Howard takes no joy from goal

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has expressed his sympathy for opposite number Adam Bogdan after he managed to beat the Bolton stopper with a freak goal.

Football News: Adam Bogdan

Howard opened the scoring for the Toffees on Wednesday night in the 63rd minute when he launched a huge kick downfield which - assisted by the wind - travelled towards the Wanderers box and bounced over the stranded Bogdan into the net.

It was a memorable strike, but the American seemed reluctant to celebrate too wildly and later revealed he felt disappointed to upstage a fellow keeper on an evening when the blustery conditions made life difficult for everyone.

"It was cruel," Howard, quoted in the Liverpool Echo, said of the weather.

"You saw the back fours and the keepers not being able to believe balls all night, and at the back one wrong step and it can be a nightmare.

"For our goal I was disappointed from a goalkeepers' union standpoint.

"You never want to see that happen. It's not nice, it's embarrassing, so I felt for Adam but you have to move on from it."

Everton's lead lasted only four minutes before David Ngog slotted home the equaliser with a smart finish, and the Toffees eventually ended up empty-handed as Bolton skipper and Chelsea target Gary Cahill sealed a 2-1 victory for Wanderers by smashing home the winner with 12 minutes remaining.

By that stage, the hosts had had three of their players - Phil Jagielka, his replacement Jack Rodwell and Leon Osman - limp off.

Howard feels the loss of the trio was important, but would not use it as an excuse for the defeat.

"The changes hurt us, we had to make some key substitutions," Howard said.

"I think it was tough for Jack to get in the game, then he had to come off. And Ossie is one of the guys we look for to solidify things in midfield and he had to come off.

"Losing Jags was mentally difficult for us because he's our rock. It didn't help but it's not an excuse.

"We need to look at ourselves in the mirror because it wasn't good enough, we were all kind of lost for words.

"It was very poor and that's why we're all so bitterly disappointed. At the very least we needed a point from that game, that was the minimum."

Bolton have agreed a fee with Chelsea for Cahill, but for the second time since confirming that news, Trotters boss Owen Coyle opted to play the England centre-back, naming him as captain as he had done for the 1-1 draw with Wolves on New Year's Eve.

The decision proved a shrewd one as Cahill showed he has shooting prowess to go with his defensive capabilities, and Coyle was happy to acknowledge the range of qualities of a player he looks set to soon lose.

"Gary Cahill is a centre-back, but I have said before, I think he has feet belonging to a centre-forward," Coyle said.

"In terms of the position he plays, he is outstanding in the air with his timing, and he has pace to burn - as quick as the strikers are in the Premier League, I can't think of anybody who has outrun him in a one versus one, because he has real pace.

"He is also young, so he is only going to get better both for club and country.

"I can understand playing for an elite club, he would feel it would be an opportunity for him to be an England centre-half for many years to come."

While Everton remain 11th, the result moved Bolton off the foot of the Barclays Premier League and up to 18th, a point adrift of safety, and Coyle is confident his side will get out of trouble by continuing to take "small steps" forward.

He said: "The result catapults us towards a few teams.

"I truly believe that we will not be in the bottom three. We understand the things that have gone against us - I have players like Lee Chung-yong and Stuart Holden who have missed the whole season (through injury) and would play for most teams in the Premier League because of their quality.

"We are only just now getting David Ngog fully fit - he had a knee injury earlier in the season and has been stop-start.

"So there have been huge uncontrollables that have gone against us, but we have continued, knowing we have good players and can turn things around.

"However, it is no good, as we have done at many stages this season, winning big games and then taking a step back.

"We must take small steps, but take them consistently and try to get that little run going together."

As at the start of the campaign, Bolton now face a tough-looking sequence of fixtures, with league games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal to come before the end of January, but Coyle is feeling optimistic

He said: "We knew at the start of the second half of the season we had a daunting fixture list, but I feel that we are in a better shape now than we were at the start of the season in terms of dealing with that."

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