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Everton 3 - 1 Manchester City

Half-time: 2 - 1


Manchester City Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #32
3pm Sunday 8 April 2001
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 36, 561
« West Ham United (a) Ref: David Elleray Aston Villa (a) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 14th [ Results &  Table ]
 MATCH SUMMARY
Bally was on the scoresheet... A win is a win is a win.  And anything less from this key crunch match in the lower reaches of the increasingly dismal Premiership would have been unthinkable.  But it has to be admitted that Everton hardly merited such a clear result, with some utterly dire football on display.

The first 15 minutes were horrendous.  There were indications right from the off that City were not going to lie down and play dead, but Everton had no answer to their controlled football, encompassing such discredited tactics as accurate passing, running into space, and players supporting each other as they surged forward in a movement known as attacking football.

All this left Everton – typified by the ineffective terrier, Gravesen – chasing the ball and the game as it swirled around them.  So transfixed were they that one of the smallest players on the field was allowed to leap salmon-like from under Gerrard's nose to power in the first goal with his head – following a silly free-kick were Unsworth had inhibited the lively and tricky Andrei Kanchelskis.  

Somehow, City failed to build on their superiority, and Everton started to look a bit more dangerous in front of goal.  A nice classic football movement, involving Alexandersson crossing from the left for Campbell to head down and Ferguson to slot home, allowed Everton fans to breathe again, even if the goal included a number of lucky deflections.  

More luck was to come Everton's way following an excellent first-time lob from deep by Michael Ball that set Kevin Campbell free to put Weaver under pressure, and win a fair penalty.  Ball finished things off – but not from the spot, as Weaver parried his first effort.  

The break came in what had turned out to be a lively first half, even though the quality of football was extremely poor in the main.  Jeffers replaced Ferguson for the second half, which dragged on interminably despite a number of notable events.  Firstly there was Jeffers, shoved off the ball by the lively Tiatto, falling awkwardly and – wait for it – dislocating his shoulder!  

Tal came on and actually tried to play some football, winning the corner that lead to the third rather lucky goal.  Weir's weak header was deflected off Campbell and a defender as it dived into the mud beside Weaver, and crept across the line to make Sky's next blooper list.

In the dying minutes, Pistone and the very unpleasant Dickov were at it again, Pistone stupidly reacting to a late tackle by stamping on Dickov's foot as they readied their handbags.  Two deserved red cards from Elleray, and a stupid 3-match ban for a player who has missed the last 26 Everton games.

Yes, folks; this is Everton c. 2001, thanks to Walter Smith.
  

 

  

 MATCH FACTS
   GOALSCORERS  Debuts
EVERTON: Ferguson (16'), Ball (40'), Weir (84')
Manchester City: J Whitley (9')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Gerrard; Pistone (88' Sent Off!), Weir, Ball; S Watson, Alexandersson (77' Tal), Gemmill, Gravesen, Unsworth; Campbell, Ferguson (46' Jeffers (70' Pembridge')).
Unavailable:
Cadamarteri, Cleland, Gascoigne, Gough, S Hughes, Moore, Naysmith, Xavier (injured); Myhre (on loan). 
Simonsen, Hibbert.
Manchester City: Weaver; Haaland, Howey, Dunne, Granville (46' Kennedy); Kanchelskis (74' Huckerby), Wiekens, J Whitley, Tiatto; Dickov (88' Sent Off!), Wanchope. Nash, Ostenstad, Charvet.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 3-5-2
Manchester City: Grey shirts; black shorts; lime green socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Pistone (88')
Manchester City: Wanchope (27'), Weaver (39'), Tiatto (67'), J Whitley (89') Dickov (88')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats  

 
 MATCH REPORTS
 REPORTS BY EVERTON FANS
Mickey Blue Eyes Al Jolson was right about April
Steve Bickerton Fortune smiles on the Blues
Richard Marland Midfield madness
 NEWSPAPER REPORTS
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Weaver's dual role in City defeat
by William Johnson
THE TIMES City favourites to fall at the last as going worsens
by David McVay
 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 Link to Echo Report

 LINKS TO OTHER INTERNET REPORTS
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

 
 Al Jolson was right about April
Mickey Blue Eyes
 

I was at a christening in the morning before the match.  Appropriately, it was at Our Lady of Sorrows, Pirrie Road.  Given our season, make of that what you will!  

