Chelsea Logo Chelsea 2 - 0 Everton 
Half-time: 0 - 0
Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 97/98 - Game 15
Wednesday 26 November 1997
Stamford Bridge, London
Att: 34,148
« Aston Villa (a) Ref: Neale Barry Tottenham Hotspur (h) »
1997-98 Fixtures & Results League Position: 20th Premiership Results & Table
Chelsea: Wise (pen:80), Zola (pen:90)
EVERTON: -- Mitch Ward
  LINEUPS Subs Not Used
Chelsea: De Goey, Petrescu, Babayaro, Clarke (Granville 51), Vialli (Flo 75), Wise, Duberry, Di Matteo, Sinclair, Nicholls (Hughes 51), Zola. Hitchcock, Crittenden.
EVERTON: Southall, Hinchcliffe (Oster 83), Short, Bilic, Phelan (Ball 68), Speed,
Ward, Williamson, Farrelly (Cadamarteri 83), Barmby, Ferguson.
Unavailable: Parkinson, Branch, Grant, McCann, Watson, Gerrard (injured); Stuart (in transfer negotiations)
  Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Chelsea: Wise. --
EVERTON: Hinchcliffe, Short, Ferguson. Bilic (90)

Guy McEvoy Honest endeavour but no just rewards
Paul Collyer Not good enough for the Premiership
David Catton Not much fun being an Evertonian
Lyndon Lloyd Everton: finely balanced on the hinge
THE DAILY STAR Blues dump Kendo flops
by a Daily Star Journalist
THE TIMES Penalties heighten Everton's distress
by Matt Dickinson
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Chelsea move up on penalties
by John Ley
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

Honest endeavour but no just rewards
Guy McEvoy
For once the fixture list conspired in my favour. A midweek game in London coincided with me on a conference in the capital, so at least I didn't have to add travel costs onto the obscene £21 I had to pay for a bog-standard ticket (the cynic may suggest that I only agreed to attend the conference because it coincided with the game but that is a scurrilous rumour and I deny it with venom).  

Anyway, the week away meant that I missed all news on the Monday and Tuesday and so was mystified to see some bloke called 'Ward' run out with the Everton team. " Who's that?" I asked a neighbour (making me feel like a part timer).

"Some chap we got with some other geezer from Sheffield United". (honestly, he said 'Geezer'!)

"How much?"

"Graham Stuart, plus some dosh."

My eyes desperately scanned the pitch, no matter how much I looked Diamond was not there.  I had a long, slow moment of reflection.  Despite his critics I've always been one of Graham Stuart's greatest fans, I've always felt that you could take eleven men of journeymen ability but if they had Stuart's attitude they could hand you the premier league.  By removing one of the last people who plays like he's an Evertonian from the team I suddenly felt sure we were now doomed to go down. Mitch Ward huh? I'd keep an eye on him.

First Half

The game started and my attention wandered.  I looked around Stamford Bridge. It's changed a lot since last season.  Most obviously they've now completed the missing stand so at least the crowd is on four sides of the pitch.  Nevertheless, it still looks odd seeing a modern stadium, state of the art on three sides, then one side without a roof.  I smiled when it started raining.  All those bankers paying twenty quid for their tickets and getting soaked.  Perhaps there is some justice after all.  

I looked up and behind me. Peter Johnson was having a protracted laugh with Ken Bates on the front row of the balcony directly above.  This when a crowd of Evertonians were trying to get a chant of 'The Premier league is upside down' going.  You wouldn't have thought he had a care in the world.

It suddenly dawned on me that I wasn't really aware of the match.  Now, I'd had several beers and that may explain it in part, but more importantly it seemed to be because not too much was happening. Everton seemed to be containing Chelsea comfortably.  Even better, we were starting to show the odd glimpse of promise and foray forward, whilst we could tidy up everything Chelsea were trying.  We were on top.  

Frustratingly the linesman was determined to have us offside whenever we really looked like we were really going to threaten.  The other thing that was combining to stop us making the final mileage was that Gary Speed was having a stinker.  Talk about out of form.  Play consistently broke down when it reached him.  His performance even managed to make Danny Williamson look a bit good.

