Everton Logo Everton 1 - 4 Aston Villa
Half-time: 1 - 1
Aston Villa Logo
FA Carling Premiership 97/98 - Game 31
Saturday 28 March 1998
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 36,471
« Blackburn Rovers (h) Ref: Neale Barry Tottenham Hotspur (a) »
1997-98 Fixtures & Results League Position: 17th Premiership Results & Table
EVERTON: Madar (38) Peter Beagrie
Aston Villa: Joachim (12), Charles (62) Yorke (pen:72, 81).  
  LINEUPS Subs Not Used
EVERTON: Myhre, Short (83 Dunne), Watson, Ball, O'Kane, Hutchison, Farrelly (74 Cadamarteri), Oster (67 Beagrie), Barmby, Spencer, Madar.
Unavailable: Parkinson, Grant, Ferguson, Branch, Phelan, Ward, Thomas, Williamson (injured); Jeffers (recovering); Bilic, Tiler (Suspended).
Gerrard, McCann.
Aston Villa: Bosnich, Charles, Staunton, Southgate, Ehiogu, Draper, Taylor, Yorke, Joachim (Byfield, 88), Wright, Hendrie (Grayson, 85). Oakes, Nelson, Collins.
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
EVERTON: Barmby, Short, Beagrie.
Aston Villa: Ehiogu, Draper, Hendrie.

Guy McEvoy Coming apart at the seams
Martin O'Boyle We are not buried yet
Jenny Roberts It all started so brightly...
THE SUNDAY TIMES Yorke pushes Everton close to drop zone
by Peter Cooper
THE TIMES Johnson feels force of Goodison gloom
by Peter Robinson
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Everton left stunned by Yorke's brilliance
by Alyson Rudd
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

Coming apart at the seams
Guy McEvoy
It was a sunny start to the day, short sleeves and happy faces abounded. Big Dunc was back (we thought) , Collymore and Milosevic weren't playing, Goodison was filling up, Everton were looking more secure and we all looked forward to a win. By quarter to five the weather had turned, Ferguson hadn't come back, Goodison had long since emptied, Everton look anything but secure and we were looking back at a comprehensive defeat. Yes, this was a bad afternoon.

The news about Ferguson took everyone by surprise. As we got to our seats the word was that he'd had a warm up on the pitch earlier in the afternoon with a bandaged knee, he hobbled, so they decided to pull him.

This meant that again we were playing with something a good way from the first choice first eleven. No Bilic, no Tiler in particular. Watson, Short, O'Kane and Ball at the back. Farrelly, Hutchinson and Oster in the middle. Madar and Spencer at the front with captain Barmby in his favoured role just behind them. It's a functional line-up, but hardly inspiring.

First Half

Villa had brought a big contingent of fans with them, and they made good noise right form kick off. There was a complacent atmosphere to start with from the home support which I doubt did us any favours. A Spencer header from a Barmby pass demanded a diving save from Bosnich suggesting very early on that we may get into it, though at the other end Tommy looked to have badly hurt his ankle in a one-on-one but was up after treatment.

The thing that worried was how much space Villa seemed to be given in wide positions. In the absence of a challenge, Jochaim was able to walk the ball across the face of the box – even though three blue shirts were in position to stick a foot in – and then lay the ball off to another player. He then, unchallenged, got back in the box to receive the cross which he headed perfectly. One-nil down and only eleven minutes on the clock. Very ominous.

Everton's approach play was consistently let down by bad passing. We did enjoy a good spell of the game in the first half that saw Madar see an effort go close (though had he passed to Barmby instead, we would surely have equalised) and Farrelly come close with a free kick. When the free kick was awarded, I have to admit that I was willing Farrelly not to take it (much more reserved than the bloke next to me who was yelling at foghorn pitch 'fuck off Farrelly – you've the worst shot in Britain' as he lined it up). Doesn't Farrelly then go and hit a straight, powerful effort, that Bosnich nearly fluffed! Was that really Farrelly? Must be a combination of the laws of sod and averages.

