Sticky Toffees too sweet for the Owls

Owls 0 Everton 3

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 27th September 2007, 7:03 am
Updated Thursday, 27th September 2007, 10:35 am

WEDNESDAY were cruelly sent crashing out the Carling Cup last night after running a Premiership side close for almost 84 minutes.

The Owls were only one down and still in the game until two late goals put Everton into the last 16 with a flattering scoreline.

Top-flight chance-making and finishing played its part too as Wednesday gave David Moyes's men an inch and saw them take a yard.

It was clinical rather than spectacular stuff from James McFadden, the forward whose stunning strike gave Scotland a shock win in France recently.

This time he put away two simple chances and set up a goal for 11.25m club record signing Ayegbeni Yakubu.

Wednesday could not quite muster the necessary firepower, and will regret the way they conceded goals, but their overall performance will do nothing to dent their confidence as they head towards Saturday's League match at Norwich, no doubt with further changes.

Brian Laws last night rested Michael Johnson and Tommy Spurr, he was without the injured Steve Watson and Etienne Esajas, and recalled Peter Gilbert, Richard Hinds, Marcus Tudgay, Wade Small and Jermaine Johnson.

Moyes made five changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Villa in the Premiership on Sunday.

The game had barely begun when it was halted for several minutes while keeper Stefan Wessels had a head wound bandaged after an accidental clash with Francis Jeffers.

The striker - who had been getting the treatment from a big Everton following - had ended up on the deck in the Leppings Lane goalmouth in a tangle with recalled centre half Alan Stubbs after Tudgay headed down a Small cross, but cries from the Kop for a penalty were stifled when it was realised that no Owls player had appealed.

Jeffers looked like a man full of confidence after his goal against Hull: a brilliant lay-off to Graham Kavanagh resulted in a 30-yard shot by the midfield player and an unconvincing save from Wessels.

A sharp and hungry Jeffers also sent Jermaine Johnson away on a couple of runs, and in the first half Wednesday matched their Premiership opponents.

In first-half stoppage time Everton were fortunate not to go down to 10 men, right back Tony Hibbert - booked earlier - sent Small flying.

Hibbert brought the winger down and got away without even a free kick being given against him whereas the challenge appeared worthy of a second yellow card. That's why the ref was booed from the field at half time.

Moyes admitted afterwards that his full back was taken off partly because he was living dangerously and partly because he had a slight groin injury: the drawback for Wed-nesday was that the sub was an England player, Phil Neville.

Less than three minute after the restart Everton made the first clear-cut chance of the match. Left winger Leon Osman connected with a low ball from the right and, off balance, clipped his shot wide from 12 yards

Maybe because of the managers' half-time words, the tempo rose; so did home fans' exuberance as they responded to the Owls winning several skirmishes in the Everton half.

But the stalemate was broken by visitors: Neville found Yakubu on the right side of the box.

Yakubu slid a simple ball into the path of strike partner McFadden, who was unmark-ed by the left corner of the six-yard box as he slotted home.

Wednesday were fortunate seven minutes later when Osman missed the ball instead of connecting with an inviting low cross by sub Leighton Baines.

Laws - who again spent the first half in the stand and the second at pitchside- tried something different by taking off Johnson, switching Small to the right, moving Tudgay to the left and sending on Burton to partner Jeffers.

There had been little joy for Wednesday's strikers in this half. Extra physical presence was added when Akpo Sodje took over from Jeffers, to become involved straight away in a move that led to a rare opportunity for the Owls.

Small provided the final ball, Sodje stepped over it at the near post, and Burton lashed in an effort that must have taken a deflection as it flew over the bar, because a corner was given.

The Owls were killed off the 84th minute. Neville delivered a lovely ball from the right and McFadden headed into Grant's bottom left-hand corner.

Many Wednesday headed for home after that and missed the third goal; McFadden played Yakubu down the inside left channel and he steered a low effort past Grant.

The last few minutes were academic, with the only consolation for the Owls a firm block by Grant from a fierce volley by Osman.

If that had gone in, it really would have been rubbing it in.