Neither side looked like scoring give or take an effort from Zola and a pathetic shot from Farrelly, but that gave the away side more reason to be upbeat.

Second Half

Having had such a good first half, we came out with a real self assurance.  Kendall made no changes at the half.  With this self-belief, Everton probed a bit more, getting increasingly adventurous.  Finally, it looked like we made the breakthrough when Ferguson absolutely bulleted a header against the post.  He would have doubled his tally this season if it wasn't for the wood work.  Costly.  

Chelsea immediately hit us on the break and I expected it to go wrong there, but Craig Short, yet again, shows how he is the number one Everton defender at the moment and tidied it up.

Chelsea brought on Hughes but that made little impression and the game, I thought, looked to be going towards a satisfying draw.  Phelan picked up a knock and so made way for Ball, but Michael looked confident enough to handle it.

If you're an Evertonian, thinking such thoughts is lethal. A Chelsea attack came from nothing, Ward slid in, he missed the ball, his slide continued and the Chelsea player took the extra step over his legs.  The referee pointed immediately to the spot, and I wouldn't argue with that one.  Wise, ran up and no amount of praying to the god Southall would change the destination of the ball. 1-0.

Cadamarteri and Oster where both introduced, but by then it was too late to make any real impression.  We tried to the very last, but ultimately where punished further for out unusually spirited effort.  Bilic supposedly brought someone down in the box, (though through my drunken haze it didn't look that bad), to rub it in the red card came out.  Slav left and shook a sympathetic hand with Kendall as we cursed the referee.  And so with practically the last kick of the game Zola completed the unreflective scoreline.

I left and joined the predictably monster queue for the tube wondering what hope there can possibly be for us when even when we put in as honest effort as this we get soundly defeated.

Individual Performances

  • Southall 7 - Not at fault
  • Ward 6 - Looked nervous, but did an adequate job.  Seems to have a good cross, the penalty was definitely a penalty though.  No evidence yet he offers anything not shown by O'Connor or Thomas.  Matt Jackson, get yer arse back over here!
  • Short 8 - At the moment he's playing like Bilic did when he arrived.  Commanding.
  • Bilic 7 - Good, worked well with Short, didn't deserve the red card.  We'll miss him during his ban.
  • Phelan 7 - Sound enough.  Hurt in the second half.
  • Hinchcliffe 6 - Usual story, hints of being useful coming forward, the very odd taste of something very good, then disappointing defending and unforced errors.
  • Speed 6 - Disappointing, particularly in the first half.
  • Farrelly 6 - Still not impressed with him, though he can tackle.  A very poor man's Joe Parkinson.
  • Williamson 7 - Thought this was his best game for yonks.  Possibly made to look better than he was by Gary Speeds errors.
  • Barmby 7 - Both him and Ferguson played well enough, but it was as individuals – they looked like nothing as a partnership.   Nick looked the second best of the two on this occasion.
  • Ferguson 8 - For my money, this was his best game of the season.  Popped up forward, back and midfield, cleared a ball off the line, held the ball up well and nearly, oh so nearly, put us in front.  One of those games where he suggested just maybe he could be worth his transfer fee.
  • Ball 7 - Assured display.
  • Oster & Cadamarteri N/A - too late to judge.

Not good enough for the Premiership
Paul Collyer
Everton started reasonably well, keeping the majority of possession in the first 20 minutes.  After about 10 mins, Farrelly broke down the inside right channel but blazed wide when a square ball to Phelan would have produced a great chance.  Chelsea got their act together a little but without any real threat to the Everton goal.

Half Time: 0-0

It became obvious that Chelsea (like Villa on Saturday) were there for the taking, and after about 55 minutes an excellent Mitch Ward cross was met by Ferguson, his header cannoning back off the far post!  Chelsea then woke up again, but still no clear openings for them.  

Another Ward cross was met on the half-volley by Ferguson but his shot was brilliantly turned over the bar by De Goey.  Then with 80 mins gone, and 0-0 inevitable, Ward brought down Di Matteo when there was no need and Wise buried the penalty.

