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Everton 1 - 1 Newcastle United

Half-time: 0 - 0

Newcastle United Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #29
3 pm Saturday 3 March 2000
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 35,779
Ipswich Town (a) Ref: David Elleray Southampton (a) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 16th [ Results &  Table ]
David Unsworth Michael Ball was welcomed back from his full England debut with a big cheer from the Goodison Park crowd.  Ferguson and Gough were both missing but Paul Gascoigne finally returns to the bench from his "two-week" injury layoff that turned into three months! 

Everton playing reasonably well, and chances Naysmith set up Kevin Campbell who put the ball an inch wide with the open goal beckoning.  The miss of the season!  The goal chances were not going in, which is a bad omen...  The move led to a bad injury to Naysmith, who was stretchered off.

A few more chances went begging, with Campbell wandering offside repeatedly.  Then, on half-time, Nyarko got injured and was stretchered off, to be replaced by Tal.

Just after half-time, disaster struck.  A Newcastle attack resulted in an Unsworth own-goal as the ball rebounded off his arse and into the net.  Well, not really his arse, but it might as well have been, knowing Everton's current ability to recover from such setbacks.

Xavier had it on the right corner of the Everton box and, under pressure, he tried to turn Shearer inside-out.  However he mucked it up (partly the pitch's fault) and Shearer broke with it.  He ran at the goal whilst getting closed down by Weir and Ball but drilled it low across the 6-yd box where it just hit Unsie and went in the centre of the goal.

A panicky and ultimately futile second half ensued, with Everton trying everything and failing completely.  Paul Gascoigne came on and did his best to raise the tempo.  But those chances missed in the first half were seriously rued as a depressed crowd started to drift away from Goodison Park.

Campbell was then pushed down in the area, and Elleray calmly pointed to the shot.  Unsworth bravely stepped up to perform his nominated task, and scores tidily from the spot!  GAME ON!  But the pressure and the scrambling of the last five minutes was too late to bring the victory that Everton's first-half dominance had deserved...



EVERTON: Unsworth (pen:84')
Newcastle United: Unsworth (og:47')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Gerrard; Xavier (72' Gascoigne), Weir, Ball, S Watson, Naysmith (28' Unsworth); Gemmill, Nyarko (45' Tal), Gravesen; Campbell, Jeffers. 
Unavailable: Alexandersson, Cadamarteri, Cleland, Degn, Ferguson, Moore, Pembridge, Pistone (injured); Gough (ill). 
Simonsen, Jevons.
Newcastle United: Given, Griffin, S Caldwell, Hughes, Quinn, Bassedas, Lee, Acuna, Solano, Shearer, Ameobi (70' Gallacher).  Harper, Cordone, Glass, Mclean.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 3-5-2; 4-4-2
Newcastle United: Black & white shirts; black shorts; white socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Naysmith (22')
Newcastle United: Shearer (60'), Lee (75')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats  


Guy McEvoy Crazy Toons
David Catton Six chances go begging
Mickey Blue Eyes Engaging The Enemy
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Leading man has only a bit part in finale
by Roy Collins
THE SUNDAY TIMES Unsworth the villain turns hero
by Ron Clarke
THE TIMES Gascoigne unable to provide relief for Everton
by Nick Szczepanik
THE INDEPENDENT Link to Match Reports
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

 Crazy Toons
Guy McEvoy
The day hadn't started too well.  In my post was one of those large computerised letter things from Nottinghamshire police.  You know the sort; "Dear blah, Your Vehicle registration blah was filmed doing x over the speed limit at y place on z date.  If you were the driver then please fill in the form overleaf to incriminate yourself so that we can bleed you dry". 'Y' and 'Z' suggest that my trip to Ipswich last week is going to cost me a whole heap more than my petrol money.  Me?  Speeding?  Never, ever.

So, in a nark, I left Leeds at 1:40 pm in order to take my seat at Goodison comfortably in time for kick off.

There were two notable bits of team news to greet my arrival.  First off, Gazza was on the bench.  Secondly, Stephen Hughes wasn't even in the squad seemingly confirming the rumours of his imminent departure.