Eventually our pressure grabbed an equaliser, though the circumstances were fortuitous. The way I saw it was that Spencer received the ball, stuck his head down, had a dig. The ball hit someone in the box and went in. Spencer's goal right? Hmmmm. Not if you believe Madar who went celebrating as if he'd just scored an overhead scissor-kick from the edge of the box. Apparently, the lucky deflection was off his arse. He was so proud.

Regardless of who got it, we were back on level terms, and hope for three points was once again with us. The pressure of the game was starting to show in the pitch through numerous Yellow cards, including one for Barmby who got involved in a handbags drawn scuffle. We didn't recreate the pressure that led to the equaliser though, and it was clear straight away that Villa where in no mood for sudden capitulation.

No, sudden capitulation is a uniquely Everton trait. There is an art to doing it well as expertly demonstrated by us in the second half. True enough Villa were enjoying the better of play, but it had still looked like giving a little heart to our performance could have seen us through.

Then came the turning point. Hutchinson, under pressure, fed the ball to Oster. Oster could feel someone closing down behind him. Now the sensible thing would be to simply turn him. Oster however chose to play extra cautious and pass the ball back to Hutchinson. Don though, had started to run elsewhere. The ball fell loose, was picked up by a Villa shirt, carried down the left, a cross whipped in, and a superbly executed volley from Charles to finish off Oster's punishment and put us back behind.

The incident did nothing to endear the crowd to Oster. He is now getting the Goodison special treatment from our fans most recently reserved for the likes of Barlow, Barrett, Limpar (before they decided to love him) and Amokachi.

Things got worse still when we fell 3-1 behind after Short (up to this point our man of the match) conceded a penalty. The manner the penalty was given wound everyone up. For my money it WAS a penalty. However, the referee didn't have a clear view, he appeared to be relying upon the linesman. The linesman seemed to have flagged for a corner and the referee looked to have misinterpreted this and point at the spot. After vocal protesting from Blue shirts the referee decided to consult with the linesman but now the linesman seemed happy with the decision that the referee had made despite the original misunderstanding and despite the fact he'd only originally signalled the corner. A well taken spot kick, three-one.

We had a brief one man pitch invasion after play resumed whilst a Park Ender gave his opinion of the incident to the referee. But this only served as an interlude before the final calamity. A nothing ball to Myhre, Yorke put him under pressure, Tommy lost it, Yorke walked the ball into the net.

"Going Down", from the Villa fans and a particularly well sung version of "We'll meet again" proved too much for most Evertonians to bare. With a full ten minutes still to play the exodus began. The Park End was three quarters empty with 5 mins still to play and that is not an exaggeration. Not that the early leavers missed much other than the token introductions of Cadamarteri, Dunne and the returning Beagrie and the chance to boo at the final whistle.

Those who did stay till the bitter end slowly digested results elsewhere. The magnitude of the Spurs game next week has already begun to sink in. The police had to move on a number of people who gathered below the directors box to shout up their thoughts. Once more, our club is in crises.

Individual Performances

  • Myhre 6 - Absolute school-boy error for the fourth goal. Not the kind of thing you'd expect from the usually cool Tommy.
  • Ball 7 - Seemed to have too much to do, coming forward a lot (which he did very well) but this led to the old Matt Jackson error of leaving heaps too much space for them on his wing. On one occasion, he was hacked down when he looked to be through on goal. Maybe if they'd have been put down to 10 men then like they should have been things would have been different.
  • Watson 6 - Exposed. His positioning and coolness are still there. His experience shows. Having said that, the yard of extra pace he's now lost is there for all to see and Villa took advantage a few times.
  • Short 7 - Played out of his skin. The penalty was the only blemish on the day's work.
  • O'Kane 6 - Good work in places, but the more I see of him the more I get an impression of no more than a very mediocre player.
  • Farrelly 6 - Frustrating to watch, a couple of moments of genuine skill, then he lets himself down with another clueless pass.
  • Hutchison 6 - Less assured than we've seen him.
  • Oster 6 - If we go down, then that backpass will be talked about for years. This lad would flourish in a good team with aware players who are on his wavelength and who battle to win cover for him after mistakes are made. That doesn't fit the Everton line-up at the moment. Times are now too serious for luxury players with a confidence problem. Must be given a rest.
  • Barmby 6 - Speaking of luxuries, this famous 'in the hole behind the front two' position is often described by managers in those terms. Often felt Barmby was wasted today.
  • Madar 7 - He is an arrogant git. Having said that I thought he played quite well.
  • Spencer 7 - Should be given the goal. Had a lot of hard work to do considering he was given the same service that Ferguson gets though is about a foot shorter.
  • Beagrie 6 - Deja Vous
  • Cadamarteri & Dunne - Cameo roles.

