Everton 1 Blackburn Rovers 0: Everton lose another keeper as Beattie goal raises the roof

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The Independent Online

No prizes for predicting this result, but there was so much more to this game than the familiar scoreline. Everton have regained the passion and form that placed them back among the Premiership elite last season and had manager David Moyes rated the best in the country.

This thrilling match even had one for the "stattos", with two keepers making League debuts for Everton. One of them, Iain Turner, was sent off after nine minutes, to be replaced by 19- year-old John Ruddy. With Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright injured, Everton have used four keepers in five games now. Moyes will try to make it five with a loan signing before their next game.

The bottom line is that James Beattie's goal secured a thoroughly deserved sixth win in seven League games. Having flirted with relegation, Everton climb to 10th in the Premiership table, one place behind the enigmatic Blackburn. The atmosphere was like a Cup-tie and that was partly fuelled by a scene-stealing referee in Peter Walton, who kept the crowd involved throughout.

These are two of the Premiership's in-form teams but they have got miserable reputations for entertainment so this pulsating match came as something of a shock. In the first 20 minutes Everton had two Tim Cahill efforts disallowed for offside, hit the bar and had Turner sent off. Blackburn missed two open goals and the first two of six yellow cards were issued by Walton.

The nervous Turner was shown a straight red for handling outside his area from an Alan Stubbs back-header in the ninth minute. Technically correct, but Moyes was on the pitch at half-time pointing at the man in black and seemed to be directing the crowd's deafening boos towards Walton. Moyes said afterwards: "I thought the referee did everything honestly. I was just saying at half-time that the 40,000 people present can't be getting everything wrong."

Ruddy, a £250,000 signing from Cambridge, came on for the unfortunate James McFadden, who had shot against the bar seconds before Turner's dismissal. Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Todd had already missed sitters for Blackburn but baffled manager Mark Hughes was right to criticise his players for failing to force a single genuine save out of Everton's fourth-choice keeper for the rest of the game.

Everton, who ultimately had three goals disallowed, finally got one that counted in the 33rd minute when Beattie headed in a free-kick from Mikel Arteta, who had been cynically fouled on the edge of the area by Robbie Savage. And so it went on from end to end, punctuated only by Walton's inevitable whistle-blowing.

Half-time came as a relief for most at the ground bar the Match of the Day editors, who had to work out how to squeeze in all the action. Moyes stoked his team's passion at half-time and Stubbs had another "goal" ruled out this time for a foul as the crowd sang "Four-nil to the Everton".

Moyes was back on the pitch at the end, punching the air in jubilation as an ecstatic Goodison Park rejoiced around him. "The crowd played a terrific role in the win and after a slow start to the season, the players are showing what they can do," he said.

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