Blackburn Rovers Logo Blackburn Rovers 1 - 2 Everton
Half-time: 1 - 1
Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1998-99 – Game 28
Wednesday 10 March 1999
Ewood Park, Blackburn
Att: 27,215
« Newcastle United (a) Ref: Paul Alcock Arsenal (h) »
1998-99 Fixtures & Results League Position: 15th Premiership Results & Table
Blackburn Rovers: Ward (2') Sub: Phil Jevons
EVERTON: Bakayoko (15', 65')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used
Blackburn Rovers: Filan; Davidson (81' Jansen), Peacock, Henchoz, Davies, Wilcox, Duff, Johnson, Croft (50' Marcolin), Ward, McAteer. Taylor, Coughlan, Williams.
EVERTON: Myhre; Weir, Short, Dunne, Materazzi, O'Kane (71' Branch); Unsworth, Ball, Barmby (38' Jevons); Hutchison (c), Bakayoko (86' Grant).
Unavailable: Dacourt (suspended); Oster, Collins, Bilic, Cleland, Ward, Williamson, Phelan, Parkinson (injured); Degn (sick); Gerrard (on loan); Milligan (International Duty).
Simonsen, Jeffers.
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Blackburn Rovers: Johnson (27')
EVERTON: Dunne (23')

Steve Bickerton Humble Pie with mustard, please
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Bakayoko brings down Blackburn
by William Johnson
THE INDEPENDENT Everton move to higher ground
by Dave Hadfield
THE TIMES Bakayoko deepens Blackburn plight
by Stephen Wood
THE EVERTONIAN Link to the Daily Post Match Report

THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

 Humble Pie with mustard, please
Steve Bickerton
Arriving at the ground a little over five minutes before kick-off (the revised time of 20:00) it was a case of straight up to our seats. A terrific view from the upper deck had us right behind Tommy's goal and no-one in front of us (last seats before some steps). What a nightmare that promised to be, just two minutes into the game. But I am getting ahead of myself...

I'd heard the team announced on the car radio coming up to the game and had pictured us going back to 5-3-2, with so many defenders on the teamsheet, but I was more than a little surprised to see the line-up: 4-4-2 again, with 6 players who've played at centre-back this year on the field! Defensive in the extreme, especially against a side struggling to find their way after an early upswing in form at the start of Brian Kidd's reign.

At least it wasn't a defensive bench – Walter expecting to have to chase the game at some point?

FIrst Half

The away crowd was in fine voice, and the game kicked off with a little bit of nothing in the middle. Suddenly Blackburn managed to get the ball out wide to Wilcox and he brushed aside O'Kane and Dunne to deliver a peach of a cross, with no-one on the end of it except Tommy. Except that Tommy wasn't there and, despite the best endeavours of Ball who'd chased over from the left, Ward managed to bundle the ball into the undefended net with the keeper wondering how he'd failed to reach it.

Two minutes in and we're behind. I could picture the headlines already. Nightmare! Lifting my head from my hands I listened to the locals baying for blood. Blue blood (or to be more precise, yellow blood). Up went the cry "an' if, yeh know, yer 'istory....". Up went the heads of the boys in yellow.

The left-hand side of the pitch (from my vantage point) seemed filled with bodies at times. Both sides seemed to be falling for that schoolboy syndrome of everybody trying to play on the same square yard of turf. Yet there were signs that we could actually get back into the game. Ball, (despite the attentions of Johnson, who clearly should have been booked, at the very least, for an awful charge from behind which saw Ball laid out flat, head down and off the field of play as a result), Materazzi and Hutchison seemed to have some sort of telepathy going so that each of them was able to pick out any one of the other two at will. But it seemed to come to nothing until we managed to swing the ball out to the right were, time after time, O'Kane was lurking in acres of space, or Bakayoko was making himself available in the middle.

Twice Bakayoko broke through, the first saw him stride into the box and try to deceive the advancing Filan by placing the ball under him (and failing) and the second unleashing a fearsome drive from just outside the box, only to see Filan somehow claw it away for a corner. Barmby, too, went close, but images of the Wimbledon game, shots on target, but not beating the keeper, came into my mind.

Then came a corner, on the left. It sailed across, Weir flicked it on and Bakayoko rose at the far post to nod it past the keeper. We were back in it and the home fans' groan was clearly audible. In the lead up to the goal we'd enjoyed a large amount of both possession and control. As soon as that equaliser went in we eased off the gas. The pace of the challenge was reduced, the urgency on the ball was gone.