Thoroughly depressed. Not least of which cos my Spurs ticket and all my away stubs from the season are presently stuck in the bastard Liverpool postal strike.

We are not buried yet
Martin O'Boyle
The Evertonians who were among the 36,471 crowd this afternoon were subjected to an abysmal second-half performance which left thousands of supporters leaving before the end, fans calling for Johnson's dismissal and ultimately, Everton's relegation worries increasing.

All seemed bright on the way to Goodison Park.... Ferguson, our captain, our hero, was returning; Villa were without Collymore and Milosevic... But fate was to deal us a cruel blow. The news, eventually reached our ears: Ferguson was out with a knee injury. How he sustained the knee injury is intriguing. He didn't play for the reserves but (according to the Press) become injured at Bellefield yesterday.

Some might say that 'we'd have battered 'em if Big Dunc had played' but one player doesn't make up for terrible defending and four goals, no matter how exceptional he is. The absence of Duncan Ferguson was a huge blow for the team and I think we didn't recover from it. It had been an anti-climax for the squad and for Howie, as well as the supporters.

Everton played with a 4-3-1-2 formation, a system which seemingly didn't suit them in the opening minutes; Ball and Short particularly struggling to adapt. Myhre went down injured after a kick from Joachim, but he was quick to recover. The pace of the Villa frontmen: Joachim and Yorke, combined with the creativity of their wing-backs was causing us problems. In the eleventh minute, Gary Charles floated a ball into the penalty area where the unmarked Joachim was waiting. Myhre remained rooted to the spot as the header flew past him and Villa celebrated an early goal.

After 15 mins, Madar (or should I say Barmby?) had an excellent opportunity to equalize. The flamboyant Frenchman struck the post with a superb effort, but Barmby was in a far better position to score.

Often the game was bad tempered, with no fewer than six yellow cards being shown by the referee, Neale Barry. On the half-hour mark, Draper (another midfielder with a shocking blond rinse) performed a terribly late tackle on Nick Barmby, who retaliated. Both were cautioned; Draper for the initial defence and the Everton captain for his 'handbags at dawn' antics.

With seven minutes to go to the break, Spencer struck a fierce shot at the Villa goal. The ball hit Madar on the shoulder and went into the corner of the net. Goodison erupted. Scenes of joy and sheer ecstasy were evident wherever you looked. By the end of the match, however, it was a completely different story.

During the half-time interval, a cigarette lighter was thrown into Bosnich's goal when the keeper was warming up for the second half. The Aussie held the lighter which was ignited, to the fans behind the Gwladys Street goal. Quite why a lighter was thrown on to the pitch was beyond me but it was the only 'spark' which Bosnich had to contend with in the second half.

As Everton trotted out on to the pitch for the second half, Oster looked absolutely knackered. After playing a full international for Wales in midweek he was obviously not ready for another game this Saturday. His distribution was erratic and he was hardly helped by strong verbal abuse from some 'Evertonians' close to me. The 19-year-old undoubtedly has class, but he too young to become a consistent Everton player. The sooner people realise that the better. However, it was his mistake which led to Villa's second goal. He gave the ball away to Alan Wright who put in a cross which was met by the right boot of Gary Charles. Myhre had no chance, and Villa were celebrating.

