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Tranmere Rovers Logo Tranmere Rovers 1 - 0 Everton 

Half-time: 0 - 0
Everton Logo
2001-02 Pre-season Friendly  – Game 3
3pm Saturday 4 August 2001
Prenton park, Birkenhead
Att: 11,239
Burnley (A) Ref: Mr M Dean Wigan Athletic (A) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] [ 2001-02 Friendlies ]
Steve Simonsen started in goal for The Blues as they took on his former club Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park in the annual pre-season fun-fest that has so many Everton connections, especially with Dave Watson now their manager.  

Mark Pembridge was among a long list of subs after missing out on the first two pre-season games with a knee injury.  But Gerrard, Ferguson, and Gascoigne are all rested to protect niggling injury worries.

Radzinski was lively from the start but missed a sitter on 8 mins.  Ex-blue Stuart Barlow had the ball in the net before half-time but it was disallowed. 

Plenty of changes for Everton in the second half, with eight half-time subs, but the disruptions to the team formation allowed Henry to open the scoring for Tranmere on 50 mins.  

Everton almost scored with the impressive young Nick Chadwick, but it went the wrong side of the post.


Tranmere Rovers: Henry (50')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
Tranmere Rovers: Murphy, Hazell, Roberts, Henry, Challinor, Hill, Parkinson, Mellon, Flynn (84' Hume), N'Diaye (77' Rideout), Barlow.  Allison, Yates, Sharps, Morgan, Hinds, Jobson, Koumas, Achterburg.
EVERTON: Simonsen (46' Myhre); Watson (46' Cleland), Stubbs (46' McLeod), Weir, Pistone (77' Hibbert); Moore (46' Tal), Gemmill (46' Clarke), Pembridge (46' Gravesen), Unsworth (46' Alexandersson); Radzinski (62' Chadwick), Campbell (46' Cadamarteri). 
 Ferguson, Gascoigne, Gerrard, Naysmith (injured); Nyarko (walkabout); Ball (gone).
   Playing Strips  Formations
Tranmere Rovers: White shirts; white shorts; white socks. 4-4-2
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 5-3-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Tranmere Rovers:

Steve Milne Ferry cross the Mersey
Julian Cashen Ritual Embarrassment Over The Water
BLUE KIPPER Link to match report

FROM THE TERRACE Link to report by Phil Pellow

WHEN SKIES ARE GREY Link to report by Mark O'Brien

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
DAILY POST Link to Daily Post Report

LIVERPOOL ECHO Link to Echo Report

Available late Monday

 Ferry cross the Mersey
Steve Milne
Well, it was time for our annual Ferry across the Mersey, on Part 3 of the pre-season odyssey.  This time Tranmere Rovers were our hosts.  We had a torrential downpour just before the start of the game and this made the surface nice and slick.

I wonder what was going through Dave Watson's mind after all the years he had been in the Everton dug-out.  Now he is in charge of his own team who have a fair sprinkling of ex-Everton players: Paul Rideout, Graham Allen, Stuart Barlow.

With the large crowd still coming in, the kick off was put back 15 mins.  Yet again, a good following of Evertonians were at Prenton Park today.

The line-up included Radzinski from the start; Simonsen got the nod before Gerrard.  In fact, what a surprise to see Tommy Myhre's name on the team sheet!  No place on the bench for either Ferguson or Gazza although we do have the youngsters Clarke, Hibbert, McLeod, Chadwick there instead.

I don't think Simonsen had a save to make the whole of the first 45 mins.  Tranmere did have the ball in the back of the net, but in the build up Stubbs was fouled.  Everton did have a couple of nice moves: on 6 mins a long ball from the back, Campbell with the knock down into the path of Radzinski, who beat a couple of defenders, his shot on target, but the keeper did well.

Just after the half hour mark, Unsworth and Campbell had a nice one-two on the left side of the box but Unsworth's final shot well over the bar.  On 41 mins Radzinski had a chance, again from a long ball, turning the defenders with his shot on target and the keeper again making the all-important save.

