EVERTON 1 CHELSEA 1
12.09 – Yes I know I’m late, but we will be ready for the game by kick off time. Let’s hope Chelsea are a little more alive in the opening minutes than they were last time they played Everton in the FA Cup.
On that occasion it was the Final in 2009 and Louis Saha gave Chelsea a severe wake-up call with the fastest goal in FA Cup Final history. Chelsea had the last laugh winning the game 2-1 and giving Guus Hiddink a trophy as reward for his caretaker spell in charge.
But Everton have not lost to the Blues since that game and will be hoping to keep that run going and clinch a first FA Cup victory over Chelsea since 1956.
12.14 – Early (?) team news sees Everton have doubts over Victor Anichebe, who has a groin strain, but are hopeful of a return for Phil Jagielka. Tim Cahill is still absent with Australia, who face Japan in the Asia Cup Final this afternoon.
Chelsea have doubts over Frank Lampard, who missed the 4-0 win at Bolton on Monday.
12.18 – Fast forwarding through Stubbsy, Keegan and Savage to be as live as possible. Teams are now confirmed though:
EVERTON: Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Arteta, Rodwell, Fellaini; Coleman, Bilyaletdinov, Saha. Subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Jagielka, Beckford, Gueye,Osman, Baxter
CHELSEA: Cech; Boswinga, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Essien, Ramires, Lampard; Anelka, Malouda, Drogba. Subs:Hilario, Mikkel, Ferriera, Kalou, Bruma,McEachran, Sala,
12.26 – Forwarded through all the bumf, and we are back live. Z-Cars belts out as the teams emerge from the tunnel, and we are ready to rock and roll.
12.31 Howard Webb, who controlled the 2009 final between the two sides blows and we are underway.
12.35 Not sure press boxes will be as comfortable as my sofa, but I’m sure that there won’t be as bad a glare as I’m getting from the winter sunshine on my Sony Bravia. Nothing happened in opening five minutes.
12.39 Ancelotti up waving his arms as Neville bites in on Malouda for a second time. Chelsea comfortable on ball, but Everton feisty looking to get tackles in and unsettle the holders.
12.42 Bilyaletdinov, the text commentators’ nightmare, gets a cross in from left, but Chelsea scramble away.
12.47 First ball into goalmouth from Chelsea, but Essien skies a volley well over from 12 yards.
12.48 Lampard free kick from left whipped in dangerously and headed behind for a corner. Malouda’s ball to edge of six yard box headed just over by Terry.
12.52 That Russian fella looks the biggest threat for Everton forcing another corner, but it comes to nothing. Pretty cagey stuff in the opening 20.
12.54 Its very even, Possession stats at 50% each.
12.57 First real chance of the game as Everton’s hustling almost pays dividends. Fellaini picks Essiens pocket and slides Jack Rodwell in, but Cech come out to block with his legs.
12.59 Bilyaletdinov again, this time with a header from 12 yards, but straight at Cech. Everton starting to gain a real foothold in the game and have certainly been the most threatening.
13.02 Anelka in with a chance, but Howard out quickly to close down the angle and he blocks the effort, the ball running behind for a corner. Signs of life in the game at last.
13.05 Great little slaloming run by Seamus Coleman, getting past Cole and Lampard, but slips as he goes to cross. Sums up the game, a lot of promise, but a little bit of a let-down.
13.07 he game stepping up a gear now. Malouda with a strike from 25 yards pushed around the post by Howard. Terry heads over again from the corner.
13.12 Everton look quite decent at times, but then they hit a sloppy pass to spoil it all. Baines and Bilyaletidnov the main threats down the left hand side.
13.15 Arteta with an effort for Everton from 30 yards just wide of Cech’s post, but the keeper had it covered. Everton ahead on points, but this isn’t boxing and Chelsea have the men with the punch up front who can deliver knockout blows.
13.18 Half-Time. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. Chelsea won’t want a replay so we can expect some fireworks in the second half, and not the damp squib we have seen in the opening 45 minutes.
13.24 ESPN may be ruing the decision to place their pundits pitch side, with chants of “Andy Gray.” Kevin Keegan already feels the match will end as a draw and it’s up to the home side to go for it in the second half – “Everton will not want to go to Stamford Bridge for a replay.”
13.35 Second half under-way, Everton attacking their favoured Gwladys Street End.
13.40 Chelsea on the front foot in opening five minutes. Another advantage of actually being in a press box is the lack of screaming kids. Baby crying, toddler babbling, wife standing in front of telly. Almost missed Saha getting on the end of a cross, blocked at the far post for an Everton corner.
13.45 Everton fighting back, and gat a contentious free kick when Coleman is “tripped” by Ashley Cole running away from goal. A floated ball see Fellaini head goal wards, but Cech tips over the bar.
13.48 Ball falls nicely for Arteta on the edge of the box, but he slices the shot well wide. Everton now well on top, need a goal as reward for their efforts. Is it time for the FA Cup specialist Jermaine Beckford?
13.52 It’s been coming. Baines corner from the right is met by Louis Saha six yards out and he thumps his header past Cech to put Everton in front. EVERTON 1 CHELSEA 0
13.53 All Everton now, Neville cross chested down by Bilyatedinov, but his overhead kick well over the bar. Chelsea have looked a little flat in the second half, and will be hard pushed to get back into the game.
13.56 That was Louis Saha’s seventh goal in eight games against Chelsea. It’s little wonder that Everton wanted him fit to start today.
13.57 Midway through the second half, and Chelsea’s grasp on the FA Cup is looking a little limp at this moment in time. Not much on the bench either, although Salamon Kalou is being readied.
14.00 Kalou replaces Malouda, who quite frankly has done nothing since Neville kicked him up in the air in the opening minutes. Job done by the Everton skipper.
14.03 Ashley Cole has not been in the best of moods today. Seamus Coleman has made his live very difficult and he has contributed nothing going forward
14.04 Wonderful save from Cech denies Coleman, and a combination of Essien and Terry block the second effort. And on such things do momentum change. From the corner, Chelsea break and Salomon Kalou with his first contribution scuffs a shot from just inside the box to equalise.
14.08 Classic cup-tie Scenario. Everton don’t want to go to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea don’t want an extra game. Sets up a lively last 15 minutes.
14.11 Drogba goes down holding his face after a “clash” with Fellaini. Craig Burley describes it on ESPN as “theatrical.” In real terms that means there is nothing wrong with him.
14.15 John Obi Mikkel on for Lampard for Chelsea. Should see Essien push forward from his holding role.
14.16 Ramires, who scored his first Chelsea goal on Monday, is inches away from a winner, his 20 yard effort hitting the base of the post. Beckford has come on for Rodwell for Everton.
14.18 A horrible sliced clearance from Ivanovic presents Beckford with a chance, and he strikes a great effort from a tight angle, well turned over the bar by Cech.
14.20 Three minutes added time.
14.23 That’s it. Chelsea retain their grip on the trophy, in a game they were never in. Everton will be disappointed that they didn’t finish the job once they got in front. Chelsea, despite the extra game, will be happy to still be in contention for a trophy after their recent slump in form.