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Radzinski (51')
Pembridge (87')
(0-0)  
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Everton v Southampton:
Prior League Games
 Overall  
 Everton 23
 Southampton 5
 Draws 6
 Premiership
 Everton 6
 Southampton 1
 Draws 2
 Last Season:
 Everton 1-1 Sotton

 
Walter Smith's imagination appeared to have reached stagnation point as he fielded the same toothless line-up that has secured two creditable/mind-numbing (delete as appropriate) 0-0 draws.  Gascoigne and Moore were still confined to the bench, and Everton played the first half as if instructed not to even attempt anything too adventurous since it could lead to exposure at the back and a chance for the Saints.

As it was, the Saints sensed early on that this was a spiritless Everton side there for the taking, and they had so much freedom of much of the field during the first half they hardly knew how to use it.  They produced a couple of good chances that required two excellent reaction saves from Simonsen in quick succession.

The really agonizing aspect of this most insipid half we have had to suffer all season was the paucity of ideas or skill in evidence when Everton did gain possession in defence.  Time and again it was squandered going forward with the the most elementary of schoolboy errors.  A game crying out for Gazza?

For once, Walter Smith acknowledged his ill-conceived plan by half-time, bringing on Gascoigne for the awful Alexandersson, and Pembridge for Unsworth, who had played well.  Was this the catalyst for a quick-fire move out of defence?  A long clearance from Pembridge under pressure that Watson in the centre-circle spooned forward perfectly into the path of Radzinski on the left.  Radzinski's run in on goal and shot past the keeper was textbook perfect: 1-0!

Everton were much, much improved in the second half, with Gascoigne having a great time making some defence-baffling runs.  Gravesen became the focus off attention, put through numerous times in acres of space on the right.  One delicate chip should have been hammered in; another glorious chance was wellied high and wide.  He made amends for his profligacy by stopping a certain Saints goal from a corner, right on the goal line.

And finally, he got it right in attack, crossing from deep after a great wide ball had been fed to him from Watson near the end, enabling Pembridge to connect with a very difficult ball to fire home a half-volley on the stretch and make the game secure.



M A T C H    F A C T S
 Sports Match Info  
  FA Premiership 2001-02, Game 14
4:00pm  Sunday 2 December 2001
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Referee: Jeff Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)
Att: 28,138
Position: 9th
TV: Sky Sports
Line-ups Subs not used
Everton: Simonsen; Pistone, Stubbs, Weir, Unsworth (46' Pembridge);  Alexandersson (46' Gascoigne), Gravesen, Gemmill, Naysmith; Watson; Radzinski. Gerrard, Moore, Xavier. 
Unavailable:  Campbell, Ferguson (injured); Nyarko (loan) 
Southampton Jones, Dodd, Bridge, Lundekvam, Williams, Telfer, Marsden (67' Davies), Oakley, Svensson, Beattie, Pahars. Moss, Delap, El Khalej, Petrescu.
Playing Strips Formations
Everton: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-1-1
Southampton: Red & white shirts; black shorts; white socks 4-4-2
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Everton:   --
Southampton: Williams (19')  --


Premiership Scores
Saturday
Aston Villa 0-2 Leicester
Blackburn 0-1 Middlesbro
Charlton 1-1 Newcastle
Derby 0-1 Liverpool
Ipswich 0-2 Arsenal
Sunderland 1-0 West Ham
Man United 0-3 Chelsea
Sunday
Everton 2-0 Sotton
Fulham 0-0 Leeds
Monday
Tottenham 3-2 Bolton


Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Liverpool 29
2 Arsenal 26
3 Leeds 25
4 Newcastle 24
5 Tottenham 24
6 Chelsea 23
7 Aston Villa 23
8 Man Utd 21
9 Everton 20
10 Bolton 20
11 Blackburn 19
12 Fulham 19
13 Sunderland 19
14 Middlesbrough 19
15 Charlton 15
16 West Ham 15
17 Leicester 13
18 Southampton 10
19 Derby 10
20 Ipswich 9
M A T C H     R E P O R T S
Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary
EvertonFC.com Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
From The Terrace Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Rob Burns Feast or Famine
Squire of Beckenham The pride of the peacock
Richard Marland Growing in Stature
Links to Other Media Reports
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
BBC Sport Match Report
FA Premier Match Report
Sky Sports Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
SoccerNet Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
The Times Match Report
Daily Post Match Report


Match Preview

Didn't we all just cheer for the Saints as they finally got their new-ground monkey off their back?  It would have been just terrible if they arrived at Goodison with poor home form putting pressure on their away games, wouldn't it?  And now they arrive with the Sky cameras in tow - not exactly our favourite visitors! 

Last season saw us scrape a 1-1 draw thanks to a Ball penalty which dropped us to 17th place in the Premiership.  Think back to some of the dubious pleasures we endured that season: Mark Hughes (now setting the world on fire at Blackburn), Stephen Hughes (ditto Watford), Richard Dunne (3m - thanks Keegan) and Nyarko (no comment).  Some things never change though; Jeffers was absent injured.  

What can we expect this season?  Well, our forwards are injured again just how bored are you getting of that record?  But elsewhere, we do have some strength in depth.  The back four (and thank you Walter for sticking with it at last) is looking relatively secure, with Simonsen showing really promising form behind them, even if he was a touch fortunate against Chelsea.  With other defenders like Watson upfront and Xavier on the bench, not to mention Naysmith in midfield, we should look forward to a pretty solid season from back there.

It's midfield where I think this game should be won.  The Saints have nothing: a midfield of Svensson, Marsden, Oakley and Telfer (3 of whom played 120 minutes against Bolton on Tuesday), even with Strachan's screaming, leaping, flaming leprechaun impression in their ear he is an annoying git, though admittedly shows more emotion and passion in 45 mins than Smith does in a whole season. - shouldn't really give Mad Dog/Gemmill/Naysmith and Alex any problems and with Pembo and Gazza also available we should dominate there.  Will we perhaps see Blomqvist for 20 mins? 

Up-front?  Rads desperately needs a goal before the media and boo-boys decide its time to start having a pop, but who can support him?  Surely not Watson again?  The lad works his socks off but Walter Come on!  Swallow that pride (yeah likely!) and play one of our real forwards upfront.  

Chadwick?  I've only seen him live against Espanyol but even then he showed glimpses; JMM?  Danny? I suppose if we are honest none of those 3 are premiership standard.  But if the rumour mill is working correctly - and who would ever doubt the News of the World - Dion Dublin could well be joining us (about 8 years later than we wanted and needed him).  

Personally I just can't see Dublin joining us, but then I gave up on Radzinski joining us at least 3 times, which will probably leave Watson back upfront and us having to sit through another "majestic" performance by Unsworth.  

It feels to me that we are back where we were before the West Ham game.  Then we all wandered into Goodison wondering if we were about to get dragged back into the relegation fight (dear God not again) and ready to scream for the "dour Scotsman's" head.  5-0 later Walter was safe and how!  A loss now would really threaten our mid-table sojourn and if its done with Watson up front then I fear for Smith.  

Another blank and I don't think the Gwladys Street firing squad will be quite so kind.  That said, I don't expect one.  With or without Watson upfront, our midfield will dominate and a return of two goals to nil will take us to Fulham right back in the scrap for a top 10 finish.  Which these days is realistically as good as we can hope for.... 

BlueForEver



Feast and Famine

by Rob Burns

Departing Glasgow early this morning after a hedonistic visit to Celtic's Parkhead yesterday, I knew that I had staked my (limited) reputation in Scotland on Everton's performance this afternoon.  I had found myself in crowded bars, trying to defend the honour of one Walter Smith to men who have regarded him lower on the scale of human existence than William of Orange and Ian Paisley. 

