Everton 1 - 2 Blackburn Rovers

1 April 1995

Everton: Stuart 24
Blackburn: Sutton 1, Shearer 6
Yellow cards
Everton: Ablett
Blackburn: Pearce
Everton: Southall 7, Jackson 8, Barrett 9, Watson 8, Ablett 7, Stuart 8, Horne 8, Parkinson 8, Hinchcliffe 8, Amokachi 6, Barlow 7 (47. Grant 8)
Blackburn: Flowers, Berg, Kenna, Hendry, Pearce, Le Saux, Ripley, Sherwood, Atkins, Shearer, Sutton
Subs not used: Kearton, Holmes (Everton), Mimms, Newell (Blackburn)
Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury)
Attendance: 37,905


Here are my impressions of what I saw on my TV at home, 6 am local time, a mere 8,000 miles west of Goodison Park! Yes, I signed away a small fortune just so I could finally watch some live games direct from England, via satellite, courtesy of CSN in Waterloo, Canada. And this was the first.

The game. Two simple but well-taken goals in the first 5 minutes, and we were totally stunned. But to give the lads their due, they turned around and fought with grim desperation to prevent a capitulation. After about 15 minutes, Everton started to dominate the possession and attacking. A succession of corners fed the tumultuous atmosphere, with Watson coming close on one. A tremendous period of pressure ensued, with a simply fabulous goal from Stuart as the prize. How many times have we seen people shoot this season and try to beat the goalie simply by pace. This was a brilliant chip over Flowers from the front of the area, a bit like the Ray Hougton WC goal for Ireland v Italy! One of the few occasions when Everton found space, and the ability to move and control the ball. Later Barlow's excellent shot was just parried by Flowers, bouncing onto the post and back into his hands.

But for most of the time, we were playing as if Big Dunc was on the field. Long balls hoisted up towards Barlow and Amokachi, who were dominated in the air by Hendry and others. In a sense, it was English football at its most exciting and unpredictable. Martin Tyler was going ga-ga. But for all our domination, the attacks lacked form and consistency. Amo was man-marked so closely, he had no room to even get the ball, never mind play it intelligently on the ground. On one occasion in the second half, he fought like a dog just to keep possession down to the goal line. This type of football must totally frustrate him. Then I watch games from Italy, Portugal, and Mexico, where there are acres of space, and think how well Amo would play in such an open environment.

There was one flash of brilliance from Everton in the second half -- and it was virtually all played along the ground! Grant (on as sub for battered Barlow) combined in a triangle with Jackson and Barrett (?) on the right side, and then one of them broke forward to send a fabulous cross in low and hard across the top of the area. A tremendous first-time shot from Horne (?) hit Hendry on the six-yard line and flew out to Parki (?) who fired it straight back in. With Flowers clearly beaten, again it was Hendry who stuck out a leg to deny us the goal. At one point in the second half there was an unbelievable goalmouth scramble, with Amo trying to beat six men as red and black shirts flew at this bobbling ball. But it was all to no avail.

I thought the ref was actually pretty good. He let a lot of stuff go, allowing the game to flow at the players pace, which was generally fast. He kept those damned yellow cards in his pocket for the most part, and he ignored some silly Klinsmanesque diving and falling over by Horne (or Parki?) and Grant. He booked Ebrell for a late challenge towards the end. Many refs would have blown for all the 50-50 header challenges, which were admittedly only for the brave. Duncan would have loved them!

I tried to keep better notes, but the excitement got the better of me, and I clearly have mis-identified certain players. I missed the team sheet because my new decoder was not yet authorized! Dave Watson was solid as a rock. I though Barrett was looking a lot better, certainly in defence. He still has to prove himself in any attacking role. OTOH, Jackson was a man possessed down the right wing in the second half.

The main TV gantry at Goodison really sucks! The far side of the field might as well be in Birkenhead for all the detail I could see. Hurry up and move it to a decent location with a much higher viewing angle!

With fear that the game would sell out, I booked a ticket. Good job - all Stands were sold out except the corner of the Upper Gwladys by Friday p.m. With a Semi-voucher at stake, I didn't want to lose even more sleep having to be at the gates for 1.30 to get in the St. End!

Having the ticket made me too casual though. That and time lost fumbling to find the required 8 program vouchers made me a bit late for the match...

..so as I sat down there was 12 minutes gone and the score was 0-2. Suffice it to say the crowd were VERY angry and hostile (even in the torpid Upper Gwladys!) both with the ref, the piemen and at the blues poor play.

After 3 minutes (15 gone), the crowd got back behind the team, as lead by Barry Horne they started to fight back. This was to be the pattern for most of the rest of the match, but only after Stuart scored (put through by Amo into a gaping hole) with a chip which reminded me of Nevin did belief join in with determination.

Almost straight from the kick off a bad defensive mistake left Stuart Barlow and Amo in with a great chance. The shot fell to Barlow, who hit the target but Flowers fingertips did enough to deflect it 5 degrees onto the post, and luckily bounce back to him.

Shearer had another great chance when the EFC back 4 were out of shape because Watson & Ablett had moved up to head high balls, but he tried to put it though Nev's legs and the great one saved well - his only real action that I saw!

Apart from that the match was a bit of a blur for me. It seemed to consist of nothing but jumping up every 3-4 minutes and screaming abuse at the ref or Blackburn. The display from the almost-champions was one of cynical abuse of the spirit of fair play - elbows, pushes, dives, delaying tactics.. Kenny has taught them every trick in the Man United book of how to win without being any good. Most of the time the ref fell for it too, yet was strangely less gullible when Blue shirts started diving too. Shearer is a master at it - no question. He can draw a whistle almost every time and it looks good, but the giveaway is how often it happens.. no other striker has ever been fouled as much as him, yet refs seem incapable of reading between the lines and seeing that this is a sure sign of a cheat. He's a superb striker, so why does he need to be a cheat (and a whinger) too??

Everton were cheered off, but the fast-retreating ref and the lingering Blackburn players were booed off with chants of 'What A Load Of Rubbish'.

It was a comfort to know that millions would see this travesty, and that Man Utd would be sickest of all, but best of all it was great to see a ravaged Everton squad winning a moral victory over the 'new' champions, proving that the Royle-blue revival is complete. We can compete with the best. We won't be in the Euro-champions cup, but we are in no way second rate compared to those who will be.. which was certainly not true of the team which lost humiliatingly at Blackburn 3-0 under Walker.

Team performance: Very gutsy - 8.

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