MOYES SETTLES FOR A POINT
David Moyes was content with a point at Stoke as his Everton side maintained their strong finish to the season.
Everton have gone seven games unbeaten since losing to Arsenal in March and looked set to claim all three points at the Britannia Stadium before Cameron Jerome earned a 1-1 draw for the hosts.
And while Moyes bemoaned his side's inability to add to Peter Crouch's first-half own goal, he accepts it is not a bad result for his team.
"Getting the first goal helped us," he said. "That's always important.
"We gave away a lot of free-kicks at the start of the second half and that gave them a bit of momentum.
"We couldn't quite get that second goal. But Stoke were much better in the second half and it's not a bad point away at Stoke."
Everton's fortunes may have taken a turn for the worse in the second half of this particular game but it's a different story in terms of the season as a whole.
After losing six of their first 10 Premier League games of the season, Everton are currently on a run of just two defeats from their last 16 matches.
The improved form has lifted the Toffees above neighbours Liverpool, who lost at home to Fulham on Tuesday night, into seventh spot.
Moyes said: "We've tried to finish the best we could in the second half of the season. I'd like to do it in the first half as well."
Asked if he was sick of being asked if he knew the reason for Everton's regular habit of starting seasons slowly and ending them strongly, Moyes smiled, saying: "Yes, I am sick of answering that question."
Stoke boss Tony Pulis admitted tiredness in his team had prompted a bold triple substitution - and was delighted with the way the move paid off.
The Potters, who were playing their 54th game of a gruelling season, fell behind in the 44th minute through Crouch's own goal.
At that stage the hosts had only really threatened with efforts stemming from the long throws of Rory Delap, but they were reinvigorated in the 67th minute when Pulis chose to make all three substitutions at once.
Crouch, Jon Walters and Delap were replaced by Jerome, Ricardo Fuller and Glenn Whelan and within two minutes, Stoke were level.
Jerome was the man to net the equaliser, powering through Phil Jagielka and John Heitinga to force the ball past Tim Howard, and the much-improved Potters might have gone on to win it from there.
Referring to the substitutions, Pulis said: "Sometimes you get them right, sometimes you don't.
"I'm standing here and I'm no genius - you don't know until they come on what effect they will have, and if anybody tells you any different, well then I'm telling you the truth.
"I just felt Crouchy and one or two of them looked tired.
"It was always a case of giving Rory an hour and then bringing him off because he hasn't played for a while. I just felt it was right to do. Jon Walters has had a long season.
"That is 54 games now. We played Arsenal on Saturday (another 1-1 home draw) and the top teams take a lot of energy out of you. Everton are a top team, so it is a great result for us tonight."
Reflecting on the game as a whole, Pulis added: "I thought Everton were the better team in the first half without a doubt. Their goal was a little bit fortuitous, but they deserved it.
"In the second half I thought we came more into the game. We looked a little bit tired and jaded in the first half, but second half I thought we deserved to get a point out of it."
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