Moyes should call a Holt to Everton attack

Everton 1 Nrwich City 1

Click to follow
The Independent Football

How Everton would love to have a forward who could match the seven goals Grant Holt has so far this season. David Moyes' side began the afternoon with their last shot on goal over three hours behind them. When Leon Osman's subtle touch found the net nine minutes from time, it was only their eighth goal at Goodison this term.

"I did think we were just not going to get that goal," admitted Moyes, who insists his side is playing well, despite not scoring. The man who made the difference against Norwich was Royston Drenthe, who came on for the last 20 minutes.

"He ran at them and created some opportunities," said Moyes, who has used the Dutchman sparingly and cautiously so far. "When games are like they were today, then Roy is terrific, but sometimes in the Premier League the hard part is defending."

On Saturday, Drenthe and Everton got lucky. His shot, as he cut in from the right, was slightly scuffed and John Ruddy had it covered until Osman, whom Moyes called "the best player on the pitch", stuck out a foot and diverted it just enough.

"It was a very deft touch. He turned a pea-roller into a goal," said Ruddy, the former Everton reserve who was otherwise impregnable.

Ruddy has had a chequered career since arriving at Goodison from Cambridge United and spending most of the next five years on loan to various clubs. His form for Norwich last season and this, however, has revived talk of him as a potential England goalkeeper.

"You've got to have a good goal-keeper, who can save a lot of points for you," said his manager, Paul Lambert, of Ruddy's importance to the Norwich cause. "If that gets him talked about for England, I'll let people do that."

Equally crucial to a battling rearguard performance was the central defensive pairing of Zak Whitbread and Russell Martin, who blocked, tackled and fought for the ball in the air as if their lives depended on it.

There is something splendidly counter-intuitive about the way Norwich have built their success so far this season on the likes of those two.

They have ripped up the Promotion Handbook by hardly bothering to bring in any Premier League experience. They also break all the rules of captaincy by being led by a 30-year-old striker who spends a good slice of his time on the bench.

Holt trundles around like a centre-forward from a bygone era, but then he produces a piece of skill like the one that put Norwich ahead.

Steve Morison hooked a free kick to his feet and the hemmed-in Holt turned on his axis like some vintage agricultural machine and steered it into the net with the utmost delicacy. Had that won the match, it would have been no injustice.

Scorers: Everton Osman 81. Norwich Holt 28.

Substitutes: Everton Stracqualursi 6 (Cahill, 61), Drenthe 7 (Gueye, 72), McAleny (Saha,89). Norwich Johnson 6 (Hoolahan, 74), Wilbraham (Morison,80). Booked: Everton Neville. Norwich Naughton. Man of the match R Martin. Match rating 6/10.

Possession: Everton 59% Norwich 41%.

Attempts on target: Blackburn 15 West Brom 1.

Referee L Probert (Wiltshire).

Attendance 31,004.