Everton failed to take full advantage of their Merseyside rivals' stumble last night by not applying the finishing touch to the match where they tested big-spending Spurs' new defensive recruits without being able to break them down.
The biggest cheer of the night at Goodison was for the news that Liverpool had lost at West Ham. It would have been twice as loud if Everton had got the win they just about deserved out of this lacklustre contest. Depleted as they were by injury, suspension and the African Nations Cup, a side lacking seven regulars still had their chances.
The best of them, one in each half, fell to Andy Johnson, but Radek Cerny showed why he is being preferred of late to Paul Robinson by getting down to make the save on both occasions. Without ever approaching their best, Everton still made it an interesting debut for Jonathan Woodgate and a busy first start for Chris Gunter.
Considering that the injury-plagued Woodgate had not been involved in a game since his last Middlesbrough appearance, coincidentally against Everton on New Year's Day, he was generally assured, at least until a late booking for a foul on James Vaughan. "Woodgate played very well for his first match for us," said the Spurs manager, Juande Ramos. "He doesn't know his team-mates very well yet, but he's a player who can bring a great deal of benefit to Tottenham."
It was at the other end where Spurs were lacking, with the much-vaunted partnership of Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane largely anonymous. Joleon Lescott kept the Bulgarian under control last night.
All that Spurs could muster were a couple of efforts from Steed Malbranque, both comfortably saved by Tim Howard. For much of the game, Everton were little better, although Leighton Baines, a full-back pressed into service in midfield, forced the game's first save from Cerny with a curling left-footer.
Johnson's first opportunity came when Mikel Arteta's clever back-heel and Phil Neville's cross opened up Spurs but Cerny got down in time. The second was set up by Manuel Fernandes' trickery. Again Johnson seemed as though he might have done enough, but Cerny was equal to it.
The one occasion on which the Spurs goalkeeper was beaten again involved Johnson, whose quick turn set up Arteta, only for the Spaniard's shot to roll across the face of goal.
Those misses left Goodison contemplating the rarity of a goalless draw – the last was Boxing Day 2006 – that left spectators and manager slightly deflated despite actually improving the team's position in the top four. "I thought we did a good job on Tottenham and I'm disappointed we didn't get all three points," said Everton's manager, David Moyes. "We never produced the clear-cut openings. But it's not a bad result to take four points off Tottenham this season."
Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Valente; Arteta, Fernandes, Carsley, Baines; Johnson, Anichebe (Vaughan, 71). Substitutes not used: Van der Meyde, Stubbs, Anderson, Wessels (gk).
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Cerny; Chimbonda, Huddlestone, Woodgate, Gunter (Boateng, 62); Lennon, Jenas, O'Hara, Malbranque; Berbatov, Keane. Substitutes not used: Robinson (gk), Lee, Defoe, Rocha.
Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).
Booked: Everton Valente; Tottenham Hotspur Woodgate.
Man of the match: Lescott.
Attendance: 35,840.Reuse content