Fans’ Panel: Donny dazzlers’ cup blow

Gary Taylor-Fletcher was injured in this collision with Everton keeper Tim Howard.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher was injured in this collision with Everton keeper Tim Howard.
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OUR fans’ panellists hardly had time to live the FA Cup dream before their hopes were dashed at Goodison Park on Saturday, but they agree that the past week’s other Seasiders result carries far greater significance.

DAVE WHITE

Unfortunately, I won’t look back on my first experience of FA Cup round five with fondness, as two early goals turned what already looked a difficult prospect into a mountain of a challenge. That is to take nothing away from Everton, who were excellent and were in a rich vein of form, having taken care of much better teams than ourselves at Goodison Park recently.

I have no argument with the 11 Ollie put out – as the vast majority of them had got us through the earlier rounds, they deserved their place.

However, our midfield was crying out for the presence of Barry Ferguson, who may well have been better able to prevent Fellaini from having so much time and space on the ball. He and others were being rested for the match tonight, and that is fair enough.

Thankfully, we had a much better outcome at Doncaster last week and our progress up the league continues apace. Both Rovers and ourselves are desperately battling for points, for different reasons, and it made for an interesting game, which the better side won comfortably.

GTF has faced criticism from the internet community recently but he made them eat their words with two excellent goals, not forgetting Eardley’s world-class assist for the first.

It’s a real shame that GTF’s injury at Everton on Saturday looks like ruling him out for a while, just as he was getting back to his best.

The importance of tonight’s game cannot be underestimated – win and we go third, regardless of what happens elsewhere. Exciting times ahead.

Men of match: Taylor-Fletcher (Doncaster), Gilks (Everton)

PHIL CORBETT

A mixed week of results and performances. At Doncaster we were in total control and consolidated our place in the play-off positions by scoring twice early on, with GTF in great form.

Despite conceding and letting them off the hook slightly, the third goal killed the game and sent the travelling support home happy.

Similarly, the two early goals against killed Saturday’s game as a contest, with the emphasis from that point being on damage limitation. On another day, Everton could have had a bagful, but all credit to the team who stuck in there and should have had a more flattering scoreline by scoring the penalty.

I thought the referee was very inconsistent, giving us very little against a robust Everton side who outmuscled as much as outplayed us.

The game gave us a marker of what still needs to be done in terms of aspirations for a higher level, but that’s irrelevant unless we can consolidate on the Doncaster result against West Ham.

I think Ollie’s team selection recognised that fact, with the likes of Crainey, Ferguson and Matt Phillips not featuring on Saturday.

The injury to GTF didn’t look good – a real shame as he has only recently fought his way back into form after a series of injuries. Let’s hope he makes a speedy recovery as he is a vital member of the squad.

Men of match: Taylor-Fletcher (Doncaster), Gilks (Everton)

CLICK HERE FOR OUR GALLERY OF POOL’S FA CUP MATCH WITH EVERTON.

FIONA MARTIN

The most important thing about the last week was the three points at Doncaster. Going out of the cup was disappointing but not altogether unexpected.

It was a good performance at Doncaster, against a team better than their league position suggested. The highlight was definitely a wonderful second goal, and whilst we weren’t necessarily always at our best we were good enough to win.

Saturday though, was a little different. Unfortunately we got caught sleeping for the first six minutes and found ourselves two goals down, and from that point Everton didn’t need to get out of second gear.

We weren’t up to our usual standards, though I have seen us play a lot worse – a reminder perhaps of the gap in quality.

If nothing else, Saturday showed the difference Barry Ferguson makes to the side. His contribution was distinctly notable by his absence, although Angel Martinez deserves credit for his performance. It was one that can certainly be counted among the better ones on the day.

We did suffer from the loss of Taylor-Fletcher – and I really do hope that injury is not too long-term.

The lack of movement in attack, and between midfield and attack, became one of our biggest problems.

Quick word too for Bob Harris, who I have seen enough of to know he is a very good and improving footballer. The experience he will have gained from the Everton game will be invaluable to him. For that alone, Holloway was right to start him.

Now is not the time to dwell on being out the cup, however. We have bigger fish to fry, starting tonight.

We still have to play eight of the top 13 teams at home, and that’s a position a lot of other teams would like to be in.

Men of match: Taylor-Fletcher (Doncaster), Gilks (Everton)

MIKE MORRISON

Despite all the rhetoric about FA Cup ‘magic’, when was the last time a lower league team won the FA Cup? It hasn’t happened in recent history, that’s for sure.

Yes, I get it – it’s a chance to pull off a giantkilling in the third or fourth round; a chance to brag to the rest of the country that your team can beat a big name. But it’s still a distraction from what is important – the league.

I don’t care about the cup, and judging by Holloway’s decision to make seven changes at Everton, I think he’d agree with me.

Not that there was anything wrong with the team he played – they’re all good players.

But you don’t ring so many changes without running the risk of too many not being on each other’s wavelength – and that’s what happened.

I can accept defeat graciously but I can’t accept such a woeful performance. The rest of the country now believes a toddler with a stomach full of sugar has a greater concentration span than Blackpool.

On a wet and windy Wednesday away to Barnsley, I could maybe understand – if not excuse – a slow start. But away to a Premier League side in the FA Cup, it was bizarre.

But… it allows us to concentrate on winning promotion.

Men of match: Taylor-Fletcher (Doncaster), Kevin Phillips (Everton)

PETER GILLATT

On his third attempt, Jimmy Weston’s cross was met by Bill ‘Hatchet man’ Bentley, whose powerful header flew past Burnley keeper Payton, whose punch flattened Bill in the process. That goal, the only one in the tie, sent Pool to the fourth round of the FA Cup. It was January 1976 and is still the last time the Seasiders beat a top-flight side in the competition.

As a Koppite, it was also the first Bloomfield Road game I actually saw sitting down after I was given a spare ticket for the back of the West Stand. It was an awful view and I never sat in that stand again.

Jumping forward 36 years, and I’m at the back of the Upper Bullens stand, faced with another dreadful view.

Things didn’t improve on the pitch either as the ball, obscured by girders and pillars, somehow fell to Everton’s Dutch loanee Royston Drenthe who despatched the first goal after 49 seconds without a Pool player in sight. In fact, no-one in a Tangerine shirt got anywhere near him all afternoon.

Five minutes later, Everton doubled their lead, effectively ending the contest. They could have easily scored another five if it hadn’t been for Gilks, and with GTF being stretchered off this proved to be an expensive afternoon all-round.

We badly missed our own ‘hatchet man’ Ferguson on Saturday, and will need him and the rest of the team back to fighting ways if we are to give out a similar hammering to Big Sam’s visiting outfit tonight.

Men of match: Gilks (Everton)

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