Luckily, I had Alan Stubbs in my arsenal of responses, a man whose reputation in the green half of the city was enough to earn an Evertonian guest a degree of respect.  Still, I imagine that Sky will have thanked me for swelling the viewing figures for the match north of the border for at least the length of time that it took to realise it would have been more profitable, as some had suggested, to watch the solvents evaporate from a fresh coat of Dulux apple mint green vinyl silk. 

Sad... because, had you woken up in the second half, you would surely have kicked yourself for not setting the timer to get the whole of this action-packed feast.  

Walter retained the side that returned a point from Filbert St last week, with Steve Watson again starting alongside Radzinski up front, and the impressive Steve Simonsen in goal behind a 4-4-2 formation.  The bench was a strong one for a squad bereft of personnel, with Xavier, Gerrard, Gascoigne, Pembridge and Joe-Max Moore (to the frustration of the increasingly desperate-for-goals Everton fans). 

The first half began with a tribute to the late George Harrison a performance of Here Comes The Sun followed by applause but the continuity editors amongst you will notice/have noticed that the blues omitted to wear the black armbands in the first half although they appeared with them in the second. 

The first half of the match was frustrating and, frankly, instantly forgettable.  High, long balls were occasionally interspersed with football - the latter showed that Southampton were easily beatable, the former that they had weight, muscle and far too much physical aggression for us to ever get through with Route One tactics.

Southampton were as impressive as they were irritating. Niggling fouls, the tug of the shirt, the obstructing wall of Paul Williams in the central defensive area...  But also an eagerness to get to the ball, be first in the tackle, up for the headers and generally an enthusiasm and passion that showed Everton to be second best all over the park. 

Defensively, Pistone lacked any speed or accuracy in his distribution, was slow to move out of defense, and panicked when under pressure.  Credit to Unsworth on the other side who was again steady and probably an unfortunate victim of a necessary change for the second half.  

Alexandersson was also a let down on the right, whether he was trying to disguise his ability in preparation for the well publicised World Cup group or he had just had something of a heavy night his first touch was poor and he was caught in possession on several occasions.  

Watson tried in vain to collect and control the aerial balls and left Rad starved of opportunities.  Watson struggled up front the ideas are certainly there but the turn of pace and the instinct when and where to run was not.  The only real light was the by now classy Simonsen who pulled of a couple of great Southall-esque saves and is looking to be a real stalwart behind the defence.  

At half-time I pondered as to how the team which has played with panache (not the notorious Christmas perfume from Lentheric) in recent times could look so dire this afternoon - and not even a memorable strike on goal to rue the missing of.  

More nervously, I wondered how many of those Celts had taken me at my word and elected to watch my 'top six, School of Science' heroes behave like a Sunday League team!  Perhaps I have a little too much self belief in my influence on steaming drunk Scots but remember that we had become kindred spirits after all.  

Two changes were the reaction from the staff Gazza entering the fray for Alexandersson, pushing Gravesen over to the right; and Pembridge on for Unsworth taking up a place wide left with Naysmith behind.  Regardless of the formation, it appeared that Walter had vented his spleen at half time as the transformation was terrific - suddenly Everton first to the ball, driven by the spirit of Gascoigne and the fiery Pembridge, tackling and running for each other. 

Pembridge was the outlet as Everton's furious pace began to pull the Saints apart - pulling a long pass from right on the left hand touch-line to find Watson, whose flick to find Radzinski was sublime.  The little striker left a trail of smoke behind him as he tore down the left, an angled run into the box and a powerfully placed shot beyond Paul Jones into the far corner before the defenders had even broken stride.  This man is invaluable to Everton and has made the crucial difference to the side which struggled with inconsistent and often absent strikers last season. Are you watching how its done, Franny? 

The biggest surprise for the goal was Walter's reaction, as he danced on the touchline.  A man who has shown as much charisma as a brick in his time at Everton was either pissed or has reduce his dosage of Prozac - but the blue touch paper has certainly been lit this afternoon and long may it continue. 

