfield. Everton had enough to overcome Owen Coyle's solid and determined Trotters, even if they did labour through the first half. Thankfully the Blues realised that few sides will be able to pass the ball around Bolton without matching them physically. So they did a bit of both, rode some luck, and secured another vital win in their European quest. Moyes had kept faith with the side which started so positively against Birmingham, and Everton should have taken the lead on 10 minutes when Tim Cahill played Victor Anichebe clear through on goal. The powerful forward took too long setting his sights though, and allowed Paul Robinson to slide in with a last minute tackle.