Everton Logo Everton 2 - 2 Blackburn Rovers
Half-time: 1 - 0;  Aggregate: 5 - 3 
Blackburn Rovers Logo
1997/98 FA Youth Cup Final
Second Leg
Thursday 7 May 1998
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 15,258
Blackburn Rovers (a)
    (Youth Cup Final: First Leg)
Live on Sky Sports 1
Ref: Neale Barry
Everton – Winners
FA Youth Cup 1997/98
EVERTON: Jeffers, Eaton.
Blackburn Rovers: Hamilton, Hawe.
  LINEUPS Subs Not Used
EVERTON: Delaney, Regan, Farley, Dunne, Eaton, Jevons, Poppleton, O'Brien, Milligan, Cadamarteri, Jeffers (85 Hibbert). Knowles, McLeod.
Blackburn Rovers: Stewart; Richardson, Murphy, Scates, Taylor; Brown (Hawe 71), Dunn, McAvoy, Baldacchino (Ryan 66); Topley (Connelly 82), Hamilton.
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Blackburn Rovers:

PA SPORTS Everton Win FA Youth Cup
by Steven Baker
THE TIMES Everton offer hope of brighter future
by Oliver Holt
THE GUARDIAN Younger Toffees harder to chew up and spit out
by Michael Walker
THE EVERTONIAN Young Blues lift Goodison gloom
by Paul Joyce

Everton Youth Team, 1997-98 Adam Eaton: Man of the Match
The victorious Everton Youth Team The victorious Everton Youth Team

Everton Win Youth Cup
by Steven Baker, PA Sport
Under-fire Blues chairman Peter Johnson braved a potentially explosive reception to witness his young guns' triumph. The Merseysiders, leading 3-1 from last Friday's first leg at Ewood Park, sealed the trophy thanks to goals from Francis Jeffers and Adam Eaton to win the competition for the first time since 1984.

And with Everton's ladies side having already been crowned FA Women's Premier League champions, it is now just the senior team that is letting the blue half of Merseyside down. Only the occasional abusive shout was hurled at Johnson, who sat in the directors' box which was surrounded by half a dozen police.

But tonight's atmosphere was tame compared to the red-hot reception a Goodison full-house on Sunday will give to the man they blame more than anyone for the club's present plight.  Beleaguered boss Howard Kendall has fielded a string of youngsters in the Premiership this season and tonight's performance showed there are many more promising teenagers waiting in the wings.

Jeffers, a product of the FA National School of Excellence, set his side on their way inside two minutes. The 17-year-old striker was felled just outside the Blackburn box and as Jamie Milligan swung the free-kick over, Jeffers – who made his Premiership debut aged just 16 at Old Trafford last Christmas – headed home off the underside of the bar.

Everton continued to threaten, with Jeffers and first-team striker Danny Cadamarteri posing the Rovers defence problems and Milligan curling a free-kick narrowly wide. But the visitors gradually got back into the game and they drew level after 52 minutes. Defender Richard Dunne, one of three Everton players on show tonight with first-team experience, caused confusion in his own box with a poor header.

Goalkeeper Dean Delaney was stranded and though Carl Regan was able to head off the line, Gary Hamilton challenged with the full-back and managed to bundle the ball home. However, the home side soaked up a spell of Blackburn pressure before wrapping up the trophy after 69 minutes. Milligan's clever chip found left-back Eaton in space and he coolly lobbed the ball over advancing keeper Gareth Stuart.

Steve Hawe grabbed an equaliser with seven minutes to go, side-footing home from Dunne's cross, but Everton were able to hang on and win the trophy by two clear goals, much to the delight of the vast majority of a bumper 15,258 crowd.

Everton coach Colin Harvey was full of praise for his youngsters and said: "They all worked tremendously hard for each other and I thought they got what they deserved.

"The man-of-the-match award could have gone to any of them because they all did so well and I thought over the two legs we fully deserved it."

Jeffers said: "Even when we went 1-0 up we knew there was time for them to get back into it, so we had to keep on fighting. We said we would take the game to them and the early goal made it for us."

Everton offer hope of brighter future
by Oliver Holt, The Times
TEETERING on the edge of the pit of despair as relegation from the FA Carling Premiership beckons, Everton and their supporters were offered a little succour last night when the young men who they hope will one day lift them clear of the bad times eased past Blackburn Rovers to win The Times FA Youth Cup at Goodison Park.

Leading 3-1 from the first leg at Ewood Park a week ago, Everton held on to their aggregate lead in an entertaining 2-2 draw and played with the confidence and assurance that is so conspicuously lacking in their counterparts in the first team. It is to be hoped they will have the opportunity to bloom in the top division next season, rather than labouring on the stony ground of the Nationwide League.