Gazza was unduly lauded in the Bolton game when he scored his first goal in a blue shirt but was largely unimpressive over 90 minutes.  Today he showed touches of vintage.  The drop of the shoulder, neat footwork and a lightening sprint led to a brilliant save from Paul Jones at close range after beating three, and coming out of defence showing maturity more in-keeping with his years. 

Gazza showed Everton the way by spreading the ball, finding blue shirts and relieving the pressure and the rush when marked men are forced to release the ball by an incoming tackle.  Pembridge was pacey and used the flanks well, later interchanging with our hero to put him through, and combining with Naysmith to raid time and again down the left. 

Gravesen twice found himself through with only the keeper to beat, the first forcing another great save from the Welshman, then selfishly shooting the rebound instead of finding the free man Gemmill inside, the second opportunity blazing wide.  Walter despaired and Archie kicked the drinks box back down the tunnel.  

Never ones to victimise (ahem), the crowd re-emphasised their faith in the Great Dane and it was repaid, as he stooped to cushion a downward header from a Southampton corner on the goal line and save Everton's bacon - all was forgiven.  

Fans held their breath, convinced that the old hoodoo would strike again and we would fold before the end - Southampton were still very much in the game.  The icing came as Xavier was stripped and ready to shore up the defence again it involved Gravesen who combined with Watson and crossed to find a brilliantly timed slide from Pembridge, scoring to put the game beyond the visitors. Abel resumed his seat on the bench, which, despite the icy weather was, thankfully, still warm. 

Everton had made amends for an awful first half and shown for the first time on Sky that they have the talent to go places.  The 90 minutes was certainly ragged and much work is needed if we are to pick up points from some big games before Christmas.  Walter certainly passed on some of his new-found passion to the team at half time and at least made the second half a spectacle and something like the event we now expect when visiting Goodison. 

We cannot survive for much longer without a striker, however and perhaps this rush of blood will lead to him chancing his arm on an Ormerod or a Zamora in mid-week a man for today and tomorrow, and not just a stop-gap.  Credit where due for today, though, as he dramatically changed a struggling side both tactically and mentally.  

Perhaps the bhoys will give at least a passing thought to my words  of wisdom over a Guiness or two tonight and perhaps Rabbie Burns will be invited back to the Barrowlands after all.....



The pride of the peacock is the glory of God

(Willam Blake, Proverbs of Hell, 1793)  

by Squire of Beckenham

From the kick off, we probably looked good for about five minutes, with Radz getting a shot in that was easily dealt with by Jones; after that, we were incapable of stringing three passes together.  Southampton under Strachan have taken on the Dogs of War mantle, and then some.  With half of their quality players missing through injury, they decided that the best form of defence was to snap at our lads ankles at every opportunity; and to be blunt, we couldnt cope with it.

While they didnt have the quality to break our defence down, they didnt need it, because time after time wed present them with the ball in dangerous positions.  Gravesen and Gemmill looked frankly hopeless, and their total inability to hold onto the ball and play spread throughout the whole side.  It wasnt long before Unzy started lobbing up the hopeful cross field punt to no-one in particular, and we were extremely thankful to Simo for keeping us in it with two breathtaking saves in the space of two minutes, one at point blank range.

We werent helped by the bizarre decisions of the arsehole officials, especially J Winter, esq; Gascoigne was later quoted as saying that Winter had a good game.  Christ, he must be in a festive mood already.  Winters crowning glory came in the second half, when after a foul on Gravesen he allowed play to continue; but as soon as he saw that we had the advantage, he blew up for the foul.  Still, could have been worse I suppose, we could have had the Harrow Schoolmaster.

Half time, and a chorus of boos.  Of course, I wasnt going to join in with that palaver (me being totally self-righteous and all that), but I really felt in The Slough of Despond.  Or Slough. Or somewhere.  As the teams took to the pitch for the second half, I did a double-take; not one, but TWO subs?  Walter not leaving it until the 86th minute?  Sheeeitt  Unzie and Alex off, Gazza and Pele, sorry PEMBO, on.  And the difference was immediately apparent.  Ish.