This meant that we lined up with (in front of Gerrard) a back five; Watson, Xavier, Weir, Ball, Naysmith. A middle three; Gravesen, Nyarko and Gemmill. A front two; Campbell and Jeffers.

Newcastle lined up with whoever they lined up with.

The first half was an odd affair.  Despite our midfield three running round gamely but desperately, always two steps behind the play, never getting the ball under real control, usually loosing possession despite that, we dominated.  By playing round the headless wonders in the middle, by intelligently using our wingbacks, and through unashamed hoofing of the long ball, the chances did come our way one after the other. 

Franny had a couple of clear cut efforts where he'd done the hard work to make the chance and the finish disappointed; Weir nearly got one; Gemmill was desperately unlucky with a long range volley.  We really could have had about four.  But by the end of the half, most Evertonians had characteristic red marks on their foreheads from the repeated slapping with palms of hands as another effort somehow didn't quite go in.

Miss of the day (and there are numerous contenders) goes to Campbell.  Naysmith did such splendid work down the left, and remained determined till the end of the move when he played a great ball to see in Campbell.  His reward for his heroics was to be wiped out, end up in obvious pain needing the Stretcher, and see Campbell roll the shot an inch wide.  On came Unsworth.

The Toon Army sang and sang despite their team letting them down dreadfully.  Desperate to goad us, they launched into repeated chorus of 'You'll never Walk Alone' which forced one Park Ender, with great ceremony, to moon them.  This got the second biggest cheer of the day from the Geordies and it got the arse-bearer a kicking out by some over-zealous police.

And that really was all they had to cheer as their team gave nothing whatsoever save Shearer moaning to the referee every single time Ball or Weir got the better of him.  Which was every time.  There is no sadder thing than old footballers, past their best, who try to make up for their own gradual failings by dives, niggles, and moans.  There is, therefore, currently nothing sadder than Alan Shearer.

Just before half-time, Nyarko decided to pre-empt his certain substitution by going down injured after an incident where, unchallenged, he kicked the ball.  He hopped up and down on the foot that did the kick once or twice and then lay on the ground till the stretcher came.  Bizarre!  

Almost as bizarre was the bringing on of Tal as the replacement when the game screamed for Gazza.  I guess that Smith knows the state of Gazza's fitness better than me and that is how he'd explain the decision.  Personally, after last week's performance I'd have brought on a foot-and-mouth stricken sheep ahead of Tal, but then, thankfully, I'm not the manager.

Half time. Even-Stevens. I'm still not quite sure how....

I stayed in me seat during the break and my mind wandered off as it is wont to do.....  I'm often sat there in my front row, Top Balcony seat during the duller moments fantasizing about what a great vantage point it is and how much fun I could have one Saturday afternoon given, say, a well-balanced, telescope-sighted, large-calibre, high-velocity sniper rifle.  Many a Peter Johnson, Clause Thomson, various players in various hues of red, numerous Judases, and virtually every referee and linesman has had their head evaporate like an exploding water melon in my minds eye....

But if ever I did finally snap and do a 'Falling Down' and only had one bullet well, after serious reflection, ahead of ALL the aforementioned (even Barmby) it would go to that cunt who does the abysmally dire Who wants to be an Evertonian? quiz.

I snapped back to it for the second half.  After all, given the pressure we had created, despite our faults, it must surely only be a matter of time before we scored.

In fact it was hardly any time at all.  The only problem was it was at the wrong end.  An absolute comedy of errors: Xavier (the most guilty party) pissed about with Shearer when he had ample time to get rid.  Shearer, hardly believing his luck, tried a hopeless shot which Gerrard only managed to parry.  Unsworth was racing back and the parry bounced off him into the net.  Amazing.  They only have one attempt on goal all afternoon, it's from one of our players and it goes in.

We then went into a spell where we seemed to loose our bottle.  The long ball became the preferred method of advance over the wing backs, and you got the impression that Campbell was starting to try to hide.  Tal and Gravesen were still both running round like men possessed, but to little avail.  Gemmill, strangely seemed to go missing at this point.