By now, the game was beyond our reach. The pace of Yorke and Joachim was dictating the game and Everton were struggling. Short, who had made several good tackles bundled Joachim over in the penalty area and after a brief consultation with the linesman on the Bullens Road side, a penalty was awarded.

3-1. Yorke. Myhre was close, but not close enough.

The Everton players' heads dropped and they were not helped by an uncharacteristic "Andy Dibble" gaffe from the usually reliable Thomas Myhre with nine minutes still to play. Pretending to be a central defender, Myhre tried to tackle Yorke on the edge of the box after Watson had been found wanting. Myhre mistimed the tackle and Yorke slotted the open goal home.

The scenes of Villa's jubilation prompted thousands of Evertonians to leave. The exits were being plagued with rats leaving a sinking ship. Shouts of "Can we play you every week?" were stinging comments that were endured by the remaining Everton fans. I looked directly ahead of me. The Park End was almost deserted. It was a sorry sight which upset me. Shouts of "We want of Johnson out" were initiated by the Gwladys Street Terrace, but they were quickly quelled when Dunne, after coming on in the 84th minute, had an opportunity. Being put out of his stride by Charles, he put the ball out for a throw in. The full time whistle eventually came after spells of 'Olé' football from Villa. Some met the whistle with a chorus of boos, others (including myself) just slumped away as the supporters emptied out on to Gwladys Street as if they had been to a funeral.

One subtle difference remains – we're not buried yet.


I am going to give this award to our new midfield general, Don Hutchison for an encouraging performance. Other contenders included Barmby and Short (for his important tackles in the second period).


Mr. Neale Barry. Parts of his refereeing were comical. A classic example was when Myhre tipped over a ball from a Villa player's shot, the Everton defence organised themselves for a corner (O'Kane and Oster on posts etc.). Seeing this Mr. Barry pointed for a goal kick. He let a number of shoulder barges go unpunished and he booked Craig Short after a superb 'Bobby Moore' tackle, after he had won the ball.

It all started so brightly...
Jenny Roberts
The sun was shining as I walked to Goodison and I basked in the images of Ferguson's inevitable match-winner. There were so many questions in my mind about the cross. Would it be like O'Kane's for Madar in the Blackburn game? Would it be like a Hinchcliffe-style cross provided by one of the young lads to permanently endear them to the Goodison faithful? Would we see some fancy footwork and tremendous trickery from the young Oster? Or would it come from a Michael Ball throw-in, like the Derby goal? However, there was no doubt about it. Villa's defence, not exactly infamous for its height, could not possibly contain Duncan. This was going to be a great game.

The crowd of 36,471 gathered in anticipation of His return. Villa, a side which plays tedious, unattractive football, could not possibly have interested so many. It was going to be Duncan's day.

I watched them come onto the pitch to warm up. It had been a lengthy, cruel wait since February to watch Dunc grace the turf again. However, at 2.30, it seemed strange that he had not made his appearance. It was almost like the entire stadium was holding its breath, waiting for him. Each player was welcomed onto the pitch, but the one we really wanted to see was Him. All in Gwladys Street seemed to be saving the real applause, the real chanting for when we saw Him again.

I became increasingly nervous. Was he playing? Duncan was normally on the pitch ages before Adrian Heath began the warm-up exercises with the team. Where was he? "Maybe he's doing a Shearer," offered my sister, but I could not be consoled. I imagine that deep down, I knew that no match could have been so perfect.

Then I was informed. He had sustained a knee injury. There was no way that he would recover in time. Duncan was out. I just wished that it was some hideously vivid nightmare. In a minute, I would wake up, and everything would be normal once more. Dunc would get his hat-trick, and Newcastle, Wimbledon and Spurs would lose, and we would go to fourteenth place, and become safe.

