Everton Logo Everton 0 - 0 Derby County
Half-time: 0 - 0
Derby County Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1998-99 – Game 19
Saturday 26 December 1998
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 39,206
« West Ham United (a) Ref: Stephen Lodge Tottenham Hotspur (a) »
1998-99 Fixtures & Results League Position: 14th Premiership Results & Table
Derby County:
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Myhre, Unsworth, Dunne, Bilic, Materazzi, Ball, Dacourt, Collins (86' Branch), Hutchison (c), Bakayoko, Cadamarteri (70' Barmby).
Unavailable: Watson, Williamson, Phelan, Parkinson (injured); Gerrard, O'Kane, Spencer (on loan).
Short, Grant, Simonsen.
Derby County: Poom, Carbonari, Powell, Wanchope, Delap (45' Harper), Laursen (76' Hunt), Prior, Carsley, Elliott, Eranio, Kozluk. Hoult, Sturridge, Bridge-Wilkinson.
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Unsworth (35'), Materazzi (84'), Myhre (84').
Derby County: Elliott (14'), Carsley (19'), Delap (29').

Mark Staniford Dull, Dull, Dull...
Steve Bickerton Will this wind do the job?
Martin O'Boyle Its a Dad's Life at Goodison Park
Jenny Roberts Constantly flagging up-front
THE SUNDAY TIMES Warning signs flash for goal-shy Everton
by Graham Otway
Everton dull the senses
by Jon Culley
THE TIMES Same old record wearing thin at Goodison
by Stephen Wood
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Everton drought at home goes on
by David Horridge
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

 Dull, Dull, Dull...
Mark Staniford
When the highlights of the match can be summed up in just two incidents, you know that you have been to a dull game. The scoreline summed up the entertainment provided to the fans this afternoon. I must admit that I would have been very upset if I had been a Derby fan and had spent time and money on being at Goodison Park today. It was bad enough travelling 5 miles.

The force nine gale and driving rain did not help, but they could not hide the fact that both sides were woefully short of inspiration. Everton’s powder-puff strike-force drew their eleventh blank of the season in a game that was crying out for a goal to inject a bit of direction.

Ibrahima Bakayoko’s deflected shot in the eleventh minute was the closest Everton came all afternoon. It brought a breathtaking save from Estonian Mart Poom in the Derby goal. The only other bright spots for Everton were the performances of Slaven Bilic and Marco Materazzi in the heart of the Everton defence.

As a defensive unit the Blues are looking hard to beat but the lack of goals are becoming a huge cause for concern. David Unsworth was lucky to stay on the field having pulled back Wanchope when clean through on goal. The resulting free kick provided the Rams best chance when Myhre could only parry Carbonari’s free kick. The ball fell at the feet of either Powell or Wanchope (it’s hard to tell from 80 yards away) but he could only fire over from close range.

The football we had stated to play on the floor since Ferguson’s departure was absent today. I only wish that I had been as well.

Visit Speke from the Harbour

 Will this wind do the job?
Steve Bickerton
Before today's game, a non-footballing nephew of mine, who was making his usual Christmas safari from deepest Cheshire, asked me a simple question: "How will you get on today?"

The answer was equally short, yet optimistic: "If we score, we'll win".

"Bit of a non-statement, that" he replied, "after all, isn't that the point of the game?" He continued by reciting one or two other famed footballisms: "Six inches the other side of the post and it would have been a goal." ... "If we'd have scored then, it would have been all over."

I had to grant him that it was, indeed, one such comment, but tried to defend my use of the footballing cliche. This was Everton, we were talking about. A team, allegedly, so bereft of attacking ideas that we often defeated ourselves, the moment we stepped on the pitch. A team without a spine, according to the press. This was "struggling Everton" according to Teletext, who will play "resurgent Spurs" on Monday – wasn't there but a point between the two teams before they played Derby County and Coventry respectively today?

I tried to explain the delight of those rare highs, the desperation of the lows; what it meant, above all, to be Blue, in the face of all logic.

But words wouldn't convey it. Today's match might have done.

With a near full squad to choose from, Walter stuck with the 5-3-2 he seems to favour. His midweek comments – about Barmby's return to fitness being a sign that the best was yet to come from the midfield, with 5 (the aforementioned Barmby, Dacourt, Hutchison, Grant and Collins) competing for 3 places – indicates the way he is thinking.