Everton threw on the kids, Cadamarteri and Oster, but they barely got a touch (Oster nutmegging Babayaro!) when Chelsea hit us on the counter in injury time.  Flo forced his way goalside of Bilic, and just inside the area Bilic went for the slide tackle.  From where I sat, he made contact with the ball – it was an honest tackle.  Even Gullit was sympathetic to Slav in front of us.  But the ref sent him off for the professional foul and Zola put away penalty Number Two.

At the end of the game Howard Kendall shook hands with all his players before confronting the referee who had continually upset the Evertonians throughout the game, as had both linesmen.

  • Southall 7
  • Ward 6 (Good crosses, but lost us the game for us ultimately)
  • Hinchcliffe 5 (Not the player he was)
  • Short 8 (One of the few successes so far this season.Becoming something of a star)
  • Bilic 7 (Cool as a Croatian vegetable)
  • Farrelly 6 (Looks more promising than.....)
  • Williamson 5 (Who can't impose himself either in pass or tackle)
  • Speed 5 (Who clearly can't play Central Midfield)
  • Phelan 5 (Spends the whole time running fast, 20 yards either side of the halfway line, on the edge of the pitch!)
  • Ferguson 7 (Good player I believe, but gets minimal service from the wings)
  • Barmby 7 (Worked his nuts off, another good player but I don't think he and Ferguson will work as a front pair)
  • Ball 7 (Better than Hinchcliffe, and surely better than Carl Tiler)
  • Cadamarteri 6 (Didn't touch the ball in the 4 mins he was on)
  • Oster 6 (Apart from his nutmeg, ditto)

Team 6. Not good enough in the Premier League.

Not much fun being an Evertonian
David Catton
For 80 minutes we were in with more than a shout – in fact as the game wore on I thought we might just nick the 3 points.  A clumsy challenge against an opponent who was always going to make the most of it and that was the price we had to pay for missing the target with a couple of loose shots (Farrelly and Williamson) and a firm header against the post from Ferguson.

Once Wise scored from the penalty spot there seemed no way we would get anything – but a second penalty and a red card for Bilic put the cap on a very disappointing evening.  I bet it was a long journey home for the team as well as those who had to make it back to Merseyside.   I wonder if they ever think what efforts the travelling fans go to to watch them week in and week out?

The line-up was no great surprise and, if Ward really is a First Division journeyman, it shows what we've been putting up with having Barrett at right back all this time.   It's not that Ward was brilliant but he did things well enough to show what we've been missing.  His cross for Ferguson's near-miss header being a case in point.  

Bilic and Short held the middle at the back with Hinchcliffe tucking in on the left hand side. Bilic looked more interested than he has for a while and he was very unfortunate to be penalised for the tackle on Flo, let alone get sent off for it.  I overheard two Chelsea fans saying how surprised they were that it was a penalty – they thought it might have been a free-kick outside the area and they were just relieved that Bilic was sent off, even if they didn't know why.

Short coped well with Vialli but Hinchcliffe was disappointing – he even got a retrospective booking for encroaching at a corner.  As Paul Preston remarked at half-time, he wouldn't be a great loss with Michael Ball available.  We shall see.

In midfield Farrelly and Williamson played with fire and verve that we've not seen in that area half enough this season.  Speed tried hard but it wasn't his night and he gave the ball away through misplaced passes on many occasions.  Phelan hasn't enough footballing skill to play as a wing back who knows how to attack an opposing defence, so we were poorly served on that side of the field. He can run at them but nothing seems to come from it.

Barmby and Ferguson ran and harried but both have a tendency when they've come deep to collect the ball to play it forward and then stand and admire what they've just done rather than getting upfield to reinforce the attack.  They neither of them seem to be able to play off each other either.  Ferguson received another booking for a clumsy wrestling throw on Wise against whom the resulting free kick was given.

In goal, Southall made several of his usual superlative stops but also belted the ball upfield practically every time he got possession or had to take a goal- or free-kick.  Most often, as usual, the ball came pretty much straight back through midfield to put us on the defensive again.  I'd love to know what would happen if he played the ball out short on a consistent basis.   On one occasion when he did, he almost immediately got the ball back again inviting him to hoof it upfield.  Someone sitting near me said he was too old to change his habits. They're probably right but it grates just the same because otherwise he's still an extremely good goalkeeper.