However, all my usually abundant optimism for the game ahead had vanished. With Bilic and Tiler suspended, and Short not quite fully fit, how could we even manage 0-0 till the 80th minute, and then a lucky break?

It seemed the players had responded to the news of Ferguson's injury as I had done. It looked difficult for them to even hold their heads high at kick-off. I tried to remind myself of the Blackburn game, but I kept on remembering that we had a full strength defence then.

Kick-off brought half-hearted attempts to escape the pessimistic mood which had enveloped Goodison with chanting. The line-up looked far superior to that of Villa, despite having Dunc, Tiler and Bilic absent, plus the long-term casualties.

The game started badly, with Tommy Myhre getting flattened by a Villa player, who charged ruthlessly at him. He was down for ages, holding his ankle. At one stage, they brought the dreaded stretcher on, and it seemed as though he was not going to get back up again. I was almost in tears at the prospect of Paul Gerrard, but fortunately the dedicated Myhre clambered to his feet again, and returned to his goal. The stretcher returned to the tunnel, where I desperately hoped it would remain.

Farrelly was back, and was dangerously close to scoring with a wondrous free kick. One day, I know he will score, and it will be a contender for goal of the year! However, the score-line remained 0-0.

Then came disaster. Charles' ball into the penalty area met with Joachim, who headed the ball past Thomas Myhre, who could not even make an effort to save it. Charles had not even been threatened with a challenge from an Everton defender, making it a pathetic goal to concede.

The height up front was appalling. How the minute Spencer was constantly expected by his team-mates to engage himself in aerial battles was, and still is, beyond me.

Madar worked hard, probably the hardest out of the attackers. He may be occasionally lazy, but when he wants to play, he is the worthiest partner for Dunc. He was incessantly trying to flick the ball on, and to set up his team-mates. However unselfish, diligent and persistent Madar may be, his efforts often go unnoticed unless his team-mates make use of the opportunities he gives them. So he claimed what should have been Spencer's first Everton goal, but it was such a useful equalizer, nobody really cared who claimed it. Although he must stop the exaggerated arm waving and occasional temper tantrums, he is nevertheless a superb acquisition for Kendall.

Joy filled Goodison to the brim when Spencer's fearsome drive deflected ever so slightly off Madar into the net. Myhre's ankle injury seemed so far away as he raced around the box, celebrating.

Short, for a player who was not fully fit, dominated the defence. If it had not been for his intelligent tackling, pace, and aerial skill, we would surely have conceded many more goals.

I was delighted with Michael Ball's game. I have never known a player capable of throw-ins consisting of such high quality. His defensive abilities needed to be at their best, and despite the circumstances, he deserves full credit. Man of the Match.

Watson looked a little slower than usual, which was pretty nerve-wracking during the first half but we hoped that he was conserving his energy resources for the second.

At half-time, I checked the TV screens for the scores whilst walking. They were bad, and I nearly walked into a pillar when I was surveying them. I really do not know which would have been more painful; actually walking into a pillar, or watching the second half. Meanwhile, Goodison's cheerful half-time banter was replaced by an eerie silence as the crowd strained to hear the half-time results over the tannoy.

It was obvious to everyone that Oster was tiring. Why Kendall did not swap him for Cadamarteri at half-time, I do not know. Although young Danny played for 90 minutes on Thursday, he is the type of player who can bounce back out of a fixture pile-up with more energy than he began with!

However, it was only a matter of time before Oster made a stupid mistake. It came all too soon. Before Everton had even got back into their stride again, Hutchison passed to Oster. He had not looked capable of mustering a little pace, and so passed back to Hutchison. However, Hutchison had started to run towards goal, to begin an attack. The ball was intercepted by a Villa player, and the cross was met by the outstretched boot of Charles. Myhre had not been protected by his defence, and so could not do anything but spectate. 2-1, and I couldn't even imagine us equalizing. Ironically, the scoreboard read Everton 2 Villa 1 - wishful thinking!

