The sound could have been Everton scraping the earth just before landing with a bump. Eight days after comprehensively dismantling Liverpool, they were held to a draw by Wigan Athletic yesterday to the accompaniment of a low groan. Not for the first time in their short history in the Premiership Paul Jewell's team had trampled on the dreams of their supposed betters.
The Everton supporters were not moaning at their team, merely expressing their disappointment with the result of a game that appeared theirs for the taking. Andy Johnson scored his fifth goal in as many starts, James Beattie got a penalty to restore the lead but two pieces of splendid finishing by Paul Scharner gave the visitors a draw.
So instead of looking down from joint top of the Premiership this morning, Everton could only reconsider a list of might-have-beens. But then no one could say they had not been warned. David Moyes had feared a let down after the best Merseyside derby win at Goodison for nearly a century, had said so in his programme notes, and was proved right. "We had the chances and had control of the game," he said. "We should have seen the game out on both occasions we were ahead."
From the start, Everton lacked the vibrancy of last week's derby and the first half was notable only for an athletic save from Chris Kirkland to deny Mikel Arteta's free-kick and a flurry of bookings, the most serious of which was the Wigan goalkeeper making contact with Tim Cahill with what appeared to be a raised hand.
The game urgently needed a goal, but instead of one, four arrived in a rush. The first came from an inevitable source in the 49th minute when Cahill cut in from the left and fired a low cross to the near post where Lee Carsley was stretching. Whether he got a touch is debatable but he did enough to distract Kirkland and when the ball rebounded from their tussle it fell invitingly to the man of the moment. Johnson calmly placed his shot into the net.
Everton tore at Wigan and Kirkland made two flamboyant saves in a minute from Leon Osman before Wigan surprised everyone by getting an equaliser after 62 minutes. A text-book goal it was, too, Kevin Kilbane, making his debut against his old club, crossed from the left and Scharner powered a header past Tim Howard.
Moyes gesticulated furiously at the lack of marking, but within four minutes his opposite number, Jewell, was also looking daggers when Denny Landzaat tripped Osman in the area. Beattie grabbed the ball just in case Johnson had any ideas about taking the penalty and was equally emphatic with his kick, shooting over Howard's dive to his left.
The game seemed certain to be Everton's but Scharner again delayed his move for a cross from the left in the 68th minute, this time from Andreas Johansson's pull back, and he guided the ball just inside the post with his left foot.
"When he arrives fast and late like that he is dangerous," said Jewell of Scharner. "It's our third away game out of four, we've got just 16 fit players and we've come to the champions elect and got a draw." The champions bit, you can be assured, was tongue in cheek.Reuse content