Bring on Gazza.

And so on he came with quarter of an hour or so left.  The Newcastle supporters joined fully joined the ovation.  Xavier was taken off, we went to 4-4-2, and finally a little bit of spirit crept in.  Sure, we wasted a couple of free kicks, and Tal missed a sitter from a cracking Watson cross, but you got the feeling we were starting to believe again, and that Newcastle could sense that too.

Finally, the chance came.  Campbell was hauled down in the box and Elleray was in no doubt about pointing to the spot.  Penalty!

I have to admit, that my moment's elation at the situation had a big douse of cold water poured on it when I saw Rhino put the ball on the spot.  Ye of little faith and all that...  but the odd obscenity did slip from my lips as I suggested it may be a better idea to let Bally have a pop.

Oh well, if the measure of a man is keeping your head while others doubt you, then Unsworth flicked me the metaphorical 'V's in the most glorious way.  Get in!

And then those frantic last few minutes when we almost snatched a win.  Gazza played through Franny we so nearly took it.  But when the whistle went, given our feelings 10 minutes earlier, and particularly given the scores elsewhere, we were glad of the draw.

Individual Performances:

  • Gerrard 7 - Some culpability for the goal, but in general one of his better performances (not that he was that tested)
  • Watson 8 - My Man of the Match.  Well up for his battle with his old club so much of those things we did well involved him.  Excellent game.
  • Weir & Ball 7 - Composed & professional, throughout.  The reason that Newcastle never had any real efforts was that these two were so in charge.
  • Xavier 6 - Carried by the two above to some extent.  At serious fault for the own-goal.
  • Naysmith 7 - The move which he crippled himself in deserved a goal.  Him and Watson remain the dream ticket as the wing backs if we are going to persist with five at the back in coming games.  Hope his injury isn't as bad as it looked.
  • Gemmill 6 - Looked the brightest in the middle in the first half, had one splendid distant volley, but seemed to go AWOL mid way in the second half.
  • Gravesen 6 - Passionate as always, and must have run 15 miles during the game.  But the enthusiasm, often only highlights some of his weaknesses.  Nevertheless, unlike Nyarko, when it wasn't going his way he never hid, and kept his commitment level consistent whatever.  For which he was rewarded with more than one break coming our way for which he deserves credit.
  • Nyarko 5 - Bloody hell.  Just as I was warming to him again after last week he goes and shows us absolutely nothing.
  • Jeffers 7 - Maybe a tad generous given the misses.  However, it's his movement that creates the chances, and with chances will eventually come the goals.  Looked the likelier to score I thought.  If he seemed to go quieter for a bit in the second half, I'd point out this coincided with the quality of service from Kevin drying up.
  • Campbell 6 - Is he match fit?  Like last week, I thought he was great for the first 45 and showed glimpses of that once magical understanding with Franny...  but then he looked shag-knackered the entire second half.  Credit due for winning the penalty.
  • Unsworth 7 - Blameless really for the Oggy.  Hats off for the Pen.
  • Tal 6 - Everything I said about Tommy stands for Tal too.  I remain unconvinced by him and am still looking forward to him rubbing my face in it.  Sooner rather than later I hope.
  • Gazza 7 - Football is a confidence game, and there was just something about bringing him on which seemed to lift everyone's confidence that marginal amount to make the difference.  And that in itself is worth as much as his actual (creditable) contribution.   The talisman effect I suppose.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Six chances go begging
David Catton
I suppose anyone who bothers to get this far will already be muttering to themselves, "How's he going to slag off Walter and Archie this time?"  Well, I'm not going to try.  

No matter what anyone else writes, Everton had 6 (six) clear cut chances that on any other day would have all counted.  That we ended up scrambling for a penalty that, from 70-80 yards away, looked like cowardice by Elleray as Campbell made a meal of a light challenge in the box sums up the whole game.