Ball came on for Phelan and did well enough but by the time Oster and Cadamarteri replaced Hinchcliffe and Farrelly it was too late for them to make any impression; I'd be surprised to learn if Cadamarteri actually touched the ball in play.

The press reports I've seen suggest that it was a pretty turgid match but I thought both teams played moderately well and there was quite a lot of skill on display.  I don't think Chelsea were two goals better than Everton and Gullit would almost certainly have settled for a goalless draw as a reasonable outcome – we would!  

The facts are different, however, and our slide continues.  It's not that we're too good to go down; we probably are in terms of the quality of the playing staff but we're certainly playing badly enough to be dead and buried by Easter.

Now the question is how well will Spurs play on Saturday in response to the efforts of their new coach?

Everton: finely balanced on the hinge
Lydon LLoyd
A miserable night in London ended on an unexpectedly dismal note because, for 80 minutes of this much-dreaded encounter, Howard Kendall's beleaguered Everton were the better side and looked set for a valuable point.  However, to say that the visitors were marginally on top says more about how truly awful Chelsea were at times than how Everton had undergone some sort of midweek renaissance. If we had been comprehensively outplayed from start to finish and been beaten 2-0, I am sure that the pain we felt at full-time would have been considerably less than it ultimately was after we had just begun to think about moving off the bottom of the Premiership on goal difference.

There was genuine cause for optimism last night, at least in terms of a marked increase in commitment. But while there were glimmers of flames in Everton's bellies, the team still looked distressingly directionless and, yes, like a group of eleven men stripped of their confidence and floundering at the bottom of the table.  So, having gone from blaming the team for lacking fire this past week, who do we now blame for the fact that the midfield wouldn't know how to create a goalscoring opportunity if their lives depended on it?  Their lives don't depend on it but the future of this great club does.

First Half

My seat, four rows from the pitch and just above pitch level, made for a quite surreal experience. Debutante Mitch Ward was playing at right back on the far side of the pitch and it took around 10 minutes before I was convinced that it was not O'Connor.

Both sides were, to be frank, pretty awful for the remainder of the half but Everton hardly looked in any real danger of conceding to Chelsea's band of foreign stars. Vialli and Zola were well contained and the hosts were reduced to long-range efforts that rarely troubled Southall. The big man was called upon to produce the acrobatics once, palming away a heart-stopping effort from around 20 yards.  Di Matteo perhaps?  Everton seemed content to hit Chelsea on the break but there were never sufficient numbers up in time and Ferguson will never provide the sort of off-the-ball movement that Barmby was crying out for.

Farrelly went closest for the Toffees with a shot from the angle when he might have done better to cross.  Barmby was flattened when clean through down the left but the linesman (all three officials were absolutely diabolical throughout) refused to raise his flag.  He didn't hear the end of it until half-time either!  The interval came and the visiting fans stood to applaud their team off, as much for the fact that Everton weren't losing as the fact that there seemed to be some passion emerging out there.

Second Half

The half-time team talk by Kendall probably went something along the lines of "they're no better than you, lads" and it did produce a marked increase in commitment.  Tackles flew in, somewhat over-enthusiastically at times, and both Short and Ferguson picked up yellow cards.  However, greater endeavour still could not eradicate the fact that, going forward, there are no ideas other than get the ball to the full-back and launch an angled ball into the area for Ferguson.  Time seemed to slow down when Farrelly, Speed or Williamson had the ball going forward and you could feel the desperation of the fans as attack after attack was easily stifled by the Chelsea defence.  Not once in the entire 90 minutes did an Everton player get to the by-line — Not once!

In the 51st minute, lady luck gave Everton FC another kick in the testimonials.  A deep cross by Ward was met firmly by Ferguson but his fine header bounced agonisingly off the post.  A goal then would surely have guaranteed at least a point but it was not to be.  On such finely balanced things hinge entire seasons.  The next 20-odd minutes passed in a blur and it wasn't until the disastrous events of the 80th minute actually took place that I realised how close to a point Everton actually were.  One moment I do remember was Ferguson side-footing an effort from 12 yards out that Ed de Goey in the Chelsea goal turned spectacularly over the bar.

