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Everton 3 - 0 Charlton Athletic

Half-time: 0 - 0


Charlton Athletic Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #2
8 pm Thursday 23 August 2000
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 36,300
« Leeds United (a) Ref: Neale Barry Derby County (h) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 7th  [ Results & Table ]
 MATCH SUMMARY
Ferguson!! The first home match of the season usually brings out a good crowd, and this time it is against the fresh young and just deposed opening-day league leaders who murdered Joe Royle's Man City side 4-0 at the weekend.

Injuries continued to dog Walter Smith's new Everton side, with the impressive Alexandersson still sidelined, along with a host of others.  But at least Thomas Gravesen got a start finally in midfield alongside Alex Nyarko and possibly Paul Gascoigne.  

Walter Smith predictably played the largely ineffective front pairing of Jeffers and Mark Hughes instead of Ferguson.  

Paul Gascoigne got the first start of his Everton career in midfield, but Ferguson was again rested in preparation for a second-half cameo appearance. Charlton started well and pushed Everton early on. Gough got in for a corner after 7 mins but put the ball a foot over the bar.  Then Gough went down in the penalty area but nothing was given.

Pistone started brightly.  Then Jeffers did great work to break forward on his own, but lost out one-on-one with Keily.  It was end-to-end stuff with both sides getting chances.  Some great football for Everton saw Stephen Hughes unleash a great shot which was tipped over by Kiely. Everton fullbacks did well to contain the lively Charlton attack, but could not prise an opening... A free-kick routine involved Gravesen's first-time shot but it was cleared off the line.

Then, Tiler and Mark Hughes tussling resulted in the ex-Everton man walking after a second yellow card.  Unsworth came on for the labouring Pistone, and again more free-kick opportunities up front, but they all come to nothing.

Soon into the second half, Gascoigne set up Jeffers with a marvelous ball; Jeffers duly converted and the Street end went crazy!  But Everton failed to push their advantage and it was Charlton who took control on the field.

Ferguson was subbed on for Mark Hughes after 66 mins, then there was a standing ovation for Gazza when he was subbed by Joe-Max Moore with 13 mins to go, and Everton still needing to kill off the game.

After running things close in the final quarter, Ferguson eventually settled things with a low driven shot off a Gravesen pass, to the eternal rapture of Goodison Park!  And to top things off in fine style, the Big Yin grabbed a deflected goal in the dying seconds!  

DUNCAN IS BACK!!!!

 

  

 MATCH FACTS
   GOALSCORERS  Debuts
EVERTON: Jeffers (53'), Ferguson (84', 90') GravesenGascoigne
Charlton Athletic:
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Gerrard; S Watson, Gough{c}, Weir, Pistone (40' Unsworth); Nyarko, Gravesen, Gascoigne (76' Moore), S Hughes; Jeffers, M Hughes (66' Ferguson).
Unavailable: Dunne (suspended); Alexandersson, Ball, Campbell, Cleland, Myhre, Pembridge, Xavier (injured). 
Simonsen, Gemmill.
Charlton Athletic: Kiely; Kishishev, Powell, Stuart, Rufus, Tiler (37' Sent Off!), Kinsella{c}, Hunt, Robinson (64' Parker), Jensen (72' Newton), Lisbie (42' Brown). Ilic, Konchesky.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2; 3-5-2
Charlton Athletic: Red shirts; red shorts; red & white socks. 5-3-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: M Hughes (37'), Jeffers (83').
Charlton Athletic: [Tiler (19', 37')], Rufus (65'). Tiler (37')

 

 MATCH REPORTS
 REPORTS BY EVERTON FANS
Steve Bickerton Food for Thought
Jon Berman Happy Days
David Shepherd Goodison Review
Richard Marland Who'd have thought it?
Rob Burns Stutteringly Brilliant
O--I-- (Symbol) The serious matter of football
Mickey Blue Eyes A peculiar experience
 NEWSPAPER REPORTS
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Ferguson hits late double
by William Johnson
THE TIMES Ferguson rekindles Goodison love affair
by Oliver Kay
 LINKS TO NEWSPAPER REPORTS
THE INDEPENDENT Link to Match Report
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited
DAILY POST Link to Daily Post Report

LIVERPOOL ECHO No Echo Report posted

 LINKS TO OTHER INTERNET REPORTS
EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

BBC SPORT Link to BBC Sports Match Report
SKY SPORTS Link to Sky Sports Match Report
SPORTING LIFE Link to PA Sports Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
FA-PREMIER.COM Link to FA-Premier Match Report


 
 Food for Thought
Steve Bickerton
 
There have been days when its been a chore to turn up at Goodison, knowing that the fayre on offer was less, much less than a feast.  There have been other days when the promise of a banquet has been smashed as a butty box was presented.  Some season starts are like that.  What's to come?  Will the promise on the menu, be delivered on the plate, or will it be all presentation – no taste, no substance?

This is a season that, on pre-season showings, has delivered us a Cordon Bleu menu.  The first course on Saturday was good value for money but didn't quite set the palette afire.  Tonight was the Main Course and we all hoped for a delight on the eye and an end result that would have us begging for more.

Both sides set out to play attacking football.  The new-look Everton midfield was taking a little bit of time to settle and this allowed Charlton to pick up where they left off against Manchester City at the weekend.  Good, quick, crisp passes, strong running and a determination to do well was evident throughout their side.  

But, despite it all there was a feeling that, if push came to shove, there was more about Everton than they were showing in the early stages and they were likely to have the upper hand in any contest of skill.  Cool in the centre of midfield was Alex Nyarko, strolling about without a care in the world.  He made it look so simple at times, yet he was often a little off the pace and was a bit like a Chinese banquet, excellent at the time, but left you feeling that you'd somehow missed something by the time it was all over. 

Thomas Gravesen was anonymous at times in the first half and yet at others was a demon in the tackle and showed clever touches in tight situations.  Would we ever get out of first gear?  Maybe Paul Gascoigne could do something about that.  His impish qualities were to the fore on occasion as he made the game look so easy and he had a hand in both of the best chances of the first half.  A ball that pushed Jeffers clear only for the teenager's shot to be well saved by the keeper and a quick delivery to Stephen Hughes, whose 30-yard drive was pushed over the bar by the keeper.

Yet, despite Gascoigne's artistry, there were two others who were vying for Man of the Match at this point.  The first was Mark Hughes.  He had an outstanding first half, as he led the line against some aggressive Charlton tackling.  Some of the treatment dished out to him would have seen lesser players limping away and out of sight.  Not Sparky.  He gave as good as he got, and that was too much for Carl Tiler, who bundled Hughes to the floor on three different occasions. 

The first merited a stern look from the referee, the second, which saw him cuff Hughes around the ear, earned a yellow, and the third (at which Hughes finally retaliated) saw both players booked, with Tiler's earning him a red as well.

So, Charlton now down to 10 men, how would they perform?  Or more to the point, how would we?

The truth was that, unlike in previous years, we took the initiative and stepped on the gas.  The readjustments made by Alan Curbishley saw gaps open up down the wings as Charlton tried to secure the centre of defence.  The second contender for Man of the Match, Steve Watson, was having a field-day.  He was charging up the right, tackling back, spreading balls short and long, giving a completely professional display.  His opposite wing back, Alessandro Pistone had to leave the field part way through the half, with what looked to be a hamstring injury, to be replaced by David Unsworth, who seems to have rediscovered a penchant for his Rhino charges.

But despite all of that, a half of fine football from both sides saw the teams leave the field at 0-0 .

With no further changes made, Everton seemed to step on the gas a little more at the start of the second half.  Some excellent passing football all over the park was eventually rewarded when Gascoigne, picking the ball up in space halfway inside the Charlton half, pushed forward towards the goal.  A beautifully weighted pass reached Jeffers, in the "D", side on to the goal. A sweep of the leg and the ball found the net. 1-0; a great goal.

From that moment on it was only a case of how many.  At least, it would have been if Charlton had only read the script.  They kept coming back into the game and their ascendancy was nearly rewarded during a 10-minute spell when they were completely on top.  Some rash defending from the whole Everton side, saw Jeffers get a little too frustrated with what was going on around him and one strong challenge too many saw him booked.

This was after Gascoigne had left the field to a standing ovation, to be replaced by Joe-Max Moore and Mark Hughes also received some rousing applause to make way for the returning hero, Duncan Ferguson – and what a return it turned out to be!  As the midfield adjusted to the loss of Gascoigne, Gravesen pushed inside and what a transformation ensued.  He took complete control of the middle of the park and gradually Everton took the sting out of Charlton's attacks.

Gravesen completed the transformation from talented midfield bit-part player, to centre-stage star performer with two scintillating runs.  The first started inside his own half and culminated in a pinpoint delivery to Ferguson's right foot at the right angle of the Charlton box.  A quick control and a strong drive beyond the keeper's dive and he was back.  The return of the prodigal – and Goodison erupted as we went ahead 2-0.

But Gravesen wasn't finished and neither was Ferguson.  A few crosses had missed their mark and others were cleared by the Charlton defence as the aerial threat from Ferguson was obvious, yet none of them were aimed for the big man.  Instead it was his shooting boots that were to do the damage a second time as Gravesen again drove through the defence, delivered to Jeffers who swivelled and pushed the ball to Ferguson, this time on the left side of the box and a left footed drive flicked of a defender and looped over the keeper and into the net. 3-0, let the singing begin!!

Reflection at full time, though, makes me wonder if the scoreline was a little flattering.  Given their overall performance, Charlton can count themselves unlucky to have lost so clearly.  They were always second-best, but I won't be surprised to see them stay up this time – they do look far better equipped.

Attendance: 36,300 – not helped by a very small contingent from Charlton and the bottom section of the Bullens Road away area being completely empty.

Man of the Match:  Despite there being strong contenders in Mark Hughes and Paul Gascoigne and good all round performances all over the pitch, I'll give it to Steve Watson.

As for the gastronomy served up, the ingredients were definitely exciting, but preparation still has room for improvement.  But once the mixture has been refined over a few servings it could well be fit for a King – and Kev will certainly enjoy the quality of service when he returns.

Visit Steve Bickerton's Blue Horizons website


 Up to Reports Index ]
 Happy Days
Jon Berman
 
Hahahahahahahahaha... I knew I couldn't wait for the season to start and I wish I had put the house on Duncan scoring tonight.  I knew it, I knew!  

Trouble is who will play with him on Saturday as he must surely start because of the fan pressure.  I hope he doesn't start just yet as he is still coming back to match fitness. 

They all looked good although Pistone never put a tackle in... there again, classy player.  Watson was excellent tonight; fantastic passing.  Gravesen was quiet but very effective.  Nyarko is THE man. 

Gazza?  Well for a finished footballer he is fantastic and the great thing is that people have missed is that Gazza is the type of player that if he is appreciated, he will give his all, which may explain why he didn't do well at Boro.  He will do so much better with us guaranteed. 

Duncan. What can you say about him except that as a hero, he makes a brilliant one, as a player we will just have to wait and see, but it is going to be great fun finding out.

Although I enjoyed it tonight, we really must learn how to defend without panicking all the time.  This will happen once they gel.  Franny took his chance well but I wish he had taken his other chance when clean through in the first half.  Just shoot hard will ya Franny instead of trying to place the ball in the net all the time. 

Mark Hughes was lucky to walk off the pitch after all the battering he took. The ref was as usual pathetic. Gerard held his concentration without being troubled too much despite all their possession. Stephen Hughes was injured and it was obvious... possibly his quietest game.  He'll still have a great season though, I can feel it in my water. Weir still solid. Gough will he last all season... er, ...no!

Unsworth...he will have to really impress and I reckon he should do.  Interesting to see him racing over to Duncan when he scored his first goal.  Oh by the way, Unsworth must have a huge mobile phone bill after all the messages of er 'goodwill' he has left all pre-season on Barmby's mobile along with Dave Watson chipping in.  The derby is going to be very interesting indeedy.

Come on down Derby County... you are about to witness the force that will become unstoppable.

Optimistic?  Me?  With my reputation? Too right!
  


 Up to Reports Index ]
 Goodison Review
David Shepherd
 
GP’s been tarted up a bit this summer.  Massive club crest & blurb high above the main entrance; smart but rugged metal boards run the length of Gwladys Street with turnstile information; lots of new paint outside and in.  The little windows in the Street End must be older than Brian Labone – some of those have been replaced too.

‘Progress’ marches on, and the matchday program is now fat, glossy and £2.50.  Opinion will be varied as to whether this is a good thing; note that the R**s ‘programme’ is bigger, glossier and 3 quid – most expensive in the League – though Bolton wanted 4 quid at smelly-shoe stadium.

TV Everton showed that Sky Sports info sequence all through half time.  A cross between the American stock market channel and Grandstand’s vidiprinter, it continuously scrolls scores, scorers, goal updates and link-up reports.  A good service but depressing to watch for long.  Meanwhile all the EFC ads, info and highlights were gone.  I hope Sky’s paying us to show this and not the other way round.

There’s a pretty blue carpet instead of a dirt track all the way around the pitch.  Talking of the pitch, the sidelines are marked WAY further in than before.  May have lost 8 yards in total. (Well that’s one way to cure the problem of no width...)

Goodison finally has a replay screen.  (How many years behind Arsenal, Leeds, etc.?)  It’s in the Park/Bullens corner.  It’s also a bit small and doesn’t (yet) carry graphics of team news & substitutions.

In the dubious entertainment category there was a giant sackload of balloons and fireworks as the teams came out.  Would it have been EFC or Sky being sued if a player or spectator had been injured by white hot sparks?  One ejected missile landed 30 yards away.  At least one of ours (Watson?) was hit by something.

Who’s paying for all this?  Well hopefully the Carter/Kenwright regime have kicked out the marketing people we had under Johnson and got some top-grade replacements.  Sad, but a killer marketing manager is more vital to the club’s future than any player.  A scoreboard, for example, costs about a million.  But with good marketing, it can pay for itself by screening adverts.  Without, it’s just depreciating capital which gets embarrassing as better versions come along.

Hopefully this is also the thinking behind the ground improvements.  We are in debt and can’t afford cosmetic luxuries, BUT we are a club trying to attract not just big but VERY BIG sponsorship.  So I guess it’s very important not to show them a shabby Goodison.  Are EFC looking at a possible move or what?  If so why paint the condemned house?  Hopefully they’ll make as many of the investments as possible movable ones.

Is Walter Smith a genius?  The evidence of what he’s achieved with few resources points to a big fat yes.  In fantasy football terms, Everton are unable to hold or attract the top quality talent needed in the modern league, so in theory they’ll never get to Europe and never get the money to break back into the ‘Big Five’.  But WS managed just fine with a team of no-names and veterans last year, and you’ll have to be brave to bet against him doing it again this year.

Who would replace England’s creative midfielder with England’s national joke?  Yes, it sounds like suicidal lunacy, but after watching Gascoigne last night, we were laughing.  He’s a commanding presence, a massive influence on team morale, loved every minute and showed it, PLUS he can play football.  Sublimely.

It was hard not to weep for joy as he put corner after corner into the danger area, bar height in front.  Best crosser we’ve had since Hinchcliffe.  It was joy to have him standing over free kicks knowing he could pinpoint a pass or shoot himself.  Best dead-ball man since Sheedy.  It was joy to watch a blue shirt with the ball at his feet in midfield with all the time in the world.  Best distribution since Beardsley.  It was joy to see the passion & the way he wanted his teammates to feel it too.  Best influence since Reid.  It was joy to see him interact with the crowd, feed off them and inspire them to give more in support.  Best hero since...

Oh and talking of Duncan Ferguson... ;)  Legends are born, not made.  He’s terribly unfit and no-one in this team has worked at the front with him, but you can’t keep a hero down on an occasion like this.  Destiny forbids it.

The lower Gwladys is famous for the Clearsil section, but also contains a large donut of arl lads, middle-aged, retired singers.  If they sing, you know all’s well.  They usually only stick to ‘Everton Everton’ or ‘Royal Blue Jersey’ but tonight they stretched to the inventive with ‘Duncan Is Back’ and ‘You can stick yer Nicky Barmby up yer arse’.  Succinct.

Dunc only shared the field with Gazza for 12 minutes and no corners.  The margin between relegation and comfort is about 10 points.  Gascoigne’s delivery plus Duncan’s head are going to be worth that alone – IF they can both stay away from injury and suspension.

Walter seems to be prepared to play who’s available.  Hoping Gazza and Dunc will see us home would be like driving to London in a Skoda, but we’ve already got Jeffers, Moore, Campbell and Sparky in the squad, and a manager who can produce cheap-but-effective signings to order.

Alright, you’ve had your fun.  Now let’s do a reality check.  Heroes apart, we were only 1-0 up at home to 10 man relegation favourites after 75 minutes, and they were all over us.  They scared us into one of those desperate defensive stands which we usually concede late goals to.  Our build-up was terribly slow and chances too few.  If the division was full of Charltons we’d be laughing.  Hmm....

I expect with Sir Walter at the helm we’ll get through the season to the comfort zone with plenty of hero moments on the way.  (How about picking up the league cup?  No-one else takes it seriously and we’re LONG overdue for a good run in it!)

Now all we need is similarly inspired genius behind the scenes to turn our finances around and give us a shot at Europe.  If Leeds modest-club-with-no-history United are in the Champions League, there is NO REASON ON EARTH why we should not get there too.

And we can’t risk waiting 10 years to get there.  By them the gravy train may have left the station bound for a Euro-super-league.
  


 Up to Reports Index ]
 Who'd have thought it?
Richard Marland
 
Goodison looked absolutely gorgeous in the evening sunshine: the flags, the huge welcoming sign, and the blue gravel are all inspired ideas – there's still some life in the old lady yet.  Likewise, the team looked pretty good after a summer overhaul.  Gerrard is now firmly established as first choice 'keeper, the new look back line of Watson, Weir, Gough and Pistone was together for the first time. 

The midfield still has a bit of a cut-&-paste feel to it, Hughes and Gravesen were on the flanks and neither looked totally comfortable, Gascoigne and Nyarko patrolled the middle.  Walter refused the temptation to throw Dunc on preferring instead the match-fit Mark Hughes and Francis Jeffers.  On the bench were Simonsen, Unsworth, Moore, Ferguson and Cadamarteri.

Without ever hitting the heights, it was always a decent game.  Charlton looked like a team who had been playing together for a while; they were organised and played some neat passing stuff on the ground – I think they will survive this season.  We looked a little disjointed but always looked capable of scoring.  

We had chances with Gascoigne at the fulcrum of most things; his corners were dangerous and he orchestrated the free kicks to pretty good effect.  All of that said, it was Stephen Hughes who created the best chance of the half with a pass that sent Jeffers clear on the goal; the 'keeper did well but Jeffers should have scored.

Hughes and Tiler had been having a ding-dong all half and they had another coming together on the half hour mark for which they both, quite rightly, got booked.  It was Tiler's second and we were now facing 10 men.  Charlton reorganised and concentrated, to good effect, on defence.

They kept us out for the remainder of the first half with the kind of packed, resolute defence we used to struggle against.  Now though we have, in Gazza, the kind of player who can unpick these sorts of defences.  In the second half he picked up the ball in their half, with a couple of shimmies he advanced to the edge of the box, before dinking a little ball into channel for Jeffers to swivel onto and sweep past the 'keeper.  A well worked goal and welcome evidence of what Gazza can offer.

We seemed to lose our way after this.  We had a spell where we kept possession quite nicely without ever looking remotely threatening.  There was a lethargy to our play.  We needed to step up a gear and with Mark Hughes involved in battles all over the pitch it was time for a change.  It seems that everyone had been waiting for Dunc's arrival on the pitch since the kick off; with half an hour remaining he finally made his appearance to a thunderous welcome.

If his arrival lifted the crowd it didn't seem to have much effect on the team.  We ceded a worrying amount of possession to Charlton; we seemed to lack urgency and someone to take control in the midfield.  The thought began to dawn that perhaps we could throw this away.  Fortunately Big Dunc put those thoughts away.  Gravesen made a good break into their half, Dunc made a good run for him, Gravesen fed him with a clever little pass and Dunc, with his left foot, found the net.  I guess it had to happen, destiny and all that.

In the final minute, Dunc rubbed salt in Charlton wounds with a second – this time with his right foot. Gravesen won the ball in their half and fed Jeffers on the edge of the box.  He cleverly put Dunc through who scored with the aid of a deflection.

The final scoreline flattered us. We were worth the win but not by three.  But there were lots of encouraging signs, even if a lack of width is still hindering us.  But with the likes of Nyarko and Gravesen not yet up to speed, and Alexandersson waiting in the wings, it will surely get better.  But lets savour the moment, the Dunc double made it a wonderful night, we were left shaking our heads with the implausibility of it all.  Gazza running our midfield and Dunc applying the coup de grace, who'd have thought it?
  

  • Gerrard 7 Nothing to do except routine stops of long range shots, all of which stuck, which is always encouraging.
  • S Watson 8 Looks to be a decent buy. Got up and down well, a few good crosses, used the ball well, and defended competently.
  • Weir 7 Just what we have come to expect from Mr Consistency, solid, reliable, unspectacular.
  • Gough 7 It's amazing that he can play at this level having barely kicked a ball in anger since last May. Accomplished on the deck, always talking, and was a more than useful threat at corners.
  • Pistone 7 Another who impressed me. Looks to be a very good defender who can play a bit as well. let's hope he's back soon.
  • Gravesen 7 Looked a little lost wide right and looked better when he moved infield for the second half. Made a few telling contributions (notably the second goal) and another who looks to be more than useful.
  • Nyarko 7 Looks like he could be the business. Everything looked so easy and natural, his touch was good and if he misplaced a pass then I didn't see it. Needs to step-up his game a bit and take a bit more control of the midfield, but I'm sure that will come with games and familiarity with his team mates.
  • Gascoigne 8 Till his legs went he had had a cracking game. Always looking for the ball, the delivery of his corners and free kicks was excellent, and his little run and lay-off for Jeffers goal looked so easy yet so few can do it. Also worked hard in defence, including one excellent moment when he tracked a midfield runner all the way into our box before executing a perfect block tackle, he then leapt to his feet with a clenched fist yell at the crowd. He looks very hungry for it.
  • Hughes S 7 A seemingly typical Hughes performance, large portions of the game where he seems somewhat peripheral, but in admidst that a few excellent passes (eg Jeffers' one on one) and a few other good moments.
  • Jeffers 7 Took his goal well and made the space for it extremely well. Should have scored when put through on the 'keeper in the first half. All in all an impressive performance, worked hard and linked well with those around him. I remain completely convinced about his potential.
  • Hughes M 7 Thought he was lucky to remain on the pitch after his tussle with Tiler, he definitely aimed a kick at him. Put himself about with his usual gusto, held the ball up well and used it intelligently.
  • Unsworth 7 It gives me great confidence seeing a defender as good and experienced as Unsie on the bench.  Did his job when he came on, nothing got past him and he had a few decent forays into their half.
  • Ferguson 7 What can you say? Took his goals well, a hint of good fortune with the second but the shot was powerful and on target and so earned his luck. Foraged fairly deep for the ball seeing as how no-one would launch it to him, and reminded us that he's good enough to do that successfully as he rarely misplaces a pass. What a homecoming!
  • Moore 6 Not on long and didn't get much chance to impress.

Team 6 Despite everyone playing a part and showing us, in flashes, what they are capable of this wasn't a particularly cohesive team performance. They lost their way big time in the run up to the second goal - defending too deep and being unable to keep possession. But with games together things should surely improve and the willingness to play football on the deck was very encouraging.

Man of the match - Paul Gascoigne
  


 Up to Reports Index ]
 Stutteringly Brilliant
Rob Burns
 
Everton showed touches of brilliance as they eclipsed Charlton Athletic at Goodison tonight.   Of the new boys, Pistone oozed confidence and showed some great touches – a refreshing cross with a degree of accuracy that Unsworth-conditioned Evertonians haven't seen since – my dad says – Ray Wilson. 

If only Stephen Hughes had been awake to his defensive duties Pistone would have had a chance of coping with the infrequent Charlton attacks.  Unfortunately he left injured and the outcome is yet to be seen.  Gravesen was lost on the right but found his feet when he moved into the centre for the second half. He did the simple well and laid on one of Dunc's goals. 

Partner Nyarko was quiet by Saturday's standards but showed class with his turns and touches, passing measured and strong.   Franny could've let his head go down after missing one-on-one with the 'keeper, but will find inspiration from his superbly taken goal in the second half.  His running was, as always, second to none.  

Gazza laid the goal on and his 66-minute contribution was superb – inventive in his passing with good corners and free kicks, and the Big Dunc hype machine delivered the goods with a fairytale ending and two goals – both on the floor, controlled on the move and struck powerfully across the area from opposite sides. 

Steve Watson caused havoc on the right and looks good to link up with Alexandersson and Dunc on Saturday.   The big difference was without a doubt Gough, and the talk on the way out of the ground was 'how can we do without him' blocking effectively in the tackle, winning in the air and bringing the very best out of Weir. The man is unbeatable.   

Everton did not flow, and at times looked frustrated by resolute defending by ten-man Charlton – old boy Carl Tyler dismissed for reacting to a Hughesesque tangle with a kick on the Welshman – a second yellow and off.   

But Everton are currently playing, like in pre-season, with a group of individuals who are trying to get to know each other.  Flashes of brilliance, much ordinary stuff - like a misfiring Porsche.   Never out of first gear – even though sometimes they should have been – it is a frightening thought as to what we COULD do when the understanding develops.   ROLL ON SATURDAY!!!
 


 Up to Reports Index ]
 The serious matter of football
0--I-- (aka "Symbol")
 
As far as I know, Charlton’s most notable celebrity supporter is everybody’s least favourite bearded rag-bag TV columnist, Garry ‘have I got something on my face?’  Bushell (…does this make him a Telly Addick?).  So, if for no other reason, 3 points was an absolute necessity.

Some interesting pre-match reading came from the sparkling, new-look and over-priced match programme (good to see Everton thinking in these terms now; 50p extra for each programme sold? Work it out yourselves…) and popular fanzine When Skies Are Grey.  For all those out there still stroking their chins and standing on their heads in hope of inspiration, Peter Clarke has been handed the squad number 30, and Andrew Pettinger is indeed a young ‘keeper from Scunthorpe. 

Colin Harvey mentioned his name, so he must exist. 

As for WSAG, it’s decline is indeed a sad one.  If the opening, ‘Barmby is a redshite ergo he was crap all along’ stance wasn’t embarrassing enough, then the rest gave little indication that what was once an entertaining and satirical pre-match read hasn’t reduced itself to resembling one of Grandpa Simpson’s moan-a-thons.

Anyway, onto the match.  For much of the first-half, Goodison once again resembled a morgue (the night’s biggest cheers seemed to be reserved for Gascoigne and Ferguson – slightly surprising, but then again only to be expected…), and the banter was cringe-worthy. “You’re supposed to be at home,” was just about anything the away fans could muster, and prompted the witty retort of “You what? You what? You what?” Touché.

Yosser the elder did his job and got their man sent off, then we scored 3 second half goals amidst various spells of decent Charlton pressure (on this evidence, they’re a safe bet to beat the drop).  So here instead is a player by player assessment:
  

  • Gerrard 6 – Not much to do.  Looked a safe pair of hands, and some of Charlton’s best chances were recklessly skied anyway.
  • S Watson 7 – At last, a proper right back.  Surprised me with some clever passes and flicks, and generally looked sound defensively.  Was handed a more attacking role in the second half, and this worryingly gave Charlton a bit of freedom down their left for a while.
  • Pistone 6 – Came off early in the game.  Seems like he’s quite injury-prone, which is a shame because I likes what I sees, and that’s a classy full-back who looks comfortable in possession and can be deceptively tough.  Some good interplay with the midfield.
  • Gough 8 – Back to his masterful best, but our reliance on a player in what has to be his final season is worrying to say the least.
  • Weir 7 – Usual sound self.  Doesn’t get enough credit for his intelligent forward passes from the back.
  • Gravesen 8 – Neat and tidy, but on the whole very uncomfortable on the right hand side.  Much more impressive, when he was allowed to come inside, and played a part in 2 of the goals.  Will be a key player this season.
  • Nyarko 8 – Believe the hype.  Without moving out of first gear, he still looked a class above those around him.  Definitely more to come.
  • Gascoigne 9 – A huge influence on proceedings.  Quite clearly a stone or two lighter, and he’s obviously worked hard to reach this level of fitness.  Was at the heart of all our best moves.  He won’t be a regular, but if we get sporadic bursts of this kind of class it will be totally worth it.  Man of the match.
  • S Hughes 7 – Yosser the younger, quite encouragingly, seems more at home wide on the left than playing in a central role.  Had an outstanding first half when his passing, work-rate and, on one occasion, shooting were top-class.  Faded a little second half, but not to an extent where he was invisible.  He’s finally growing into his reputation.
  • Jeffers 6 – Good work rate to start with, but didn’t pose too many threats, and missed a glorious opportunity when put clean through by Yosser the younger.  His head looked like it was dropping a bit, although he wasn’t getting much from his strike partner.  Well-taken goal did him a world of good, and his confidence levels seem to be virtually restored. Should stay in the side, in my opinion.
  • Hughes 5 – Is it me, or does 99% of his game consist of chesting the ball up and touching it backwards?  It’s all very well if you then proceed to move into a channel, but he just stands still.  Lack of pace means that all ability to turn has diminished, so he’ll go to any lengths in order to bring the ball back into the midfield.  Still, there’s no point having a go, because he plays to the maximum of his current abilities, and I suppose he’d be a good player to bring on when you’re defending a 1-0 lead.
  • Unsworth 6 – Stayed solid at the back, when Pistone or Ball are playing, there’s that touch more class.  Good squaddie, no more.
  • Ferguson 8 – Didn’t have enough time to get too involved, but you can’t have any qualms with 2 goals.  Unlike Hughes, he actually moves after laying it off, and the fact that he scored one with his right foot and one with his left foot shows just how much he’ll benefit from playing in a higher-quality side.
  • Moore 7 – Looked hungry and menacing.  I’m a big fan of the little Yank, but I can’t see him forcing a place.  Which is a good indication of our improved quantity and quality of squad.

Overall team performance 7 – This side contains proper footballers.  At times it was very enjoyable to watch, but it can hardly be described as a one-sided affair.  The sending off was undoubtedly a turning point, but there’s enough signs here to suggest that with a full-strength side we could be a match for anybody.  Personal highlight of the evening – the prolonged chants of ‘Super Kevin Campbell’ – this man must not be forgotten.
 


 Up to Reports Index ]
 A peculiar experience
Mickey Blue Eyes
 
I might have known.  It had been clammy and humid all day without being hot: a weird combination.  And you won't get many more weird games than this one.  The fact is, like it or not, Charlton played much better than we did, even when they were down to ten men.  There was a loony spell midway in the second half when they had our Park End goal under siege and looked likely to score at any moment.  At which point we were all screaming at every Blue Belly to DO SOMETHING... such as, win a tackle or pass the ball straight.  While all this was going on Charlton were happily winning the ball all over the place and threading it accurately left, right and centre.  They weren't dismayed and they certainly never gave up.

It never got to the point where they were raining shots and headers on Paul's goal.  But the pressure was there and looked increasingly ominous until the dam broke and sheer weight of numbers told... in reverse.

I would say I felt sorry for Charlton except the memories of the last four years are too fresh.  Life is dispassionate, not compassionate.

Of course none of this looked remotely likely at 8.00 pm when the teams emerged.  The atmosphere was crackling and the crowd primed with expectation.  Then...."Z Cars," fireworks and there they were ready to kick off.  The first home match of the season always has a different, better feel to it.

Yes, well, that's all very well.  Charlton had other ideas.  And they applied them with such diligence we got the runaround in the first half almost straight from the kick-off.  Most of their threats came down our right where Stevie and The Gravedigger were zoned and coping none too well.  Our first attempt eventually came from Yozzer 1, 30 m out left centre and a dipping, fizzing shot their keeper did well to save.  The crowd were plainly annoyed.  Me, I was thoroughly pissed off.

Our midfield and centre defence were a joke which Charlton were quite happy to almost ignore.  How they didn't make the break through is beyond me.  It looked likely by the minute.  Goughy-Weir had none of the rock solidity of last season.  Nyarko was fitful and mostly on his own anyway.  In the end it was summed up for me by a Charlton attack mid-right into the Street End.  Gazza, on from the beginning, got a crunching tackle in at the last moment and we were saved.  It looked a cert.  But strangely Paul didn't have many saves to make... looked a lot more confident with crosses too.

Up front, Yozzer 2 laboured away at their huge centre backs and destroyed their concentration so much he got one of them sent off after a bad tempered mixing of elbows and boots.  The Ears couldn't evade his marker again.  It looked bleak until the sending off.

Gazza was noticeable for his discipline.  Yes, you may make a double-take on that.  He was box-to-box tidy.  Could hardly believe it.  Nothing spectacular, mind.  Just sort of... well, tidy.  Eventually this paid off during our second half twenty minute good spell into the Street End when he got the ball smack centre of their half, took a couple of deceptive strides forward and hit an exquisitely weighted pass through three defenders to The Ears moving forward, left of the penalty arc.  He still had it all to do.  But he did it splendidly... shielded the ball from his rear marker, got goal-side and clipped it smartly inside the keeper's right stick.

Then Charlton ran rings around us again while we brought on The Big Yin and The Little Yank.  This seemed to give us more fluidity.

Tommy The Gravedigger moved further infield and this paid off within 10 minutes when he won the ball just inside their half, right side, and moved his formidable bulk forward.  The Yin went right of the penalty spot and the ball arrived with him still at an acute angle, right side.  He hit it perfectly... it went in... and the Street End absolutely EXPLODED.  God how they've LONGED for a hero all this time!

Shortly afterwards, The Gravedigger won another tackle, stuck it through the centre to The Ears, almost where he had scored... he turned unselfishly and played it out to... The Yin, closing from acute left this time, just as a defender slid in with a desperate tackle.  The Yin hit his shot as the tackle came in, it shot up in the air, could have gone anywhere... but this was one of those weird nights... and sailed over the keeper's head and into the net.  The Street End had a communal orgasm.  They knew how it would all finish.

And, hard though it was on Charlton, I found it impossible to resist our fans one iota of their feelings.  You can imagine how ecstatic they were.

But it was a damned near run thing.  Next time we probably won't be so lucky.

Time for them to start knitting together.  And quickly.


 Up to Reports Index ]
 Ferguson rekindles Goodison love affair
by Oliver Kay, The Times
 

SOME things are simply meant to be.  In keeping with the opening words of the match programme, which talked of his "Roy of the Rovers relationship with Everton Football Club", Duncan Ferguson announced his return to Goodison Park in comic-book style, scoring two goals in the most glittering of cameo appearances.  After his two late goals – the second in injury time – Ferguson went over to his followers in the Gwladys Street End and bared the Everton tattoo that he kept on his forearm during his 21-month exile at Newcastle United.  The gesture, which appeared premeditated, earned the biggest cheer of the night.

The supporters, though, might have to wait before they see Ferguson back in the starting line-up as he is still perceived to be short of match fitness after a largely inactive season on Tyneside.  "It's going to take him a few weeks," Walter Smith, the manager, said.  "It's going to be a case of giving him half an hour here and there until he's fully fit."

Smith, never one to get carried away, resisted the temptation to gloat after seeing Ferguson and Paul Gascoigne, whose arrivals at Goodison Park were condemned as insanity on Smith's part, justify his decision to give them the opportunity to relaunch their respective careers . Gascoigne had his moments on his first full appearance, none better than the pass that allowed Francis Jeffers to open the scoring in the 54th minute.

By that time, Charlton Athletic were down to ten men after Carl Tiler, the former Everton defender, was sent off in the 38th minute for his second tangle with Mark Hughes, whose role as agent provocateur did little to impress Alan Curbishley, the Charlton manager.  Curbishley was forced to remove Kevin Lisbie, who had been their most dangerous player, in a tactical reshuffle and the game was over.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 Up to Reports Index ]
 Ferguson hits late double
William Johnson, Electronic Telegraph
 

DUNCAN FERGUSON's Everton homecoming was a triumphant one last night as the big Scottish striker, re-signed from Newcastle for £3.75 million, ensured that the Merseysiders clinched their first win of the season with two goals in the last five minutes.

Everton had been nervously protecting a lead secured early in the second half by their young England striker Francis Jeffers.

The sending-off of Carl Tiler, a former Goodison favourite, for two relatively minor offences was doubly advantageous to Everton.  Not only did it aid them numerically, it also forced Charlton manager Alan Curbishley to withdraw his most threatening player.  Kevin Lisbie, a young striker with explosive pace, had given Everton's defence major problems in the 41 minutes he was on the field, but Curbishley chose to sacrifice the teenager to send on Steve Brown as a replacement for Tiler.

Lisbie had set up Charlton's best chance of the first half for John Robinson but the winger shot wildly over.

Everton changed their formation at half-time to capitalise on their one-man advantage and the extra width that manager Walter Smith demanded created the space for Paul Gascoigne to put Jeffers through, the youngster controlling the pass swiftly and shooting confidently past Kiely.

Thoughts that it would be then plain sailing for the home team were seriously misplaced as 10-man Charlton hit back in the closing stages, the hard-working Mark Kinsella forcing a fine save from Paul Gerrard.

It needed the spectacular introduction of Ferguson to calm the Goodison nerves, the former idol marking his Goodison return with a sweetly-struck goal from Thomas Gravesen's pass.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph
 
 


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