Suffice it to say, it was a gloriously Scouse occasion.  Wouldn’t swap it for all the semi-detached suburban or isolated rural paranoid hell in the world.  To get there though you have to shut off the valve to your natural aesthetic sensitivity and ignore a litter-strewn, graffiti-daubed back entry before reaching the warm bosom of the social club. 

The whole thing was drenched in Al Jolson’s April Showers.  How right was the old warbler. The new addition was dubbed "Cameron".   Well, what more d’you expect from a Dad who’s a ‘shite?  Dad of course was persecuted to madness by his guests who just happened to be 99% Bellies and persisted in draping the newby with blue accoutrements.  Mass homicide loomed until the Heineken fumes took over...

Things were going quite well even before the arrival of Sue and Jimmy.  The lady of the duo was dressed in gold lamé and had the usual matching peroxide blond ‘air do.  This perfectly set off her fighting rotund form and snarling SS personna.  All of it came together perfectly when she recounted how Jimmy had bought her a Rottweiller bitch for Mother’s Day and when she mildly inquired Why? all he could say was, “Can’t yer take a fuckn hint?”  Six pints later and much helpless laughter and I was on me way to the Black Horse for a pre-match bevvy.  The English and their alcohol… bound for hell in a hand basket.

Wherein dwelt The Bus, suitably lubricated and up for it – good-style!  Kyle sat in the corner nursing his only pint of the day.  Well, times is hard.  He cherished his match programme too until Texyla asked to look at it, at which point he said, “Don’t crease it.”  Which frankly is asking for it amidst a bunch of drunken arseholes like wot we were – me worse than any of ‘em.  Unable to resist my baser instincts I grabbed the prog, folded it down the middle and sat on it.  

Kyle sort of imploded into silent but self-possessed rage.  It was an interesting social experiment which succeeded beyond the dreams of Sigmund Freud… or even Masters and Johnson come to think of it.  Kyle looked as though he’d be impotent for weeks until I bought him a new programme.  So I diverted attention to match predictions.  Nobody thought we’d lose.  Equally, nobody had a clue what team we’d find on the park.  Bob Dylan, eat your heart out.

Inside GP, the stadium was half-empty until five minutes before the kick off.  That’s the way it is now.  But, by the time the first bars of Z-Cars went off, it triggered a near-capacity roar that had you out of your seat whether you wanted to or not.  Jaysus, but you love it so!  Life is as complicated or as simple as you want it.

The hope you felt at SuperKev-BigYin up front evaporated with a centre midfield of Gravedigger and Gerbil, with Pembo on the bench.  No Hibbert.  Sandro… erm, where exactly?  'Coz Unsy was at, erm, left back… wasn’t he?  Ah fuck it: what do I know?

Anyway, we got murdered for the first 15 - 20 minutes.  We were never in it.  City should’ve got three before they got one in the Park End.  Kanchelskis, a shadow of what he once was, had a couple of very near misses – should've scored within a hundred seconds actually – before they got one when a cross came in from the right, nobody challenged, and their man got inside the 6-yd box and butted one in at close range while Paul did his familiar successful impression of Joyce Grenfell teaching English.  It was no more than City deserved and in fact a good deal less.

But we more or less went down the other end and equalised sort of immediately.  Yes, that’s how odd it was.  A cross from the left made it’s way through to SuperKev and he nodded it back across to an unbelievably unmarked Yin and he knocked it in from just outside the goal area, left side.  City were all over the place.

The game continued, a mediocre contest between two mediocre teams.  Little pattern, little style.  It was impossible to understand our playing formation.  But hey! what’s noo?  For some distant reason, Sandro operated fitfully at right back and Nic was, erm, wide left...  I think.  Ah fuck it.  What do I know?

There were a couple of hairy misses at each end as the half closed in – like a winter’s evening – and the rain drenched everybody.  Then, a move through the middle and City’s keeper Weaver needlessly crashed right through SuperKev; Public School Elleray had no option but a penalty. 

Me?  I expected Beloved Lard Arse to take it after the last few occasions.  Naturally, I was talking through me arse.  Bally stepped up.  Weaver saved it and Bally knocked in the rebound before Gerbil could get to it.  Ah fuck it.  What do I know?