Half time 0-0

With Walter making 8 changes to the team, it took a while to get their momentum back again, although we were still playing the 3-5-2 formation.  We then found ourselves 1-0 down after 49 mins, the ball coming in from the right to Henry, from the edge of the box, who had space and time as no Everton player closed him down.  He saw his spot and let fly; Myhre had no chance as the ball came through a pack of players.

Everton did have a few chances: Weir had a header go by the post from a well-taken corner; Cadamarteri had a couple of shots on target; and Chadwick just missed from close range, picking up a rebound.  A couple more substitutions were made, forcing the team to re-juggle the way they were playing.  Hibbert forced the keeper into another save on 79 mins with a bullet header, goal-bound.  On 90 mins, Hibbert again came close from a corner, his header this time cleared off the line.  

All was not lost, however, as this was another step on the pre-season fitness ladder, with all the subs being used so that everyone received some kind of match practice.  The one minus factor of the day was Radzinski who went down the tunnel after he was taken off, with the Everton physio icing his hamstring. 

Right on 90 mins Cadamarteri was the final Everton player to be substituted, apparently going off with an injury; however, there was nobody left on the bench to take his place.  Let's hope they all recover for Tuesday night and the Wigan game.

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 Ritual Embarrassment Over The Water
Julian Cashen
With a good crowd causing a delayed kick off, and a line-up presumably pretty close to the first choice for the coming season, there were reasons to feel good prior to the game.  Tranmere's stadium is fairly tidy, the only exception to the intimate nature of the stadium being the so called 'Asda Kop' which is rather too high and impersonal.  Everywhere else in the ground, the crowd is close enough to the players to hear virtually every word they say to each other. 

Apparently Rovers' season ticket sales are at a record high despite relegation, so perhaps even Tranmere fans are showing how preferable is a Blue as a manager compared to a RedShite!!!  Both squads were warming up as we arrived and, while we were disappointed that there was no sign of Dunc, Radzinski was there and soon confirmed as being in the starting line up.

3-5-2?  4-4-2?  Tictac!

If you're not going to run out to Z-Cars, then the theme from another ancient cop show, the Rockford Files, isn't a bad one to choose.  The sun was shining and the pitch looked in perfect condition as the Blues took the pitch to a big cheer from a crowd, which from my observation seemed at least 60% Evertonian.  

We lined up 3-5-2, which is a formation not to everyone's taste, but one we'll have to get used to this year.  I have to say that, assuming Weir, Stubbsy and Pistone stay fit, we do have a fairly decent-looking back three, all of whom are composed and comfortable on the ball, as well as good in the air, quick, and decent tacklers.  I'm not convinced by Unsy as a wing-back but Watson is good enough going forward to do the job well.

Midfield is another story.  Against, let's not forget, Second division opposition, we looked reasonably solid but totally lacking in invention.  Joe-Max in particular was fairly busy in there but we have nobody who can produce a decent pass.  It's too much to hope that Gazza will be fit, so barring sensible use of the Bally money to get a ball-playing midfielder, we will struggle in this department.

Up front, I had a first look at Radzinski.  He looks quite quick, but received such poor service that it was hard to make a judgement.  His pace made him a good chance early on that the Rovers keeper did well to stop.  My concern with this lad is that the hopeful punt to Big Dunc's head will be replaced by the hopeful punt over the top for Radzinski to chase but at least when they are both playing, we have a choice of two hopeful punts to play. 

Not-So-Super-Kev continues to be a cause for concern, though.  Not only can I not remember him having so much as a sniff of goal all half; he looks permanently knackered and a good yard off the pace.  Perhaps he's encumbered by the extra baggy shorts he favours in contrast to Radzinski, who was sporting some seventies throwback ultra brief ones.