Eventually the ref, another graduate from the Dunn school of refereeing, awarded a penalty for a perfectly legal Short tackle. Perhaps it was the intimidation of all those Villa fans along the line where he conversed with the linesman, I really don't know. However, his decision was final. Villa had a penalty. Tommy, who had been having a terrible time in the aftermath of his ankle injury, was painfully close to a magnificent save.

Everton crumbled after the third, and when Tommy committed himself to running out of his area at Yorke, things went horribly wrong. Yorke ran the ball into the goal. It was the worst goal I can remember us conceding at home since that Kevin Davies effort when he walked past every single Everton defender, and the majority of the midfield.

All of Goodison's inhabitants stood on their feet. Most left their seats, abandoned their club in distaste, and began to worry instead about the approaching Monday, and the jeering Kopites. The Umbro sign and most of the EFC were visible in Park End seats, which was a sorry sight to witness. I'm sure that the rest of Gwladys Street around me was in a pretty similar state. However, a few of us stayed until the bitter end, to watch us make a few efforts on goal. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. The final whistle was met with "We want Johnson Out", which briefly echoed about the stands half-heartedly. Duncan's day was destroyed.

The worst I've ever seen us play. Mediocre. Unacceptable. Abysmal.

There are goals to be scored by the right side in London, and we'll score them. If the players and travelling fans remember those four vital words. If we sing and play to them, then we'll stay up.


Yorke pushes Everton close to drop zone
by Peter Cooper, The Sunday Times
IT IS a rum sort of Premiership match that offers, as a leading attraction, the prospect of seeing a 32-year-old winger, Peter Beagrie, restored as an Everton player, seeking his first goal for more than three years. But by the time Beagrie took to the pitch, as a substitute, Everton were behind against Aston Villa for the second time and heading for their heaviest home defeat of the season.

It sparked an outcry from supporters, who targeted their anger at the directors' box – an old Goodison Park custom. But the players, even in a team weakened by suspension and an additional injury to their main striker Duncan Ferguson, were not blameless.

The case was not that Everton succumbed after Mickael Madar caught up, strangely, on an early goal by Julian Joachim. No, when Gary Charles and Dwight Yorke added three goals between them in the last half-hour Everton had lost the plot. By any measure, they were seen off.

Villa were not fazed by the prospect of Everton's stark disciplinary record, the Premiership's worst. Stan Collymore might miss the rest of the season – unless Villa salvage something with cortisone treatment for a groin problem – but either way Joachim and Yorke might amply make up the difference.

Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, said: "Villa posed more problems than we did in the last third of the field." Without Ferguson, whom Kendall ranks as "priceless", there was little hope of a sustained response.

There was nothing to match the sheer crispness of the first goal, when Joachim set up Charles for a right-wing cross and closed to head it in, unhindered. If Everton plotted the equaliser – a 25-yard shot by John Spencer that hit Madar and stranded Mark Bosnich – they should keep quiet about it.

The fuller value of Villa's fourth win in six matches under John Gregory was still to come. While Everton concentrated after half-time on playing most everything through Don Hutchison in midfield, Villa changed nothing radically. Gareth Southgate, Ugo Ehiogu and Steve Staunton defended strongly. Mark Draper held midfield, Joachim and Yorke absorbed the blows.

Villa's second came when Alan Wright supplied a long cross that left defenders turning just in time to see Charles firing in his first goal in two seasons.

Then Craig Short's panic challenge on Joachim brought Yorke a penalty, the striker converted gratefully. Worse was to come for the home side. Lee Hendrie found Yorke with a good through-pass that exposed the absence of Everton's third centre-back Carl Tiler, suspended. But goalkeeper Thomas Myhre, watched by a small horde of fellow Norwegians here on holiday, should have made a stronger challenge. He made no contact and Yorke skipped through for a simple finish.

