Everton Logo Everton 2 - 0 Coventry City
Half-time: 1 - 0
Sky Blues Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1998-99 – Game 33
Sunday 11 April 1999
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 32,341
« Sheffield Wednesday (h) Ref: Rob Harris Newcastle United (a) »
1998-99 Fixtures & Results League Position: 16th Premiership Results & Table
EVERTON: Campbell (29', 88') Materazzi
Coventry City:
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Myhre; Weir, Short, Materazzi (85' Sent Off!), Watson (c), Ball; Gemmill, Dacourt, Barmby; Campbell, Jeffers (86' Grant).
Unavailable: Hutchison (suspended); Bakayoko (International duty); Unsworth (ill); Bilic, Collins, Cleland, Dunne, Farrelly, Williamson, Phelan, Parkinson (injured); Gerrard (on loan).
Simonsen, Cadamarteri, Degn, Ward.
Coventry City: Hedman, Telfer (15' Aloisi), Shaw, Breen, Burrows, McAllister, Boateng, Soltvedt, Williams, Huckerby, Whelan. Konjic, Edworthy, Shilton, Kirkland.
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Gemmill (16'), Myhre (39'), Dacourt (51'), [Materazzi (67', 85')], Barmby (69'). Materazzi 85'
Coventry City: Boateng (33'), Huckerby (59').

Steve Bickerton 10 men against 12
Lyndon Lloyd Harris and assistants summarily booed off
Richard Marland A good relegation-fighting performance
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Campbell helps Everton hold with tradition
by William Johnson
THE INDEPENDENT Campbell calms the nerves
by Guy Hodgson
THE TIMES Campbell lifts Everton spirits
by Stephen Wood
THE EVERTONIAN Link to the Echo/Post Match Report

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

 10 men against 12
Steve Bickerton
The despair of the Sheffield Wednesday defeat was a long time in leaving me; in fact it hadn't left at all as I entered the ground. All we had to do, of course, was to win our remaining home games and we should be alright. I seem to remember going through the same mental acrobatics last year. Working out who played whom, what points they might achieve and how we'd fair over the same period.

At the end of the day, it was with a stark dose of reality that I considered a number of things:

  • How many home league games had we won this season so far? – answer: 3.
  • Of the remaining 3 how many did we need to win? – answer: 3.

Casting a look back to the same point last year didn't make comfortable reading, either. After all, we'd reached the mammoth total of 34 points after 32 games, then just scraped through with six points from the last six games and other results going for us. Even allowing for winning our remaining home games, we still have to hope other results go our way.

But that's the future, what of today?

The team sheet had a familiar look about it, save for the omission of Unsworth. Word on TV Everton was that he had a touch of flu and that he would have started otherwise. Word on the terrace was simple, bottle. In an interview on Sky Sports on Saturday, John Parrott, local snooker celebrity and Everton freak, had mentioned that Rhino was a neighbour of his and was so down over the backpass incident on Monday, he probably wouldn't be seen for a fortnight. He also mentioned that he had a spare £50,000,000 in his back pocket he wouldn't be trying to do what Bill Kenwright is trying to do and buy the club, called him a madman. But I digress again. I think I know the reason why.

The game started with a Coventry kick off and, attacking the Gwladys Street, within the first minute Myhre had been called upon to fingertip a ball around his post, diving at full stretch, from a Breen volley. The Coventry midfielder had stolen up on the far side of the Everton defence and found himself in acres of room, but fortunately Tommy was equal to the occasion. The game was scrappy early on with neither side really getting to grips with the fussiness of the referee, Mr Rob Harris, from the North East. Any physical contact at arm or shoulder level was immediately blown for, whereas ground level and aerial encounters were allowed to go unchecked. As a result we saw a stop start game in which Everton were invariably the guilty party in the eyes of the referee.

During the first period this pinickitiness saw verbal outbursts from both Gemmill and Myhre receive yellow cards. Both were bemusing incidents where a nudge or a pull from an Everton player had been punished, whereas a preceding poor challenge from a Coventry player received not so much as a "by your leave". It's bad enough in this situation to be playing eleven against eleven, but given the vagaries of some of the refereeing decisions this year, its almost as if there's a concerted effort to punish us out of the league. I'm sure its not the case and other teams must be suffering the same sort of weekly treatment by referees, its just that when it happens so often in front of your eyes you feel persecuted – the paranoia syndrome. What with that and the fear of the drop going hand in hand, its no wonder my finger nails are looking a little imperfect at the moment.

Nevertheless, the players stuck to the task in hand and Jeffers in particular was chasing everything he had every chance of winning, as well as lost causes. One of these lost causes saw him win the ball on the right and fire a ball across goal, which Barmby fired goalwards only for Hedman to pull off an outstanding save and push the ball past the post.