Sure my mind boggled at a line up which to me was as follows:


Xavier   Weir   Ball

Watson         Nyarko        Naysmith

Gemmill      Gravesen

   Jeffers    Campbell

Whatever the game plan was, it wasn't to exploit the width of the pitch but, I repeat, 6 clear cut chances were created against an ineffective Newcastle United team.

If even half those chances had gone in, what a different story today's papers would have contained.  As it is, the crisis is alive and rotting away at the heart of the team.  I suppose no manager can ask for more from the team he selects than that they create lots of goal opportunities, always provided they stick a reasonable percentage in the net.  Yesterday was surely a fluke in that so many open goals went begging and their goalie won the one-on-ones.

OK, so Gerrard spilled a catch that hit Unsworth's shins and rebounded into the net with no Newcastle player within 20 yards; he could probably have let it run by and it could well have gone out on the far side for a throw-in but, once again, he did the hard bit and got to the ball... only to push it to a position where it became more dangerous.  How many times has he done that this season?

As for the rest of the team: 

  • Nyarko looked absolutely lost; 
  • Gravesen is a whirling dervish who, despite his frenetic activity level, is no more effective than Nyarko. 
  • Gemmill promises much but fades in and out of the game. 
  • Naysmith looked as if he was caught well after the ball had gone and I'm just glad he's not got a break. Why didn't Tal replace him instead of putting on Unsworth? It was clear by then that Newcastle weren't going to provide much of a threat. 
  • Watson did well without really causing too much excitement.  
  • Campbell has either given up or will never be truly fit again; no pace, no chasing, no inspiration. Very sad. 
  • Jeffers just wanted to stay out of trouble and would probably have preferred to come off after an hour but he had to stay until the end because of the injuries to Naysmith and Nyarko.
  • Xavier, Weir and Ball between them coped well enough with Shearer and Ameoba.  How Shearer remained on the field to the end is one of those mysteries that have no answer.  He has totally lost his speed and his fouling and whinging are pathetic to see from a once-good player.  Ameoba is raw but strong and keen; he'll be around for a good few years, I think.
  • Tal reminds me of Beagrie but he hasn't the finishing power.  I can't see him being a mainstay of the Everton team for years to come.  
  • Gazza came on as if he was the Messiah returning.  Three good passes, one adequate corner and no pace sums him up.  I can't see him saving Everton if the dog fight gets really serious between now and May.

So where does that leave us?  One place worse off and probably no points from the next two games....

Sad isn't it?

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Engaging The Enemy
Mickey Blue Eyes
No, not the hapless Toonies.  That came later. 

Tactical Objective

First we had serious business engaging the mortal enemies of human nature: apathy and lack of awareness.  In our case, this concerned the clubs bid for the Kings Dock site.  We were making our second leaflet drop in support, this time with a division of 10,000 paras to follow up the 1,000 dropped at Ipswich.  

In our case, it was A Bridge Too Short.  It went brilliantly.  We could have done with the same number of leaflets all over again.  The next strategic battle-moves are being planned as I write.  Win, lose or draw the Kings Dock site, our opponents are going to know theyve been DANCED with!  Especially those who prefer secrecy to transparency.  You wouldnt believe how some of the local politicians have behaved more and more like Yank politicians.  Greasier than whale shit on an ice flow!  One even manages to make ol Joe McCarthy look like Bertrand Russell.... Still, come the elections, theyll get theirs in spades.

Taking Stock

It was a gorgeous glowing day to assemble in the Black Horse.  Too cold to sit in the beer garden, though.  We had to make do inside with the sun slanting gloriously through the windows.  The crew assembled gradually and shipped oceans of beer as fuel for the match and the leaflets thingy.  In the TV background, the Leeds v Mancs clash played itself out to a claque of disparate sorts.  Nobody really cared since our interests are at the opposite end of the Prem table and also poised at the Kings Dock. 

When youre up to your arse in crocodiles it is difficult to remember your initial objective was to drain the swamp.  Us Evertonians are a hardy, determined lot these days.  The School of Science has temporarily become the School of Hard Knocks.  So you shape up and laugh or ship out.  Its as simple as that.  