City had every right to be pissed off at the half-time score.  That said, they were just as much shite as we were – opening spasm apart.

We were better in the second half but it’s strictly a relative observation.  City got more ragged by the minute and were out of it long before the end.  There but for the grace of gawd. etc.... Then, typically when you’re deep in Shit Street, Weaver let through the sort of goal that’ll give him nightmares.  

Funny, whatever anyone says, it wasn’t really his fault.  A cross came in from the left and Davey Weir got a forehead on it just inside the penalty spot and headed it in coach-perfect fashion down and just in front of the keeper.  Weaver did everything right, dropped near vertical, and was almost on it when it did a dead-cat bounce in the mud… and shot under him.  It looked awful, poor bastard.  But we’ve had a few of them ourselves this season, haven’t we, Paul??  Tommy???  No pity – not when you remember our dreadful display at Maine Road....

Events came and went.  Sandro got a red card for being stupid, four (or was it five?) City players got yellowed, and The Ears and Pembo came on.  The Ears reception was about 75-25 in favour until he went off, erm, injured…  couldn’t give a shit meself… he’s on his way, miracles apart… good luck to him and SHOW US THE MONEYYYYY!!!

In the meantime, we have one or two who can – and want to – play for us.  Let’s stick with the reality.  The Ears and the moaners can join company and do one.  Let them provide copy for untalented journalists whose greatest athletic achievement is to avoid tripping over the threshold of the nearest ale house, bodega, or free club bar.

None of it of course disguises the fact that we’re still in deep, deep trouble long-term – on and off the pitch.  Fact is, though, some of us have enough determinism to see a way through it and also have a sense of proportion about cycles of footy fortunes.  We’re ready to see it out.

But I don’t expect the empty-headed to see it that way.


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Fortune smiles on the Blues
Steve Bickerton
 
For the first time in a long while, Walter had almost an embarrassment of riches when it came to team selection.  With the team having won away at West Ham last weekend, there was a school of thought that would say don't tamper with a winning side.  I certainly argue with that, but the maxim is obviously lost on Walter as yet again the changes were rung to give us yet another baffling set-up.

Four at the back, with Watson trying to play almost the fifth defender; Pistone woefully out of place at right back, and Alexandersson out on the left.  The choice of Ferguson to partner Campbell up front was expected, with Jeffers staying on the bench.  I was disappointed not to see Hibbert start in light of the excellent reports received about him against West Ham.

The first half was a nightmare, with City playing the football and the Blues, not surprisingly, not knowing who was playing where.  Maybe facing the Gwladys Street in the first half had some sort of psychological effect; maybe I'm just being too kind.  The result of this total lack of organisation and understanding, however, was a goal scored with a free header from inside the goal area by one of the smallest players on the pitch!  

City were 1-0 up and at that early stage there seemed to be no way that Everton would get back into the game.  But Ferguson kept going and in the end a neat move down the left saw Alexandersson cross, Campbell nod down and Ferguson side foot home.  1-1 at that stage looked a little generous to Everton, who's goal seemed to have a charmed life as raid after raid from City came to nothing.  True, Ferguson had had a chance to equalise earlier, but Weaver had made a save low to his left, belying the chants of dodgy keeper, which had resounded around the ground earlier as he failed to acknowledge the applause of the Gwladys Street when he took up his position in front of the goal.

The first half was really an indication of the sort of problems both teams have been facing all season.  City lacked any real confidence and ability in front of goal and Everton had out a team that had never played together before.  It showed for both teams and, although Everton scored again before the end of the half, there was a feeling that another goal was never going to come. 

The second goal, when it came, was somewhat bizarre.  Campbell was through on Weaver, but the keeper stood his ground and forced Campbell wide.  As the striker moved left, Weaver inexplicably dived at his feet with an outstretched arm and brought Campbell tumbling to ground.  The referee pointed to the spot and it was a penalty to Everton.  

Michael Ball, until recently the allotted penalty taker, took the ball in place of the incumbent penalty taker, David Unsworth.  Ball strode forward and stroked the ball to the keeper's left, only for Weaver to save well.  But the ball rebounded and Michael pounced, slotting it pastWeaver into the net, just before Scot Gemmill arrived to do the same.  

Somehow, it was 2-1 to Everton.  And so it remained till half-time.  The half had been peppered with free kicks, with several players on the end of a talking to by the referee, but the only yellow card was for a foul by Wanchope.

