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 FA Premiership (3); Goodison Park, Liverpool; Wednesday 28 August 2002; 8:00pm
   Unsworth (90')
 Sent off: Stubbs (48')

Attendance: 37,197
Halftime: 0-0

Facts
Reports
John (pen, 48')


Referee: Mike Riley
 

David Unsworth was the hero for a desperate 10-man Everton when his shot in the last throes of stoppage time cannoned off the post and deflected into the net via Kenny Cunningham to preserve the Toffees' unbeaten start to the season.

Birmingham looked to be heading to their first win in the Premiership after the match had turned on a 47th minute of madness that saw Alan Stubbs harshly sent off for a professional foul and Stern John convert the resulting penalty to give the visitors the lead.

After a fairly even first half in which Steve Bruce's Birmingham had shown plenty of resilience, Everton, playing with another attacking 4-3-3 formation, had made a bright start to the second period.

But, when Thomas Gravesen's horrific back pass left John bearing down on goal, Stubbs was adjudged to have been the last man when he brought the striker down in the area.  Referee Riley pointed to the spot and gave Stubbs an automatic red card.  John made no mistake from the spot, firing in off the post past Steve Simonsen who was deputising for the injured Richard Wright.

Birmingham's response was to pull all eleven men behind the ball challenging the depleted home side to break them down.  In the first half, Kevin Campbell had come closest to breaking the deadlock when he hit the post 20 minutes after Grainger had brushed the woodwork with a direct free kick for Birmingham.

And despite plenty of effort and determination, the ten men in blue were unable to carve out many clear-cut opportunities in their search for an equaliser.  Li Tie and Tomasz Radzinski both shot narrowly wide and Wayne Rooney had a tremendous shot blocked by Darren Purse, seemingly with his hand but the home fans' appeals for handball were denied.

With time ebbing away and Birmingham threatening on the break, David Moyes withdrew Naysmith for Rodrigo as he made one last ditch attempt at salvaging the draw.  Radzinski had another shot deflected for a corner which in turn was narrowly beaten out by the visiting defence but Everton's baying fans were rewarded in the third minute of stoppage time with a last-gasp equaliser.


David Unsworth: His last-minute shot earns a share of the spoils for 10-man Everton


Everton v Birmingham:
Prior League Games
 Overall  
 Everton 34
 Birmingham 6
 Draws 12
 Premiership  
 Everton 0
 Birmingham 0
 Draws 0
 Last Meeting (1985):

Everton 4-1 Birmingham




Match Facts
 Everton   (4-4-2)
 Blue shirts, white shirts, blue socks
 Birmingham City    (4-4-2)
Black shirts, black shorts, black socks
  Simonsen
Hibbert
Weir
Stubbs [Sent off: 48']
Naysmith (Rodrigo 86')
Gravesen
Li Tie
Unsworth
Radzinski
Rooney
Campbell

Subs not used:  
Gerrard, Alexandersson, 
Linderoth, Carsley

Yellow Cards: Unsworth (57')

Red Cards: Stubbs (48')


Unavailable:

(Injured:) Chadwick,
Ferguson, Gemmill, Moore, Pistone, 
Pembridge, Watson, Wright, Yobo
(On Loan:) Clarke, Nyarko, Southern
Vaesen
Grainger
Purse
Cisse
Savage
Horsfield
Hughes
Cunningham
John
Johnson
Tebily (Kenna 36')

Subs not used: 
Bennett, Mooney, 
Morrisson, Carter

Yellow Cards: Johnson (14'), Savage (39'), Hughes (61')

Red Cards: �
 
Match Reports

Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary
EvertonFC.com Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Steve Bickerton A Deserved Point
Rob Burns Wargames
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
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report
Premiership Scores
Tuesday
Arsenal 5-2 West Brom
Charlton 0-1 Tottenham
Wednesday
Aston Villa 1-0 Man City
Blackburn 2-2 Liverpool
Everton 1-1 Birmingham
Leeds Utd 0-1 Sunderland
South'ton 1-1 Chelsea
 
Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 7
2 Liverpool 7
3 Tottenham 7
4 Leeds 6
5 Chelsea 5
6 Everton 5
7 Blackburn 5
8 Fulham 4
9 Man Utd 4
10 Sunderland 4
11 Newcastle 3
12 Charlton 3
13 Aston Villa 3
14 Man City 3
15 Middlesbrough 2
16 Southampton 2
17 Birmingham 1
18 West Ham 1
19 Bolton 0
20 West Brom 0




Match Preview

Birmingham City?