You even have to ignore the very occasional dickwad who insists on telling everyone within earshot what a gobshite Bill Kenwright is, or how corrupt Walter Smith is.  Briefly, you wonder what drives someone to be so sour about life. and then you remember that theyd probably have a go at ANYONE in charge.  So you ignore them too and take up the business at hand.

Shaping Up

The Shapers Up quaffed their ale and did one to the assembly point opposite the Street End.  The Shippers Out were left behind to talk weak-willed bullshit into their ale.  It takes all sorts.... 

The leaflets were dished out to the distributors and they disappeared into the crowds and scattered to all points of the compass.  Passers-by made their ways through the match throng to ask for copies.  

Nearby, Bizzies watched us carefully to ensure we werent trying to usurp our new Yank-style One Party State.  They realised we didnt threaten revolution when I took the cardboard empties into the church caf and asked if I could dispose of them in their bins.  There, a surreal absurd image of a seedy MI5 agent rummaged through the empties.  Damn that Black Horse beer.

Once in the ground I gave out my share of leaflets in double quick time.  Not one of them ended up on the ground or drew a smart arse remark.  Which was just as well because I wouldve ignore it anyway.  The remark that is.  I wouldve picked up a discarded leaflet and given it to someone else.  Theres blood and fire in those things.  Engage the enemy or stay in the Black Horse.  Its a straightforward choice.

Limbering Up

In the background, the two squads limbered up on the pitch and the crowd began to assemble.  Given that this is our fourth straight year of near-complete shite team performances, the buzz of expectancy has to be experienced to be believed.  If anybody believed the press youd expect all Blue Bellies to have a Magnum pointed permanently at their foreheads.  Not so, not so.  

Around me, amazingly optimistic people shut their minds to the misery-mongers and were forecasting a win of anything between three and five goals.  If and when our team restores its fortunes, it scarcely bears thinking how formidable these fans will be in their support.

The teams were announced.  I hardly knew any of the Toonies.  Theyre a weird conglomerate of no-marks and foreigners these days.  Seems to me Grandad Robbo has a very difficult task on his hands with that lot as if we give a shit!  For us, Gravesen and Nyarko in centre midfield, Gemmill wide right.  Oh well.... 

Up front, SuperKev and The Ears.  Back four: Stevie Watson, Weir-Bally; Abel and Gary were in again but Im fucked if I know what their precise role was.  Paul was in goal again to give us a passable imitation of a migrating albatross with damaged wings.

And when the teams emerged to Z Cars the roar made your neck hairs stand up.  This is one of the reasons we still go, of course moments like this.  Human togetherness.  Solid in feeling. If only human beings KNEW what they are capable of when they act together

First Half

The first half was mostly ours and we missed four good chances in the Park End, two of them by the width of a gnats fart, right and left posts.  For the first, a quick move down our left wrecked their defence and the ball got pulled back from the by-line for SuperKev to hook it goalwards instinctively just wide of the right hand stick! 

Then (I think) either Gary or Scott hit one on the volley, 20 yards out, right side penalty arc, and it screamed past the left post.  There were other missed chances by SuperKev, the Ears and The Gravedigger.  You know when you begin to get that ominous feeling, the one that says, We aint gonna score in a muntha Sundays?  It steadily gained ground as the half wore on.  Around me, Bellies were effinnblindin again.  This time in sheer frustration at the entropy of chances out on the park.

Occasionally, the Toonies broke out of defence, or Alan Shearer (a once great player now, alas, over the hill and trying to compensate for it) fell over and faked it.  Naturally the latter maddened the crowd but somehow his name stayed out of Ellerays book.  But really Toon offered nothing at all in this half.  We knew of course that this mattered little given our season so far and the usual pattern of play.

Halfway through the half, Gary was performing one of his notable left wing raids and got to the by-line, midway to goal.  Whereupon he was downed by desperate last minute tackle.  Which led to him being stretchered of, erm, injured.  Oh well.  Beloved Lard Arse came on for him.