A free kick from Dacourt had also looked from my vantage point as if it was goal bound as it took a deflection, but the deflection, whilst leaving the keeper stranded, had gone away from the goal and not towards it. Coventry were still a danger going forward though, with Huckerby trying to beat the back line, but it held strong and when he did break free it was invariably accompanied by the raising of the linesman's flag.

After one such attack the ball was passed out of defence from Materazzi to Dacourt, playing more like his usual self today, who in turn fed Jeffers. Running on with the ball from just inside the Coventry half the teenager threaded the ball through the Coventry defence for Campbell. Still under pressure from a couple of defenders, the on-loan striker forced his way past the despairing Coventry keeper and from a tight angle slotted the ball into the empty net. At this point I waited for the inevitable decision against us, but it didn't come. Yes!! 1-0. Could we hold on though? After all, we'd been ahead in the previous two games only to lose them both.

We held on till half-time without too many problems. The motto at the back seemed to be a throw back to the old adage "If in doubt, kick it out". After the Sheffield Wednesday game there were few who objected to this.

The second half was a refereeing display of EPIC proportions – Exceptionally Poor, Inept and Cowardly. The crowd was behind the home side throughout and chivvied and exhorted them at every opportunity. But too often this encouragement was interrupted by a refereeing decision so poor it defied belief. It was both ways, as well. No doubt Gordon Strachan will have much to say about the quality of refereeing today and rightly so. Consistently, poor tackles were allowed to go unchecked and niggardly pulls and tugs were penalised.

One such incident was a booking for Dacourt, which will now result in him missing, by my calculation, the last three games of the campaign. He slid in to a tackle, sideways on and pushed the ball out for a throw. The players got on ready to take the throw only for the referee to stand with his hand in the air, motioning the incredulous Frenchman towards him. Head in hands Ollie knew this was his 14th yellow of the campaign, and all for an excellent tackle.

His anger was compounded later when in a centre circle incident he was elbowed in the face, in full sight of the referee. No action was taken and as he pulled the Coventry player back, expecting the free kick in his favour, the referee penalised Dacourt. He immediately berated the referee showing him his bloodied mouth. The referee ignored him completely, save for an indication that he should get some treatment.

The game was becoming more and more petulant as the referee allowed blatant fouls from both sides to go unpunished. He regularly penalised only the second tackle, the result of a retaliation in the main, rather than the first. Such an incident saw Barmby find himself on the wrong side of the referee's wrath, as he went in strongly, but fairly on a defender, to clear the ball into touch. Again the referee decided it was to be punished by a card.

Such was Materazzi's fate, too, as a seemingly clean challenge saw the referee reach for his card and pencil. Coventry were not spared his attentions, either with Williamson being cautioned for a first tackle on Barmby, just outside the box. Why the referee hadn't allowed advantage as we maintained possession through Gemmill, inside the box, I'll never know. Gemmill was scythed down from behind, for the referee to wave away protestations, indication that the ball, for once, was dead at the first offence.

Throughout the half we maintained our shape, though, never really allowing Coventry to press too much. Nevertheless, uncalled for offences just outside the box led to tense moments as McAllister lined up the free kick. Myhre was there to cover the shot, and we edged towards full time still leading.

Then came the point which could have turned the game against us. For once Huckerby was free and attacking down the right. He cut inside across, along the by-line only to be challenged by Materazzi who slid across him, just outside the box. But he missed the challenge, and Huckerby, only for Huckerby to throw himself across the prostrate Italian. No contact. Huckerby could have stayed on his feet and gone on with the ball. The referee reached for his card and Marco ran to the linesman to tell the referee that there had been no offence. No such luck. Off he went. He couldn't believe it. He sat at the side of the pitch as the game moved on. All the way back to the tunnel he kept shaking his head in disbelief. The crowd went bananas.

The Everton players were enervated by the decision, any flagging limbs now pumped full of energy. Barmby and Dacourt chased everything. No doubt Dacourt was counting his blessings as he, too, could have received his marching orders only a few minutes earlier, as a clumsy tackle in midfield saw the referee reach for his pocket only to withdraw it cardless when he saw who the offender was. Another example of inconsistency. Dacourt should have been off, if the referee had adhered to the rules. But that doesn't seem to happen much these days.

Walter then made a tactical substitution, Grant replacing Jeffers, to bolster the the midfield which had been weakened as Weir dropped back to cover for the missing Materazzi. Groans accompanied his arrival, but not for long as he pushed Everton forward feeding both Campbell and Barmby down the right, before in one incident, where both he and Barmby reached the ball at the by-line. He fed it to Barmby and the ball went back out to Gemmill and Dacourt as Coventry funnelled back to cover the danger. The ball came back to Grant and he reached the goal line and pushed the ball across the face of goal only for Burrows to scoop it out of play with his right hand. Penalty!! Wrong, corner!

The players protested, to no avail. Week in, week out, we seem to be losing out on these decisions.