The second half brought a collective sigh of relief on the one hand and a groan of despair on the other from the Goodison faithful.  The relief was because there was suddenly an apparent shape to the side as it took the field.  Smith appeared to have had a tactical epiphany during the break. Pistone, who had looked bereft of belief and commitment in the first half, had joined Unsworth on the left (Pistone at the back and Unsworth ahead of him in midfield) and Watson had moved back to right back with Alexandersson lining up on the right of midfield. 

Now there was the potential to get some crosses in for our two big men up front.  Ferguson, however, who had been the pick of the side in the first half, was noticeable by his absence for the second, as Jeffers – to a mixture of boos and cheers – took to the field.  

The second half saw more chances created by Everton as Weaver saved from Watson, Unsworth and Gemmill and other chances were squandered by the side.  City too looked lively in midfield but again lacked any belief up front.  They seem destined to be welcomed by the Nationwide League next year, contrary to my pre-season forecast in which I stated that they would escape by a hair's breadth. 

Everton's third when it came saw Weaver make another ricket, following on from last week's howler.  A corner from the Everton left was nodded goal wards by Weir.  A seemingly harmful effort was deflected at least twice, Weaver completely missing it as the ball dribbled through the mud across the line to nestle in the back of the net.  It was probably a little cruel on City, but I'm not complaining – we've been on the end of much cruelty ourselves this year. 3-1 and cruising.

In fairness, City didn't give up.  Unlike previous matches where they've apparently capitulated at the first sign of adversity, they kept going.  Dickov, who had had a bit of an altercation with Pistone earlier in the game, saw fit to take out his exasperation on the Italian two minutes from the end of normal time.  Pistone was not very impressed and exacted some revenge on the City forward, who fell to the ground.  How the City fans cheered as Sandro received a red card from Elleray.  Their cheers were muted, though, as the referee repeated the red card display to Dickov and both sides played out the game with 10 men.

Mention must be made of an excellent cameo performance by Idan Tal, who replaced Alexandersson late on.  He tormented the City defence, won the corner that led to the third goal and all in all made an immediate impression.  Yes, he left that impression on a City defender's leg, too, but his enthusiasm knows no bounds.  If only it was infectious.  Full time came to rapturous applause.  That should see us safe – but time will tell.  Three wins on the trot at Villa Park?  Come on you blues!

Man of the Match:

There were three contenders for this award this week, but one of them, Duncan Ferguson, played only the first half, so is discounted on that score.  The other two were defenders, which might seem strange in a 3-1 win, but nevertheless, another spirited performance from Michael Ball, trying to keep the boisterous Paulo Wanchope under control, brought him very close to the award.  But in the end I'll give to Rhino.  David Unsworth had a terrific game.  He covered acres of ground, both in defence and later in midfield and spent much of the second half covering for a disappointing Pistone.

 

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Midfield Madness
Richard Marland
 
I suppose that, in the context of the current season, Sunday's game was fitting.  The entire season seems to have been an undignified scramble.  It seems appropriate that we, in all probability, secured our Premiership status by scrambling our way to an undignified, and barely justified victory.

For the first 45 minutes we were dreadful, constantly second to the ball and pulled all over the place in defence.  Yet despite that, and going behind, we emerged leading 2-1.  Naturally when we struggle the focus becomes Walter's team selection and "tactics".  

The main focus seemed to be on Pistone's surprise inclusion on the right hand side of a central defensive trio (and it was as a centre-back and not a right-back that he was playing).  So far, we've considered him a left back, so the cry was immediately about playing him out of position, despite the fact that he's supposed to be able to play centre back and despite the fact we've only seen him a couple of times.  I didn't feel that the problem was a positional one; I felt that he just played crap, and he was just as crap when he reverted back to left back.

For me the real problem was in midfield where Alexandersson seemed to have a bit of a floating role.  Niclas undoubtedly has his qualities but tackling isn't one of them.  He's very good at diligently tracking back and getting blocks in but not actually tackling.  This left a big burden on Gravesen and Gemmill and unfortunately Gravesen was having a bit of a stinker.  Net result – overrun in midfield.

