<% Dim oCs, oRs, strSQL set oCs = server.createobject("ADODB.Connection") oCs.Open "Driver={Microsoft Excel Driver (*.xls)}; DBQ=" & Server.MapPath("/season/02-03/data") & "/premtable.xls;" strSQL = "SELECT * FROM [Summary$] ORDER BY Pos ;" Set oRs = oCs.Execute(strSQL) %> ToffeeWeb: Middlesbrough v Everton, Premiership Season 2002-03
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 FA Premiership (29); Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough; Saturday 1 March 2003; 3:00pm
   Juninho (71')
Attendance: 32,473
Halftime: 0-1

Watson (23') 

Referee: Uriah Rennie

Blues have to settle for a point

With Chelsea having lost to Newcastle earlier in the day, David Moyes knew that a point would be enough to return to the Champions League places, but he was without question going for a victory that would keep the pressure on the top three as well.

So, he will come away rather disappointed that his team weren't able to make the most of their superiority and earn the victory they deserved on the balance of play.  Another failure to exact the killer blow and destroy the opposition... which is just what Everton could have done to win this one.

Everton started brightly, obviously carrying the confidence gained from the impressive come-from-behind win over Southampton a week ago, with some neat interchanges and attacking moves that allowed them to settle quickly and test the 'Boro defence early on.  Kevin Campbell, starting for the first time since the beginning of the year in place of Brian McBride, almost got in behind the defence in the 4th minute but the through-ball had just too much pace.  He had another half-chance on 10 minutes but couldn't dig the ball out from under his feet to get the shot in from eight yards out.

Tomasz Radzinski, visibly brimming with confidence, was a constant threat down the channels.  After 20 minutes he sped down the left and delivered a wonderful cross but there was no one in a blue shirt on hand to capitalise.  Two minutes later, though, the same move paid off: Radzinski's phenomenal pace allowed him to beat Chris Riggott out wide and his square pass was deflected behind Campbell who turned, knocked it back to Steve Watson and the Geordie got in ahead of Queudrue to loop the ball into the opposite corner of the goal to break the deadlock.

Middlesbrough, who started with new signings Michael Ricketts and Malcolm Christie up front, and Juninho and Ugo Ehiogu on the bench, responded by applying more pressure and provided an opportunity for Geremi but the Cameroon international, open on the right side of the area, blasted well wide.  Defender Colin Cooper then tried his luck from distance and Richard Wright was just about equal to his piledriver, blocking the effort out for a corner.

However, an impressively organised Everton rearguard action was keeping the home side in check.  With a fluid midfield combination of the busy Scot Gemmill and Thomas Gravesen, Steve McClaren's side went into the half-time break frustrated and a goal down.

There were no changes for the Blues at the interval, but Middlesbrough moved into a more attacking mode by replacing Cooper with Juninho, Christie with Maccarone and also brought Ehiogu on for Riggott.  It was Everton, however, who had the first chance, Watson heading back to Campbell from the right side of the box but the striker was well wide with the snapshot.

After 65 minutes, Brian McBride joined the fray at the expense of Kevin Campbell, who had looked less than sharp and is probably short of match fitness.  His first touch won a corner for the Blues that culminated in a chance for David Weir who couldn't get above the defender to connect properly with Watson's cross and the ball went wide.

The American was in the action again a minute later when, with Blue shirts pouring forward, he met Pistone's cross but under pressure he couldn't get enough purchase on it to guide the ball goalwards.  Then, he linked up with Gary Naysmith on the left but the latter's cross was knocked out of Radzinski's path by Gareth Southgate.

With 19 minutes to go, Everton dictating the game and pressing for a second goal, 'Boro broke through the centre and when the ball eventually found Maccarone on the right, he crossed low and hard and Juninho couldn't miss from two yards out to level the scores totally against the run of play.

It was at this point that you were looking to see if Moyes had learned from the Charlton experience but he made the expected change of Wayne Rooney for the increasingly ineffective Gravesen only after 7 minutes had ticked by.

And it was Rooney who came within a whisker of winning it in injury time when he raced onto a through-ball and bore down on Schwarzer with three defenders for company, but his shot was deflected wide by a lunging tackle from Southgate.

On balance, although we would have settled for a point before the game, Everton did enough over the 90 minutes to take all three despite not really making all that many clear-cut openings.  However, with neither Campbell nor McBride looking as sharp as Radzinski, and Gravesen and Naysmith failing to make any real impression on proceedings, you're left wondering, as we often are, if Rooney should have been introduced earlier as opposed to waiting until the lead had been lost.

If there is a case for him being involved from the beginning, there is certainly scope to bring him into the action sooner if he is on the bench in order to kill off the opposition.   He showed again today that he typically seems to need at least 10 mins to just get into the swing of things.  Something for Moyes to think about for some vital games in the coming weeks...