It seemed incongruous to see Michael O'Brien, their captain, lifting the trophy to wild cheering at a stadium where there has been so much misery this season. But their triumph never looked in doubt and well-taken goals from Jeffers and Eaton eased them to their third victory in the competition. How Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, must wish some of them were a little further down the production line. If Everton do not beat Coventry City at Goodison on Sunday, he may not be there to witness their graduation.

Amid all the optimism, though, there was one worrying note. Peter Johnson, the Everton chairman, was guarded by about 20 police officers as he ate at the stadium before the game, raising more fears about the reception he may receive if he attends at the weekend and things go the wrong way for his team.

Everton had effectively put the trophy out of the reach of their visitors with their first attack, in the second minute. Jeffers won a free kick on the right and when Milligan swung his cross in, Jeffers met it himself six yards out and headed it in via the underside of the Blackburn crossbar.

Jeffers was a constant threat to the Rovers defence. He and Cadamarteri, who may be drafted into the squad for Sunday's game, counter-attacked with a speed and determination that Blackburn could not cope with.

Rovers strove to fight their way back into the game and Dunn's dipping volley after half an hour was their best chance. Much of their approach play was patient and confident but it foundered either on the inadequacies of their shooting or the excellence of Richard Dunne, the Everton centre back.

Seven minutes after half-time, though, Dunne blemished his performance and gave Blackburn a glimmer of hope. Chasing back to cover a hopeful Rovers lob over the defence, he got involved in a mix-up with Delaney and tried to hook the ball away as the goalkeeper rushed out. Regan tried to head the ball clear, but only succeeded in steering it back towards his own net. With Delaney grounded after colliding with Dunne, Hamilton leapt highest when the ball came down and headed it home from almost on the line to equalise.

Just when Blackburn's greater urgency seemed as though it might force them back into the tie, Everton sealed their triumph in the 69th minute. Milligan once more was the provider, lofting a pass down the left to Eaton who ran on and lifted it cleverly over Stuart. Howe got an equaliser for Rovers six minutes from the end, but it was not enough to threaten Everton's aggregate victory.

Report Times Newspapers Ltd

Younger Toffees harder to chew up and spit out
by Michael Walker, The Guardian
The future's bright, the future's Everton. No, this is not a reference to some ironic graffiti daubed on the walls of Liverpool 4, nor is it a mistake. It is possibly the only time Evertonians will read it this weekend but, given their circumstances, not even the most blue of Bluenoses should be denied the opportunity to read it once.

There is even an element of truth in it. Everton may be peering down a long, dark tunnel with the signpost 'Vicarage Road and Edgeley Park this way' but there is a flickering light at the end: the Everton youth team.

On Thursday night at Goodison Park the young Toffeemen drew 2-2 with Blackburn Rovers (aggregate 5-3) in front of a crowd of more than 15,000 people to win the FA Youth Cup, their optimistic young men reminding those around them that not only the past is silver and gold.

The present is and the future could be too. There are riders of course – if they all fulfil their potential, if they can be kept together, if they can avoid injuries – but half a dozen of Everton's team on Thursday have a serious chance of making it.

In youth terms they represent a bumper harvest and, although you will not hear anyone at Everton saying so, it is akin to manchester United's Beckham, Scholes and Neville yield of three years ago. At Old Trafford that was the result of extensive planning, exhaustive selection and much hard work, and its success has turned it into a model for the rest. There cannot be a club in the country which is not running grandly titled centres of excellence or opening Academies - with a capital A.

Everton, as their youth coach and former manager, Colin Harvey explained, are no different. It took them a while – Everton's academy is only a year old – but as Thursday showed there are already some graduates. Coincidence and luck played their part but Harvey stressed the long hours of coaching and coaxing which few fans see.

'Getting to, and winning, the Youth Cup final is great,' he said, 'but when people see that, they are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. There is so much work going on underneath in terms of recruitment and watching more players.' Everton have increased their scouting and that has necessitated an increase in their backroom staff, with Harvey returning after spells with Oldham and Burnley. Ray Hall named as director of youth development and several other appointments, including a physiotherapist.

'At the end of last season the club decided to change the coaching regime and set up the academy,' said Harvey. 'It was a policy decision. We have not copied manchester United – this club has always tried to produce its own players – but when you see five or six of them playing for England you realise that should be the aim for every club, that is the ultimate. It still leaves room for buying the 5 million pound player but when you bring lads through they have that loyalty, that feeling for the club.'

Harvey did not add that growing your own saves money in the long run but it is fair to assume that the Everton chairman Peter Johnson looked at manchester united and, closer to home, Liverpool, and saw more than mere talent in the frames of Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler.