The second half brought a change back to 4-4-2 with Pistone back at left back, and Unsworth and Alexandersson in the wide midfield berths.  We instantly looked more solid and barely came under pressure in the second half.  We finally put ourselves in the comfort zone with the third goal; they lost their heads a bit and we picked up a valuable three points.

  • Gerrard  He did OK but not entirely convincing.
  • Watson  One of the successes of the season, another hard working, committed performance.
  • Unsworth  Seems to thrive in these sorts of situations, just the kind of man you can rely on – please offer him a new contract.
  • Pistone  Had a stinker, indirectly responsible for their goal thanks to an injudicious back pass to Gerrard, shaky all day and then to cap it all gets himself sent off.
  • Weir  Dependable as ever.
  • Ball  Wanchope is more than a handful and Bally played him pretty well.  Yet another quality performance.
  • Alexandersson  Really needs to be played wide right of midfield.  Did OK but is no central midfielder.
  • Gravesen  Had a stinker, as usual can't fault his enthusiasm or endeavour, but far too many misplaced passes.
  • Gemmill  The best of the midfield but struggled on his own.
  • Campbell  Still struggling for sharpness but did OK, set up the goal and won a penalty.
  • Ferguson  Won a decent amount in the air, it really is amazing the stick he takes from defenders trying to stop him, and took his goal well.
  • Jeffers  The cheers outweighed the boos when he came on.  He did OK before being taken out by a horribly cynical Tiatto challenge.
  • Pembridge  We could have done with him of late.  Shows a nice calmness about his play which is somewhat of a contrast to Gravesen's rather frenetic attempts.
  • Tal  I think he is ideally suited to late substitutions Always brings on a commendable sense of energy and positivity, prepared to work very hard and get stuck in, he also has the skill to waste time in the corners and generally make a nuisance of himself.

Man of the match  The man for a crisis – David Unsworth.


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Weaver's dual role in City defeat
William Johnson, Electronic Telegraph
 

IT is going to be difficult for Everton to go down after this second successive victory and even harder for Manchester City to stay up.  Goodison Park, the second home of Maine Road manager Joe Royle, has knocked the first nail into his team's relegation coffin.

City, who crushed a moderate Everton 5-0 in December, were desperately seeking another lift in their season-long survival battle.  When the bustling Jeff Whitley headed them into an early lead a significant step to safety looked possible, but they crumbled in the face of their opponents' limited attacking threats.

Nicky Weaver, their erratic goalkeeper, again contributed to their downfall.  Embarrassed all week by television replays of his clanger against Aston Villa, which allowed Dion Dublin to score the softest of goals, he spoiled an impressive display here with another basic error.

Having seconds earlier made one of a string of fine saves to thwart Scot Gemmill, he allowed David Weir's header, from the subsequent Thomas Gravesen corner, to slip through his guard and slither over the line for Everton's match-clinching third goal.

The 83rd-minute blunder ended what slim hopes City had of salvaging something from their parlous position and a grateful Everton coasted to three points which keep them eight clear of danger with six matches left.

Weaver had also played a key role in the goal which gave Everton a precious lead just before the interval.  Seeking to rescue his fellow defenders, who looked on as Kevin Campbell raced on to a routine Michael Ball through ball, the former England Under-21 goalkeeper unwisely upended the striker, who had possibly taken the ball too wide to score.  Booked for that misdemeanour, Weaver then saved Michael Ball's weak penalty but was left without cover as Ball followed up to force the loose ball home.

He had earlier been beaten from close range by Duncan Ferguson's 15th-minute equaliser for Everton, after having kept the Scottish striker – who departed prematurely with a nagging knee injury – at bay with some excellent saves.

The City goalkeeper went on to make two more fine saves from Steve Watson as his Everton counterpart Paul Gerrard, given no chance by Whitley's determined run to meet a Danny Tiatto free kick, had a relatively uneventful game.

City, considering their relegation plight, were sadly lacking in ideas after half-time and were reduced to a speculative Tiatto effort in their attempt to get back on terms.  The match had an ill-tempered finish when Alessandro Pistone, Everton's full-back, and City striker Paul Dickov were harshly dismissed by referee David Elleray for a touchline dust-up.  The Italian Pistone was making his first start since August and now faces a three-match ban for hardly making contact with the even more unlucky Dickov.