Roberto Di Matteo surged into the box, Ward lunged, the Italian crashed to the floor and 5,000 Evertonian hearts sank.  In slow motion the referee pointed to the spot and the home faithful, barely audible for 80 minutes, predictably came to life.  Dennis Wise thumped home the penalty and you knew there was no way back no matter how hard we tried.

Michael Ball was already on, having replaced Phelan 11 minutes previously, but Cadamarteri and Oster (the sort of players we looked as though we needed much earlier than their belated arrival) entered the fray at the expense of Hinchcliffe and Farrelly to give us the necessary attacking flair we would need if we were to have any chance of taking anything from the game.  

Ten minutes later it was all over. The gaps left by Everton's forward raids left substitute Flo one-on-one with Bilic.  The Norwegian turned the Croat and fell over Slaven's out-stretched leg.  From where I was sitting it looked as though it should have been in the box but referee Barry indicated a direct free-kick. Reaching for his pocket he sent off Bilic who put his head in his hands before trudging off to loud applause from the fans.  He didn't deserve to be dismissed but sadly the laws of the game interpret what happened as a professional foul.  Most importantly of all, Kendall (who stood on the touchline for much almost all of the second half) held out his palm and Bilic high-fived him warmly before throwing his head back and cursing (presumably in Croatian) at what he felt was his stupidity.

Back on the pitch, Zola netted the spot-kick and it was all over. Those Evertonians who weren't standing in stunned silence – I didn't move for what seemed to be an eternity – bellowed obscenities at the Chelsea fans who were savouring a victory they simply didn't deserve but only received cruel chants of "going down" in response.

Individual Performances

  • Southall: 7 - Not much to do except make one outstanding save and pick the ball out of the net twice late on.  Far too many long goal-kicks to Duncan's head but he may be on instructions to do those.  Who knows?
  • Ward: 6 - Got stuck in and emerged as someone who really can cross the ball well.  If only he could get to the by-line and not have to launch balls in from 40 yards out...  Desperately unlucky to concede the crucial penalty with a challenge that had "First Division player versus Italian international" written all over it.  As Kendall says, once he adapts to the pace of the Premiership, he should be a good squad investment.  But not at the expense of O'Connor.
  • Hinchcliffe: 5 - Mediocre, uninspiring and bereft of ideas from where I was sitting.
  • Short: 7 - Ripe for the captain's armband.  Continued his pleasing renaissance of recent weeks that makes him look more and more like a suitable replacement for Watson.
  • Bilic: 7 - Back to something approaching his commanding self and unlucky to get sent off – clumsy rather than malicious.  Made some other vital interceptions but the space that opens up in midfield is scary to watch – I would hate to have to defend in those conditions.
  • Phelan: 6 - The usual – loads of effort but ultimately ineffectual.
  • Farrelly / Williamson / Barmby: 6 - All tried hard but are the sort of players who will only thrive when the team is functioning better as a whole.
  • Speed: 6 - A shadow of last season's player.
  • Ferguson: 8 - Man of the Match for me.  Put himself about all over the place and came within inches of giving us the lead when he headed against the post.  I just wish he would move off the ball more.  There was one moment in the second half when Barmby was surging forward and looking for options. Ferguson was free but remained static and was closed down before Nick had the chance to pick him out. Further evidence that Duncan is becoming less and less the out-and-out striker came late on when Kendall ordered him to push up front but Ferguson ignored him and stayed in midfield.
  • Ball: 7 - Inspires confidence, appears as though he knows what he wants to do and does it and looks every inch a star for the future.
  • Cadamarteri / Oster: Not on long enough and neither had a look-in really.

Team: 7 for effort, 6 for the actual display.  We can play a lot better than this and only against Liverpool have I seen the team combine effort and good overall play to any effect recently.

Officials: 2 - absolutely awful.  The perfect example of why free eye tests should be reintroduced.

Blues dump Kendo flops
by a Daily Star journalist
SLAVEN BILIC put his war of words with Howard Kendall behind him last night in a bid to help Everton away from the bottom of the Premiership.  The Croatian defender had been told to shut his mouth by the under-fire manager after recent criticisms following Everton's dismal recent run.  But he blew the contract with a late foul and was sent off.  It allowed little Gianfranco Zola to smash home the penalty in the dying seconds and seal the points for the Blues after Dennis Wise had opened the scoring with another penalty ten minutes earlier.