Their combined worth could probably finance the building of a new stadium and consequently, as he peered round the protective police cordon on Thursday, Johnson will have taken particular pleasure in the performances of 16-year old Francis Jeffers and 18-year old Philip Jevons, both of whom were on Liverpool's books at one time.

Both have appeared on Everton's Premiership team sheets, too, indicative of the first XI's weakness as well as the boys' strength, and Jeffers is considered such a prospect that he has already been signed on a long contract.

There is also Danny Cadamarteri, 17 when he made his debut, and Richard Dunne, the first benefit of Everton's sponsoring of the Dublin club Home Farm. Coming next is John Lester.

Others to impress on Thursday were Adam Eaton, an excellent left-back, and Jamie Milligan, a skilful midfielder. Harvey also has high hopes of Leon Osman for next season. it is too late for this one but if Everton do go down, it might be of some consolation to the fans that the long-term future is bright even if the immediate one is Bolton's. Then again, it might not.

Report The Guardian

Young Blues lift Goodison gloom
Paul Joyce, The Evertonian
EVERTON'S youngsters showed that the future is not all bleak as goals from Francis Jeffers and Adam Eaton helped them to clinch the FA Youth Cup. Watched by chairman Peter Johnson and manager Howard Kendall, they lifted the trophy for the first time since 1984 and for the third time in the club's history.

Honours were even on the night as pre-final favourites Blackburn twice cancelled out Everton's lead, but the first leg endeavours at Ewood Park last Friday gave the Blues a deserved 5-3 aggregate victory.

It is testament to the strength of the current youth set-up at Goodison that the player widely regarded as one of the most promising talents to emerge from through ranks in recent generations was only playing because of an injury to one of the first leg heroes, Leon Osman.

Jeffers, who made his senior debut at 16 against Manchester United on Boxing Day, had missed the last four games en route to the final with a virus and was restricted to a late appearance as a substitute at Ewood Park last Friday.

One of six starting players discovered by prolific scout Syd Benson, he showed why Everton were quick to hand him a five-year contract as he effectively attached the Blues' colours to the trophy inside two minutes of the kick-off.

Jeffers won a free-kick wide on the right flank, dusted himself down and moved into the penalty area where he beat his marker to power home a header past Gareth Stewart from Jamie Milligan's pinpoint cross. The early goal, which Blackburn had been seeking for themselves, settled the nerves. More of the same from the first team is in order on Sunday.

Over the two legs, Everton have proved themselves to be worthy winners, and while Blackburn enjoyed plenty of possession in and around the opposing penalty area, they found the defensive rearguard which has formed an excellent foundation throughout the competition difficult to pierce. Their frustration often turned into petulance, in the first half especially, although more often than not it still escaped the attentions of referee Neale Barry.

As throughout the competition, Everton looked the more dangerous going forward and were usually prompted by Phil Jevons and skipper Mick O'Brien. And Milligan, who had been doubtful beforehand with a knee injury, almost doubled the night's advantage on 11 minutes. Cadamarteri was bundled over from behind by Garth Scates and the Scottish youth international curled a 25-yard free-kick a just wide.

Perhaps understandably given the club's plight away from the youth and ladies set-ups, a healthy crowd of more than 15,000 appeared subdued. But Jevons and Jeffers almost brought them to their feet on the stroke of half-time when they combined - only to see the alert Stewart save at the goalscorer's feet.

Blackburn were rewarded for their endeavour when they reduced the deficit seven minutes into the second half. Everton's Richard Dunne hooked the ball away from goalkeeper Dean Delaney to the edge of the area where Jonathan Topley sent the ball back towards the goal-line.

Carl Regan looked to have cleared the danger with a header, but before he could volley away the dropping ball, striker Gary Hamilton was able to knock the ball over the line.

Even with a loser's medal there was still some consolation for him as he maintained his record of scoring in every round of the tournament. Topley then forced Delaney to save from Scates' cross, but as in previous rounds the youngsters showed the character to respond in style.

They moved back into the lead on 70 minutes when the impressive Milligan brilliantly picked out Adam Eaton's left-wing raid and he lifted coolly hoisted the ball over the on-rushing Stewart from a tight angle. It was an excellent goal and Eaton deservedly picked up the Man of the Match award at the final whistle.

But for an outstanding last-ditch tackle from Keith Brown – who injured himself in the process – Cadamarteri would have claimed the goal his efforts deserved second later.

s it was, Blackburn completed the scoring when Stephen Hawe expertly volleyed home David Dunn's out-swinging cross at the far post five minutes from time. Colin Harvey and Andy Holden's side deservedly enjoyed the cheers from the crowd during their lap of honour. A similar reaction on Sunday would do nicely.

Report The Evertonian

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Michael Kenrick 1998
Last updated: 22 February 1999