Everyone dropped back for the corner, only Campbell and Weir staying forward. The ball was played short to Gemmill and then further back towards the half way line. Barmby, who'd taken the corner, stayed forward and at the crucial moment broke free of the offside trap onto a terrific ball from Grant and crossed the ball from the by-line. Campbell reached it before the keeper and the ball was flicked into the net. 2-0. "There's only one Kevin Campbell!!"

10 men against a seeming 12. Surely we had it wrapped up now? And we did. Cue final whistle, cue ritual booing off of an appalling referee. The Everton players stayed on the pitch at the end. Cries of "Ollie, Ollie,Ollie, Ollie" rang around the ground in appreciation of his efforts in a season which is coming to end for him.

Man of the Match

For once its difficult for the right reasons. Plenty to choose from. Kevin Campbell was outstanding, up front, taking a hammering on more than one occasion, but still having enough to pounce with two excellent goals. But he just misses out. Without the man I've nominated he mightn't have got those goals. I'm going to give it to the man who gave us that solidity at the back which allowed Dacourt, Barmby and Gemmill to express themselves, when allowed to by the referee. Take a bow, Dave Watson. Magnificent as a Captain, outstanding as a marshall. Extra-ordinary as an Evertonian.

Team Performance

Better than average, though not outstanding. The referee didn't help at all. Both sides suffered from some appalling decisions which ruined the game as a spectacle. But if Monday's defeat against Sheffield Wednesday ranked a 2 on a scale of 1-10 then this was a 6. We were considerably better.

My hopes for the future have now been raised. After today's display we can still do it. True we'll be without Barmby and Ball for the trip to Newcastle and we'll be missing Dacourt and Materazzi towards the end. But Hutchison is back and with only one game a week there's plenty of time for Waggy to recover between them. But the end game is nigh. We can't afford to let it go to the wire.

Harris and assistants summarily booed off
Lyndon Lloyd
The Bank Holiday defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday – and more specifically the embarrassing manner of it – meant that this vital match-up with Coventry was going to go one of two ways: either Everton would capitulate, sending themselves hurling headlong towards certain relegation, or the players would be galvanised and determined to avoid another humiliation at all costs. Thankfully, and to the relief and joy of the 32-odd thousand who attended this Sunday fixture, it was the latter but how we actually won the game, let alone by two clear goals defies the odds that were stacked against Walter Smith's side.

Pre-match attendance in the Netley was moderate and the theme continued in the warm-up in the ground where there was barely a chant until the players came out onto the pitch at five to three to the motivating roar that has become necessary at this time of the season. A good indicator of how confident the crowd feels is whether or not the side stands sing along with the Street and Park ends; today it was a case of "sing when you're winning", or more to the point, "when the players, fans and the club as a whole has been united against a common enemy.

Today, that common enemy was without question the referee, who was very definitely the worst match official I have come across in some two decades of watching professional football. By full-time it felt as though Everton FC had won a war they had no right to win because Mr Rob Harris from Oxford was seemingly hell bent on making a name for himself. Six bookings and a red card for Marco Materazzi later and Goodison Park had been turned into a subdued and nervy arena to an effervescent cauldron of unbridled anger and frustration. We are hearing about worst refereeing cases every month it seems but believe me when I say that this unknown was truly terrible. Rolf Harris would have made a better fist of it.

Walter returned to his favoured 5-3-2 formation with Weir and Ball as wing-backs and a central trio of captain Watson, Short and Materazzi, with Barmby, Dacourt and Gemmill in midfield and Campbell partnering Jeffers in attack. But the Blues were under threat immediately after Gary Breen was left in space on the right corner of the area and Myhre had to be at his best to palm away the Coventry midfielder's shot for a first-minute corner.

Having weathered that storm, Smith's men set about trying to grind Coventry down with a mixture of muscle and a non-too pleasing return to relying on the long ball at times. However, where Duncan Ferguson had a tendency to send his flicks straight to the opposition defence, Campbell appears remarkably adept at finding players and space with his headed efforts. On a few occasions he had the visiting defence in disarray with a well-placed flick-on, with Jeffers always on the look-out for loose balls.

While they were exerting adequate pressure, there was little in the way of clear-cut chances for Everton. A couple of direct free-kicks from outside the area offered hope but both Dacourt and Materazzi were unsuccessful from central positions. However, Marco was unlucky not to surprise Hedman at his near post with a blistering effort from the left edge of the box that fizzed into the side netting.

Coventry's threat came chiefly from balls knocked into the channels and attempts by Huckerby and Whelan to exploit the comparative lack of pace of Watson and Short. For the most part, however, the threat was contained, despite the best efforts of Mr Harris to swing the game Coventry's way. For Everton, the best chance of the half so far fell to Barmby when an inviting ball was cut across the area but his effort was brilliantly saved by Hedman.

Minutes later it was 1-0. A well-worked move on the edge of the area ended with Campbell muscling his way through the defence 12 yards out. The on-loan striker calmly rounded the 'keeper and slotted the ball into the empty net from the angle. Naturally, Goodison erupted and, immediately, thoughts turned to how the team would react to having to defend another lead. They managed to hold out until half time despite an increase in tempo from Coventry with the unknown quantity of the second half awaiting us. Referee Harris was already vying for the position of worst referee I've ever seen at half-time. In the second half he exceeded even his own incompetence.