I'd already selected the side myself, but was again aghast to see that the teamsheet had Dunne at right wing back. What on earth has Cleland done to Walter? Reports from last week suggest his lack of performance might have been down to being played on the left, but in his previous game he'd been outstanding. Is there an undercurrent there? Was there something in the manner of Cleland's leaving of Rangers, which brought a sour taste to Walter's mouth? Or am I missing something? Probably!

Anyway, the team:

In goal:
A shorn Thomas Myhre (in the warm up I wondered who on earth it was out there with Chris Woods);
The defence:
Made up of Ball (presented with the Shareholder's Young Player of the Year Award before the game), Unsworth, Materazzi, Bilic and Dunne;
Dacourt, Collins and skipper Hutchison;
Up front:
The pace of Cadamarteri and Bakayoko.

First Half

The match started brightly, an early through ball from Materazzi finding Danny running through into space behind the Derby defence, an unfortunate happenstance of ball catching the striker's heel as he tried to avoid it, bringing a promising move to an end as he was through on goal. Such was to be the tale of the day.

Next opening was for Bakayoko. A quick move through the middle, this time the pass from Dacourt,finding the youngster heading towards goal. His shot, however, was weak, catching a defender's foot. It looped, though, high in the air and only a finger-tip touch from Poom stopped it dropping into the net.

During this early period Everton played the better football. Still, the tendency to hurl the ball across, hoping our diminutive strikers had been supplied with stilts for Christmas, but nevertheless the more attractive of two mediocre sides.

Derby came into the game, though, and after a free kick which Everton conceded on the edge of the box, only an excellent save by Myhre from Wanchope's effort, plus a ballooned shot from Laursen on the rebound, sparing the defence's blushes. This was the only real save that Tommy had to make throughout the whole game. Poom, at the other end, was similarly untroubled save from a Dacourt free kick which he gathered low to his left.

All-in-all, the first half was memorable for two things only; first a "tackle" ('tis the season to be charitable) on Materazzi which, according to a wag in the crowd behind me, saw him reduced from 6 feet 3 to 5 feet 2, in the finest display of amputation ever seen outside a hospital theatre, as Delap raced in without a chance of making the ball. Referee Lodge saw fit to brandish yellow when the colour of the suit that Santa wears might have been more appropriate; the second the absolute inability of any of the officials to see the abundance of hand-controlling-ball offences which were in evidence.

It has to be said though, in Delap's defence, that he did have the grace to remove himself from the field some minutes after the offence mentioned above, when Materazzi, in the grand style of the excellent defender that he is, took the ball from his feet, with a sweetly timed tackle and somehow contrived to leave the Derby player clutching a damaged foot. Not even a glimmer of an offence!

The first half drew to a close at 0-0. We'd played well, against the wind for the most part and the second half was bound to deliver more... Wasn't it?

Second Half

The wind continued to swirl throughout the half as we pushed forward, dominating the possession. time and again. Poom, having retrieved the ball, launched it upfield only to see it be pushed back into the Derby half and out for an Everton throw. But did we take advantage of the possession and the wind? No way. It just isn't British to take advantage like that, is it? Fair play and all that.

Someone should have told Wanchope about that. Having been the engineer of our defeat last year, with the Ferguson sending off, he conspired to do something similar. Both Unsworth and Materazzi were on the receiving end of yellow cards following the long-legged one's efforts. Both will miss the Leicester and Villa games, as a result of having reached 8 bookings for the season.

Unsworth's was borderline, but Materazzi's, I was amazed. Wanchope was chasing a through ball, which was headed towards the Everton box. The Italian was shepherding Wanchope away while the ball drifted through to Myhre, when Wanchope hit the deck. Lodge raced towards the non-incident and cautioned the incredulous defender. In fact, so infuriated was Myhre with the decision that he, too, found his way into the book. Crazy!

This whole sequence had followed John Collins' inexplicable loss of the ball close to the centre line as he tried to hold the ball, when a release to Unsworth was available. He was subsequently replaced by Branch, Barmby having earlier replaced Cadamarteri. The best chance of the second period had earlier fallen to Ball, who found himself in space, on the end of a Dunne cross, but was unable to connect with the ball.

