FA Carling Premier League, Sunday, 5 November 1995
Previous Match: Feyenoord v Everton Next Match: Liverpool v Everton
Everton: Southall, Jackson, Short, Watson, Ablett, Kanchelskis, Stuart (Amokachi 72), Ebbrell, Parkinson, Limpar, Rideout. Subs Not Used: Unsworth, Grant. Booked: Watson.
Blackburn: Flowers, Kenna, Sherwood, Hendry, Ripley, Shearer, Newell (Sutton 83), Berg, Bohinen, Batty, Pearce,(Le Saux 63). Subs Not Used: Mimms. Booked: Sherwood, Berg.
Ref: A B Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).
By William Johnson, from the Electronic Telegraph
A FIRST Premiership victory since August lifted a relieved Everton four places to a comparatively respectable 13th last night as Blackburn's embarrassing wait for success away from home in the League was extended into a further month.
The declining League champions, who are only two points ahead of the struggling FA Cup winners, should be ashamed of this Goodison ineptitude. They managed only one shot on target throughout the 90 mundane minutes and that, from recent signing Lars Bohinen, trickled into the arms of Neville Southall.
Remarkably, Blackburn were still in the game in stoppage time and home supporters were put through an anxious finale before celebrating the gathering of three crucial points which they knew should have been secured long before the interval.
Everton at that stage led through Graham Stuart's opportunist goal but they had controlled the first half to such an extent that the margin deserved to be much wider.
"The second half seemed to go on forever," said Dave Watson, Everton's captain who reflected: "We needed this win desperately and maybe it will inject some confidence throughout the team."
That confidence appeared to be returning to the Everton ranks after Stuart had rescued the game from a miserable opening by shooting right-footed past Tim Flowers after an excellent sweeping move involving Continental wingers Anders Limpar and Andrei Kanchelskis.
Kanchelskis, who had cut cleverly inside Jeff Kenna to set up the goal, looked at that stage to have the Blackburn full-back at his mercy, so Everton will be critical in their analysis into why they did not march on to a more convincing triumph.
Flowers prevented Stuart, who later left on a stretcher with a foot injury, from adding a second with a splendid reaction save to a fierce shot, Paul Rideout narrowly failing to connect with the rebound, while full-back Matt Jackson saw a goal-bound effort blocked on the line by Colin Hendry.
With Flowers making a second reflex save to deny Gary Ablett from Limpar's corner in the second half and Limpar rattling the crossbar, possibly off the fingertips of the deposed England goalkeeper even though the referee failed to award a corner, anything less than a win would have been hard on Everton.
Nevertheless, Everton manager Joe Royle confessed to being worried that it would elude his team yet again. Maintaining that it was Southall's easiest game of the season and that it was a credit to his defence to keep Alan Shearer almost completely out of the game, Royle claimed: "We didn't have a weakness throughout the team."
Royle, who said the three points were paramount in his efforts to convince the world that his team are on the up, was particularly generous in his praise of central midfielder John Ebbrell. Few would argue with the man-of-the-match award to the gritty central midfielder whose tigerish tackling ensured that Blackburn never seriously posed a threat.
The only time Southall was remotely concerned during the second half was when Stuart Ripley, again a huge disappointment on the right flank, cut inside and saw a shot deflected wide of the far post. Ray Harford sent on the club's record signing Chris Sutton for the last few minutes in the hope of salvaging something but even he realised that Rovers never looked like scoring.
"It is disappointing," said a laconic Harford. "We were very poor in the first half and Everton were clearly the better side. The difference between this display and our last Premiership performance against Chelsea was stark."
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Dave Shepherd: For a pleasant change, it was pretty much a hard core of football fans who turned up for the Charity Shield rematch. What with bad Euro results, live TV and cold weather, the 30,000 on the day (erm, night, erm, ..) had that wondrous atmosphere of supporters of two comfortably mid-table teams playing out a meaningless match which would very likely be 0-0, but who simply love their teams, so come anyway.
Team news was interesting; Limpar was starting, and Hinchcliffe was not in the squad. This meant only 4 of the outfield starters were the same as in the Shield! (Ablett, Rideout, Parki and Limpar).
