West Bromwich 1 Everton 2: Osman and Yakubu expose West Brom's lack of cutting edge

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Before yesterday's match Tony Mowbray expressed a simple desire that his side "won't be written about, as the season goes on, as 'little old Albion' doing well and just surviving in the division". He should not worry. If West Brom continue to do as well as this and still manage to lose then there won't be any surviving. Somehow the Premier League newcomers let Everton skip out of the Black Country with a cosy victory – on the scoresheet anyway – after completely dominating for the first hour. Then they capitulated and in a few moments proved just why this is likely to be a campaign of realisation for last season's Championship winners.

"West Brom will feel like they should have got something out of today," said the opposing manager, David Moyes. "But the Premier League is a cruel league and you have to make the most of your opportunities."

Everton were there for the taking and should really not have been allowed to do any of the taking. After another hair-tearing week of wheeling and no dealing in the transfer market, Moyes arrived with the same young side – containing the 16-year-old Jose Baxter and the 17-year-old Jack Rodwell – which had lost so deservedly against Blackburn on the opening day.

For the first three-quarters of the match the visiting manager's worst fears would have been confirmed as the home team did everything but score. How he must have looked at Mowbray's new capture, Gianni Zuiverloon, the Dutch full-back, and wished for an injection of inspirational new blood himself. While West Brom buzzed about the Hawthorns, Everton were merely left trying to swat them off; but then, out of nowhere, they located their own sting. It came in the familiar shape of Mikel Arteta. A minute after Rodwell had given West Brom a warning when rising above Paul Robinson to head into the net – it was disallowed for "climbing" – Arteta's wonderfully timed and weighted pass into the feet of Leon Osman allowed the young Englishman to take a touch and turn to fire past Scott Carson.

This was in the 65th minute and within 11 minutes they were two ahead when Yakubu capitalised on a mix-up between Carson and his defenders to head home. West Brom were stunned and although they cut the deficit when Roman Bednar converted a penalty – courtesy of a Phil Neville handball – this came in the 89th minute and there was no time for a fightback.

There should have been no need for one. Ishmael Miller should have done better when rising to meet Zuiverloon's pinpoint free-kick just before the break – bizarrely he managed to head it away from goal – and again in the 55th minute when he failed to poke Chris Brunt's through-ball over Howard.

In fairness to the Everton defence, they kept the home chances to a minimum and in the two centre-halves, Joleon Lescott and Joseph Yobo, they had two titans who formed something resembling an impenetrable wall. Their mastery was one of the reasons why Mowbray refused to get too down afterwards and he made a plea for an avoidance of the knee-jerk reaction. "You've seen the game and I know football is results-driven but I must be happy with my team," he said. "We controlled the game and the tempo. Can we score goals? I think so. I think we'll be fine."

So for once, the negative stuff was left to the supposedly triumphant manager. Moyes is not a happy camper and if he does not make any signings before the 1 September deadline he will remain so. "I've never had a more frustrating summer," he said.