We allowed Blackburn back into the game. But they didn't really have a cutting edge. Materazzi was immovable and implacable at the back. Ward didn't stand a chance. Short, an early error of judgement apart, when he expected Tommy to race out and he didn't, had Davies under control. Ball was showing us exactly why we rate him so highly and Unsworth was everywhere. Nevertheless, Dunne still managed one outrageous tackle that saw him find his name adorning the pages of Mr Alcock's notebook. The challenge which saw Barmby go off with an injured leg went unpunished. Jevons was given the opportunity of replacing him.

Half-time came with us comfortable at 1 - 1, despite allowing them more of the ball than they deserved. It was at half-time that I took the time to watch the giant TV screen at our end of the pitch. Highlights of the first half were promised. What got was interminable replays of the Blackburn goal – weren't there two scored in that half? Or are there too many Blackburn fans for whom reality just can't be faced?

The second half saw Blackburn come out all guns, well, not exactly blazing, more firing caps really, but at least aiming at the goal, we found ourselves pinned back regularly. The was one moment of farce, when Ball carried the ball over the deadball line after a terrific tackle, only to see the referee point for a goal kick, completely overruling the assistant who was no more than a yard from the incident.

Waving away the objections of the home crowd and the Blackburn team Mr Alcock (-up!) raced towards the halfway line only to see the assistant refusing to move from his position adjacent to the corner flag. The referee than jogged back to the corner flag, had a word with his linesman and then overruled himself.

It was pitiful and summed up his ineptitude completely. All too often he let things go for which any other referee would have been showing cards left, right and centre. Throws not being given when the ball went out of play and the erratic use of the offside rule were characteristic of the performance of the entire three man team of officials. At least it didn't seem to be to the advantage of one side or the other.

Then, twenty minutes into the half we broke, for the umpteenth time, but this time it was with purpose as Hutchison drilled a perfect ball through for Bakayoko to chase. And chase he did, gone was the languid movement associated with him of late, tonight it was determination and belief. Coolly he slipped the ball past the advancing keeper and into the net. We were ahead! "The Royal Blue Jersey" rang around the Darwen End as the away support went wild.

After that we kept on pressing. Bakayoko tried to get onto the end of another chance only to see himself edged out of it by a despairing headed challenge from a defender, who landed awkwardly and damaged a shoulder, it appeared. Several minutes later, after first aid treatment, he was carried off on a stretcher. Mr Alcock added 5 agonising minutes for that and other stoppages. And agonising they were, as we missed more chances to extend the lead.

Branch, replacing O'Kane (a change which saw Hutchison move back into midfield), missed in a similar fashion to the first of Bakayoko's misses in the early stages of the game. The keeper's save rebounded to the energetic Bakayoko, only for him to slice it wildly wide. Another chance went begging as a terrific cross from Ball was headed goalwards from the back post, only to see it scrambled away (with a hand) from off the line by Peacock. Linesman and referee were both unsighted and there wasn't much of an appeal from the Everton team, but it couldn't have been plainer from my point of view.

Towards the end, Bakayoko was withdrawn and Grant came on, to shore up the midfield and protect what we had. Still, though, Duff was instrumental in pushing Blackburn forward. Appeals for handball by Short (or was it Materazzi?) went unheeded (reciprocation for the earlier non-decision?) and Blackburn were denied towards the end by two great saves from Myhre, as the midfield panicked and allowed pressure to be poured onto the defence.

It was during stoppage time that Marco went down like a sack of potatoes in our box. I had thought that it was under a challenge and an elbow from Ward. The referee again sprinted for the centre circle having given a goal kick, and then had to make his way back to the by-line to see what was wrong. Tommy bent down and picked something up off the floor and handed it to the referee – a missile of some sort, perhaps? Marco went off and missed nearly two minutes of the five added on as we played with ten men. But we managed to keep them out and three precious points were ours.

Rhino charged down to the away fans, to signify his delight at the result. Pumped up wasn't in it! The teams left the pitch, only Marco and Andy Jones the physio remained. Marco insisted on walking the length of the field, despite appearing dazed, and thanked the crowd for their support. Cries of "Marco! Marco!" rang out.

The second obvious thing about the game that I failed to take account of was that, just as you make an opinion public (from my Newcastle report – "As for Bakayoko, I think I've now seen enough to believe he just won't cut the mustard."), something is going to happen to make you eat humble pie. Can I have mine with that slice of mustard please?

Man of the match: There was much to be admired in the performance of Bakayoko, not least of all his two goals. Some of his passing though was still poor, so that causes me to pass over him and give the award to the classiest defender I've seen in an Everton shirt since Kevin Ratcliffe – stand up and be counted, Marco Materazzi.