Walter Smith, the Everton manager, refused to accept that his team, perennial relegation battlers, are safe for another season.  "We still have a bit of work to do," he said. "But I'm delighted to have secured this result at this stage of the season. It is not often that we enjoy back-to-back victories."

Joe Royle, the City manager, lamented the fact City's first-half promise had still resulted in a half-time deficit. "We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot," he said. "But while it is still possible for us we will go for it."

It was his 52nd birthday but, by no means, was this one of many happy returns to Goodison.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

   Up to Reports Index ]
 City favourites to fall at the last as going worsens
by David McVay, The Times
 

THE unremitting toil, the mud and the heads of competitors hung low and often blinkered — Manchester City proved an able substitute for those who missed the spectacle of the Grand National.  The going at Aintree was officially heavy.  At Goodison Park yesterday it was substantially worse for City as their brief tenure in the FA Carling Premiership began to look ominously fragile after this latest defeat.  Also rather like the famous steeplechase, this match began in sprightly fashion, but as the participants limped wearily towards the finishing line it was not to be the rank outsider who would prevail.

After conceding an early goal, Everton took the three points and deservedly so.  In victory, they have all but established their place among the elite for another season at least.  They are just two points short of the target of 40 that Walter Smith, the manager, has demanded for safety.

“There’s still some work to be done yet,” Smith said.  “The team third from bottom could go down with more than our present total.  We need another win to be certain.”

Even as their side suffered from another schoolboy howler by Nicky Weaver that confirmed defeat, the City supporters were chanting the Blue Moon anthem with the rain steadily pouring on their heads.  Such faith may be repaid one day, but relegation is now the likely reward in May.  Coventry City, old hands in this sort of crisis, have given themselves a fighting chance of survival, but Joe Royle, the Manchester City manager, although not conceding the inevitable yet, may conclude that there is insufficient depth of talent in his squad to avoid demotion.

Exactly what Royle does believe remained a secret yesterday.  In March 1997 he departed Goodison amid acrimony and the vendetta he maintains was conducted against him by a local newspaper precludes his attendance at post-match press conferences on Merseyside.  Even on his 52nd birthday and after five years, he has clearly neither forgiven nor forgotten.

His hopes of a recovery were nourished by an enterprising opening gambit by his team, sensing the tension in Everton, no strangers to the nether regions of the division themselves.  Danny Tiatto, bending in a right-wing free kick to the six-yard box, sparked the alternative and less celebrated North West confrontation between Manchester and Merseyside into life after just eight minutes.

The diminutive Australia player had presided over midfield and, when he delivered his cross, Jeff Whitley arrived, unmarked, to head his first goal of the season with commendable timing.

Any delusions that City fans held of a repeat of the 5-0 trouncing their team inflicted on Everton at Maine Road in December swiftly disappeared when City’s familiar malaise, that of defending with all the solidity of Scotch mist, surfaced in the sixteenth minute.  Failing miserably to clear a routine left-wing centre by Niclas Alexandersson invited the simplest of chances for Duncan Ferguson, who tapped in his fourth goal of the season before departing with a knee injury at half-time.

Everton fans were willing Weaver to repeat his aberration of last week against Aston Villa.  He did not oblige, but when Kevin Campbell chased Michael Ball’s up-and-under in splendid isolation in the 39th minute, Weaver’s rash challenge on the Everton forward was punished by the penalty from which the home side took the lead.  Although Weaver did parry Ball’s limp spot kick, the defender gratefully beat the goalkeeper from the rebound.

Paulo Wanchope, whose recall to the team demonstrated the forgiving side of Royle’s character, led the City response with some clever touches and Tiatto’s passing added a neat fluency to their pattern of play.  In keeping with their season, the best of intentions tended to peter out in the final third of the pitch.

Weaver had denied Ferguson splendidly earlier on and, in the closing minutes, he thwarted Steve Watson and Idan Tal with equal agility.  In between, though, he lost his concentration and watched David Weir’s 83rd-minute deflected header bounce awkwardly in the mud and through his hands and legs to make it 3-1.

With the match beyond City’s grasp, Alessandro Pistone, the Italy defender who was making his first start since August, and Paul Dickov were dismissed for an unseemly skirmish on the touchline.  It appeared an extravagant decision by David Elleray, the referee, who had previously officiated to good effect.  The incident was against the grain of a contest that was always physical but never malicious.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
   Up to Reports Index ]
 


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