Note: someone this week was bleating on about some team, Wimbledon I think, having used 24 players already. JR has used 21, but we don't seem to have any sympathy.
Despite this, much of the first half was very reminiscent of the Shield game, with the Champions struggling to cope with Everton's faster approach, and unwillingness to put up with not having possession. The ball fizzed around and the tackles had cup-tie commitment - a great sight for a 'meaningless' game.
Despite the ferocity (which included Limpar and Rideout, not just the dogs and defenders), only Watson was booked, for being late.
The thing which had the crowd on their feet was that Everton were making their own luck. The ball kept running to them, and the commentary must have sounded as exciting as last Thursday in terms of shots at goal. Yet despite the attempts, none looked to hold much threat of beating a quality keeper like Flowers, and a nil result was still very possible.
Then Limpar, deep in his own half found himself with the ball in a hectare of space, and curled a long diagonal pass down Kanchelskis' wing. AK ran after it to the usual excitement, and did enough to get a fast ball to Stuart in his favourite position - wide open in the middle of the area. Greame scooped it round and it tucked into the far post.
Now with belief added to commitment, the blues turned the screw. Attack after attack followed, and Blackburn were fortunate to survive until half-time only one down, particularly after another Stuart shot and a 20 yard bullet on the turn from Rideout needed Flowers saves.
Evertonians had a warm and happy half time. Even Brian Labone had a treat for us - he introduced Alex Young to do the half-time draw. Alex milked the prolonged enthusiastic applause.
No half-time changes in personnel, but in the game, it was a nightmare. You could almost see the smoke smoldering from the shorts of the Blackburn players, who must have had giant size Bonfire night rockets put up them by Ray Harford. They played like demons; completely took over the game and sure enough, MADE the ball bounce their way by wanting it more. An equalising goal looked a racing certainty - but somehow Everton survived a full 15 minutes of this, then started to claw their way back into the game from square one - possession.
Finally there was some football at the Street End! Everton started to win a good few corners. No Hinchy, but Limpar's corner boot was on form for once, and he had plenty of tall heads to aim for. Blackburn's quality defending kept all these out except one Ablett header, which was clawed off the line in a melee.
Anders was in the groove. He was so confident he was openly signalling where his corners were going, and delivering as promised. Then he got a break. Clean through he blasted a swerver from the edge of the box which needed a top drawer fingertip save from Flowers to get it to clip the bar. Super football - spoiled by the ref who gave a goal kick to derisive crowd abuse.
All was parcelled up for a great night, but that warm looking 1-0 on the scoreboard started to look very hauntingly inadequate as the last minutes and extensive but correct injury time (Stuart had left on a stretcher) passed with snail-like agony, and blue shirts started to mess around the corners but still contrive to lose possession. Injury time was Nev's busiest period of the night, but thankfully the defence and luck held firm for a result as heart-warming as the performance that earned it.
The deadly-on-paper wing duo of Limpar and Kanchelskis have now completed just three games together, and Everton have won all three. This will surely produce the kind of inner confidence and appetite for more success that will make the Bellefield water with anticipation of repeating the dosage at Netto Stadium in 2 weeks.
Southall 7 Average seven, because he had almost nothing to do.
Jackson 7 Becoming very useful at wingback - if AK doesn't cross it or attack the box, he will. Earl who?
Ablett 8 Another close to perfect game for Gary, who must be a good tip for player of the season so far.
Watson 7 Thankfully looked very comfortable all day.
Short 7 Nice of him not to upstage Dave. A very good bet at 50-1 for first goal!
Ebbrell 8 If this player's name were Reid, people would be raving about this performance. As it is, it's old Jonnie Ebbs, so most people will prefer to remember that he had an impossibly difficult scoring chance and missed than the half dozen great tackles and support work at both ends (he was 'last man back' at corners because we had all 4 defenders needed in the box).
Parkinson 7 Slightly less influential, but another more than adequate performance from Walker's inspiration signing.
Limpar 8 The silky Swede is always great entertainment value. Given a chance of a full start amid transfer rumours, he seemed to relax and let his skill flow rather than trying to milk it, and the result was both beautiful and deadly. Blackburn gave him a good kicking for it.
