Victor ANICHEBE, a peripheral figure at Goodison Park over the past two seasons, played his way back into the hearts and hymns of Everton's away-day army by plundering the late goal that took David Moyes' side above West Brom into ninth place.
The heavily built Anichebe, whose career has been blighted by injuries, has started only one Premier League match this season, back in August, while his last goal had come at Birmingham two years ago in March.
Yet, after coming off the bench midway through the second half, the 23-year-old Nigeria striker pounced on a defensive error three minutes from time to ensure that Albion, cheered from the pitch after their St Stephen's Day 0-0 draw with Manchester City, departed to the jeers of their fans.
As Moyes noted wryly, it was not a spectacle that anyone will want to buy on DVD.
"We'd run out of ideas," the Everton manager admitted with refreshing candour when invited to take the credit for Anichebe's impact. "We wanted to somehow try something different. In the end we nicked a goal, but it always looked as if it would take a wonder goal or a mistake."
The aberration, when it came, was a miscued header by Paul Scharner. That allowed Anichebe to hold off Gareth McAuley before turning to fire a left-footed shot past Ben Foster from six yards.
Everton's slick build-up -- a deftly chipped reverse pass by Leon Osman and precise cross from Tony Hibbert -- was out of keeping with the plague of wild shots, wayward passes and poor touches.
For all that, Moyes could not disguise his delight for Anichebe. "Victor tore a groin muscle on international duty (in September) and has had no games really, even in the reserves," he said.
"He played only 25 minutes and even then he felt tired. But he's someone we've missed because he can play wide or through the middle. The goal and the reaction of the supporters will help his confidence." (© Independent News Service)