Then, almost on the half time whistle.  Nyarko, useless as ever, with hardly anyone near him, appeared to go over on an ankle and he too was stretchered off, erm, injured.  Oh well.  As he lay on the ground, he beat the turf in anger, presumably because this may have fucked up his seemingly imminent return to France....  Idan Tal made a welcome combative substitution, though I doubt the right side of Toonies defence would agree.

Second Half

The second half had hardly started when Xavier lost the ball weakly on our right side by-line in the Park End.  The successful Toony could hardly believe his luck, took one stride further away and hit a hard ground shot which Paul naturally paddled against a helpless Unsy and the ball went in off him.  The albatross strikes again.

Equally naturally, our play deteriorated sharply afterwards and they got into the game more and more.  But we hadnt given up and kept attacking when we could.  It was an uneven and unsatisfactory spectacle.  No cohesion by either side and increasingly fractious.  In the parlance, it became a dead narky game.  In the end Bob Lee got booked.  Hes another Toony nearing the end of his career, much of the pace passing him by.

Then Gazza substituted Abel with 20 minutes left.  Huge cheers from us and very generous applause from the Toon fans.  During his time on the pitch he delivered two truly wonderful passes which went through the Toony defence like a scalpel.  Both resulted in the narrowest of misses.  On top of that he showed on a few occasions how a class player, even one as over the hill as he is, can affect the confidence of younger players. The Ears immediately sprang into life and had two terrific snapshots which would have been classic goals had they gone in.  But they didnt.  The minutes ticked away.  It looked bleak.

With less than 10 minutes left, we had two tremendous seemingly last-ditch attacks into the Street End.  Davey Weir got felled by Bob Lee in the penalty area while Elleray waved play on with everyone in the stadium out of his/her seat screaming for a spot kick.  Then, as we surged forward right side penalty area a seemingly innocuous challenge and Elleray gave A PENALTY!  From my seat, it was a dreadful decision.  Not that I gave a shit.  We shouldve had one earlier anyway.

Beloved Lard Arse placed the ball on the spot while Shearer lost the only two friends he had in the Street End by arguing the decision.  Amazingly, he STILL didnt get booked.  Strong men around me wouldnt watch the pen.  Which was a pity because Unsy hit it slowly to his left while Shay Given went plunging off balance in the other direction.  You could have cut the relieved noise with a knife.  Unsy looked as though hed just got off Death Row.

Turned out there were 10 minutes left with add-ons.  But by then the steam had gone out of the game.  After the whistle, huge cheers greeted the City result and the usual shite dbcle at Leicester.  Any straw in a storm.  Or is any port which broke the camels back?

Footy.  Dontcha just LUV it.  Sigh.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Leading man has only a bit part in finale
Roy Collins, Electronic Telegraph

PAUL GASCOIGNE was so anxious to get back into the action that, when he began hovering around the touchline as early as the 30th minute, one half-expected him to step over the white line uninvited and take the ball on a run.

Gazza, who had not played since November because of a thigh injury, certainly thought his moment had come when the ambulance men ran on in the last minute of the first half to bundle Alex Nyarko on to a stretcher, the second Everton player to leave in that way.

But though Gascoigne nodded in the direction of his manager Walter Smith, it was Idan Tal who got the nod from his manager.  Gascoigne did get on eventually, replacing Abel Xavier 19 minutes from the end, but the time when he could write his own scripts has gone.

He barely got a touch of the ball as Everton salvaged a point which leaves them no longer looking over their shoulders at the relegation candidates, but looking them straight in the eye.  They have now been overtaken by Derby.

The ambulance men and women were busier than either goalkeeper in the first half.  But we were pretty confident of a score in the second half, seeing that Newcastle had not managed a clean sheet for 19 games and Everton had claimed only one in 14.

We had already seen plenty of evidence that Newcastle had no case for their defence.  And it was easy to understand Everton's vulnerability when they conceded the most gruesome of own-goals a minute after the restart, David Unsworth stabbing it past goalkeeper Paul Gerrard after the latter had knocked down an Alan Shearer shot.