No-one expected them to get promotion � they did.  No-one expects them to stay up � will they?

After the recent success of Bolton, Fulham and (ignoring last year!) Ipswich, teams that come up cannot be readily dismissed.  This year Man City are likely to be the team that carries the argument against the gap growing ever wider between the Nationwide and the Premiership.  Will Birmingham (and West Brom) support them?

Well come on � hardly likely is it!!

2 games, no points, no goals.  Not the start that Steve Bruce will have wanted.

Looking at their team, it shows a lack of true class.  Their big signing was Robbie Savage.  So far he has been banned and hence makes his delayed debut at Goodison � are we worried about him?  Well considering the shock when we thought we might buy him, I guess not.  Aliou Cisse?  Clinton Morrison?

Morrison could actually be a good signing but he may take time to settle and the lack of creativity in Brum's midfield means he is likely to be starved of chances.

At the back Darren Purse was last year rated as one of the best centrebacks outside the Premiership and the signing of Kenny Cunningham is astute but overall the back line still has a feeling of fragility about it.

What of us?

Simonsen may be set to take his place between the sticks as Richard Wright has a badly bruised arm.  With no disrespect to Simonsen, I hope Wright does not miss the game as he obviously needs a good run of games and after his match-winning penalty save at Sunderland was likely to get a good reception.

Yobo is unlikely to be rushed into 1st team action so the backline will stay constant with a chance that the Nigerian could be on the bench.

The midfield which is showing some promising signs will definitely include Pembo, Gravesen and the v promising Li Tie.  Whether Moyes goes 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 will probably be the factor as to whether Alexandersson or Rooney start.  If Rooney doesn't start, we will see him again later on.

Rads and Campbell will continue upfront � until Dunc gets fully fit (!), then we should get used to this partnership.  It works and is unlikely to be altered

Overall, we should have far far too much for Birmingham.  The midfield needs to dominate and I expect Gravesen and Li Tie to do so.  If they do then Campbell will score again and let's hope Rads gets on the score sheet again.  Icing on the cake would be for Rooney to come off the bench and add a sparkling third!!

3-0 to the Blues and 7 points from 3 games.

BlueForEver



A Deserved Point

A disappointing result in the end when there was so much more promised.  Much will be made of the performance of the referee, which was less than consistent, but there is an argument which says that in spite of what appeared to be both a territorial and possession advantage, we just didn't create enough where it mattered in front of goal.  But that's a summary too soon, what of the game itself?

Early on, probably the first five minutes it looked as though we might have taken the game to Birmingham, but the 4-3-3 formation didn't really suit the game with the four in the middle for Birmingham getting stuck in and giving us no space in the engine room where it mattered.  As a result Birmingham took over and ran the game for a twenty minute period.  Nevertheless, all they created in reality during this period was a free header from a corner that Simonsen pushed over and a free kick outside the box, which beat Simonsen but clipped the top of the angle of cross bar and post.  After that they were fairly anonymous, with lots of graft and no particular craft.  By comparison Everton were adventurous and more creative down the flanks, but were lacking the cutting edge down the middle.

The 4-3-3 will never suit Rooney or Radzinski, in my opinion, as both are forced out wide when they are far more dangerous down the middle.  Campbell, try as he might, just hasn't got the leap to make a decent target man and being forced wide by his flicks as both Rooney and Radzinski are, when he does win it, means that as the ball is available to be driven across the box, Campbell hasn't made up the ground and the other striker is still trying to get back in from a wide position on the other side.  But when he is in the middle and he gets a chance to strike he can make a chance from very little.  One opportunity that fell to him followed a move down the right and a bit of pin-ball in the middle.  Eventually the ball fell to Campbell, who swivelled on it and drove it wide of the keeper, destined for the goal.  But it hit the post and came straight back at him, hit the back of the keeper and bounced beyond the waiting Rooney and off to safety.  Had that gone in things later might have been so much different.