Time after time he got decisions wrong, left reckless challenges unpunished and then called players up on niggly infringements that should have been ignored. The Bullens-side linesman was better in the second period after an awful first half when he failed to spot blatant fouls on Everton players and signalled corners that never were. Even Coventry's McAllister shrugged his shoulders at the crowd as jogged over to take a corner at one stage.

Unfortunately, Everton made the Goodison faithful sweat for much of the second half. Reminiscent of last season and a few games this, they lost their shape, sat back and let Coventry come at them. The midfield went AWOL and Weir regularly invited Burrows, Whelan and Boateng to sail past him – often to cut inside without so much as a challenge.

Huckerby and Whelan enjoyed quite a few runs at the defence but a combination of Watson's assured defending and Short's mixture of tenacity and fortune kept Strachan's men at bay. Chances were, again, few and far between with promising chances for Jeffers and Campbell closed down regularly by Shaw and Williams in the City defence. But Materazzi again had a chance from a belting free-kick go close, this time his left-footed effort was deflected agonisingly over the bar.

The final half an hour saw the match descend into farce with yellow cards flashing left, right and centre and the discipline of Everton's players falling in parallel. As referee Harris' decisions became ever more baffling, so the players and the crowd became equally incredulous and infuriated. You had to feel for the players who literally didn't know whether their next action would end with a yellow card.

Dacourt received the booking he has been trying to avoid – often at the expense of actually participating in recent matches – for what looked like a reckless challenge from my lowly position. Other reports suggest he got the ball, which he well might have done based on the referee's display, but the effect on the Frenchman was predictable; he sulked and whinged for the rest of the game, reducing his effectiveness at the same time.

Then it was Materazzi's turn. He was booked for what, again, to me looked like a clumsy challenge and then received his marching orders for sliding in on Huckerby who, by all accounts dived despicably in front of the Park End. Marco sprinted immediately to the linesman to protest his innocence but he was, predictably, red carded. He slumped against the advertising hoardings in dismay before being led back to the tunnel, all the while throwing his arms up in uncontainable frustration. The crowd shared his anger and vented it continuously until the final whistle.

The last 10 minutes were going to be nervy enough with 11 against 12 but with 10 men we feared the worst. However, Smith withdrew Jeffers and brought on Grant to bolster the midfield and it had the surprising effect of settling the side down. Grant began doing what Dacourt should have been; holding the ball in midfield and playing intelligent balls to the forwards. On one occasion he and Barmby both went for the same ball on the by-line ruining a superb chance to seal the game but the pair made up for it a few minutes later.

Grant fed Barmby with a clever pass and the Blues' No 8 beat Burrows before sliding a perfect ball across the 6-yard box for Campbell who looked to have scuffed the chance before poking it over the line to send Goodison wild. The knowledge that there was nothing the match officials could now do to deny us three precious points fuelled a party atmosphere inside the stadium. Barmby's joy was unconfined; he ran straight towards the Paddock, shaking clenched fists right in the face of the linesman. You didn't need to hear him to make out his very obvious suggestion that the linesman engaged in certain solo sexual habits behind closed doors!

The final whistle was met with an uplifting roar and Harris and his assistants were summarily booed off with a police escort, the cheers and applause left for the players to savour after a triumph over almost impossible odds. The result gives us three points breathing space after a good weekend of results but it is by no means over yet. We have to do it all again against Charlton and West Ham if we're to stay in the Premiership next season.

Individual performances:

  • Myhre 7 Did well when called upon and made a crucial save in the first minute to prevent an early goal for Coventry.
  • Weir 4 Dreadful. How this guy is an international defender defied belief. He did next to nothing defensively and all-too often left Coventry advances down the left unchallenged. He looked clueless, a rabbit caught in headlights.
  • Short 6 His heart was in it and he gave his all but he still gives Goodison the odd heart attack with a clumsy clearance or rash tackle.
  • Watson 9 Waggy was back to being a dependable rock. He should be knighted for his efforts in keeping this club alive in relegation scraps. He was everywhere he needed to be; a thorough, no nonsense display.
  • Materazzi 6 He has to control his temperament if he is to survive in the Premiership. You knew his red card was coming, even if it did come in controversial circumstances and Archie Knox was an animated sight on the touchline trying to calm him down from afar.
  • Ball 6 Still a way off his best but he did well when needed.
  • Barmby 7 As always, he was involved in most things we did coming forward, doing what Dacourt should have been doing more often.
  • Dacourt 6 For a player of undoubted talent, he is an annoyingly whingy sod. It got to a stage where I was hoping Smith would pull him off, either because he was little more than a passenger towards the end, or to prevent him from getting sent off. His deification by the fans does him few favours because I'm sure he feels he doesn't need to raise his commitment.
  • Gemmill 7 Put in loads of effort and showed some nice touches in midfield. He didn't always get it right but he was at least willing to create things in attack.
  • Jeffers 6 Ran for everything and was involved in a number of break-away attacks but he seems to have given up challenging for aerial balls, perhaps resigned to the fact that he won't win anything because of his size. He did chase a few lost causes but then let himself down by not closing the defence down on other occasions.
  • Campbell 8 Two goals, 100% commitment and some nice work in the air. He is also impressively strong on the ball, unlike another certain black gentleman who was away on international duty. A good acquisition, despite some people's refusal to give him a chance.
  • Grant 8 For the brief period he was on the pitch, he did very well. Created two chances, one for the goal, and his calming effect on the team was invaluable.

