Step back in time to 2005 – Gera’s header melts Toffees’ resistance

After their biggest win of the season at the Valley, Albion had to wait for the international break before welcoming David Moyes’ Everton to the Hawthorns on 3rd April 2005 for game 31 of the season. The Baggies were looking to make it three wins in four games having won just two in the previous twenty-seven.

West Brom 1 Everton 0

Wins against Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic had given Albion fans renewed hope and lifted the Baggies off the bottom of the table. With the Everton match being played on the Sunday, Albion knew that they would move above Crystal Palace with a victory with the Eagles having been beaten at home by Middlesbrough the day before. With Norwich City having been beaten 4-1 at Arsenal and Southampton having lost at home to Chelsea, the Baggies had the chance to steal a march on all of their relegation rivals.

Everton, meanwhile, were sitting in fourth place with real hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. The Toffees had been beaten by Liverpool in their previous match, not only their closest rivals in in geography, but also their nearest challengers for a top four spot. The Reds had beaten Bolton Wanderers the previous day to move to within a point of Moyes’ team, putting the pressure on Everton to get a result at the Hawthorns.

There was little to write home about in the first half with Albion coming closest to opening the scoring when Thomas Gaardsøe struck the post with a header from Jonathan Greening’s free kick.

The hosts were struggling to reproduce their recent good form while Everton were looking nothing like a side challenging for European qualification.

Just after the hour mark, Albion produced the defining moment of the game as Jonathan Greening whipped in a wonderful cross from the left wing and Zoltán Gera rose majestically to head home from eight yards.

The game then opened up a little and Russell Hoult was called into action when he saved well from Toffees’ top scorer, Marcus Bent, while at the other end, Nigel Martyn produced a good stop from Gera after he had been set up by Geoff Horsfield.

The Baggies managed to see it out and the three points saw them move into 18th place for the first time since November and there was a feeling that the Great Escape could be on.

Everton would go on to claim fourth place, although it was more down to Liverpool’s inability to put together a run of results rather than Moyes’ team earning it, and they ultimately failed to make the group stages losing to Villareal in the qualifying stage.

As for the Baggies, they were now level on points with 17th-placed Southampton and they looked forward to a trip to Villa Park the following weekend.

Premier League Table – 3rd April 2005

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
15th Blackburn Rovers 31 7 12 12 25 37 -12 33
16th Portsmouth 31 8 7 13 33 49 -16 31
17th Southampton 31 5 12 14 34 48 -14 27
18th ALBION 31 5 12 14 30 51 -21 27
19th Crystal Palace 31 6 8 17 33 50 -17 26
20th Norwich City 31 3 11 17 30 63 -33 20

If you cannot see the table, click here.

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