Moyes hopes Atkinson can admit his mistake

Everton 0 Liverpool 2
  • @stevetongue

Martin Atkinson's report on the 216th Mersey derby will make interesting reading when it arrives at the Football Association's offices sometime today.

Everton will hope for the best that the referee has seen the error of his ways in sending off Jack Rodwell, but will fear for the worst as he is obliged to mention the objects thrown at Liverpool's Craig Bellamy and Luis Suarez as they went to take late corners.

By that stage home supporters were boiling over in the record October heat, convinced as their manager David Moyes put it, that Atkinson had "ruined the game" by reducing the underdogs to 10 men for three quarters of the derby. Once over the bitter disappointment of another derby defeat – he has only won three out of 19 – Moyes saw the sense in appealing the red card.

The whole world having now noted that Rodwell's challenge on Suarez in the 23rd minute was legitimate, there can be no question of the FA adding to the current three-man ban on grounds of a frivolous appeal. What Everton do stand to gain is having the decision rescinded and therefore having Rodwell available against Chelsea (in the League and Carling Cup) and Fulham.

Since the departure of Mikel Arteta, he has become a vital cog in midfield. Until Saturday he had collected only one yellow card in six matches.

On Saturday night, Moyes was still saying: "I would expect the people in power to stand up and say 'have we got it wrong?'. Good people admit their mistakes, hold their hands up and accept it. There's no shame in doing that."

His deep sense of hurt led him to add: "You don't get things overturned. The FA very much keep together with the PGMO [Professional Game Match Officials] so you find it very difficult to get anything overturned. And what if it was? The disappointing thing was we wanted to take the three points. We've not won an important derby."

He was critical of the decision to appoint Atkinson for a first Everton game since Moyes and his coach Steve Round were fined £8,000 each for remarks about his handling of the 3-3 draw against Manchester United a year ago, and also of the referee's visit to both training grounds to speak to players and staff last week.

Whatever was said was heeded in the opening quarter of the game which was well-behaved and entertaining. Everton, if anything, had the better of it. Moyes was correct, however, in saying the match was spoilt by the sending off.

Everton were obliged to withdraw Tim Cahill to deeper position in a 4-4-1 formation, leaving Louis Saha a frustrated man in his first full game of the season. So the home team were unlikely to score from that point and as it turned out, one of Atkinson's better decisions led to Liverpool's opener.

He waved play on when Saha fouled Jamie Carragher as they went for one of the regular high balls hoisted towards the striker that became Everton's main ploy; a smooth passing sequence out of defence allowed the lively substitute Bellamy to break down the left with Luis Enrique, whose cross was turned in Andy Carroll. Suarez added the second goal after Sylvain Distin's error.

The referee was equally correct to award the penalty from which Tim Howard's fine save offered his team new hope before half-time, and his second worst decision of the day, not penalising Tony Hibbert for a dangerous tackle on Charlie Adam, favoured Everton. But Atkinson's statistics appear to be out of kilter with those of his colleagues, amounting to 15 red cards in 33 League games since the start of last season. The number awarded by a variety of referees in this particular fixture is well above average too but Moyes insisted: "We've got to make sure we don't go down the line of 'another ill-tempered derby' because it was certainly not that."

His opposite number Kenny Dalglish was unnecessarily tetchy about the sending off, Carroll's form, the blossoming partnership with Suarez and just about everything else. "We won and everyone is happy," was his summary. He just didn't sound it.

Feeling blue: how referees cause Everton derby despair

Martin Atkinson is not the first derby referee to earn the enduring wrath of Evertonians:

* 1977 Everton 2-2 Liverpool, FA Cup semi-final Bryan Hamilton chests home a cross in the last minute but Clive Thomas disallows a goal that was neither handball nor offside. Liverpool win the replay 3-0.

* 1984 Everton 0-0 Liverpool, Milk Cup final The first all-Merseyside Wembley final ends goalless but only after Alan Hansen handles Adrian Heath's shot on the goalline, an offence unpunished by Alan Robinson. Again, Liverpool win the replay 1-0.

* 2000 Everton 0-0 Liverpool, League Sander Westerveld's injury-time goal-kick hits Don Hutchison, sending the ball back past the goalkeeper but Graham Poll blows up before it crosses the line. "I was wrong," Poll told Everton's website only last week.

* 2007 Everton 1-2 Liverpool, League Matchwinner Dirk Kuyt is given only a yellow card for a two-footed leap at Phil Neville while Jamie Carragher escapes an injury-time penalty despite wrestling Joleon Lescott to the ground. Mark Clattenburg has not refereed an Everton game since.

Scorers: Liverpool Carroll 71, Suarez 82.

Substitutes: Everton Drenthe 6 (Coleman, 59), Neville 6 (Osman, 69), Vellios (Hibbert, 79). Liverpool: Gerrard 7 (Adam, 67), Bellamy 7 (Downing, 67), Henderson (Lucas, 88). Booked: Everton Cahill. Liverpool Lucas.

Sent off: Everton Rodwell (23).

Man of the match Kuyt Match rating 7/10.

Possession: Everton 41% Liverpool 59%.

Attempts on target: Everton 4 Liverpool 9.

Referee M Atkinson (W Yorkshire). Att 39,510.