 A good relegation-fighting performance
Richard Marland
After the Sheffield Wednesday debacle it was critical that we didn't let another home game slip away from us. The crowd were undoubtedly ready for this one, the question was: Would the players be? One of the players who would undoubtedly be ready was the returning Dave Watson, after the defensive shambles of Monday his calming influence would surely prove to be immense.

Walter kept his tinkering with the team to a minimum, in fact there were only two personnel changes Ball and Watson coming in for Unsworth (stomach flu) and Grant (dropped to the bench). However Walter did introduce a change in formation as we lined up in everyone's favourite 5-3-2 formation. We lined up Myrhe in goal a flattish back five of Weir, Short, Watson, Materazzi and Ball, a midfield trio of Dacourt, Gemmill and Barmby with Jeffers and Campbell up front. On the bench we had Simonsen, Grant, Cadamarteri, Ward and Degn.

First Half

It was clearly a safety-first approach but with a fairly creative midfield and a lively front pairing it was a formation that always looked like it could pose a threat. However, before we had even settled down to our new formation we gave Coventry a chance. We were all over the place at the back and it ended up with Gary Breen getting a clear sight of goal, fortunately he is a defender and it showed in his shot. The moment didn't bode well but it was actually the only time we got caught out like that in 90 minutes.

That we didn't get caught out again must be credit to Dave Watson. From the stands it is difficult to see what he does, there is certainly no sign of any shouting or of anybody being "bawled out", he appears to do it by means of the quiet word and such is his personal authority at the club that that is enough.

After the initial scare we started to get ourselves sorted out. The defence all started to get into the game, the midfield trio worked well as a unit and Jeffers and Campbell were doing their jobs up front. To my mind it was very similar to the first half against Wednesday, we were competent without being exactly sparkling. We put together a few good passing moments, Nick Barmby even failed to convert a glorious chance after excellent work from Franny Jeffers.

We were by now having the better of the game it was just the usual question of whether we could stick it in the back of the net. It was Kevin Campbell who finally answered that question, a good move from the Blues released Campbell in the box, he took it wide of Hedman before finding the back of the net. It was a good finish and the celebrations in the stand and on the pitch showed just how important it was.

In the remainder of the first half we continued our good work. We intermittently threatened the Coventry goal and continued to look fairly secure at the back. We took our lead into the break and there could be no quibbles about us deserving it.

Second Half

With raw memories of the second half capitulation against Sheffield Wednesday I, like many others, faced the second half with some trepidation. Fortunately this time we defended with some resolve. The midfield worked hard throughout and the defence kept things simple, Short and Watson in particular used the row Z option on a number of occasions.

Any semblance of flowing, attacking play had flown out of the window. Nerves and tension were ruling the day. Our presence as an attacking force was virtually non-existent, Campbell and Jeffers were getting increasingly isolated and their main job was becoming that of harrying and closing down defenders.

It was during this second half that a developing sub-plot began to come increasingly to the forefront – namely the bizarre refereeing of Mr Harris. He had already come to our notice in the first half with a number of decisions that were just plain wrong and a worrying habit of favouring the Coventry players, particularly in aerial challenges.

First of all we got probably our last sighting at Goodison this season of Olivier Dacourt. A couple of transgressions had already got him noticed (rather harshly I thought as Darren Huckerby seemed to be making the most of any contact) when he made a rash challenge he didn't need to. I think his booking was for the accumulation of challenges rather than this one, but it was undoubtedly a challenge he didn't need to make and he really needs to learn when to tackle.

Next up was Marco, already booked he was confronted, near the touchline, by a flying Huckerby, Marco stuck his leg out, Huckerby went flying and Marco got the inevitable second yellow. I was too far away to see what had happened, but it now appears that there was no contact, Marco was undoubtedly harshly done to, but, like Dacourt, he really needs to learn how to avoid those situations.

This gave Coventry a life line they barely deserved, and made sure we would endure an extremely uncomfortable end to the game. Coventry did have some pressure, a couple of corners and free kicks but they came to nought, and despite some heart in the mouth goalmouth action Myrhe wasn't called into serious action.

