Everton 3 Reading 1 match report: Everton keep pressure on courtesy of Marouane Fellaini but Royals face fight


goodison park

When all is said and done in May – the last ball kicked, the last referee derided and the final variation of "Sloop John B" butchered – David Moyes will sit down with a pad of paper to reflect on a season which at this stage could still go either way. In the negatives column will be the amount of points lost from winning positions, the number of headed goals conceded and a misfiring Nikica Jelavic. Under positives there will be a name right at the top – boldly underlined twice and probably accompanied by an exclamation mark or two: Marouane Fellaini.

Click here to watch the highlights of the game

The summer fight to keep hold of their coveted performer is certain to be labour-intensive and chairman Bill Kenwright will find it tricky not to accept offers upwards of £25million from Europe's elite. For now, though, Fellaini is an Everton player and a pleasure to watch. Scoring one and making another, he rarely seemed to break sweat and oozed the confidence to drive the hosts on.

With 11 League goals and four assists this season, Fellaini is invaluable. Without his consistency, Arsenal would certainly not be under the amount of pressure they are in today's London derby against Tottenham. The Merseysiders are just two points behind in the Champions' League scramble.

"He has got a lot of really good attributes. He can get better but he has an awful lot going for him and on his day is a real handful," said Moyes, who was without Tim Howard for the first time since 2007 and lost Phil Jagielka early to an ugly Adam Le Fondre tackle. The lunge incensed the manager, with Jagielka suffering an ankle injury which will keep him out for at "least a few weeks".

"He's going to need surgery," Moyes said. "I'm not happy with the challenge. I don't mind robust challenges but it's one that puts out one of my best players."

Reading played their part and were unfortunate not to stay in the game longer. Seamus Coleman was given plenty of time to attack the space by Jobi McAnuff in the 42nd minute, floating a wonderful ball across to Fellaini whose header was watched in by Stuart Taylor, deputising for Adam Federici who injured himself in training on Friday.

Fellaini in the hole behind Jelavic is a Moyes masterstroke. Above all else, he gives the side an increased physical presence higher up the pitch. That's especially crucial when the Toffees are behind the eight ball. See the last home match, a 3-3 draw with Aston Villa, for reference.

Le Fondre shuddered a post and Alex Pearce scooped over the bar, but it was over as a contest in the 59th minute. Leon Osman won a header in midfield and set Fellaini away. He found Steven Pienaar cutting in from the right and with Ian Harte inexplicably backing off, the South African rifled home the sort of fabulous 25-yard strike that he has available in his locker but is not seen nearly enough.

Reading are the only team in the Premier League not to have kept an away clean sheet. Manager Brian McDermott knows if they are to escape the clutches of relegation the sort of goals Everton scored need to be eradicated. The visitors lacked a depth in midfield when the ball broke and Pienaar was afforded ample opportunity to pick out the onrushing Kevin Mirallas, who wasn't being tracked, to coolly send Taylor the wrong way for number three.

"A clean sheet would be good," McDermott smiled. "We have to make up one or two points. Can we do that? We think we can. We've finished the last three seasons really strongly. If we do that again that will give us a real chance."

Hal Robson-Kanu headed in a late consolation – remarkably the 14th header conceded by Everton this season – but the points were already safe by then. Over to you, Arsenal.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments