Everton 0-0 Blues

Last updated : 22 April 2006 By Brian Cartlidge

Steve Bruce was forced into making one change to the staring eleven that had gained three points against Blackburn on Wednesday evening with Mario Melchiot returning at right back in place of Olivier Tebily who was forced to miss the game for personal reasons.

Wednesday night's match-winner Mikael Forssell was once again on the bench after Emile Heskey passed a late fitness test and Medhi Nafti was included in the 16-man squad for the first time this season.

Blues seemed content to sit back and it was Everton who started much the brighter. From a string of flowing moves Tim Cahill and then James Beattie narrowly failed to connect with two crosses from the impressive Phil Neville.

The World Cup hopeful went close himself on the quarter-hour mark after another sweeping move saw him cut in from the right and drill a left-footed shot inches wide.

Blues also had a great chance to take the lead but Melchiot headed wide from a Jermaine Pennant free kick.

But despite Everton's dominance of possession, Maik Taylor had to wait until just after the half-hour mark to pull off his first real save.

The lively Leon Osman picked up a bouncing ball on the edge of the box, and clipped a dipping volley goalwards, which the Blues keeper did well to tip over.

But if Osman's chance was speculative Andy van der Meyde's, five minutes before half-time was gilt-edged.

The recalled Dutchman found himself on the end of a swerving Beattie cross at the back post, but from four yards out his diving downward header cannoned up and over the bar.

The second half started much the same with Everton doing all the running and Blues happy to let them do so.

Beattie thought he had made the all-important breakthrough when he fired past Taylor after Osman's deflected drive. But the jubilant cheers of the Goodison faithful were soon quashed when the linesman raised his flag for offside.

David Weir saw a powerful volley expertly saved, James McFadden went close with a free-kick and Nicky Butt almost headed the ball into his own net from a Neville cross.

But in the end Blues got what they came for, and probably a little more than they had deserved.