Walter made a sensible tactical switch taking off the tiring Jeffers for Tony Grant. This meant Campbell playing up front on his own whilst Grant went to the right side of midfield. Grant proved to have quite an influence in the finale of the game. Firstly he won what should have been a penalty, he pushed the ball past Burrows who had gone to ground and the ball clearly hit the arm Burrows was now leaning on. The third game in succession we have been denied a clear penalty. The ball ultimately went out for a corner, for which the only man we sent up was Campbell, Grant took it short to Barmby and between them they cleverly engineered an opening for Kevin Campbell. From a tight angle he found the back of the net and we were safe.

It was nice to enjoy the remainder of the game without shrieking at the referee to blow for full time. Coventry never looked remotely like forcing a goal, and we ran out the clock to emerge deserving winners. It had been a hard-fought victory and it has to be noted just how poor Coventry were (having a hyper-active manager doesn't ensure player commitment as some people seem to think), but we did what we needed to do. We picked up three priceless points, we had stopped the rot of four successive defeats, and we gave a much needed confidence boost to both the players and the fans.

Individual Players

  • Myrhe 6 Fairly quiet day for him. I am worried by the number of occasions where he doesn't take charge of situations in the box. Despite that his handling was good and he was fairly secure with his kicking.
  • Weir 7 After an awkward start to his Everton career he appears to be settling down now. I still don't see him as a long term answer at right back but he is a good defender and uses the ball pretty well. He is definitely growing on me.
  • Short 7 Looks twice the player with Watson alongside him. Lots of solid basic defending, not pretty but precisely what is required at the moment.
  • Watson 8 His influence is truly amazing, rarely caught out, and, like Short, contributed lots of good basic defending.
  • Materazzi 6 I would like to think that he will become the defensive future of Everton Football Club, he certainly has the ability, but at the moment he is becoming something of a liability. I spotted at least one occasion when he played someone into trouble in our own box through over elaboration. We got away with it today. Was unfortunate with his sending off, but we had already seen Huckerby's propensity for falling over and maybe Materazzi should have approached him with more caution.
  • Ball 6 OK performance without doing anything startling.
  • Gemmill 7 Good, tidy little midfield player. Did the business today, proving to be a good buy.
  • Dacourt 6 Much more involved than against Wednesday but still some way short of his best. Having been so careful to avoid a yellow card of late was rather stupid to get booked today with a challenge he didn't really need to make.
  • Barmby 7 Another excellent display, involved in both goals and worked his socks off for us.
  • Campbell 7 Another who is proving to be a good buy. Two good, well taken goals and a decent all round performance.
  • Jeffers 7 Works really well off a player like Campbell or Hutchison. Showed up well in build up play, he rarely gives the ball away. His touch is good, his awareness is excellent and his work rate was commendable. He really does like he could be the "business".
  • Grant 6 Came on late and did well. Linked well with Barmby for the second goal.

Team 6 A long way from being a good footballing performance but this was a good relegation fighting performance.

Man of the match Could have been Campbell for his two goals, could have been Barmby for his contribution, but ultimately it has to go to Dave Watson for his influence as much as for his actual performance.

 Campbell helps Everton hold with tradition
William Johnson, Electronic Telegraph
COVENTRY used to be the team who amazed the nation by clinging grimly to elite status when all seemed lost. That dubious honour is now Everton's after a serious of narrow squeaks already this decade and this win yesterday that points them towards safety again.

There might be little sympathy if the Merseysiders were relegated next month after 45 years in the big time. They have had great escapes, two in final-day fixtures against Wimbledon in 1994 and against a relaxed Coventry last year.

There was nothing relaxed about Coventry yesterday. Gordon Strachan and his side knew that their own salvation could be secured if they capitalised on Everton's frayed nerves. They knew also that defeat would drag them back into the struggle for survival with five matches to go.

The grim realisation that all is not yet well sunk into the dejected Coventry ranks moments after Kevin Campbell brought the Goodison Park crowd to its feet by stroking in his second goal of a contest which was embarrassingly low on quality.

Campbell is on the verge of hero status as he attempts to fill the No 9 shirt vacated by the genuine idol of the fans, Duncan Ferguson. Nottingham Forest, who had to endure the Pierre van Hooijdonk fiasco partly as a result of allowing Campbell to move to Turkish side Trabzonspor last summer, must be wondering what he could have done for them.

His goals yesterday were priceless. Last Monday there was an unmistakable feeling of resignation all round the ground after the most basic of defensive errors had allowed Sheffield Wednesday's victory to plunge the Merseysiders into the bottom three.

Now, with matches against Charlton and Southampton still to come, there is a feeling of optimism which will not be misplaced if Walter Smith's players show the same degree of passion as they did here.

It was not pretty, but the desperate supporters do not mind that. They are clearly prepared to keep their obvious disenchantment under wraps until the long-awaited buy-out of former chairman Peter Johnson provides the much-needed injection of funds for the club to regroup and rebuild.