From a fairly slick Southampton move, the ball broke to our left touchline, where Pele ran his little legs off to beat the Southampton man to the ball and clear up field.  As the ball arrived to Watto, he did an amazingly convincing impersonation of a real centre forward and astutely flicked the ball straight into the path of Jet-Heels, who despite the attentions of Williams drew the keeper and scored with ease. I remember Paul Williams once winning a 100m challenge to become the fastest man in football, but Radz left him for dead.

And then it was time for the Gazza spectacular first off, a dribble and run past four or five defenders down the inside right channel, and as the defender came across him Gazza simply ran around him, took the ball again and was unlucky to bang the shot straight at Jones.  Next, a similar jinking run down the inside left channel finished off abruptly by a push and a certain penalty certain, that is, if the referee isnt called Jeff Winter (and youre not playing for Everton).  Several more top turns followed, including one across the centre of the midfield utilising outrageous feints of the backheel a la Duncan McKenzie.

Chance after chance was being carved out; Gravesen should be kicking himself for spurning three fantastic chances after all the hard work had been done for him in each case, and Southampton had no answer to it apart from the Ginger Gnome shouting the odds from the sidelines.  In the first half we made them look good, we were so poor; in the second half they were shown up for the relegation fodder that they really are. 

Still, Ive no sympathy for a side who can only muster two coaches for an away trip (even a match on Sky on a Sunday), or one that plays a baldy, niggly arl arse in defence (I thought Marsden was David Armstrong for a while). Even when they managed a decent chance, Gravesen was there to redeem himself.

We needed a second goal, and it probably came at the right time; four minutes from the end, and another flowing move was capped by a cross from Gravesen on the right, which Watto left but Pele (PELE!!!) met at the far post and tucked away.  Fantastic.

So, three points well won in the end, a nice post-match chinwag in The Glebe and an enormous feeling of well-being for the long trek home.  Never was the clich of a game of two halves more apparent.  Gazza for England?  Realistically no, but I will say this; Paul, thank you very, VERY much for winding back the years and so gladdening my heart, and that of 28,000 other Blues-frozen-blue.

And as for Pele can we play him every week?



Growing in Stature

by Richard Marland

After Saturday's games we were standing in 14th position, a stark reminder of how we were drifting down the table.  We still had a 7 point buffer to the bottom 3, so there was no major cause for alarm but the need to start winning games was becoming more pressing.

Team

It was exactly the same starting eleven and bench as the Leicester game.  In a way it is nice to see the consistency in team personnel; however, it was still a little disconcerting to see Watson continuing as emergency centre forward.

First half

Desultory, and to think I actually rushed to get there in time.  It was Niamh's fifth birthday party in the MacDonalds on Orsmkirk Road in Aintree.  The party finished at 3:30 and I had resigned myself to missing the first part of the first half.  As it was I got a lift down County Road and after legging it down to Goodison I took my seat just as we kicked off.  I needn't have bothered.

Our passing game was truly woeful in the first half.  The midfield was non-existent and it was only our continuing solidity at the back that kept us in the game.  Simonsen produced two high-quality saves, Weir and Stubbs were excellent.  Southampton passed it around us with almost embarrassing ease.

Second half

The first half performance demanded changes and they duly arrived with the introduction of Gascoigne and Pembridge for Unsworth and Alexandersson.  Alexandersson had been ineffectual but Unsworth I considered unfortunate as he had been one of the better first-half performers.  I also thought that Tommy Gravesen was fortunate to remain on the pitch as he had been utterly anonymous in the first half.  The changes brought something of a reshuffle - Naysmith went back to left back, Gascoigne and Gemmill went centre midfield with Gravesen and Pembridge on the flanks.