Rooney, too, saw a goal bound shot skew across the goal, after the keeper got fingers to it and again there was nobody to pounce.  But at half-time the teams went in level at 0-0.

The second half saw Everton take more control of the game as we tried to get forward at every opportunity.  But every time there seemed to be a handball, stopping a through ball or defender's arms around the challenging forwards, the decision seemed to go against Everton.  Yet despite the propensity of the referee to not blow up when he was toppled under three challengers at some points, Campbell never gave up.  He was always short of pace and his flicks never quite came off, but he gave his all.  

Sadly his all wasn't really enough as from such one broken down attack Birmingham threw the ball forward, Gravesen controlled the ball and sent it back to Simonsen, but it was tragically short and Stubbs found himself exposed, chasing an on-rushing forward.  Always short of pace he fell under the effort, I'm not convinced that he threw himself at John, but for once the referee decided to make a decision and it was a penalty and Stubbs was off.  

It was unbelievable in the context of everything else that had gone on, but it was the application of the rules, to the letter.  Of course a penalty was the right decision if the fall/foul was inside the box and from my angle I wasn't sure it was.  But at the other end of the pitch from the incident I can only assume that the referee had abetter view than I.  From the penalty, which went in from the inside of the post, Birmingham took the lead, entirely against the run of play.

From that point on there was only one team in it.  It was Everton going forward at will, with Li Tie leading the charge.  Unsworth had dropped back to replace Stubbs in the back four and we moved to Gravesen and Li in midfield and suddenly there was space in abundance.  Rooney and Radzinski dropped back a bit more to give them early options and Naysmith and Hibbert pushed up.  We ended up with a five man midfield at times and Birmingham couldn't cope.

Chances fell our way as we released our forwards down inside channels rather than down the wings.  Radzinski had a couple of chances with one in particular going just wide of the post as he tried to bend it round the keeper and Li Tie hit a rocket from outside the box.  Rooney was denied by a couple of lunges and one blatant hand, missed by the referee.  Yet the ball wouldn't go into the Birmingham net and as time ticked away a defeat looked more than likely.

But still the Toffees pressed forward.  The referee had signalled for three minutes of added time when Rooney chased down a ball and won a corner.  He raced after the ball and took it himself.  The ball was flicked backwards and went outside the box.  It was chipped back in and again flicked out, this time to Unsworth, who drove the ball into the net, albeit off a Birmingham defender.  1-1 and we were still chasing a win.  But it didn't come and a deserved point was the end result. 

Steve Bickerton



Wargames


Everton met their Waterloo tonight in a pitch battle with newly promoted Birmingham City.  There was one casualty but Everton's ten could claim to have been shorted on their just rewards as City held on to a draw. 

Moyes reverted to the attacking 4-3-3 formation, bringing in Unsworth to add competitive weight to the midfield, Pembridge the loser, and restoring Wayne Rooney to the side in place of Alexandersson.

Despite Everton's numerical advantage in attack it became clear that a war of attrition was likely.  Steve Bruce's side were lively from the off, plenty of running in the forwards and much weight at the back.  The best thing about Robbie Savage's return to Goodison was that he was in another team's shirt, though by now every toffees fan must surely have enough faith in David Moyes to realise that this was never really on the cards.

One of the first to show himself for the battle was Tony Hibbert.  The youngster, who has looked somewhat in at the deep end in previous matches, was every bit as good as the challengers and showed strength in the tackle, getting forward on the right and delivering crosses.  His link up play with Radzinski is improving, and his ability to run at the right time shows true potential.  Gary Naysmith complimented on the left, although his replacement late in the second half was timely.

City showed early promise, a Grainger free-kick coming close, Stern John forcing a save from Simonsen with a long range header, although it was their ability to crowd out their half and stifle Everton's three forwards that was the strength in their game.