A significant leap over Blackburn and Charlton into 15th place was inspired by Campbell's penalty area awareness, the on-loan striker pouncing in the 29th-minute to give Everton a deserved lead and then swooping again in the closing moments to ensure that they held on to it in the face of an overdue show of prominence by the lacklustre visitors.

Coventry were handed a lifeline by referee Rob Harris, who crowned an erratic performance by sending off Everton defender Marco Materazzi six minutes from the end for what the Oxford official considered to be a second bookable offence against Darren Huckerby.

Smith, who saw four other Everton players cautioned, did not want to comment on the referee but suggested he would explore the possibility of an appeal on the grounds that Materazzi, whose performance typified Everton's new-found determination, made no contact in making his second brush with the opposing striker.

Despite their late show of pressure, Coventry rarely looked like snatching a point. As Strachan observed, after watching only defender Gary Breen force a serious save from Thomas Myhre: "There's no point in turning up if we're going to play like that."

It should have been more comfortable for Everton, who had several chances to move out of sight after Campbell took Nick Barmby's pass and rounded Magnus Hedman. The home fans were kept on tenterhooks until two minutes from time as substitute Tony Grant allowed Barmby to make another goal-providing pass to Campbell.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

Campbell calms the nerves
by Guy Hodgson, The Independent
So little has gone right for Everton this season they ought to take the first syllable out of Goodison but a little light shone on them yesterday. The pendulum has swung in favour of them escaping relegation.

Facing Coventry, the grand masters of escapology, Everton moved out of the bottom three places thanks to two goals from Kevin Campbell and, with matches against fellow strugglers Charlton and Southampton to come, their fate is in their own hands again.

It was not pretty – Everton rarely are – and both sides were ridden with anxiety but you could not fault the home side for their endeavour and sheer willpower to avoid conceding Coventry anything. They survived, three points intact, even though they lost Marco Materazzi, who was sent off for two bookable offences inflicted on Darren Huckerby.

"The main thing was the win," Walter Smith, who looks greyer by the week, said, "and we deserved it for our first-half performance. It was a bit tense at the end but we're delighted to get the three points.

"Losing to Sheffield Wednesday on Monday was a huge disappointment and I think we did well to get over that and play in the manner we did."

A bit tense? Monday had sent ripples of fear round Merseyside that Everton were about to lose their 45-year hold on the top division. It was not just that they lost to Wednesday, it was the manner in which the did it with two suicidal back passes that had "relegation" imprinted on the team.

Nervousness gripped the home side's every movement from the start and Gary Breen could have put Coventry ahead within a minute, Thomas Myhre tipping his low shot round the post to remedy the collective absence of attention by his defence.

A good side would have finished it off there and then but Coventry are not that and it was Everton who contrived to dominate the first half and should have emerged from it with more than a one-goal advantage to show for it.

After 23 minutes Francis Jeffers made the most of the linesman's generosity when it comes to offside and crossed perfectly for Nick Barmby. Inside the six-yard box and with only Magnus Hedman to beat a goal seemed certain, but somehow he hit the goalkeeper.

Five minutes later that lapse, which had seemed destined to be costly, was erased by Campbell's first goal for Everton since his loan transfer from Trabzonspor. Scot Gemmill and Barmby ushered the ball forward and Paul Williams, who has the build of Evander Holyfield but on this occasion the strength of watered-down beer, was brushed aside before Campbell went round Hedman and passed into the net.

You could almost see the nerves rise from the backs of the Everton players and they peppered the Coventry goal. Materazzi fired into the side-netting, Jeffers had a shot blocked by Hedman's legs and Campbell managed to locate no-one with a pass when it seemed a goal had to come.

So supine had Coventry been you had to anticipate an improvement and following a Gordon Strachan tongue- lashing they at least made a decent attempt to be competitive.

After 51 minutes Gary McAllister's free-kick missed the charging heads and bounced gently into the arms of Everton's goalkeeper Thomas Myhre and with nine minutes remaining Trond Egil Soltvedt dallied for ever when he dispossessed Dave Watson in the area and gave Huckerby too little time to deliver an accurate shot. Still, Coventry's stock in trade is picking up unlikely points in the spring and when Materazzi was judged to have clipped Huckerby for a second time – Everton are likely to appeal over the second booking – a familiar scenario appeared to be about to be played out.

Instead Everton scored again, Tony Grant delivering the cutest of passes through to Barmby who, in turn, found Campbell at the near post and his quick feet were enough to deceive Hedman.

"There's no point in us turning up if we're going to play like that," an angry Strachan said. "We wasted the first 45 minutes and although we improved in the second half Everton were worthy winners."

Coventry are worrying again while Everton have hope. Sounds familiar?

Report © The Independent

 Campbell lifts Everton spirits
by Stephen Wood, The Times
THE scenes which greeted Everton's first win in five matches yesterday, a victory which took them out of the bottom three in the FA Carling Premiership, were frenzied indeed. Players rushed to congratulate Kevin Campbell, the scorer of Everton's two goals, while the police were quick to provide an escort for Rob Harris, the latest referee to take centre stage.