You could immediately sense the difference.  There was, at last, a sense of purpose and drive about the team.  Reward wasn't long in coming.  Pembridge, from deep within our half and on the touchline, made a clearance towards Steve Watson.  Watson produced a delicate lay-off to release Radzinski down the left.  Initially I thought Radzinski would go to the by-line, however his touch and pace had him clear of the defensive cover and homing in on goal.  His finish was composed and decisive and we were 1-0 up.  Radzinski at his best - a very impressive piece of attacking play.

We were now totally in charge of the game.  Our previously toothless and inept midfield was now running the show and carving out chances seemingly at whim.  Gascoigne waltzed through the defence before his shot was saved.  Gravesen tried to be far too clever with a little dink over the 'keeper, on his next attempt he overcompensated and his wild shot was off target.  Radzinski missed with a simpler chance than his goal.

It was all very pleasant to watch but while the lead stayed at a mere one goal we could never be truly comfortable...  Whilst Southampton never looked remotely like scoring, all it takes is one goal mouth scramble.  

Our worries were finally eased with about 5 minutes to go.  Yet another raid down our right saw Gravesen deliver the cross for Pembridge, arriving at the back post, to deliver the final touch.

Summary

The recently found robustness of our defence kept us in it in the first half. A half-time rollocking and reorganisation gave us the impetus to go on and take the game.  The contrast between the midfield's performance in the first and second half was startling. Walter clearly has food for thought as to what is his best permutation, at least we have options there.

We continue to muddle through in attack and things can only improve with the return, or indeed arrival, of another fit striker.  However, if Radzinski can use this excellent goal as a springboard, we shouldn't have two many worries up front.  All in all a good afternoons work and a startling rise to the dizzy heights of ninth position.

Player ratings

  • Simonsen 7  Visibly growing in stature.  Two quality saves and a generally authorative and commanding performance.  Has made a big contribution to the hat-trick of clean sheets.
  • Pistone 7  Not at his best but certainly not bad.
  • Stubbs 8  I have to confess to having doubts as to his ability to cut it a four-man defense.  Three consecutive clean sheets suggest I was wrong.  He was excellent today.
  • Weir 8  Another good performance from a player of quite remarkable consistency.
  • Unsworth 7  Didn't think he did too much wrong and was unfortunate to be subbed.
  • Alexandersson 6  Back to his ineffectual worst.
  • Gravesen 6  Absolutely woeful in the first half.  Made some use of the acres of space he was allowed in the second.
  • Gemmill 6  Poor in the first half but at least, unlike Gravesen, he seemed to be trying to get involved. Better in the second but not one of his best days.
  • Naysmith 7  An unfussy, uncomplicated player who gets the job done.
  • Watson 6  Barely got a sniff in the first half, hardly surprising when the midfield plays as badly as that.  Did a bit more in the second and proved a delightful flick on for the first goal.  He's no Don Hutchison but you can't fault him for effort.
  • Radzinski 7  The sort of goal you expect from a player of his type.  It was his sheer pace, coupled with a sure touch and a confident finish, which made it.
  • Gascoigne 7 Two delightful dribbles right into the heart of their penalty area, one he should have scored from, one should have been a penalty.  The man still has plenty to offer providing he stays fit.  I just wish he wouldn't throw in quite so many full blooded challenges, I half expect him to get injured every time he does one.
  • Pembridge 7  Gascoigne will pick up the plaudits for the second half turn around but we shouldn't ignore the contribution of Pembridge.  His ability to do his job, to close down space, to know where he should be on the pitch is a good example to better footballers than Mark Pembridge.  We are always a better team for having him out on the pitch.

Team 7 The first half barely warranted a 5, and that would have only been because of the defense.  But, they kept themselves in the game and turned it round impressively.

Man of the match  It's easy to go with the players who turned it round in the second half, but really the three who kept us in it were Simonsen, Stubbs and Weir.  All three were excellent for the full 90 minutes but the best of them, I reckon, was Stubbs.



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