Bolton vs. Everton: 6 Things We Learned in FA Cup 4th-Round Clash

Matt Cheetham@@Matt_CheethamCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2013

Bolton vs. Everton: 6 Things We Learned in FA Cup 4th-Round Clash

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    Everton scraped their way through to the last 16 of the FA Cup after an unconvincing 2-1 away win at Bolton.

    Steven Pienaar gave the Toffees a fortuitous lead, finding himself in the way of Victor Anichebe's off-target effort to score with 18 minutes on the clock.

    Bolton equalised soon after, through Marvin Sordell, and went on to dominate for long periods of the game, with Marcos Alonso particularly impressive for the hosts.

    However, the Toffees forced a late corner and John Heitinga was on hand to crack home a winner and send the swollen away support into raptures

    Here are six Everton-related talking points to emerge from this fixture.

Mirallas Crocked Again

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    For the third time this season, Kevin Mirallas suffered what looked like a recurrence of a hamstring injury and was substituted after just 17 minutes.

    His poor injury record has led to a premature withdrawal before half-time in four out of his past five starts for Everton. An increasingly alarming trend.

    Clearly something is badly wrong with his hamstrings, and the Belgian may now need a lengthy spell on the sidelines to establish the root of the problem.

    Of course, his absence is a huge blow for Everton on the field. In fleeting glimpses, he's offered the Toffees a different dimension in the final third with his aggressive, direct approach.

    Hopefully a remedy can be found within the next few months, but it seems unlikely that Mirallas will be contributing a huge amount over the coming weeks.

Gueye Not an Option

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    Thrown on in place of Mirallas—rather surprisingly—was Magaye Gueye.

    During his two-and-a-half years at the club, the Frenchman-turned-Senegalese international has rarely made an impact and was once again a passenger from much of the match.

    Most fans would have expected Steven Naismith or Bryan Oviedo to enter the fray ahead of Gueye, although this performance will have surely cemented that decision for future occasions.

    Clearly Gueye possesses a solid delivery, but his positional sense and interplay are often woeful and he rarely seems in-sync with the players around him.

    The fact he's only halfway through a five-year contract means Everton must consider loaning him out. The Toffees have options ahead of him, it will improve him as a player and may even create some interest in his services to enable David Moyes to move him on.

The Enigmatic Dutchman

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    Johnny Heitinga produced a brief cameo that typified his time as a Toffee.

    Linked away from the club for yet another transfer window, fans have become impatient with his quotes and general inconsistencies—especially after a number of lethargic performances this season (via the Mirror).

    Brought onto the field to a mixed reception from the travelling support, he slotted into midfield, immediately gave away a clumsy foul and seemed unable to adapt to the pace of the game.

    Then suddenly, out of nowhere, he produced a fierce drive for the winning goal and single-handedly turned a forgettable performance into a valuable win.

    With Heitinga unable to dislodge Phil Jagielka and the newly-contracted Sylvain Distin from centre-back, does this success in midfield open up another route to the first team?

    It seems unlikely, but regardless of his immediate future at Everton, this was certainly a moment to savour and his best contribution this season.

Moyes Ends Up on Top

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    During the game, Twitter was awash with frustrations aimed at David Moyes over a number of debatable decisions.

    There were those arguing the manager should have been more cautious with Kevin Mirallas. Many objected to Magaye Gueye being his eventual replacement and, finally, the choice of substituting Nikica Jelavic for John Heitinga was met with particular angst.

    To be fair, there may be substance in all three arguments, but at the end of the day Moyes achieved exactly what he's paid to do and secured he side's passage to the next round.

    The fact the winning goal came off the boot of an unwelcome substitute will have been especially satisfying for the Scotsman.

Another Late Winner at Bolton

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    The Reebok Stadium has become something of a lucky venue in recent years for Everton, and Bolton supporters must be sick of the sight of the visiting Toffees.

    Johnny Heitinga's last-minute winner was the third last-gasp goal in the past six fixtures on Bolton soil, after previous strikes from Joleon Lescott and Marouane Fellaini.

    Four of those six games have ended up being away wins for the Toffees.

    Considering David Moyes' side sold out their away allocation and travelled with 5,000 fans, the scenes at the final whistle were especially passionate and have become all too familiar for Wanderers' supporters.

Result All That Matters

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    It's a familiar saying in football, but when it comes to cup competition, nothing is more important than the result and making the next round.

    Everton were far from their best at Bolton, as they had also been in their last Premier League match against Southampton, but the fact they are in the draw for the last 16 is all that matters.

    The FA Cup is a trophy Everton have a proud heritage in, and fans are always desperate to progress as far as possible. Today's result leaves Moyes' side just four wins away from lifting the trophy in May.

    With a few favourable draws, the Toffees could be looking at a fourth return to Wembley in the past five seasons.

    A scenario all Evertonians would be desperate to experience once again.