The Oxford official saw fit to book seven players and five minutes from time, with Coventry striving might and main to force an equaliser, it appeared that one contentious decision too far could prove costly for Everton.

Darren Huckerby touched the ball past Marco Materazzi before falling to ground. If Everton escaped a penalty by a matter of inches, Materazzi did not escape his second caution, which brought dismissal. The Italian looked distraught, for Huckerby's tumble appeared somewhat theatrical.

Perversely, however, this setback spurred Everton to greater things and, with less than three minutes remaining, Campbell reacted quickest to a rebound to ensure three vital points. "Our margin for error is slight," Walter Smith, the Everton manager said, "so it was important to get our recovery back on track."

The roars from the Everton supporters mingled encouragement with emotion. These fans have more experience of relegation battles than many of the players.

Discounting a narrow escape from a shot by Gary Breen in the first minute, positive thinking served the home side well in the first half. Ball and Dacourt peppered the Coventry goal and Nicky Barmby was foiled by an instinctive save from Hedman when he had the goal at his mercy. With 28 minutes gone, however, Barmby made amends. He toe-poked a pass to Campbell, who is on loan from Trabzonspor, and the striker escaped the attentions of Williams before rounding the goalkeeper to score.

The Coventry players were adamant that Campbell had fouled Williams in the process and it appeared that they had a good case, but if this was the stroke of luck Everton have been seeking, they singularly failed to take advantage of it.

Campbell and Francis Jeffers both wasted good openings before the second half brought a turn for the worse. Whatever Smith says to his players at half-time, it seems to have an unsettling effect. They surrendered an interval lead to lose to Sheffield Wednesday in their previous home game and it appeared something similar was about to occur as Coventry heaped pressure on an increasingly brittle defence.

Aloisi twice went close, denied on the second occasion by an heroic piece of defending by Short. Williams fired a shot straight at Myhre and Soltvedt ballooned another good chance over the crossbar. The ball bounced around frantically in the Everton penalty area but Coventry were unable to apply the decisive touch.

In an encounter plagued by niggling challenges, it seemed inevitable that one player, at least, was going to be sent off. Dacourt tried in vain to claim that booby prize, although the one yellow card he picked up means that another suspension is heading his way.

Instead it was Materazzi who received his marching orders. Against Sheffield Wednesday, his mistakes cost his club dear. Yesterday, the Gods were kinder and after two successive victories, Coventry were reminded that Nationwide League football still remains a possibility.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 RESULTS  (Game 33)
Saturday 10 April 1999
Aston Villa           3-0  Southampton              32,203
Draper 13, Joachim 66, Dublin 88                       
Blackburn Rovers      P-P  Manchester United        Postponed
Derby County          1-0  Nottingham Forest        32,217
Carbonari 85                                      
Leicester City        0-0  West Ham United          20,402
Middlesbrough         2-0  Charlton Athletic        34,529
Ricard 35, Mustoe 60                                 
Sheffield Wednesday   P-P  Newcastle United         Postponed
Tottenham Hotspur     P-P  Arsenal                  Postponed
Wimbledon             P-P  Chelsea                  Postponed
Sunday 11 April 1999
Everton               2-0  Coventry City            32,341
Campbell 29,88                                    
Wimbledon             1-2  Chelsea                  21,577
Gayle 88                   Flo 24, Poyet 53                

Monday 12 April 1999
Leeds United          0-0  Liverpool                39,451
Wednesday 14 April 1999
Middlesbrough         0-0  Chelsea                  34,406

 LEAGUE TABLE (after 14 April 1999 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            31   18   10    3   70   32   38   64
Arsenal                      32   17   12    3   43   13   30   63
Chelsea                      32   17   12    3   47   24   23   63
Leeds United                 32   16   10    6   52   28   24   58
Aston Villa                  33   13   10   10   44   39    5   49
West Ham United              33   13    9   11   34   40   -6   48
Middlesbrough                33   11   14    8   44   41    3   47
Derby County                 32   12   11    9   36   36    0   47
Liverpool                    31   12    8   11   57   41   16   44
Newcastle United             32   11    9   12   43   46   -3   42
Wimbledon                    33   10   11   12   37   50  -13   41
Tottenham Hotspur            31    9   13    9   35   37   -2   40
Leicester City               31    9   12   10   32   39   -7   39
Sheffield Wednesday          32   11    5   16   38   36    2   38
Coventry City                33   10    7   16   34   45  -11   37
Everton                      33    8   10   15   28   41  -12   34
Charlton Athletic            32    7   10   15   34   43   -9   31
Blackburn Rovers             32    7   10   15   32   43  -11   31
Southampton                  33    8    6   19   28   60  -32   30
Nottingham Forest            33    4    9   20   30   65  -35   21

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Last updated: 14 April 1999