Kanchelskis 7 A bit more effective today at turning his breaks into danger. Could have been more so if he'd stayed onside more. Became free-kick man, but didn't impress at that.
Rideout 7 A quiet game. One thunderous shot saved.
Stuart (withdrawn) 8 This was GS's type of game, fast & open. He obliged with a text-typical Stuart goal, and almost another, but left injured.
Amokachi (sub) 7 Managed, as usual, to look incredibly strong, dangerous, fast and skillful without ever actually threatening the goal.
Subs Not Used: Grant, Unsworth. (Nice bench Joe! :^)
Team Performance: 9 It's hard to ask for more from any Everton team than the blue boys gave tonight. OK, Blackburn may have made them look good, but for the first time our strange collection of flair and journeyman players managed to combine into something resembling a team performance. 90 mph all the way, tackles flying, chances and shots queueing up - and all this less than 3 days after a 'season-ending' heartbreak in Holland. Days like this remind you of why you come to Goodison, and why you love the blues, (although you know very well they could easily be back to imitating garbage next time out).
Ref: Oh dear, oh dear, what a dummy. Can't even spot a fingertip save. A hugely unconvincing performance, and a great slice of luck that he didn't affect things too badly.
Guy McEvoy: The Champions against the Cup Winners -- it sounds like a romantic clash that should produce the finest football England has to offer. Of course, the game never came close to living up to that sort of billing, or providing that high a calibre of football, but what the heck, it did bring us 3 points and in the great scheme of things that is always far more important. September and October had failed to produce a single league win, let's hope November sticks us back on track.
The team looked very positive, the kind of formation a lot of people on TOFFEENET have been advocating for months, Limpar and Kanchelskis on the wings and both Rideout and Stuart up front. John Ebbrell stepped in to take the place of banned Barry Horne. And with the positive selection came very positive play. Everton quickly got to work and enjoyed nearly all the first half pressure. It was difficult to imagine that a team that looked so absent of ideas are the current champions. The first clear cut chance fell to Graham Stuart when a terrible clearance from a Rovers full-back fell to his feet leaving him clear on the edge of the box, Stuart though was left as surprised as anyone and didn't get full control enabling Flowers to smother it.
Stuart though was able to make full amends a few minutes later. Limpar received the ball at the half-way line and delivered an inch perfect diagonal cross that picked out Kanchelskis on the edge of the box, Kan jinked and turned and beat his man, however for an instant it appeared he had stumbled and let the ball run away from him, but what Kan had seen that I hadn't (I'll give Andrei the benefit of the doubt!) was Graham Stuart steaming in to strike the ball hard and low, past the hapless flowers into the corner of the Park End net. Goal!
What a great pity that the Limpar/Kanchelskis thing may well be short lived. Neither of them were at their very best, but both of them still always looked like causing danger, and Blackburn always looked unsure of how to cope.
We cruised 'till half time, the greatest mystery being how we didn't increase the lead. Rideout in his only real contribution thundered a glorious effort from the edge of the box that was pushed away by Flowers, whilst Jackson had a shot in a scramble cleared from the line. Rovers had nothing to offer in response.
Hartford obviously had harsh words to say to his team at half time and for a short time after the break they looked quite fired up, however they seemed to be suffering from Everton's season long problem of a nice build up and then an attack of cluelessness as soon as they neared the edge of our area.
Their resistance eventually petered out, though. Once more, the blues began to dominate and looked likely to score. Ablett was desperately unlucky to have a shot saved by Flowers. I had an excellent view and still can't believe how Flowers found the reactions to get to it. It really was a top drawer stop.
There was a moment of disappointment when Stuart took his second hard knock of the game. The new fitter faster Goodison stretcher team were on the pitch quickly and this time they were actually required to take Graham off. He looked in quite a bit of distress as he was carried away down into the tunnel. All of which gave the chance for Amokachi to come on.
Amo spent his first five minutes permanently in an offside position which cost us two attacks, however eventually he came good, won the ball, found the space, picked out Limpar who rattled a lightning drive against the post. It got me pondering, I cannot recall Limpar scoring at the Gwladys St end, though I can recall him hitting the bar/post 3 times. Is this my failed memory (I never was a stato type) or is it a bit of a bogey for him. Answers on a postcard.
