Moyes orders gesture of goodwill to suffering fans

Birmingham City 0 Everton 1
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The Independent Football

The throwing of shirts into the crowd at the final whistle was more the action of a side saying thanks and farewell in May than one celebrating three points in the last few hours of British summertime.

But that was how the joy of the moment seized David Moyes. The 2005 Manager of the Year had ordered the gesture, and his match-winner, Simon Davies, said: "The fans have to know they make a difference.

"You don't know what it's like to travel back on the team coach after losing and it had spread to the training ground. We had forgotten what it was like to win. It's early days but, hopefully, we have turned the corner."

Everton had gone out of two European tournaments and the Carling Cup since last winning a match in the Premiership.

They had lost six successive League games in the meantime, and 11 defeats in 14 matches in all competitions before Saturday had raised the spectre of an end to the club's grandiose and unbroken run of 52 seasons of top-flight football.

Much still remains to be done and Moyes claims he will not look at the table until another game or two has been won. But here was evidence that a side who massively over-achieved last season and have hugely under-achieved this may be heading towards a more fitting "half-way house".

This return to their stock result of last autumn was based on familiar virtues: a strong defence and a midfield posing a goal threat.

If they can also start extracting something approaching value for money from their record £6m signing, James Beattie, they will leave the relegation skirmish to smaller-name clubs, especially if this encouraging first Premiership glimpse of Andy van der Meyde is a true barometer of his ability.

Davies, as Tim Cahill has done so often, came up with the winning goal - this one from 30 yards, the ball skipping awkwardly on bouncing in front of Maik Taylor.

Birmingham, with a nightmare statistic of their own following only one point from six home League games, did at least improve on an awful first half.

It was a relief to hear afterwards that Nicky Butt had been suffering from double vision before being substituted in the 34th minute, because his so far unhappy St Andrews career was plumbing new depths at the time.

His replacement, Neil Kilkenny, provided the spark for an injury-hit side and went closest with a curling free-kick against the inside of a post.

Steve Bruce believes the midfielder's tender 19 years make him too young to be afflicted by the psychological complexes gripping so many of his colleagues. And the deeply worried manager may now turn further to youth, because the confidence of his wise old pros has been shredded.

Goal: Davies (42) 0-1.

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Cunningham (Pandiani, 73), Martin Taylor, Upson, Clapham; Pennant, Johnson, Butt (Kilkenny, 34), Jarosik; Heskey, Forssell. Substitutes not used: Vaesen (gk), Tebily, Painter.

Everton (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Neville; Arteta, Davies, Cahill, Van der Meyde (Kilbane, 70); Beattie (Osman, 82), Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Kroldrup, McFadden.

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).

Booking: Everton Arteta.

Man of the match: Yobo.

Attendance: 26,554.