FA Cup: Moyes homework pays off as Everton progress

03 January 2009 07:12
Perhaps the 40 volunteers who worked all week to make the Moss Rose pitch playable did too good a job. A near-perfect surface enabled Everton to exert just enough authority to avert another Premier League embarrassment.

Eight of those hardy Macclesfield fans had been on hand here all night with their covers and blow heaters to fend off the frost and for a quarter of the match they must have anticipated due reward.

But the League Two players squandered their early chances and any prospect of their progressing to the fourth round for the first time effectively evaporated when Leon Osman struck for Everton in the 43rd minute.

Everton manager David Moyes, still hurting from his team's elimination at the hands of Oldham a year ago, took no liberties with his selection this time. He fielded virtually a full-strength side and even brought them along to this tiny ground on Friday to acquaint them with the surroundings.

His players were equally professional in carrying out his instructions. Never the most expansive of teams, they eked out the win with the discipline and concentration that have characterised their recent advance in the league.

Macclesfield, who deployed Paul Morgan to cover the threat of Tim Cahill, were no less diligent and, in the early stages at least, displayed a collective imagination that belied their lowly status.

Towards the end, too, it gave Everton genuine cause for concern. Keith Alexander introduced his three substitutes, including John Rooney, 18-year-old brother of Wayne, and almost forced a replay. Another of those latecomers, Simon Yeo, stretched Tim Howard to his only serious save with the last kick of the match.

'We needed to score from one of those early chances,' Alexander said. 'They took their only real chance of the half and that's the difference. Goals change games. But we've worked hard, showed we can play well and that's been the story of our season.'

Everton were grateful to emerge from the opening skirmishes unscathed. Terry Dunfield blazed over after Phil Neville carelessly teed him up and Nat Brown headed over a beckoning goal following an inventive free kick routine that deserved a better finish.

Another intelligent move, instigated by Lee Bell, created an opportunity for Izak Reid, and again there was no end product.

Everton gradually enclosed themselves on the tie and score just before half-time. Macclesfield cleared Mikel Arteta's cross only as far as the edge of the area and Osman's half-volley went in off the underside of the bar.

The goal visibly deflated Macclesfield and Everton were able to dictate the rhythm of play through most of the second half. Arteta found more time and space and his side should have put the issue beyond doubt. Victor Anichebe, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines all went close, but Macclesfield still had the incentive to muster a spirited finale and Howard had to be alert to deny Yeo a last-gasp equaliser.

Steve Round, Everton's assistant manager, said: 'This was a tricky tie, it's the FA Cup and Macclesfield's biggest game of the season. You have to defend well and find a way to win, and we did that.'

Match details

Macclesfield: Brain, Reid, Walker, Morgan, Hessey, Bell (Yeo 78), Brown, Dunfield, Jennings (Thomas 70), Evans (Rooney 90), Gritton.Subs: Towns, Tolley, Brisley, Green. Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Lescott, Jagielka, Baines, Osman, Neville, Arteta, Pienaar (Gosling 90), Anichebe, Cahill. Subs: Nash, Fellaini, Rodwell, Jutkiewicz, Kissock, WallaceGoal: Osman 43Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).

Source: Telegraph

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