Team Performance: Overall it was probably no more than adequate. In fairness, with seven defenders in the side and a midfielder playing centre-forward, we couldn't expect much more. But we must count ourselves fortunate that Blackburn looked so much poorer than us. Their inadequacies caused us to look almost proficient.

 Bakayoko brings down Blackburn
William Johnson, Electronic Telegraph
IBRAHIMA Bakayoko's first goals for nine weeks endorsed a spirited performance by Everton, who recovered from the surprise of a second-minute set-back to record an important victory over relegation rivals Blackburn.

After Ashley Ward had given Rovers hope by scoring from their first attack, Everton took charge, restoring parity through the head of their marksman, then claiming all three points when Bakayoko burst through to shoot home confidently.

Everton packed their team with defenders in a determined effort not to lose but within 93 seconds, their rearguard had been breached, Jason Wilcox escaping down the left to deliver an inviting cross for Ward to bundle into an unguarded net.

Bakayoko had wasted his first opportunity by shooting straight at John Filan, and his emergency partner Don Hutchison headed just wide before the two of them combined to telling effect after 15 minutes.

Hutchison's corner to the near post was inadvertently flicked on by a Rovers defender for the Ivory Coast striker to leap unchallenged at the far post and score.

Blackburn would have been in arrears at the interval but for Filan's positioning to stop shots from Nick Barmby, who later limped off injured, Hutchison and Bakayoko.

Everton retained the initiative during the second half and were twice close to snatching the lead through headers by Hutchison and David Unsworth before Bakayoko's second gave them a precious advantage.

Hutchison's astute first-time pass carved open a flat Rovers defence and Bakayoko showed great composure to wait for the advancing Filan to commit himself before threading a shot into the far corner.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 Everton move to higher ground
by Dave Hadfield, The Independent
Ibrahima Bakayoko's form for Everton has been too patchy for him to be regarded as one of this season's successful Premiership imports, but he scored two goals at Ewood Park last night that could prove invaluable in the long term.

Trailing to an early goal, Everton chased the game with great determination and a strike from Bakayoko in each half widened the gap that separates them from Blackburn and danger at the foot of the table to one that begins to look wide enough to allow them to escape.

The match was one neither side could contemplate losing, underlined by the Toffees' line-up which featured no less than seven specialist defenders. For Blackburn, the continued absence of the suspended Chris Sutton produced one of their less frequently seen striking options, the combination of Kevin Davies and Ashley Ward.

It took less than two minutes for Ward to find a way past Everton's massed ranks, meeting a cross whipped in by Jason Wilcox and putting it past Thomas Myhre at the second attempt. So much for any thoughts of playing for a goalless draw.

A flicked header from Ward on the near post when he connected with Gary Croft's dangerous cross almost embarrassed Everton again, but this time Myhre managed to get a hand to it. At the other end, Bakayoko had a golden opportunity to equalise when clear through on goal but shot straight at John Filan.

Bakayoko was finding plenty of space and threatened to do better when presented with a second opening, his shot this time deflecting off the leg of Darren Peacock for a corner.

On the quarter hour, Bakayoko's one-man siege paid off. A Don Hutchison corner was flicked on by David Weir at the near post for the Ivory Coast striker to head into the roof of the net. The tackles were also flying in and Damien Johnson and Richard Dunne went into Paul Alcock's book.

Blackburn's injury list lengthened further when Gary Croft was taken off on a stretcher five minutes into the second half.

Everton continued to make the better chances, Bakayoko almost getting on to the end of a through ball, and Hutchison glided in a deft little header that tested Filan.

Everton finally got the second goal they deserved after 65 minutes when Hutchison fed Bakayoko with an instinctive first-time pass and the African's finish was clinical.

Report © The Independent

 Bakayoko deepens Blackburn plight
by Stephen Wood, The Times
FOR months, it has been said that things could not get worse for Everton. Perhaps last night was the occasion when the optimists were finally vindicated, for the the players stared misery in the face once more and managed, in tense circumstances, to turn the other cheek.

Their third victory in 13 FA Carling Premiership matches lifted them five points clear of the relegation zone and underlined the seriousness of the situation for Blackburn Rovers. After an encouraging start to his managerial tenure at Ewood Park, Brian Kidd appears to have lost his magic touch at the worst possible moment.

A number of Kidd's players sank to their knees at the final whistle. They had spent the last few minutes of the match searching in vain for an equaliser, but, while their lack of commitment was never in question, the quality that was needed to break down a visiting team packed with defensive players was in scant supply. Indeed, much of the evening was anathema to entertainment, although, with so much at stake, that was no surprise.

