Yak drags Everton to higher ground

Everton 1 Stoke City 0: Bustling striker secures the points after Toffees are forced to labour by unambitious opponents

If this is an Everton revival after their indifferent start to the season, it is a slow burner. They may be five matches unbeaten now but this was a laboured, indecisive performance. Aiyegbeni Yakubu's first Premier League goal since April finally gave them an advantage but for the 28 minutes that followed before referee Lee Probert's whistle brought relief to manager David Moyes, they looked insecure and a Stoke equaliser would have come as no surprise.

Their labours reminded Everton how difficult it can be to break down an opponent so well drilled in defensive discipline, especially when so many players are still well short of their best.

Mikel Arteta, who had been missing with a hamstring injury, was never quite crisp enough in his passing, Seamus Coleman was full of energy but only occasionally used it effectively and Steven Pienaar simply had a bad day, allowing himself to be knocked around and making too many stray passes. Leighton Baines, so impressive lately, especially going forward, was equally out of sorts. And though he took his goal well, Yakubu's contribution until then had been that of a player still suffering a deficit, in sharpness and confidence.

The saving grace – if you ignore the goal that Stoke had ruled out for a foul that was questionable – was that they at least showed some resistance in the areas that mattered most. Phil Jagielka, going from strength to strength as a central defender, was solid throughout.

Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, was livid – in so far as he felt he could be, without risking censure – over the disallowed goal, which Probert ruled out on the basis that Tuncay Sanli, who forced the ball over the line in the 61st minute after Robert Huth had won the ball in the air, had pushed Baines in doing so. The television replays suggested that contact had been minimal. Fearful of the consequences of being too outspoken, he restricted himself to being "very disappointed". After the indulgences shown to Gary Neville last week, when he felt the Manchester United man should have been sent off, you could not blame him for feeling there was a conspiracy afoot, even if only of fate.

If you had sympathy with Pulis on that score it was more difficult to agree with him that Stoke had "given it a real go" in "an even game".

Pulis raised a few eyebrows last week when he attributed his side's failure to keep clean sheets – with the regularity that they had managed in previous seasons – to him setting them up to play more attractive football. There was not too much evidence of it yesterday as they settled in to defend their lines.

For an hour, save for the odd breakaway attack, you could have barely slid a cigarette paper between their midfield quartet and the four at the back. The presence of Tuncay had seemed a mystery, given that Pulis has so often felt the Turkish striker was a luxury.

Everton dominated possession but as they struggled to make an impression, Stoke's plan appeared to be working. Asmir Begovic, making a rare appearance in goal after Thomas Sorensen cried off with an elbow problem, had a couple of saves to make but neither tested him as Yakubu and Pienaar failed to make the most of fleeting opportunities.

Although Abdoulaye Faye, seemingly startled to receive the ball, missed the target at the far post towards the end of the first half, and Ryan Shawcross wasted a chance early in the second half with a centre-back's finish, it was not really until Everton had gone ahead that Stoke pushed forward with real conviction.

The Yakubu goal at least gave Moyes reason to feel that progress is being made, however slowly. Dispossessing Faye, Yakubu laid the ball off intelligently to Tim Cahill, whose shot hit Begovic's right-hand post, then was alert enough to seize the loose ball, duck inside Danny Collins and fire a shot into the roof of the net.

"It was through working hard that Yak got his chance and scored the goal," Moyes said. "He is looking like he is beginning to get his confidence again. It would be great to see the old Yakubu back, that's for sure."

Attendance: 35,513

Referee: Lee Probert

Man of the match: Jagielka

Match rating: 5/10

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone