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Everton 0 - 3 Ipswich Town

Half-time: 0 - 1

Ipswich Town Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #8
3pm Saturday 30 September 2000
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 32,597
Bristol Rovers (a) Ref: Jeff Winter Southampton (h) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 15th [ Results & Table ]
What can we say?  Injury crisis... inability to beat inferior opposition... unfit players in key positions... managerial perseverance with an aging and ineffective striker who is well past his best.  Well, no... for once, Walter Smith "rests" his first-choice non-scoring striker, the aging Mark Hughes, in favour of the goal-hungry Joe-Max Moore.

And the result?  Everton fail to score.  But Ipswich score in spades.  McGreal with a free header off a free kick; Steve Watson gave away the second goal soon after half-time; then Unsworth totally lost it for their third, and the Everton fans left en masse with 30 mins still to play!!!.  What a time for poor Kevin McLeod to be thrown to the wolves for his senior debut.

No doubt Walter Smith will be "disappointed" with yet another inadequate display.  But will he actually DO anything about it?



EVERTON: Sub: McLeod
Ipswich Town: McGreal (18'), Stewart (49', 60')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used
EVERTON: Gerrard; S Watson, Nyarko, Weir, Unsworth (65' S Hughes); Alexandersson (75' McLeod), Gravesen, Gascoigne, Gemmill; Campbell, Moore (65' M Hughes).
Unavailable: Cleland, Ferguson, Gough, Jeffers, Myhre, Pembridge, Pistone, Xavier (injured)
; Ball, Dunne (disciplined).
Simonsen, Clarke.
Ipswich Town: R Wright; Wilnis, Clapham, McGreal, Magilton; Holland, Stewart (77' Johnson), Naylor (62' Scowcroft), J Wright; Bramble, Hreidarsson. Venus, Salmon, Reuser.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
Ipswich Town: White shirts; black shorts; white socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Nyarko (80')
Ipswich Town:


Guy McEvoy Club in Crisis
Steve Johnson No... THIS was the worst Everton performance ever
Julian Cashen Sort it, Walter!
Ste Daley Pack it in NOW!
Mickey Blue Eyes One Word: Sickening
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Everton overwhelmed
by Derick Allsop
THE SUNDAY TIMES Hotshot Stewart sweeps aside toothless Everton
by Ian Hawkey
THE TIMES Stewart helps erase painful memories for Burley
by Keith Pike
THE INDEPENDENT Link to Match Report
THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited
DAILY POST Link to Daily Post Report

LIVERPOOL ECHO Link to Echo Report

EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

BBC SPORTS 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 Link to FA-Premier Match Report

 Club in Crisis?
Guy McEvoy
Thoughts on what I was unlucky enough to see:

Nyarko.  If you were going to pick one of our midfielders as a centre back what on earth is it that would make you pick the one most famous for his reluctance to tackle?  Im not saying Nyarko had a terrible game (well, no worse than anyone elses, and he was better than I thought hed be there) but I just cant see where the idea came from.

Joe-Max.  Has he been training with a different weight ball?  He had the first touch of gozzy leper today.

Super Kev.  There is NO way you can tell me he is anywhere near match fit.  I guess hes playing as needs must, but he looks as sharp as water at the mo.  You can tell the forwards arent having the best day when Scott Gemmill looks the most likely man to score.

Their keeper.  How different would the game have been if he hadnt have made that save before half time?  For fucks sake though Everton, when you get the ball on the line just fucking smack it in will you?????

Unsworth.  For fucks sake.  The giveaway for the third was a shocker.  However, that in no way whatsoever excuses the muppets who booed his every touch thereafter till he was subbed.  That sort of thing from the fans spreads the infection of demoralisation, quicker than you can say Wolverhampton Wanderers.  Now is the time to bitch.  Not then.

Oh, and while were on the subject of giveaway goals, for me Gazza was at the least as guilty for the second as Watson was.  Alexandersson was unmarked up the field, Watson had a man closing down on him.  Watson would have been expecting the ball to go to Alexandersson as it was safe and obvious and would have led to an attacking situation, instead the surprise pass he found had to deal with was late and over-hit enough to take the extra second to control, his man was on him and the rest was sadly inevitable.

It was one of those matches where if you wanted to miss the traffic you stayed till the end. The Park End emptied with half and hour to go.

The whole day had a scary mid-Nineties club-in-crisis feel to it. This came from the fans as much as the men on the pitch.

Marks out of 10: Everton Team 3 Evertonians 2

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 No... THIS was the worst Everton performance ever
Steve Johnson
I've just got back from witnessing what is possibly the worst performance I've ever witnessed by an Everton team.  Serious questions have to be asked about the tactical awareness of Walter Smith, and his persistence in playing people out of position, costing us matches week-in, week-out. 

Two weeks ago it was Stephen Hughes at left back and Gazza on the left wing (to say nothing of Dunne) and today we had Alex Nyarko in defence!  Yet, David Unsworth (a centre back) is on the left wing, with another centre-half Dunne not even in the squad.  What have Michael Ball and Dunne got to do to get played in their proper positions?  Why wasn't Unsworth at centre back today, with Stephen Hughes in the team?

Alexandersson looked okay in pre-season, but in the games since then he has been quite simply awful.  How does he manage to stay in the team and yet Stephen Hughes who's done alright gets dropped?  

Stephen seems to be Walter's current scapegoat for things going wrong.  He started the season in terrific form, but is it any wonder his confidence has faded being played at left back every match?  Unsworth should never play for the Blues again remember Sheffield Wednesday in 1999 at Goodison, or maybe Arsenal in 1997?  He's an absolute disgrace, and Watson isn't much better. He's scored an own goal at Boro, and in the first minute today he played Gerrard into trouble.

It seems that none of the players give a damn that we're getting turned over by rubbish like Ipswich.  Alexandersson should be dropped, Unsworth sold, and Walter should make his peace with Abel Xavier wouldn't Abel be able to act as the commanding defender we need when he's fully fit? 

After Southampton at home, we've got Newcastle and Liverpool away, so we could quite conceivably be bottom of the league by the end of October.  It's getting to the stage now where I'm actually dreading going to Goodison.  The stadium emptying with half an hour to play, and the howls of derision for the home team from those left at the end say it all.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Sort it, Walter!
Julian Cashen
As an Evertonian living in Ipswich, I made the 5-hour journey to Goodison with some trepidation.  After some true Jeckyll & Hyde performances so far this season, I felt nervous that we would again perform badly especially against a useful Ipswich side that I had watched the previous week lead Arsenal for most of the second half.  Travelling with two Ipswich supporters hardly helped my humour, and I laughed nervously when one of them pronounced that he felt really confident and was expecting a 2- or 3-nil victory.  Right ho.

In front of a disappointing crowd, the Blues took the field and, as usual, I felt the usual surge of misplaced optimism as Z-Cars rang out.  This lasted for roughly 2 minutes until I saw we were lining up with a back FIVE, including Nyarko as sweeper.  I had spent the whole journey convincing the Ipswich contingent that our midfield 3 would be too strong for them, and now here was one of them taking up his place in central defence...  

Still, Stephen Hughes would do OK in the middle, right?  Wrong.  Step forward Scott Gemmill, a mystifying choice for a first appearance of the season.  Hughes has obviously upset the Silver Sloth, as he is suddenly relegated to confidence sapping appearances out of position at left back.

Now, with players out of position all over the park, at least you'd imagine there was a germ of a game plan somewhere...  Whatever it was, it was abandoned after about 10 minutes as we switched to 4-4-2, with Unsie at left back, Watson at right-back, and Weir and Nyarko in the middle.  Unfortunately the master tactician seemed to fail to convey this to the midfield, who still played as if Unsie was wing-back, with nobody covering the left flank at all.  Somehow this switch, with its air of chucking teams and formations together on the hoof, seemed to sum up all that is wrong at the moment.  Even my 7-year-old daughter, who had accompanied us as a 'birthday treat' thanks Dad!! was soon telling me that she had a bad feeling about all this.

And she was not wrong.  Those who label this the worst performance ever have very short memories, as a review of the past few seasons throws up any number of contenders for that particular accolade.  As a depression-inducer, this could not approach the Sheffield Wednesday match which I think (if we are truthful) we all left thinking we were down...  But there is no doubt that this was a woeful performance, with only Gazza, the Gravedigger and Davey Weir emerging with any credit at all. 

We should have been one-nil down early on when a brilliant last-ditch tackle by Nyarko led to a melee and the ball finally being deflected for a corner.  So it was no surprise when we lost a poor goal, yet another to add to the season's growing tally of goals conceded from set pieces.  This time, a needless free kick was given away by the desperate Unsie, merely floated in for Nyarko to fail to defend and McGreal to head only his second goal in 11 years in the game!

We were inadequate all over the park. 

  • Watson signalled his intentions early on with another terrible backpass that Paul Gerrard barely managed to clear into the Lower Bullens I was expecting another set to at this point.  
  • Unsworth just had a nightmare, of which more later.  
  • Alexandersson provided an outlet but no real threat and the Ipswich defence always looked to have him in their pocket. 
  • Joe-Max Moore, who I was delighted to see starting rather than Mark Hughes who these days is about as Sparky as a wet fart looked a different player from last season's goal hungry trier, and just could not hold on to the ball.   To my absolute fury, he was on corner-taking duty and proved unable to get the ball either off the deck or anywhere near the opposition's 6-yard box.  
  • A fit Campbell would surely have had at least a couple but is a good yard off the pace and, in the absence of The Ears, it is hard to see where a goal is going to come from.  
  • Nyarko showed enough good touches to show why he can become our best midfielder but is never a centre half.  
  • Gazza meanwhile was the only player who seemed really committed to the cause, proving those of us who doubted the wisdom of signing him completely wrong.  Unfortunately he must be wondering where he has landed.  
  • Oh, I forgot to mention Gemmill, which says it all really.

The right to Boo?

A brief rally before half time apart, we were never in a game against recently promoted opposition that we could reasonably have been expected to beat.  The crowd's reaction was incredible, with boos ringing round the ground and a stadium rapidly emptying with 60 mins gone.

To me, the reaction of the crowd seemed to be the culmination of years of frustration.  After all, with Peter Johnson finally banished for good, a true Blue at the helm, a lick of paint on the old stadium, and some useful signings, this should be the season when progress is finally made.  Instead, we still flounder at the foot of the table, squandering leads and producing some awful passages of play.

In my view, a negative reaction to a performance such as this is understandable.  The booing of one particular player, however, is unacceptable and totally counter-productive.  Let's be honest, Unsie did have an absolute stinker.  Coming on the back of a number of other stinkers, you really wonder whether he is good enough any longer if indeed he ever was.  Yes, he's committed and gives 100%, but if that were the basis for picking a team, you could pull 11 fans off the Gwladys Street to represent the Club each week certainly if the players cared as much about the Club as the supporters do, we wouldn't be in this mess.  Unsie, to be fair, is being played out of position.  He was signed as a centre-half but never gets the chance to show whether he could do a job there.  Booing the guy can do no good whatever.

So where do we go from here?  Smith has done some good work but his judgement appears increasingly suspect.  His transfer dealings are at best of variable quality; the malingering Pistone is a waste of time, while Niclas Alexandersson has not done much other than show why he was part of a side that was deservedly relegated. 

Hutchison was sent packing when he was in form, scoring goals at international level, and wanted to stay at the Club, and Smith added insult to injury by bringing in Mark Hughes at a higher wage than Hutch was looking for.  He has ruined the careers of Ball and Dunne, two of our most promising youngsters, who ought surely to be given their chance in two of our most problematical positions.  If Dunne is good enough by common consent to have Kluivert in his pocket when playing for Ireland, he ought to do OK against Ipswich's less than glittering forwards. 

Walter's use of the players at his disposal is the most baffling thing of all, both Gravesen and Nyarko being used at centre-half in preference to other defenders at the Club, at the expense of conceding the midfield.  Stephen Hughes has done nothing wrong but appears to be a scapegoat for the indifferent start to the season.  The buggering around at the back between 3 and 4 does no good at all, and even with Gough fit last season and Paul playing out of his skin we had one of the worst defensive records in the League.

Smith remains probably the best man for the job but needs to forget about who he likes and who he doesn't like and pick the 11 men who can do the best job for the Club.  Professional footballers are specialists in their position and need to be treated as such.  I remain convinced that the Squad is stronger than for several years and it is still early enough in the season for us to challenge for Europe but no more buggering round.  Sort it, Walter NOW! please!!

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 Pack it in NOW!
Ste Daley
You can usually tell what type of a day you're going to have by the way the weather greats you as you awake from slumber.

Today was no different.

The weather was dull and dark when I awoke; it brightened up slowly and, by the time I left the comfort of my armchair and the "ahem" zany antics of Sky Sports Soccer AM and headed towards Goodison Park, the sun shone, the air was fresh and it was warm.

Arriving at the old lady herself (and that's what she is, but that's another debate, another time) to take up my duty as a fanzine seller for Speke From The Harbour, the weather once again changed.   Clouds set in and it did its best to rain, not quite breaking into a full shower, just dribs and drabs; then a small shower; then no rain.  By the time Z-Cars was playing in all its glory and it was time to take up my seat, the weather had gone from dull and crap, warm and bright, wet and cold, back to dull again... and the afternoon's footballing fare was the same, only without the warm and bright part!

I'm not going to linger on the team and how it lined up; frankly, the fact that we had a midfielder playing centre-half and a half-fit striker playing centre-forward sums it all up.  We never look confident or stable at the back without Richard Gough and today was no different.  What I wouldn't give to see Dave Watson and Richard Gough both ten years younger playing at the heart of Everton's defence.  Dreams, eh?

For those of you who must know, the following eleven were today's highly paid group to pull on the royal blue if only they could have showed half as much pride as there is white on that said shirt: Gerrard, Watson, Weir, Nyarko, Gazza, Gravesen, Gemmill, Unsworth, Alexandersson, Moore and Campbell.

The game itself was poor in quality, from both teams, make no mistake.  Ipswich won comfortably today, but only because we were so poor, not because they were anything other than a first division side.  But credit where credit's due: Ipswich have already taken points from United and Arsenal.  And they could possibly stay up if teams gift them goals like we did today, then they will stay up.  If we keep gifting people goals, then we may be in danger of battling relegation with them.

Ipswich's first goal came around the 20-minute mark.  Unsworth gave a needless free kick away, and we packed the box with players.  Gerrard screamed for a two man wall, you could have driven an HGV between the two- man wall that appeared...  The cross was a quality one and an Ipswich player rose at the back post, and nodded home into the far corner.  It looked like he was unmarked at the time but, thanks to the new electronic advertising boards sorry, TV's the Ipswich player who's name I don't care to remember, let alone take the effort to find out and type had beaten Nyarko in the air to head home comfortably.

By en large, the jury still seems to be out on Nyarko but I rate him on what I've seen so far and I believe he will become an excellent acquisition for the blues once he has settled.  But, for someone of his size, his heading (and his ability to get up off the ground to head) is average at best; terrible at worst.   Now, I know being 6-foot plus doesn't automatically mean you're a great header of the ball; I remember Brett Angel after all (pause for readers' shudders.....) but Nyarko's heading needs to be worked on especially if we're going to throw the lad in at the deep end and ask him to be an emergency centre-half.

It stayed 1-0 until the break.  We didn't muster a decent opening of note and the players trudged off to a chorus of boo's which, on one hand, they couldn't argue against but, on the other, seemed harsh.... Okay, we were poor, but we've been worse and I've no doubt we will be again. It was only half time and it was only 1-0. 

However, with Campbell's lack of fitness up-front and Joe-Max being very off colour, it was difficult to see where a goal would come from.  Gazza looked interested but never really got the chance to shine and every time any ball reached Alexandersson's feet, two Ipswich players would be on top of him.  Gravesen was unusually quiet but, fair's fair, he was doing the work of two with Scott Gemmill doing very little to say he was anonymous in the first half would be a compliment.

Unchanged, the teams came back out for the second half and it wasn't long after when Ipswich got their second goal.  A dithering Everton defence invited pressure, which forced the ball to Steve Watson.  Now he looks like a good buy by Walter: a decent tackler, good head, and a determination to do well not to mention his ability to get forward but what he was playing at here is beyond me! 

His woeful back-pass was so underhit, I would have had time to jump from my seat in row P of the Gwladys Street stand, jog the length of the pitch, and slot it past Gerrard myself!  I didn't but an Ipswich player latched onto it, headed in on goal and then unselfishly slid the ball to Marcus Stewart to make it 2-0 to the visitors.

After the goal, Everton had enough possession to make a fight of it, but sadly lacked that final ball the killer pass or the piece of skill to unlock a well-marshalled and surprisingly organised Ipswich defence.  

Gazza again deserves mention for his probing and passing and his will to win but, unfortunately, this was lacking in other departments of the pitch.  Alexandersson was seeing a lot of ball but just didn't get past the last man often enough to be more dangerous.  Niclas won't shine until he has a target to aim his quality crosses at, or a willing and able runner to play into; Duncan and Franny get well soon!

The third and final goal came around the hour mark and it was the fans' favourite, David Unsworth, who not to be outdone by Steve Watson slid an absolutely terrible ball back towards Gerrard.  if Glenn Hoddle is right, Gez must have been a mass murderer or something in his past life to deserve to be playing behind the bunch of clowns that are commonly known as our defence lately.... Anyway, Stewart latched onto it, beat Gerrard once, beat Nyarko, beat Gerrard again, had a shot cleared off the line by Davey Weir, before finally putting us all out of our misery by smacking the ball into the back of the net.

Cue a mass exodus of the Park End especially, but also from the the stadium in general.  Never before have I seen Goodison empty so quickly, so early.... Mind you, you can't blame them; if they were still playing now, Everton still wouldn't have scored yet!  With half-an-hour left and a large proportion of seats empty, it was a sad, sad scene.

The final half-hour was played out and nothing much happened.  Ipswich had the result they wanted and the Everton players just wanted to get in the bath.  I know how they felt; I couldn't wait for it to be over too.  But then I'm not getting paid 10,000+ to want the game to be over!!!  The least they could have done was show some pride and put some effort in.  

To be fair, none of them had a good game; Weir was ok, but desperately craves a quality partner.  Gemmill worked hard and never hid in the second half (when many around him did) but, for all his efforts, he isn't a Premiership player and never will be.  I'd be surprised if he is part of the Everton squad come the start of next season... provided we stay up, of course.

Campbell isn't fit, but the only way to get match-fit is to play matches; and I've never usually got a bad word to say about KC but today he upset me and many sitting around me who saw the same incident.  Now, I know he kept us up almost single-handedly, and that he has helped Jeffers develop no end, and that he loves playing for the blues, and is always the first to come over and applaud the fans win, lose or draw but to come up to the Gwladys St when we had a corner and to make gestures at the fans to raise the atmosphere when we are 2-0 down and the team are playing like a shower of shits is bang out of order!

Yes, when we're getting beat and the team is getting stuck in; yes, when we're drawing 1-1 with 5 minutes to go and we're looking for a winner... But a big NO when you and the rest of the team aren't even trying.  Pack it in now.

All in all, Everton deserved to lose.  Ipswich I suppose deserved to win because they took their chances and stayed solid.  So we all went home wondering what has happened to the fortress that was Goodison last season.

As a final note, the Ipswich players were applauded off the pitch by all areas of the stadium, which was a nice gesture, we deserved nothing today and it was nice to see the home fans applaud the part Ipswich had in that a stark contrast to the mindless idiots who disturbed the Middlesbrough minute's silence, and a million miles away from the brain-dead tit who was sat near me at the Riverside and who thought it was hilarious to shout racist abuse at every black player on the park (Nyarko included) every time he touched the ball.  They call themselves Evertonians; I wish they wouldn't.

The official site match report says file this one under "Instantly Forgettable".  I'd prefer to forget this whole day completely.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 One Word: Sickening
Mickey Blue Eyes
The scoreline speaks for itself.  After this, anybody who continues to pull the wool over their own eyes ought to go see a shrink.  It was a disgusting, cowardly display by a group of "players" who couldn't give a shit what anyone thinks, says or does outside their own wage packets.  For that reason, I am not going to have a go at individual players or anyone else.

But if Smiffy can't get them to play during the next, say, three games.... then he ought to reconsider his own position, if only for the sake of his own professional reputation.

I have never in my life said this about being an Evertonian:  Today I was ashamed of the people out there in the middle wearing my club's colours.  For one reason or another, not only were they not good enough... they just didn't care.

It wasn't just physical courage.  As a minor example, on two occasions we got corners and the resultant corner kicks couldn't even reach the edge of the goal area.  You will see a better standard of passing and tackling if you go to watch Sunday League stuff tomorrow morning... and I'm not kidding.  That's how truly awful they were.

We can now safely say that we are back to the bad old days of two/three years ago.  And though we are in 13th lace at the moment, a loss at home to Southampton and at Toon and we will be relegation fodder and worse.  No point sticking your head in the sand... that's how bad today was.

In fact I would go further.  That is positively the worst display I have seen since we lost 6-1 at home to Arsenal in 1958.

The play, for what it was worth, belonged entirely to a modest Ipswich team who worked their socks off for each other, combined well and REALLY wanted it.  The score could easily have been twice as bad.  They might well finish mid-table and good luck to them if they do.  What a contrast with our "team"!

Something has to give now.  The ground rightly started to empty THIRTY MINUTES BEFORE THE END!!!  This from supporters who have been through hell and high water over the last five years or so.  A lot of them started to boo as well..... a measure I would never take but which I understand completely.  You don't pay over 20 to watch somebody who can't be bothered even trying for the few hours he's paid to perform.

There's only one word for the way we are playing right now and that is "sickening."  Today's gate was 32,500... yet one more tribute to the loyalty of our fans.  But I can't believe they'll be able to take much more.

And I don't blame them.  Me, I'm going out to get drunk and take me pasting of assembled rednecks.


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Everton overwhelmed
Derick Allsop, Electronic Telegraph
GEORGE BURLEY and his Ipswich Town players departed another famous ground showered with plaudits, leaving Everton's dishevelled camp to duck the howls of derision cascading down from the sparsely populated stands.

Hundreds in the crowd of 32,597 had seen enough after an hour, when Marcus Stewart capitalised on yet another error to taunt the Everton defence and score Ipswich's third goal.  Few stayed to the bitter if merciful end, and those who did were gracious enough to stand and applaud Ipswich from the field.

If Ipswich came up to the Premiership in trepidation they have hidden it well.  They have taken points off England's three Champions' League representatives this season, so it was scarcely surprising that they confronted Everton with total self-belief.  Yet even they must have been staggered by the frailty of Everton's resistance.

Walter Smith's planning has been undermined by a catalogue of injuries, Francis Jeffers joining the casualty list this week.  However, the manager's tendency to use players out of position Alex Nyarko, until yesterday deployed in midfield, was switched to the heart of the defence has done little to achieve the cohesion required if his club are not to be dragged into another struggle for survival.

Everton, trailing to John McGreal's header at half-time, compounded their plight with two fundamental mistakes which led to Stewart's two goals.  But for a lunging intervention by David Weir, the captain alone on the bridge, Ipswich would have had a fourth.

Everton briefly raised the hopes of their supporters just before the interval, when Scot Gemmill was a mite unlucky, Kevin Campbell profligate and Richard Wright, the Ipswich goalkeeper, splendidly defiant.

Ipswich came through that spell unscathed and proceeded to carry the game out of Everton's reach.  Paul Gascoigne drained his last drop of energy for the cause but no one around him had the guile or inspiration to respond.

Smith started with a back three and hastily reverted to an orthodox four as Ipswich turned on the efficient, passing game that had already earned draws against Manchester United and Arsenal and proved too much for Leeds at Elland Road.

Their defence was orderly and uncomplicated, their midfield imaginative and energetic, and up front Stewart and Richard Naylor were too mobile and resourceful for Everton's makeshift back line.  Burley even indulged in a little late rotation of his strikers, la Sir Alex Ferguson, doubtless resting limbs for sterner challenges to come.

"To come away to a Premiership club and win 3-0 is a tremendous achievement," said Burley.  "We're coming to grounds with no fear factor.  We're not worrying about the opposition.

"Bookmakers are still making us odds-on to go down and I wish they'd give me some money to put a bet on us.  We've played the top three teams and I think they would say we're a decent side.  We're setting our standards higher and higher and it's up to us to keep it going.  I felt the team were improving and getting stronger so maybe it was the right time to come up this season.'

His opposite number declined to concede that his team had been outclassed, instead pointing to the mistakes which paved the way to the opposition's goals.

"We gave away three goals and to do that at any level would cause a team problems," said Smith.  "That's just about it.  After the first 20 minutes we created some opportunities and could have been in front at half-time.

"But if you can concede goals as we did, you deserve to lose.  It's not as though we were outplayed, as we were for periods by Manchester United.  It's been a bad three or four days for results."

This defeat follows Everton's elimination from the Worthington Cup at the hands of Bristol Rovers and already a sense of foreboding is evident at Goodison.

Everton were fortunate not to be a goal down in the fifth minute.  The ball squirmed out from a goalmouth mle to Jermaine Wright, whose shot was deflected for a corner.  The reprieve was short-lived.  Jim Magilton floated a free-kick from the right beyond the far post after 18 minutes and McGreal climbed to head the ball wide of Paul Gerrard's left hand.

Everton's response was earnest if not cultured.  Niclas Alexandersson ought to have equalised, Gemmill had a close-range effort blocked, Campbell spurned an excellent chance and then he and Gascoigne were repelled by Wright.  Their plight deepened four minutes into the second half when Steve Watson gave the ball away to Naylor, who crossed for Stewart to score.

Another lapse of concentration, this time by David Unsworth, let in Stewart, who managed to showboat his way to his team's third.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

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 Hotshot Stewart sweeps aside toothless Everton
by Ian Hawkey, The Sunday Times

ONE of these teams have been tenants of the top division for almost half a century; the other are freshly promoted, odds-on to go straight back down.  Watching yesterday's contest, you would never have guessed which was which.  Ipswich Town, just arrived in the Premiership, played with confidence and verve.  Everton performed like strangers.

In their defence, the home team had . . . well, they had very little defence.  Missing six first-team players [er... make that Nine TW Ed], Everton manager Walter Smith fielded a makeshift back line, and they duly offered Ipswich three gift goals, individual errors by Alex Nyarko, Steve Watson and David Unsworth allowing John McGreal and Marcus Stewart, twice, to put the contest beyond reach within the hour.

Everton looked like a patchwork side from the beginning. Nyarko and Watson started as emergency centre-halves and neither suggested it was a job they cared to do more regularly.  Everton's failure to clear a six-yard-box scramble gave Jermaine Wright an opportunity to shoot after three minutes, Nyarko deflecting the effort wide.  Watson soon shifted to full-back, David Weir pushing inside.  It did not close the gaps.  Everton fell behind to some set-piece simplicity, McGreal beating Nyarko to Jim Magilton's free kick and heading in only the second goal of his career.