0-0 was probably an accurate reflection of the shooting power of both sides. It also bore out the statistic that Arsenal apart, these, along with Chelsea, were the most miserly defences in the Premiership. No gifts of goals this festive season. The gift of Man of the Match award was hard to give too, as nobody was particularly outstanding, though I'll give it to Materazzi who continues to improve and shows a real international class footballing brain on occasion.

In the end the only real winner was the wind, which did neither side any favours. I can only hope that it was doing its best to blow away the last vestiges of the horror we have been through in the last few years, from Goodison Park.

As for my nephew, he didn't see the game, but maybe, if he had, he would have understood that supporting Everton isn't a course to be chosen lightly. As a club, if it can be made difficult, we are past masters of making it so. If the easy way can be spurned, Everton FC has no qualms about that either. As supporters we know it, we understand it and, yes, we thrive on it. Everton is Everton. That's the only explanation I can give. And it'll do me for next year too!

Roll on 1999. Roll on the good times – maybe.

 Its a Dad's Life at Goodison Park
Martin O'Boyle
Christmas. It's the time of year when all the women sound like Jackie Dixon and the 'arl fella's got the 'flu. Nevertheless, in true Blue fashion he made it to the match, packet of 'Tunes' and hankies at the ready. However, he wasn't in the mood to watch the performance he was offered today.

It was 'Flag Day' at Goodison Park, yet another merchandising scam for youngsters to con their already skint parents at Christmas time into buying a flag for a fiver each. I know, I tried. However, I was met with the response: "You know where you can shove the flag" from the ever-cynical 'arl fella. The wind swirled around Goodison bringing rubbish on to the Park, as did Z-Cars.

Everton started the game with the 5-3-2 formation. Dunne and Ball as the wing-backs and Unsworth, Materazzi and Bilic occupying the centre spots. Hutchison retained the captain's arm band and played alongside Collins and the ever amazing Olivier Dacourt, with Bakayoko and Cadamarteri up front.

According to the PA system, the game was a sell out: 39,206 people were subjected to a dire game, with little to talk about. However it could have been a different story.

After 90 seconds, Everton were awarded a free kick which Dacourt stepped up to take. It was a sublime effort which Ollie managed to bend around the five-man Derby wall, but was safe in the hands of Mart Poom, albeit after a little fumble. Apart from this slip, Poom's handling throughout the game was excellent but both keeper's kicking left a lot to be desired. On several occasions, Tommy's desire to switch the ball from his right foot to his left nearly played us into trouble, and on the rare occasions he was forced to kick with his right it was 'heart in mouth' time.

At one point into the first half, Tommy (on the edge of the area) drilled a right foot clearance to one of Derby's central midfielders who, from 30 yards, fired wide. This was the first of Derby's two opportunities throughout the match.

One of the worst challenges I have seen this season came from Rory Delap on Marco Materazzi. The Derby midfielder-cum-striker was late, high and vicious on Marco, who – although he recovered after treatment – was not of the same calibre after the tackle. Delap was rewarded with the yellow card, but I have seen sendings off given for less.

Dacourt and Ball were working well for Everton in the opening half-hour, but it was a deflected shot from Bakayoko which nearly broke the deadlock. His shot ballooned into the air and was sailing over Poom into the net when acrobatically he leaned backwards to tip the ball over.

With 10 minutes to go to half-time, Derby were awarded a free kick from 20 yards after a poor challenge from Unsworth on Wanchope. The resulting free-kick was powered at Myrhe, who could not keep hold of the vicious shot, his parry fell to Wanchope, who from just six yards volleyed the ball hopelessly over the crossbar.

Walter made no changes during the break but the second half probably saw about the same level of Everton dominance. Everton clearly dominated in the possession stakes, but (once again) were unable to make the possession count. Tommy Myhre didn't have a save to make, but then again, Mart Poom was not called into action frequently enough.

By this point of the game my Dad's supply of Tunes had ran out. The poor guy, who had been filled with Christmas spirits the night before (sorry, the Christmas spirit) was reduced to croaking obscenities at the referee,..... and, Unsworth, .....and Bakayoko, .....and Collins.

Derby packed their defence and for most of the second half they appeared to be on the back foot. But they did threaten to score with six minutes to go when Wanchope was clean through on goal. However, he was brought down on the edge of the box by Materazzi. In truth, Materazzi was lucky not to be sent off for the challenge.