The crowd was in party mood, singing for Duncan (I hope he was watching, it would've cheered him up). However, as the final whistle drew near, you could sense Blackburn may just nick something. The last two minutes could have been the Cup final all over again for all the whistles, and it was a case of backs to the wall momentarily at the last. Nevertheless, the final whistle did come and you could feel the collective relief around Goodison Park.
It was for once a happy journey home with the exception of the Scallys who fired two rockets horizontally at our bus on the way home. Liverpool? It was more like Beirut!
Anyway, we won because we deserved, and we managed to keep Shearer, the cream of England's strikers even more anonymous than Rideout! I was one Guy who was more than happy this bonfire-night.
Southall: 7 - Biggest problem bending over to pick up their wide shots. Wasn't given chance to show off.
Jackson: 7 - Yet again showed how well he can work behind Kanchelskis, not afraid to run when the space presents itself and build an attack.
Short: 8 - Looked very solid, won everything in the air, really starting to look the part.
Watson: 7 - Between him and Short, the central defence never looked like leaking, but he did look a bit knackered at the end.
Ablett: 7 - A good performance but has an annoying habit of playing backwards when a forward ball is on.
Kanchelskis: 8 - Superb first half; made the goal and created a superb chance for Stuart. He wasn't quite as blistering in the second, but we Evertonians have so much to look forward to from the Ukrainian.
Stuart: 7 - Failed to punish two absolute sitters but at least scored the one that mattered. Certainly got himself into much better positions than normal. Shame to see him go off; hope he isn't hurt.
Ebbrell: 8 - The best game I've seen him have in a long time. Filled Barry's boots magnificently. Won every tackle, if he is on his way then he upped his asking price on Sunday. I have to be fair and say a class performance.
Parkinson 7 - Showed some of the spirit we're used to but didn't look fully match fit. Certainly eclipsed in this game by the performance of Ebbrell.
Limpar 8 - The launching pad for our most promising moves. Lets hope no managers where watching, if the asking price is less than 2 million then he really is a bargain.
Rideout 6 - One good effort. Other than that, he failed to find the space and often looked on a different wavelength from the rest of the team. Shouted a lot at the other players, pulled a lot of faces but I'd rather he expressed himself with his boots.
Amokachi 7 - Needs the offside rule explaining to him, -- took him half his time on the pitch to settle in. However, once he'd got over that, he looked like causing a threat. He was instrumental in setting up Limpar for the one the bar denied.
Mike Southworth: The team news came as quite a surprise, with Amo dropped to the bench, Stuart retained and Limpar returning. There was a lot of grumbling about it, but I felt it was understandable in that, Amo had been injured last week and ran his legs off on Thursday. It turned out to be an inspired move by Joe. The return of Joe Parkinson after going off against Newcastle brought a big cheer, but once again I was disappointed to hear John Ebbrell booed.
The game itself was everything we could have hoped for after Thursday. The team played with passion and pride and no little skill at times. The key to beating Blackburn is to shut out Shearer, and Watson and Short did this brilliantly. It looked like neither of them had been given the job of marking him, just whoever was nearest. Watson didn't put a foot wrong, and Short is getting better and better. He's deceptively quick, and is willing to bring the ball out of defence too. Fortunately he doesn't go AWOL afterwards, as we had been led to believe.
The first chance fell to Stuart but he had to stretch to reach a cross and couldn't get there before Flowers. The goal had looked like coming for a while, when Anders played a cross-field ball to Andrei, he tried to take it into the box and was shaping to shoot, when someone made a challenge. The ball squirted out to Stuart, who slammed it across the face of goal and in at the far post. It's no understatement to say we went wild.
The rest of the first half was almost constant Everton pressure, with Ebbrell outstanding in the Barry Horne role. His tackling was exceptional and on several occasions he played fantastic cross-field passes to either Limpar or Kanchelskis. He seemed to be first to everything and even the hate mob behind me were heard to say that he'd had a good half.