In asking Duncan Ferguson and Nick Barmby to score the goals there was no place for Danny Cadamarteri, who was dropped to sub.  Barmby started brightly with the some strong runs from deep but his partnership with Ferguson doesn't look a happy one as the duo struggled.

Everton spent much of the half on the back foot as Chelsea moved forward with menace, although their final ball often let down their smart build-up play.  Still, the visitors had the first chance of the match when Ferguson's pass found Gareth Farrelly.  He had an option to square the ball to the unmarked Terry Phelan but chose to shoot and his effort was way off target.

Ferguson was back in the thick of the action mid-way through the half after a foul by Bilic gave Zola a free-kick chance.  The Italian's wicked effort beat Neville Southall, but Everton had done their homework and their centre forward was on the post to clear the ball off the line.

Southall was brought into action a moment later when a long ball from Steve Clarke fell to Roberto Di Matteo. He wriggled free and while hit shot took a nasty bobble, Southall cleared.  The following corner resulted in a looping header from Michael Duberry but while it went over the keeper, it also cleared the bar.

Andy Hinchcliffe was booked for dissent as Everton fought a desperate rearguard action knowing a point would take them out of the bottom three - with Spurs to play on Saturday.  But Wise smashed Chelsea ahead on 80 minutes from the penalty spot after Ward had hauled down Di Matteo.

Then came Bilic's moment of shame.

Report © Express Newspapers

Penalties heighten Everton's distress
by Matt Dickinson, The Times
ONE team finished last night's match at Stamford Bridge within touching distance of the summit of the FA Carling Premiership, the other despairingly rooted to its foot.  Yet, for most of this game, Chelsea and Everton were united in mediocrity and it must have been particularly galling for the Merseyside club that it took two late penalties to highlight the difference in fortunes.

The decisions in Chelsea's favour will not have surprised Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, for whom nothing is going right in his third spell at the club.  His team is spiralling into crisis, seemingly out of control.

With just one win in nine league games – relegation form by any calculation – Kendall can hardly claim that his side have reached this desperate plight by chance.  After 42 successive years in the top flight – a record surpassed only by Arsenal – their status among the elite is under threat as never before.

It was, though, impossible not to feel some sympathy for them last night as the draw for which they had battled hard, if without any great style, was surrendered by two moments of carelessness in the final 11 minutes.

What few good opportunities there were before then had fallen to Everton and they looked a safe bet for the point that would have lifted them above Barnsley in time for Saturday's meeting – or should that be relegation battle? – with Tottenham Hotspur.

Then Mitch Ward, otherwise solid at wing back on his debut, tripped Roberto Di Matteo as the Italian sprinted towards the byline.  Dennis Wise thumped the spot kick past Neville Southall.

Worse befell Everton two minutes into injury time when Slaven Bilic was adjudged to have tripped Tore Andre Flo.  If that decision was dubious, Neale Barry's decision to dismiss Bilic appeared harsh in the extreme.

Kendall's anger was such that he chose to keep his counsel after the game rather than risk an outburst.  Gianfranco Zola, after some discussion with Wise, was allowed to take the penalty.

The dismissal, at least, provided a cause to unite Bilic and Kendall who had publicly fallen out this week over defensive tactics.  The infighting is growing at Goodison Park and a small band of travelling supporters abused Peter Johnson, the club's chairman, at the final whistle.

"I am totally committed, I am not selling," he said.  "I have never thought we are a bottom-of-the-table team. I don't mind if the supporters shout at me, provided they do not get at the players.  We are all in this together."

What he can do to improve this team is hard to fathom.  The signings of Ward and Carl Tiler, from Sheffield United, are unlikely to soothe the terraces or the dressing-room.  It is an injection of confidence, rather than new faces, that is urgently needed.

Although Chelsea have climbed to third in the table, this was a game they could have lost, Gareth Farrelly squandering a wonderful first-half chance and Ferguson, who gave Michael Duberry a testing comeback after injury, heading against a post.

Chelsea's chances were barely worth noting and even the arrival of Mark Hughes, shortly after half-time, failed to spark life into their attacks.  It was a dreadfully laboured performance that will need to be much improved for Saturday's match against in-form Derby County.

