Everton continued their winless run in a goalless draw at Goodsion Park against a disciplined West Brom. The Merseyside strugglers could have had their first win since their 3-1 victory over QPR last month on the 15th December, however Kevin Mirallas put his penalty wide just before half-time and they soon came off with a reported injury. Apart from the penalty, Everton could not break down an organised West Brom side.
Early on both sides resorted to the suited playing styles of their respective managers, Everton controlling possession and West Brom soaking up the pressure under recently appointed boss Tony Pulis.
Pulis' defensive approach - a key component to his success at Stoke and Crystal Palace - was starting to frustrate not only the Everton players, but also the Everton fans in attendance. With the only threat to Ben Foster's goal coming from Kevin Mirallas, when he forced the Englishman into a save from a costless-kick heading for the top corner.
Everton's patient approach finally presented a clear opportunity on goal, as West Brom conceded a penalty when former Everton defender Joleon Lescott used his arm in an attempt to control the ball. Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the penalty stop with no hesitation. After much discussion, regular penalty taker Leighton Baines allowed Mirallas the chance to take the penalty, however he would soon regret this decision as the Belgian winger drilled the penalty wide of the goal, leaving the score at 0-0 as both sides headed in for the half-time inteval.
Interestingly, Mirallas did not return to the pitch for the second half with the rest of his teammates, as manager Roberto Martinez may have been displeased with his decision to take the penalty over regular penalty taker Leighton Baines. However, in an interview with Sky Sports after the game, Steven Naismith and Martinez stated that it was due to an injury.
Throughout the majority of the second half, Everton continued to control possession but failed to make anything useful out of the 69% possession due to the brilliant defensive display of Pulis' side. Martinez's preferred patient play was starting to frustrate Everton fans further as the second half progressed, due to them failing to break down a compact West brom.
It seemed evident that Martinez had no plan B to deal with a side shutting up shop against his dominant style of play, even bringing on Arouna Kone for Muhamed Besic to add more attacking threat to the side didn't help, nor did it go down well with the Everton fans in attendance, with the majority of fans of booing the substitution.
Even with another forward on the pitch in Kone, the closest Everton got to scoring towards the close of the game was a drifting cross aimed towards Naismith, which was easily gathered by Foster, who was hardly troubled by Everton all night.
At the final whistle boo's rang around the stadium from the few Everton fans who were left in the stadium, airing their discontent towards the club and the manager. Despite the club's chairman - Bill Kenwright - recently showing faith towards Martinez, this result and their current league position may result in questions towards the Spaniard's future as Everton boss.
This was West Brom's third clean sheet in a row and moved them ahead of Aston Villa into 14th place in the table.
Regarding the penalty, Everton manager Roberto Martinez commented: "Our penalty taker is Leighton Baines. Kevin Mirallas was confident & Baines was happy to let him take it. It's a talking point because Mirallas missed the penalty. He wasn't 100%, he felt his hamstring, that's why he came off"
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