That ended a run of three successive defeats for Newcastle, who have so angered manager Bobby Robson that he almost cancelled their sunshine break to La Manga.

Francis Jeffers should have eased Everton's nerves in the ninth minute when an interchange between Thomas Gravesen and Kevin Campbell set him free in the box.  But, still trying to rediscover his scoring touch after his long injury lay off, he managed only a weak left-foot effort which goalkeeper Shay Given cleared with his feet and, had he been so inclined, could have dribbled upfield a la Fabian Barthez.

Everton's next gilt-edged opportunity came after Steve Watson played a long crossfield pass which turned the Newcastle defence and Gary Naysmith pulled the ball back for Campbell, who contrived to shoot wide.

It was Naysmith's last act of the game, having been clattered by Andy Griffin after his cross, and it was a shame that his journey to the dressing room on a stretcher was not warmed by the knowledge that he had injured his thigh creating a goal.

Shearer, Gascoigne's old England team-mate, showed that he is back to his irritating worst by going through his full Mr Angry repertoire, appealing for penalties, screaming at referee David Elleray and standing with hands on hips when decisions went against him.  Mr Elleray finally pulled out a yellow card when Shearer retreated too slowly from a free kick.

Shearer might even have got a red for arguing over the 85th-minute penalty from which Unsworth secured personal redemption and a point.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Unsworth the villain turns hero
by Ron Clarke, The Sunday Times

MERSEYSIDE and Tyneside, at least in footballing terms, are still a little on the depressing side after this thoroughly innocuous contest, which did little to curtail the crisis talks that have surfaced at both Everton and Newcastle.  For the Toffees it is a little more desperate as they are still stuck nearer to the bottom of the Premiership than is comfortable.  As for the Magpies, they are not flying as high as their earlier aspirations indicated.

Indeed, an own goal and a penalty were the fitting epitaph to a lacklustre afternoon in which nerves easily overtook quality.

Newcastle avoided their fourth consecutive defeat but still had their defence breached for the 24th game in succession.  Everton, admittedly unlucky, will still have to start scoring more freely if relegation, now possibly only a distant fear, is not to become a distinct possibility.

The numerous people collecting on behalf of the Samaritans outside Goodison Park yesterday only added to the air of desperation surrounding a fixture between two of the season's great under-achievers.

The opening half, especially, did little to raise the spirits.  Play was almost totally one-directional with Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard only called into serious action once when he came off his line to whip Nolberto Solano's corner away from the intended head of Alan Shearer.

Everton could and should have scored on several occasions.  Newcastle's all-British back four looked initially uncomfortable but grew in confidence.  For the record, their defensive line-up comprised Andy Griffin, Stephen Caldwell, in for the injured Alain Goma, Aaron Hughes and on-loan Wayne Quinn.

With less than 15 minutes played, Francis Jeffers somehow found himself in the middle of a gaping hole in that defence, only to shoot far too weakly and almost straight at Shay Given in the Newcastle goal.

Gary Naysmith did wonderfully well to spin round Griffin and divert the ball back into the penalty area and straight into the path of Kevin Campbell . His neatly angled shot bobbled agonisingly the wrong side of Given's left-hand post.  Naysmith, left prostrate on the ground after Griffin's firm but fair tackle, was carried off on a stretcher and replaced by David Unsworth.

One of the biggest cheers of the gloomy first half was reserved for the sight of Paul Gascoigne as he limbered up along the touchline.  It was his first appearance after a four month lay-off from injury.

Right on the stroke of half-time, another Everton player was forced out of the action.  Alex Nyarko appeared to turn and twist badly, albeit with nobody near him, and he fell to the ground clutching his knee.  Israeli Idan Tal came on to replace him.

If a combination of poor finishing and injuries contributed to the Merseysiders' bad luck before the interval, it was poor defending and individual isolation that accounted for a further and more potent slice straight after the restart.

Shearer, largely anonymous, once again appeared wide on the flank and powered in a whipped shot-cum-cross that Gerrard really should have held.  Instead he could do no more than push it straight on to the body of Unsworth in front of him and the ball rebounded into the net.

