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Everton began 2014 with a 1-1 draw away at Stoke City, with a late penalty from Leighton Baines securing a share of the spoils for Roberto Martinez's side. The former Wigan boss praised his side for their reaction to falling behind to Oussama Assaidi's strike, and singled out Leon Osman after the midfielder won the late penalty.
"I felt in the first half, when we hit the woodwork twice, that it was not going to be our day. Probably with the first real chance that Stoke had, a good strike from outside the box ended up in the back of the net and it seemed that it was the worst possible case for us at that moment.
"I don't think we were at our best by any stretch of the imagination. But what we showed was an incredible reaction after we conceded the goal. We forced Stoke back in their own box. We had two balls cleared off the line and then the penalty, earned through the magic feet of Leon Osman, was a good reward.”
Everton continue their impressive start to the season and left back Baines, who stroked home the 90th minute penalty, believes that the Toffees have a good enough squad to prolong their success, and pointed to Osman's contribution as proof of their strength in depth.
"We've got a lot of quality throughout and the spirit is fantastic, The difference in terms of getting a point is probably Leon Osman who came off the bench, was brave in the box and won us a penalty. That’s what we have got throughout really - people who can come in and make a difference. We’ve really utilised the squad well this season and we will need everyone to the end."
Meanwhile, defender Johnny Heitinga has found first team football hard to come by in recent times, and had been expected to move to fellow Premier League side West Ham United this January transfer window, but the Dutch international has turned down a switch to Upton Park.
“At my age it is important to make the right choices,” Heitinga said. “Then it is not just about money, because that was not a problem at West Ham United. You must be convinced that you are making a right step and that thought was with me, so I cancelled the move to West Ham and we now await the interest of other clubs.”
image: © Nick Sarebi