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Everton draw at the Hawthorns

A disappointing display from Everton sees them miss the chance to go fourth.

Roberto Martinez's men miss the chance to go fourth with a draw at the Hawthornes.
Roberto Martinez's men miss the chance to go fourth with a draw at the Hawthornes.
Stu Forster

Before the match began, Everton found themselves at reduced numbers once more thanks to an injury to Stephen Pienaar, who joined Ross Barkley on the injury list. This meant Bryan Oviedo came in on the right wing, whilst in defence Sylvain Distin returned in place of John Stones after several weeks out. New boy Aiden McGeady started from the bench.

West Brom's new manager named Nicholas Anelka up front in the midst of the ongoing quenelle controversy, more a result of a lack of options after Shane Longs departure to Hull than anything. Matej Vydra partnered him, whilst Diego Lugano came into central defence in place of the injured McAuley. Everton old boy Victor Anichebe was on the bench.

Neither team started confidently, the first chance falling to Vydra, his chipped effort proving easy for Tim Howard to collect and then former Baggies favourite Romelu Lukaku, sporting a new haircut, failing to lob Ben Foster for the visitors. It would be that man Vydra who would force Tim Howard into his first save, as his shot was palmed out and away from James Morrison after seven minutes.

Oviedo then fired a volley wide for the visitors following a Leighton Baines free kick, with the Costa Rican then firing past the opposite post following a Lukaku run. The next chance would fall to James McCarthy as he fired straight at Foster from a Kevin Mirallas cross, the Belgian then shooting straight at the keeper following neat footwork on the edge of the box.

It wouldn't be until the 30th minute that Howard would make his second save of the night, denying Zoltan Gera after Anelka had played him in with a glorious reverse ball. Neither side looked like breaking the deficit though with both committing cynical fouls and breaking up the rhythm of the game, Claudio Yacob soon became the first name in the referees book after a series of fouls. West Brom were looking the more likely though, with Everton looking out of sorts and misshapen with Osman on the left and Mirallas in the middle.

The breakthrough would come before halftime however, and it would be Everton who would make it. A long ball up to Lukaku from Sylvain Distin saw him knock it down, his compatriot Mirallas racing past Diego Lugano to finish past Foster with ease. Suddenly Everton were flying, winning the ball back quicker and attacking at pace, with Oviedo again shooting at the keeper. A second would not come though, and Everton went in at half time ahead, despite not being at their best.

The second half saw Anichebe replacing Vydra and West Brom inevitably starting on the attack, James Morrison providing a comfortable save for Howard. Everton were not retaining possession well, and the home side sensed an opportunity to equalize, Anelka proving the focal point. It would be Anichebe who would have the first chance of the half, connecting with an Anelka cross six yards out, but Jagielka's block took out the sting and made it easy for Howard to save. Another goal did not seem to be forthcoming though, James Morrison's wild shot over the bar the only notable effort.

It was looking like the second goal would determine the fate of the match, though neither side were looking like getting it from open play, Mirallas firing wide with a free kick the closest either would come as the game entered the last twenty minutes. If team was to score though, it would be the home side, and so it proved. Diego Lugano managing to get ahead of Distin to head home a James Morrison cross and draw them level. Pepe Mel sensed an opportunity for all three points, and quickly replaced Anelka with youngster Saido Berahino to test Everton's resolve.

More bad news soon followed for Everton, as Coleman headed off with a suspected hamstring injury and John Stones replaced him. West Brom were in the ascendency though, with Everton failing to press high up as usual and the defence looking rocky. Martinez soon used his second substitution to replace Oviedo and hand Aiden McGeady a ten-minute debut, with his manager clearly hoping for an instant impact.

Everton's final substitution saw Osman replaced by Steven Naismith for the final six minutes as they searched for a winner. The ball would end up in the back of the net before the final whistle though, with Distin turning in a Gareth Barry shot but it being disallowed for an offside. A poor performance from Everton saw them gain a point, missing out on the chance to go fourth.