Ipswich's football had been sharp and attractive and, although Everton woke up a little once they had conceded the lead, the visitors were seldom in prolonged danger.  Kevin Campbell from time to time put himself about usefully, winning a free kick which Paul Gascoigne fired into Ipswich's defensive wall.  Everton's remaining threats came from two Scot Gemmill attempts, both over the bar, and an Niclas Alexandersson volley, saved at close range by Richard Wright, who also dived bravely at the feet of Gascoigne.

Gascoigne exerted a more productive influence in the second half, but Everton's defence left whatever Smith had said to them over the interval unheard.  Four minutes after the break, Watson's sloppy pass was intercepted by Richard Naylor, who centred for Stewart to score his first.  Stewart then gratefully latched on to Unsworth's dreadful back-pass to add Ipswich's third.  In fact, Stewart was almost too grateful, taking two attempts to beat the exposed goalkeeper Paul Gerrard.

Three goals were always likely to be plenty against a flimsy Everton, at least once Gascoigne had headed a good chance over the Ipswich bar.  Stewart might even have had a third, had Weir not scooped Naylor's cross away from him at the far post.

Ipswich's impressive return to the big league continues.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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 Stewart helps erase painful memories for Burley
by Keith Pike, The Times
THERE was no sugar with the verdict.  "This is the worst Everton team I have ever seen," one observer spluttered into his half-time cuppa, and to judge from his receding hairline he must have seen quite a few.  But the worst was yet to come.  At the interval they were only 1-0 down and merely bruised; 45 ever-more shapeless minutes later, they had been well and truly thumped by an Ipswich Town team that will take great pleasure in disproving the first law of Premiership physics: that which comes up via the play-offs must go straight back down.

To say Everton were poor is to view the Millennium Dome as a jolly good idea, and on Saturday they duly based their tactics on the Disaster Zone (defence) and Twilight Zone (attack).  The steady Gravesen and willing Gascoigne apart, two balding, puffing workhorses in a stable full of show ponies, they lacked wit, resolution and composure.

Yet to dwell on the sickly Toffees does Ipswich an injustice.  Facing opponents stripped of half a dozen first-team regulars and bemused seemingly by Walter Smith's decision to employ three of them in unfamiliar roles, they did what genuinely good sides do, punishing their rivals' inadequacies with goals at one end and unyielding defence at the other.  "Ask the managers of Arsenal, Manchester United and Leeds," George Burley said of the trio of Premiership heavyweights who between them have already dropped seven points to his team.  "They will tell you we have got a pretty good team."

Burley's bullishness was based on the powerful evidence of a compelling performance at Goodison Park and the memories of his first game in charge, at the same ground six years ago.  Then, the home side cruised to a 4-1 win, and a couple of months later another Everton victory, against Newcastle United, confirmed Ipswich's relegation as the worst Premiership team in history, with the fewest points (27, a landmark that stood until Watford's annus horribilis last season) and the most defeats (29, a record that they still hold).

This, though, is an altogether sturdier Suffolk crop.  Where Burley inherited Guentchev and Slater, he can now perm any two from a quartet of mobile, committed strikers all four got their chance at some stage on Saturday and in place of the veteran John Wark trying to hold his defence together, he now has the teenaged colossus, Titus Bramble, who added another nought to his value with a suitably massive performance.

It is in midfield, though, where their real strength lay.  The industry of Magilton and the range and quality of passing by Holland, Clapham and Jermaine Wright established a supremacy that the home side scarcely threatened, even if all three Ipswich goals stemmed from individual errors.  McGreal headed the opening goal in the first half as Nyarko watched admiringly the fact that the Ipswich defender started with an average of a goal every 232 league games says it all about the quality of Nyarko's defending with Stewart poaching both after the break as Watson and Unsworth fluffed routine back passes.

"After four years in the play-offs, maybe it was the right time to come up, because we have improved every season," Burley said.  "We are going to Premiership grounds with no fear factor, playing our football and expressing ourselves."  In their relegation season they had seven points after nine games; at the same stage today they have twice as many.  Perhaps the intervening heartbreak was worth it after all.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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