The first ten minutes of the second half were a little worrying as Blackburn came into the game more. Fortunately it was smoke without fire and Nev was never troubled, mainly due to excellent work by all of the back four. Gradually, the game swung back to the blues with Limpar and Kanchelskis causing mayhem and Rideout and Stuart working tirelessly up front.
It was during one of these forays that Stuart was scythed down from behind. It was obvious from the outset that this was bad. The lad looked like he was in agony. He was stretchered off and Amo was brought on. It took him a while to settle, but once he had, he joined in the "let's take the piss out of the champions" session that seemed to be developing.
Attacks down both flanks brought a series of corners, from one of which a second goal nearly came. It was taken from the left by Limpar, so it was an in-swinger. Rideout got a knock down which was on its way in but for a clearance which dropped to Ablett six yards out. He drove the ball goalwards, and somehow Flowers got down to his left to scoop the ball off the line.
They brought Sutton on, but to no avail. And then, with five minutes to go, Limpar showed why Joe is loathe to let him go. He cut in from the left and went past three defenders as he approached the box where he unleashed a vicious right foot shot which was going to go through the net and into the Gwladys, such was the power. Flowers, remarkably, got a hand to it and tipped the ball onto the bar. Even more remarkably, the ref gave a goal kick.
From here on things got worrying. Blackburn had all the possession for the last few minutes and there seemed to be an age of injury time. An equaliser nearly came when Ebbrell made his first mistake and failed to clear. Fortunately, Blackburn didn't capitalise and the ball was cleared. The final whistle brought relief as much as anything, and you could see from the players faces how happy they were to have won.
It was an excellent performance, and was anything but long ball, so don't let anyone tell you it was. It was the sort of attitude and commitment that had been missing until Thursday, with the added bonus of a goal thrown in.
Man of the match? Difficult because there were so many good performances, but I'm going to be controversial and go for John Ebbrell, who was fantastic throughout and proved a lot of his critics wrong. I just hope he can keep it up.
John Ball: After a series of matches that never got really off the ground, Everton manager Joe Royle lit the blue touch paper and his team produced the fireworks. A solid, hardworking performance from Everton with some sparkling moments from the two wide players Limpar and Kanchelskis. Blackburn were only in it for a few short spells. The score was kept down by some good goalkeeping and last-ditch defending. The game started poorly and the possession changed hands more times in the first ten minutes than the all of Wednesday's Champions League matches. After eighteen minutes first clear chance fell to Everton's Stuart who intercepted a pass played across the defence by Kenna. Stuart's first touch let him down and the ball was safely gathered by Flowers.
In a week when the talk has been of short passing and slow build ups the two Ever ton foreign players combined to set up the goal scoring chance for Stuart. From a position in his own half Anders Limpar hit a precision 40 yard pass for Andrei Kanchelskis to run on to. The Ukrainian took the ball into the penalty area and managed, somewhat fortunately, to direct it back to Stuart who scored with a hard shot from 12 metres.
Everton nearly made it two when Kanchelskis cut in from the right forcing another good save from Flowers who was fortunate to have defensive cover to clear the loose ball away from the danger area. Another chance went begging when a cross was taken off the head of Short but not cleared. The ball bounced around like a jumping jack before the attack eventually petered out.
Everton sat back at the start of the second half which gave Blackburn the chance to take the initiative. They began to win more in midfield without threatening the goal too much. This was partly due to good defending by Everton. Andy Ripley ran forward from midfield and got into a shooting position but his shot was deflected by a defender for a corner. Alan Shearer hit a volley from the edge of the area from a poor free kick on the right but was moving away from the goal and did well to even hit the target.
Towards the end, Everton had a couple of chances to seal the match. Flowers produced another good save from close range in a crowded penalty area following a corner. Anders Limpar hit the bar with a shot from the edge of the area with five minutes remaining.
Daily Mail Soccernet: A goal by Graham Stuart midway through the first half brought Everton their first League win since August in a dour game at Goodison Park.
Any observers who have not followed the fortunes of these teams so far this season would find it hard to believe that between them they carried off both the major trophies last May.
Champions Blackburn have not won a League game away from home since last April and on this evidence their suffering fans will have to wait a while longer yet. Ray Harford's men have picked up just one point from their six away League games this term. They were second best throughout this game and, but for keeper Tim Flowers, it could have been worse.