Neale Barry booked Short for a tackle from behind on Joachim, an offence that will see the defender sent off under the new rules next season. But oddly he merely lectured Hutchison and Hendrie on almost the spot where he booked Draper and Nicky Barmby for a similar set-to in the first half.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

Johnson feels force of Goodison gloom
by Peter Robinson, The Times
HE STOOD, all but bursting out of his sweatshirt in fury, his finger jabbing, voice hoarse, the veins on his neck bulging as he bellowed at the directors' box below. "You're a disgrace Johnson, a disgrace," he yelled. "You've destroyed this club. You might not care, but we do."

Beneath him, Peter Johnson, the Everton chairman, and the other VIPs filed out of view, some glancing up, others looking steadfastly away. Behind him, clumps of spectators stood and watched in mute agreement, staying to stare at the pitch as Mr Angry made his less than merry way home. They looked stunned.

In the pubs near the ground, the conversation was conducted almost in chorus. Everton were terrible, they were an embarrassment, they were humiliated. When they needed to buy players, top players, the money-men had done nothing. Signing Peter Beagrie on loan from Bradford City? "He's a nice fella, but Peter Beagrie?" There was no blame attached to the winger, you understand, but the next sentence contained the word "board" and a string of expletives that echoed awesomely far down Gwladys Street.

There can be no doubts now that Everton, top-flight fixtures since 1954, once one of the "big five", are heading for relegation. They won the championship 11 years ago, the FA Cup just three years ago, but the Nationwide League beckons like a siren and it will take a huge effort to escape it, an effort that looked beyond them on Saturday.

They needed to win this game, or at least cling to a draw, but instead suffered their worst defeat of the season, their confidence draining by the minute as the scale of the collapse became clear. Aston Villa looked like world-beaters, Charles and Wright had the freedom of the wings, Staunton barely broke sweat, Hendrie dazzled, Draper dominated and Joachim and Yorke were so quick and eager up front that a buzz rippled around Goodison Park every time that they got the ball. Joachim scored the first goal, 11 minutes into the game, spinning away from one defender, then another, feeding Charles on the right and then converting the cross that followed with a crisp header. Marking? Nought out of ten.

The others came after the break, Wright's cross setting up Charles's far-post volley, then a penalty from Yorke after Short had hauled down Joachim – Everton whinged mightily about that, players and supporters, one of whom stormed on to the pitch to try discuss matters with the referee – and finally Yorke again, walking through a dismal tackle outside the area by Myhre, the goalkeeper, to provide a suitable finish to an easy win. Forget Madar's effort in the first half, a shot by Spencer that deflected off the Frenchman's back, it was an irrelevant fluke.

Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, put up some defence afterwards, but it was as feeble as that of his, albeit suspension and injury-hit, team. "I am disappointed when people ask why I haven't spent money that is possibly available to me," he said. "Remember that between £15-£20 million-worth of talent wasn't available today. You cannot carry 40 senior players on the staff and we are pitching squad players into a battle for survival." Perhaps, but injuries take time to heal and time is one thing that Everton haven't got.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

Everton left stunned by Yorke's brilliance
Alyson Rudd, Electronic Telegraph
WHEN Aston Villa beat Everton in the Premiership back in November, the result pushed Howard Kendall's team to the foot of the table. This time the result was less visibly dramatic but, with only seven games left, far more damaging for Everton.

Duncan Ferguson, expected to return to the Everton team after suspension, failed a late fitness test. John Spencer replaced him and Everton's first real chance was a Spencer header, the diminutive Scot leaping to meet Nick Barmby's cross.

There were no prizes for guessing which side had recently acquitted themselves well in European competition, however. Villa played with calm authority and intelligence and in the 12th minute took the lead. Julian Joachim played the ball out to Gary Charles, Charles crossed and Joachim headed in the return past Thomas Myhre.

With Stan Collymore injured and Savo Milosevic suspended, a forward line of Joachim and Dwight Yorke might sound makeshift. It is anything but.

The home team responded in spirited fashion to the goal. Gareth Farrelly drove in a vicious free-kick which singed Mark Bosnich's gloves and, after a surging run, Mickael Madar drove a shot just wide. On the half-hour Madar should have done better with a header after he dropped deep at the far post for Barmby's free-kick.