On the plus side, Steve Watson and Scot Gemmill were outstanding for Everton today, the former rewarded with a goal and the latter proving that he fully deserves the run in the side he is being given by Moyes.

 Lyndon Lloyd

Live Real Audio Commentary from Radio Everton

Steve Watson: His 6th of the season was not enough to earn a win

Boro v Everton:
Prior League Games
 Boro 23
 Everton 13
 Draws 13
 Boro 3
 Everton 3
 Draws 1
 Last Season:

Boro 1-0 Everton 

Premiership Scores
Saturday 1 Mar
Blackburn 1-0 Man City
Fulham 1-0 Sunderland
Middlesbro' 1-1 Everton
Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea
So'hampton 1-0 West Brom
West Ham 2-0 Tottenham
Sunday 2 Mar
Arsenal 2-0 Charlton
Worthington Cup Final
Man United 0-2 Liverpool
Monday 3 Mar
Aston Villa 0-2 Birmingham
Wednesday 5 Mar
Man United 2-1 Leeds Utd
Middlesbro 1-0 Newcastle
Saturday 8 Mar
Liverpool 2-0 Bolton

Match Facts
 Middlesbrough  (4-4-2)
 Red shirts, red shirts, red socks
Everton   (4-4-2)
 Blue shirts, white shirts, blue socks
Cooper (46' Juninho)
Riggott (46' Ehiogu)
Christie (46' Maccarone)

Subs not used:  

Yellow Cards: 

Red Cards:
Gravesen (79' Rooney)
Campbell (65' McBride)

Subs not used: 
Li Tie, Yobo, Gerrard

Yellow Cards:

Red Cards:


(Recovering:) Chadwick, 
Ferguson, Linderoth, Rodrigo

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
Lyndon Lloyd Blues have to settle for a point
Links to Other Media Reports
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
BBC Sport Match Report
4 the Game Match Report
Sky Sports Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
SoccerNet Match Report
The Observer Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report
Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 60
2 Man Utd 58
3 Newcastle 55
4 Everton 49
5 Chelsea 48
6 Liverpool 46
7 Charlton 45
8 Blackburn 43
9 Tottenham 43
10 Southampton 42
11 Middlesbrough 38
12 Man City 38
13 Fulham 37
14 Aston Villa 35
15 Leeds 34
16 Birmingham 32
17 Bolton 26
18 West Ham 26
19 West Brom 21
20 Sunderland 19

After 8 Mar 2003

Match Preview

Going into the last ten games of the season knowing that every game is vital is nothing new to us; a decade of fighting relegation has seen to that.  However, knowing that we have to win games in order to stay at the right end of the Premiership is definitely a new and exciting feeling.

The fact that we have to play all four of the teams above us before we know whether we'll be playing in Europe next season and, if we are, in what competition that will be, makes the trip to Middlesbrough doubly important.  With Steve McLaren's side in erratic form at the moment, this must be regarded as an opportunity to pick up points.

'Boro are, however, a strong home team it's their away form that has been so shocking this term.  While David Moyes will be urging caution, he also knows his players have what it takes to garner all three points, particularly if they can carry the momentum from last weekend's thrilling win over Southampton into this match-up.

None of the Everton players returning from injury have yet had sufficient playing time to be ready for action.  With no fresh injury concerns, Moyes will surely name the same squad as that against the Saints, but it will be interesting to see if Brian McBride starts this one.

With both Wayne Rooney and Kevin Campbell looking sharp as substitutes last weekend and McBride unable to exert much influence over the proceedings, Moyes may want to change things a little by restoring Campbell to the starting XI, but he does also like to keep a winning formula... who knows?

Tomasz Radzinski, the club's most consistent scorer, is a cert to start and in doing so will set a new club record in the Premiership with his 41st consecutive appearance.  He will break the barrier set by Dave Watson and Tony Cottee who both made 40 successive appearances.

For the same reasons, expect Gemmill and Li Tie, and Stubbs and Weir to continue their partnerships in midfield and defence respectively, with Gravesen and Yobo options on the bench.

Middlesbrough, for their part, are bolstered by the home debuts of strikers Michael Ricketts and Malcolm Christie, and defender Chris Riggott.  Combined with the expected return of Juninho and Ugo Ehiogu from injury, the Riverside fans will be confident going into this one.  However, they will be mindful that their last home game saw them capitulate 5-2 to Aston Villa, another of the league's worst away teams.

Evertonian eyes will also be on St James' Park where Newcastle (3rd) and Chelsea (4th, and level on points with Everton) go head to head in a Champions League qualification "six-pointer".  It's hard to say what result would be best from the Toffees' point of view, so sit back and see what happens!

Elsewhere, high-flying Arsenal take on impressive Charlton (6th) but the latter will have not only the best team in England to contend with but the dreaded Manager of the Month hoodoo as well.

The Middlesbrough v Everton game is televised on many of the usual channels in Europe and overseas, either live or tape-delayed.  Check our dedicated page or your local listings.

 Lyndon Lloyd

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