For Walter Smith, the Everton manager, it was a rare moment of triumph. He displayed as much bombast as he can muster when he said: "I was pleased with the result. We showed great character after conceding an early goal and the players can be proud of the approach they took."

Smith's team selection erred on the cautious side, so aware was he that his players could not afford another morale-sapping defeat. Typically, therefore, Blackburn took barely 90 seconds to waltz through the visitors' rearguard action and open the scoring.

Kevin Davies delivered a pass to Wilcox on the left wing. The Blackburn captain raced down the touchline and crossed at speed to Ashley Ward, who bundled the ball into the net.

Thereafter, Blackburn retreated and Everton responded. Ibrahima Bakayoko, the Ivory Coast international, was denied twice in quick succession by Filan, the Blackburn goalkeeper, before he made it third time lucky. With 15 minutes played, Everton won a corner and, from it, David Weir flicked the ball to the far post, where Bakayoko was waiting to head home from two yards out.

Bakayoko has been a disappointment since his arrival from France last autumn, but his performance here displayed determination and work-rate that had been hitherto unseen. His reward was to score the winning goal, 20 minutes into the second half. Unsworth, playing again in midfield for the visitors, hit the crossbar with a header, but Bakayoko turned their frustration into elation.

He exchanged passes with Hutchison and, leaving the Blackburn defence trailing, drew Filan before calmly lifting the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

In the final ten minutes, Branch, the substitute, and Bakayoko both missed chances to put the result beyond doubt. Blackburn became increasingly desperate. Convinced that they should have had a penalty, claiming that Materazzi had manhandled Davies in the area, Davies tried to persuade Paul Alcock, the referee, that foul play had occurred again moments later. He fell under an innocuous challenge by Dunne, the Everton defender, but Alcock resisted the home side's pleas.

To steer his side out of the bottom three is now a massive task for Kidd. He helped his side put together an 11-match unbeaten run after taking on the job, but that has been followed by a run of six matches without victory.

Moreover, the injuries, illness and suspensions that have lingered over Ewood Park all season have returned with a vengeance. Last night, Gary Croft, the young defender, suffered a dislocated shoulder.

"I have always maintained that it is not worth moaning about," Kidd said, "but it is becoming increasingly difficult, especially when you know that the long-term casualties have little chance of coming back before the end of the season."

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 RESULTS  (Game 28)
Saturday 7 March 1999
Coventry City         2 - 1  Charlton Athletic     20,259
Whelan 67, Soltvedt 85       Robinson 55
Southampton           1 - 0  West Ham United       15,240 
Kachloul 10
Wimbledon             0 - 1  Leicester City        11,801 
                             Guppy 6
Tuesday 9 March 1999
Arsenal               3 - 0  Sheffield Wednesday   37,792
Bergkamp 83,88, Kanu 86

Wednesday 10 March 1999
Blackburn Rovers      1 - 2  Everton               27,219
Ward 2                       Bakayoko 15,65
Derby County          2 - 1  Aston Villa           26,836
Baiano 17, Burton 21         Thompson 44
Leeds United          2 - 0  Tottenham Hotspur     34,521
Smith 42, Kewell 68
Nottingham Forest     1 - 2  Newcastle United      22,852
Freedman 45                  Shearer pen:45, Hamann 73

 LEAGUE TABLE (after 10 March 1999 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            28   16    9    3   63   29   34   57
Arsenal                      28   14   11    3   38   13   25   53
Chelsea                      27   14   11    2   41   22   19   53
Leeds United                 28   13    9    6   43   26   17   48
Aston Villa                  28   12    8    8   39   33    6   44
Derby County                 28   10   11    7   28   26    2   41
Wimbledon                    28   10   10    8   32   38   -6   40
West Ham United              28   11    7   10   31   39   -8   40
Liverpool                    27   11    6   10   50   34   16   39
Newcastle United             28   10    8   10   37   37    0   38
Tottenham Hotspur            28    8   12    8   33   34   -1   36
Sheffield Wednesday          28   10    5   13   35   30    5   35
Middlesbrough                27    7   12    8   34   39   -5   33
Leicester City               27    8    9   10   27   36   -9   33
Everton                      28    7   10   11   22   30   -8   31
Coventry City                28    8    6   14   30   39   -9   30
Charlton Athletic            28    6    9   13   32   39   -7   27
Blackburn Rovers             28    6    8   14   28   40  -12   26
Southampton                  28    7    5   16   27   53  -26   26
Nottingham Forest            28    3    8   17   23   56  -33   17
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Last updated: 10 March 1999