The best move of the first half came from Villa, with Gareth Southgate sweeping the ball out wide to Alan Wright, whose header into the path of Lee Hendrie was beautifully weighted. Hendrie loped through the Everton defence but Yorke just failed to reach his pass.

By contrast, Everton's equaliser was less majestic and more fortuitous, with Bosnich beaten by a deflection off Madar from Spencer's long-range strike.

The second half opened with Everton players taking it in turns to exhibit a piece of imaginative individual skill, as if they were all in a Nike advertisement. Villa continued to be more economical and found more width than their opponents.

Yorke seemed on a stairway to heaven with a delightful 50-yard run, but was denied a goal of the season by an interception from the excellent Craig Short. An astute clearance by Bosnich set Yorke free, and again Short came to Everton's rescue.

A goal had to come and it did, one wing-back creating for another with Wright looping the ball over the Everton defence to Charles, who, unmarked, was able to place his shot and his first goal of the season.

Everton were simply trying too hard, Villa were coasting and won a penalty when Short brought down Joachim. Yorke made it 3-1 from the spot. A fan, presumable an Evertonian, meandered up to the centre circle in a daze. For him, and Everton, the fog of despair only thickened as was summed up by Villa's fourth, Hendrie's pass leaving Short and Myhre stranded and Yorke free to waltz the ball over the goal line.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

RESULTS  (Game 31)
Tuesday 31 March 1998
Blackburn Rovers
Dahlin (8) Gallacher (87)
2 - 1 Barnsley
Hristov (67)
Bolton Wanderers
0 - 1 Arsenal
Wreh (47)
0 - 0 Newcastle United
Monday 30 March 1998
West Ham United
Hartson (8) Abou (23) Pearce (68)
3 - 0 Leeds United
Saturday 28 March 1998
Bergkamp (35)
1 - 0 Sheffield Wednesday
Redfearn (37, pen 85)
2 - 3 Liverpool
Riedle (44, 59) McManaman (90)
Bolton Wanderers
Thompson (52, 89)
2 - 0 Leicester City
Coventry City
Huckerby (44)
1 - 0 Derby County
Crystal Palace
Shipperley (82)
1 - 3 Tottenham Hotspur
Berti (55) Armstrong (72)
Klinsmann (77)
Madar (38)
1 - 4 Aston Villa
Joachim (12) Charles (62)
Yorke (pen 72, 81)
Manchester United
Johnsen (83) Scholes (90)
2 - 0 Wimbledon
Barnes (og 69) Le Tissier (pen 85)
2 - 1 Newcastle United
Lee (46)

LEAGUE TABLE (after 31March 1998 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            32   19    6    7   60   23   37   63
Arsenal                      30   17    9    4   49   26   23   60
Liverpool                    31   15    9    7   54   34   20   54 <Safe
Blackburn Rovers             30   14    9    7   51   39   12   51
Chelsea                      30   15    3   12   59   35   24   48
Leeds United                 31   14    6   11   45   33   12   48
West Ham United              30   14    5   11   44   38    6   47
Derby County                 30   13    6   11   44   40    4   45
Coventry City                30   11   10    9   36   35    1   43
Southampton                  31   13    4   14   41   43   -2   43
Aston Villa                  32   12    6   14   38   42   -4   42
Leicester City               30   10   10   10   35   32    3   40
Sheffield Wednesday          31   10    7   14   45   58  -13   37
Wimbledon                    30    9    9   12   30   34   -4   36
Newcastle United             31    9    9   13   28   35   -7   36
Tottenham Hotspur            31    9    7   15   32   48  -16   34
Everton                      31    8    9   14   35   46  -11   33
Barnsley                     31    9    4   18   32   71  -39   31
Bolton Wanderers             31    6   12   13   29   48  -19   30
Crystal Palace               31    6    8   17   27   54  -27   26
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© Michael Kenrick 1998
Last updated: 28 Mar 98