"Don't peak too early," Ruud Gullit had ordered his players in his programme address last night, believing it will not be until the spring that his team hit their best form.  At least they followed one instruction.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

Chelsea move up on penalties
John Ley, Electronic Telegraph
EVERTON'S demise continued at Stamford Bridge last night when penalties by Dennis Wise and Gianfranco Zola in the last 10 minutes of a poor game left them anchored at the foot of the Premiership as Chelsea moved up to third place.  To add insult to injury, Everton had Slaven Bilic sent off for the second time this season for halting the run of Tor Andre Flo, which led to the second penalty.

It was cruel on Everton, who deserved at least a point, but surrendered that when Mitch Ward brought down Roberto Di Matteo and Wise converted the penalty.

Everton dropped to the bottom of the table on Saturday and after three consecutive defeats manager Howard Kendall has gone into action in an attempt to halt the slump.  Ward was making his debut on the right of Everton's midfield, having been signed initially on loan from Kendall's former club, Sheffield United.  His move, and that of another United player, Carl Tiler, will become permanent if Everton's Graham Stuart, can agree personal terms.

Chelsea, beaten at Blackburn on Saturday after four straight victories, decided to recall Gianluca Vialli, with the Italian starting a Premiership game for the first time in two months.  Back, too, was Michael Duberry, missing for a similar period through injury. Everton rested Danny Cadamarteri and from the early stages were under pressure.

In the 11th minute Dan Petrescu fed Frank Sinclair and the Chelsea player who has declared his allegiance for Jamaica – not surprising, with the prospect of playing in the World Cup – shot across the Everton goalmouth.  Later in the half Chelsea won a free-kick and Zola was denied a goal only by the massive presence of striker Duncan Ferguson, who used his huge frame to clear the shot off the line.

As time progressed Everton's hold became increasingly fragile and when Vialli broke wide on the right a goal seemed likely.  But the Italian shot across goal.  Yet with Chelsea labouring to break through Everton's defence, the visitors offered signs early in the second half that they might steal a goal.  Only the left post denied Ferguson when, in the 50th minute, he rose to meet a Ward cross and was unlucky not to add to only one previous goal this season.

Chelsea, sensing the need to bolster their side, made a double substitution soon afterwards. Mark Nicholls, who strained a groin muscle, was replaced by Mark Hughes, with Zola dropping back, while Danny Granville came on for Steve Clarke.

The changes, though, failed to spark a dour game, though Wise and Ferguson did their best to liven the affair. Wise fouled Bilic and was cautioned for the seventh time this season, and soon afterwards the diminutive Chelsea captain was hauled to the ground by Ferguson, who was also shown the yellow card.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

RESULTS  (Game 15)
Wednesday 26 November 1997
CHELSEA                 2-0    EVERTON                   34,148
Wise(pen:80) Zola(pen:90)

LEAGUE TABLE (after 26 November 1997 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            15    9    4    2   36   12   24   31
Blackburn Rovers             15    8    6    1   27   13   14   30
Chelsea                      15    9    1    5   31   17   14   28
Arsenal                      15    7    6    2   30   17   13   27
Leeds United                 15    8    2    5   23   17    6   26
Derby County                 14    7    2    5   28   20    8   23
Leicester City               15    6    5    4   19   14    5   23
Liverpool                    14    6    4    4   25   14   11   22
Newcastle United             12    6    3    3   16   16    0   21
Crystal Palace               14    5    4    5   14   15   -1   19
Wimbledon                    15    5    4    6   18   20   -2   19
Aston Villa                  15    5    3    7   15   21   -6   18
Coventry City                15    3    8    4   13   19   -6   17
Southampton                  15    5    1    9   18   23   -5   16
West Ham United              14    5    1    8   18   24   -6   16
Sheffield Wednesday          15    4    3    8   25   35  -10   15
Tottenham Hotspur            15    3    4    8   11   22  -11   13
Bolton Wanderers             14    2    7    5   10   21  -11   13
Barnsley                     15    4    1   10   12   40  -28   13
Everton                      15    3    3    9   16   25   -9   12

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© Michael Kenrick 1997
Last updated: 27 Nov 97