As to the action, I'm afraid there was hardly any to report on.  We had a few corners, and I was glad to see that we had been working on these we managed to clear the first defender on more than one occasion.  But, other than the Radzinski chance, it's hard to recall either keeper being called on to make a save.

Bring on the Kids!

The second half saw a welcome run-out for the youngsters, the scarcity of midfielders at the Club being illustrated by our central three comprising Alexandersson, Tal (!!!) and Gravesen.  Tommy Myhre came on in goal, replacing Simonsen, who hadn't had any chance to show whether he might be the man to save us several million in the transfer market.  Wouldn't you know, poor old Tommy was soon picking the ball out of the back of the net when our defence politely opened up for someone to waltz through and crash one in from twelve yards or so giving Tommy no chance.

From then we battled gamely enough without really exerting sustained pressure.  The pick of the youngsters was McLeod, who saw plenty of the ball and looked really quick, a genuine threat down the flank.  We were rarely under pressure at the back so it's hard to say much about the others, though, apart from the young players, I was pleased to see Cleland have a few good touches.  I like that lad; it's a pity we've seen so little of him over the past couple of years.

Needless to say, the injury jinx struck when Radzinski pulled his hamstring the first time he really stretched his legs in the second half.  Danny got hurt too, getting the decent kicking he deserved for a niggly display.

We did manage to force a couple of good saves from their Keeper who, by the way, looks fairly classy and had one kicked off the line, so in terms of chances we were unlucky to lose.  However, in general, it was disappointing that we were unable really to impose ourselves; an impartial observer would never have guessed that there was a two-Division 'gulf in class' between the teams.

Pointers for the Season?

Firstly, Gazza was in the dugout, which surely he wouldn't have been if he was about to ship out?  Secondly, a good result for Dave Watson who is serving an apprenticeship which, if it is even moderately successful, will surely see him return to manage Everton within the next five years.

For Everton, well, not to read too much into the result, the performance confirmed what we have suspected.  At the back we look OK, and there is no shortage of strength in depth in that Department.  Up front, so much depends on how Radzinski adjusts, but even more on whether we can get Ferguson fit for 20 or so games.

In midfield, however, the resources are threadbare.  If we play wing backs it is hard to see Alexandersson or Tal fitting in as they could in 4-4-2, but in the middle, Pembo, Gemmill and Gravesen represent as poor a midfield as there will be in the Premiership.  A couple of injuries to these three and we are really scraping the barrel. 

Nyarko may never have delivered but he undoubtedly had the potential to be a class act.  Indeed, to quote the latest Evertonian magazine, speaking of last pre-season, anyone looking at the way the new midfield of Hughes, Nyarko, Gravesen and Alexandersson gelled, would be wondering where it all went wrong.  Some of us are still wondering.  Hughes and Nyarko are gone, and we have no replacements.

Nevertheless, if we keep free of injuries, then I think we are only a player or two away from a fairly solid mid-table side, and this is realistically the extent of our aspirations for the season  together with a half-decent Cup run.  However, it was interesting to see that, on the back of the match programme, Tranmere named a bigger squad than we did.  A serious injury crisis would hit even harder this year than last...

Last Word

Whatever side you're on in the Smith debate, the fact is that Blue Bill is unlikely to sack him and we have to make the most of the situation, get behind the team, and hope that we keep our players fit this year.  As to the transfers, OK, good business to get rid of the glass-ankled Jeffers.  Losing Bally is a tougher one to swallow, particularly to Rangers, a Club where both Smith and the player's agent retain strong links.  It's a deal that stinks of pulled strings, backhanders, and mutual back-scratching.  Smith has never liked Bally, who spent a lot of time getting splinters in his arse till an injury crisis forced Smith to play him and his form made him impossible to drop.

Most supporters seem resigned to the sale and indeed it was inevitable once Bally turned down the chance of earning ten grand a week less than a knackered 31-year-old with dodgy knees.  We just have to hope that some of the money is made available for new players, and that it is used wisely.   Guv'nor-My-Arse NO!

Julian Cashen

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