Stuart drilled home his fourth goal of the season after Andrei Kanchelskis had opened the way to goal. It was just what the game needed, after it had begun in a style that lived down to all the worst pre-match expectations.
Everton had left out Daniel Amokachi and Andy Hinchcliffe from the team narrowly beaten by Feyenoord on Thursday night, accommodating instead wingers Anders Limpar and Kanchelskis. Both were involved in the goal, the Swede spreading wide to the Ukrainian, who ran at Jeff Kenna. Kenna seemed to have done enough, but Kanchelskis regained possession to tee up Stuart, whose right-footer ended in Flowers' bottom corner.
Four minutes later Flowers was at his international best to deny Stuart a second after the trickery of Kanchelskis had again demonstrated why Royle signed him, and with John Ebbrell and Joe Parkinson - back after a six game absence - winning the midfield battle, the blue tide surged forward.
An Alan Shearer header floated just wide in a rare Blackburn break but the extent of Everton's dominance was clear from bookings picked up by Tim Sherwood and Henning Berg for fouls on Limpar. Flowers excelled himself again to foil Paul Rideout, Colin Hendry cleared off the line from Matt Jackson and on the stroke of half-time Kanchelskis opted to shoot with support inside.
Blackburn, who failed to earn a single corner before the break, forced two in quick succession after it but, despite the return of Norwegian Lars Bohinen, were as unimpressive as they had been against Legia Warsaw.
Graeme Le Saux replaced the dazed Ian Pearce in the 63rd minute, Kenna swapping flanks and Berg partnering Hendry, before Amokachi took over from Stuart who was carried off after falling awkwardly. Flowers again kept Rovers in the game 16 minutes from time, flinging out a left hand to turn aside Gary Ablett's close-range effort, Everton's first chance of the period, when Limpar's corner had been flicked on.
Limpar might have finished things off six minutes from time, driving through the middle before letting fly with a thunderous strike which shook the bar, but wretched Rovers were not good enough to take advantage.
Matt Williams: A lot of credit has to go to Joe Royle for the team selection; although we are still a long way from the type of football I crave to see, there were some good signs yesterday.
Royle should stick with two wingers. We look a better team when Limpar and Kanchelskis both play. I have never been a fan of John Ebbrell but he won every tackle and his distribution was very good. Joe Parkinson also played very well considering he has been injured; Barry Horne may have a tough time getting back in.
Rideout was a little disappointing; for the most of the first half he didn't do much, although in the second half, he dropped back in midfield and worked hard.
Southall 6 - Didn't have a save to make, so he can't really get a
Jackson 7 - The first 15 mins he didn't seemed to link very well with Kanchelskis but did improve and his attacking play is better than Barrett.
Watson 8 - I'm a Watson fan and when he plays like this there isn't many better in the Premiership.
Short 8 - I was a little miffed when JR brought Short but he played very well yesterday. My one worry about short and Watson is that neither have real pace.
Ablett 7 - Probably the best passing defender we have, yesterday his passing let him down and got caught out a few times, I still think he is better at centreback.
Limpar 9 - I really hope JR persuades him to stay; when he is on top form he is a joy to watch.
Parkinson 8 - Great performance considering he has been out for so long; hardly missed a tackle. I think we have missed him more than any other player -- a great anchor man!
Ebbrell 10 - Top man yesterday and, in a way, I'm delighted. He hasn't always been my favorite player but was everywhere yesterday and what impressed me more than anything was his passing.
Kanchelskis 8 - Starting to get to full fitness, did some good runs and, when he is back to his complete best, it will be a joy to watch him.
Rideout 6 - Can never really understand the fuss about him. He does a lot of running around but rarely creates anything himself. A bit like a headless chicken.
Stuart 9 - My favorite player and very under-rated in my opinion. He will play almost anywhere and do a good job; took his goal well and caused problems with his running -- shame he got injured.....playing up front is his best position.
Sub Amokachi 7 - Little surprised he didn't start, but I suppose in the end his goal-scoring is not up to what's needed. He ran his heart out and won a lost cause to set up Limpar...I hope he still has a future at Everton as he has a lot to offer.
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