Hardly merited and harshly conceded, it did prove to be the necessary catalyst for some more cohesive and direct play from the visitors.  But it was more momentary than maintained and still Everton were able to stream forward in a series of concentrated attacks in search of that elusive goal.

Scot Gemmill and Jeffers both had long-range shots falling narrowly wide with Given looking well beaten and later Tal deftly nodded another chance just off target.

On 70 minutes Kevin Gallacher came on for Shola Ameobi, the Nigerian Geordie having an ineffective afternoon, and Gascoigne made a grand entrance with the exit of Abel Xavier.

Despite his regular early morning sessions in the weight room and daily fitness routines, the former England man still looks slim but a little off the pace.  However, his enthusiasm was enough to keep his colleagues concentrating.

At least the breakthrough they so thoroughly deserved came with only eight minutes remaining and in somewhat controversial circumstances.  Caldwell, easily Newcastle's outstanding player, was adjudged by referee David Elleray to have fouled Campbell.

This allowed Unsworth the chance to make amends for his earlier misdemeanour by sending the resultant penalty decisively to the left of the goal, with Given diving in the other direction.

Shearer, who had been booked earlier in the half for trying to indicate that an Everton free kick should be taken further back, induced the further wrath of Goodison when he indulged in gamesmanship by suggesting that the ball was not properly on the spot.  He received only a warning from Elleray.

With the fourth official indicating three minutes of added time, Jeffers nearly secured all three points as he raced through and was thwarted by Given's outstretched leg.

Afterwards, a relieved but still tense Newcastle manager, Bobby Robson, said: "It was important not to lose today and to stop that slide.  But it was a nervous and scrappy affair and we were so close to keeping that goals against column clean."

Everton manager Walter Smith was left to rue on what might have been.  "We were delighted to get back into the game but we should have been well in front.

"I am pleased to get a result but disappointed we did not capitalise on our opportunities.  Not taking our opportunities is a recurring feature of our season."

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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 Gascoigne unable to provide relief for Everton
by Nick Szczepanik, The Times

AT THE end of a week when a new England set-up gave everyone a lift, it would have been satisfying to report that two of the last generation to bring the nation to its feet.  Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne, were still in rude health but football does not always deliver the right result.  Just ask Everton, who had the chances to have won a poor match comfortably but, in the end, were indebted to a fortunate late penalty for the point that keeps them precisely where they were before kick-off in terms of the relegation picture. 

With Shearer having engineered the goal that gave Newcastle United the lead early in the second half, a neat ending would have seen Gascoigne, returning to the Everton squad for the first time since November 5, rise from the bench to score or create one himself, but when he caressed a pass between two defenders and into the stride of Francis Jeffers with a minute left, Jeffers, not for the first time, fluffed the chance.

Gascoigne was some way from fitness.  It was revealing that Walter Smith, the Everton manager, chose to send on Idan Tal as a substitute for the injured Alex Nyarko just before half-time instead of Gascoigne, who was held back until the 71st minute.

By then, Shearer, who performed abrasively, earning a booking for dissent from David Elleray, the referee, and pushing his luck once or twice after that, had created a goal out of nothing when he stole the ball from Abel Xavier and shot hard and low.  Paul Gerrard parried into the path of David Unsworth, who ran the ball into his own net.

If only Unsworths team-mates had shown such finishing ability.  Kevin Campbell somehow skewed the best chance wide from seven yards in the 26th minute after Gary Naysmith had cut the ball back into his path, and it was only his tumble under a challenge from Stephen Caldwell as the defender headed away a cross from Steve Watson, that brought Everton their equaliser, Unsworth saving his own blushes by putting away the penalty nervelessly.

Bobby Robson, the Newcastle manager, bemoaned the decision that denied his side a first clean sheet in 20 attempts, and would have been a tribute to what he estimated was the youngest back four in the Premiership.  The selection was forced by injuries, and any further knocks in defence, he insisted, would have seen Shearer at centre half.  What next Gazza in goal?

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
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