Everton did break them down, though, and Kevin Campbell in particular looked sharp as he interrupted a Radzinski move to strike hard and low onto the post.  Rooney found spaces and perhaps his greatest quality is his incessant hunting for opportunity.  Twice it came in the closing of the half, a fierce curling shot just pulled away as it reached the far post, keeper Vassen stranded.

Birmingham went off delighted with the level scoreline, and the fact that their manhandling tactics, repetitive hand balls and leading arms had gone relatively unpunished.  All except Savage, of course, whose mum will hopefully have watched as he remonstrated over his booking. 

Continuing at a relentless pace, the second half began with incident.  Gravesen's rather flustered performance in midfield (contrast to Lie Tie, increasingly looking to be Everton's first truly world class midfielder for many years) included a series of looping headers and mistimed passes, one of which unfortunately played in Stern John beyond the defence.  John looked to have little control or composure, but Stubbs had only one thing on his mind as he gripped the striker's arm tightly.  Despite fluffing the shot, whilst endeavouring to remain on his feet, the referee had no option but to cry foul and dismiss the 'last man'.  Stubbs experience, and familiarity with his own inadequate pace, should have caused a better reaction.  There was little sympathy from his manager as he trudged past the bench.

A textbook penalty past Simonsen, faultless throughout, and Everton looked forlorn.  The battle so far had been for supremacy, and with the massive effort so far proving fruitless it was surely unlikely that we would find a way back. 

As Gravesen's head dropped, enter Li Tie.  Showing for the ball at every opportunity, he was a breath of fresh air.  Always available for the simple pass, working tirelessly to relieve the pressure and laying on opportunities for the forwards.  Kevin Campbell played a Captain's game � all over the park, tackling, winning headers, neat lay offs and inventive balls to left and right for Rooney and Radzinski. 

The Everton side showed a team spirit that has returned after years of absence.  An understanding is developing, but their continual encouragement for each other - applauding delightful balls from Ti, maisy runs from Rooney and crunching, last ditch tackles from Weir was a delight to see.  If ever there was condemnation of recent management this was it.

The home side came into the ascendancy, Birmingham, reliant on breakaway moves, threatened.  Introducing Carter for Bryan Hughes they attempted to pin Everton back with width.  But with Unsworth solid at the back, now alongside Weir, and Rooney beginning to show some individual flair that could change the game, Moyes left things unchanged.  Fitness never looked a problem, the running was shared as they covered for the missing man and looked the better side in all areas.  Gravesen was clearly rattled by his earlier error, his set pieces became woeful, his corners wayward.  The blues kept coming.

Rooney's enthusiasm got the better of him as he pinched a quick free kick from Unsworth, firing into a crowd of players to little effect.  Campbell was repeatedly bundled to the ground - real aggression, nothing would put the man down tonight.  Radzinski stole in after a slide rule pass from the number nine but his touch let him down.  Rooney took a turn too many in the penalty area and lost the ball to the keeper.  Rodrigo was introduce with five minutes to go for Naysmith and was keen to get involved.  Turning on the left edge of the penalty area and making space his shot went a foot over.  Li Tie blasted an effort wide from outside of the box. 

The visiting support was sickeningly enthusiastic, and a rousing climax ensued as the board showed 2 minutes of extra time.  And then, a corner, taken by Rooney picked up on the right by Hibbert, whose cross was superb.  Unsworth did everything right as the ball dropped, a low powerful shot into the left of the goal, Jeff Kenna directing it inside the post.  The relief was phenomenal.  And Li Tie still looked to press for the winner. 

Thousands departed, shellshocked.  They had finally done it, and not undeserved.  The blues are developing week by week.  They are growing an understanding and a team spirit.  They do not give up.  With real finesse their football could be Arsenal-esque.  Moyes's influence is showing more and more and the players appear to be showing a hunger for the next game not to make amends, but to get back into the field and keep on fighting.

Man of the match � Kevin Campbell, lively, strong, enthusiastic and showing the type of form that made Franny Jeffers a star. 

Rob Burns



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