Again, we were treated to a refereeing display of incompetence. Mr. Stephen Lodge from Barnsley seemed more interested in blowing his nose than the actual game he was supposed to be officiating at. This was coupled with the 'referee's assistant' on the Bullens Road side who appeared to be unable to make a clear judgement on offside decisions and therefore for most of the game acted as a 'throw-in adjudicator.'

As well as not implementing the 'six-second rule' for goalkeepers and allowing blatant time-wasting, Lodge and his assistants may need anatomy lessons. It was obvious that they could not tell the difference between a man's chest and his arm. Some of tomorrow's newspapers may praise Lodge tomorrow for 'allowing the game to flow' but I fear it was probably because he couldn't be bothered blowing his whistle.

By 70 minutes, Cadamarteri who had been pretty ineffective, was replaced by the lively Nick Barmby. Bilic worked well bringing the ball out of defence as did Richard Dunne who never stopped running and challenging for the ball.

Walter decided to go for the three points with just four minutes to go, by bringing on Michael Branch for the disappointing Collins. However, there wasn't time enough for 'Twiggy' to work his magic. The game ended 0-0, as six out of ten games at Goodison have ended this season. The final whistle was met with a chorus of boos, and a lot of empty seats.

As we were blown back to our car, we had noticed that our hub caps had been taken off the car and placed around the vehicle. Whether the wind had blown them off or someone had taken them off for I joke, I guess we'll never know... but one thing was for certain, my Dad wasn't laughing.

However, I suppose if the players on both sides had shown as much passion and commitment for their sides today as my 'arl fella did, we could have watched an entirely different game of football.

Here's to you Dad!

 Constantly flagging up-front
Jenny Roberts
As we drove to the ground in the incessant rain and gales, my dad stopped the car. "It just doesn't feel right," he said, getting out and checking the tyres. I was so relieved when he decided to carry on to Goodison, concluding that the problem was not so great.

However, as I sat there, considering the traumatic possibility of not arriving at the match, I began to think. Why doesn't Walter do something similar? Just stop, examine his team in detail, and find the problems that he was previously unaware of? And then, perhaps we would finally scrap that wretched wing-back system......

I hate seeing Goodison through a wintry curtain of rain or sleet. Winter indicates the arrival of flu, injuries, a collapse in form and, of course, even more of those ever-present suspensions. I hoped, but could not believe, that this winter would prove something different.

Panic set in as we watched the warm-up progress. Perhaps Myhre had picked up an injury of some sort. I could not see him anywhere on the pitch. Eventually, I realised that Tommy had simply chosen to have a drastic haircut. I was so relieved – how many goals would Simonsen have conceded?

I was amazed to watch Derby's preparations for the match in the other half of the pitch. They really looked organised, and transformed their half into what resembled a miniature training ground. There were several different exercises going on at a time, and most of these looked interesting. All our squad ever does is run in one long line, before separating, so that individuals can continue with their own warm-ups or wander about the pitch chatting to team-mates.

Although Derby's organisation did not give them an edge over us in the match, perhaps our squad could benefit from a similar approach of variety, especially if Tony Thomas' comments are to be considered.....

Michael Ball was presented with his "Young Player of the Year" trophy. I wondered why a "Senior Player of the Year" trophy was not presented, and also why they were encouraging drinking by presenting Bally with a commemorative tankard.....

Cleland made way for Richard Dunne, which would have been a welcome move, had Dunne not been played as wing-back. He would play far better in defence, for what he lacks in pace, he makes up in amazing strength.

First Half

During the beginning of the first half, it actually seemed as though we would not have to tolerate another Goodison Speciality 0-0 draw. We were relatively competent in defence and midfield, occasionally managed to get the ball into the final third, only to waste chances. When Derby rarely broke through our defence, they did not appear to have the finishing power to take the lead.

Only two Everton opportunities spring to mind. One, a promising through-ball aimed at Cadamarteri deflected away from him before he controlled it. The second, an Olivier Dacourt free-kick, which Mart Poom struggled to hold.

I cannot remember seeing a player who has escaped the offside flag so often as Paulo Wanchope did. Our seats are ideally placed for judging offsides down by the Street End, and I was really worried about the Bullens Road linesman's lack of footballing knowledge. At one point, Wanchope had strayed a metre or so offside. The ball was played through to him and he raced towards the goal. Unsworth's tackle was clumsy, but necessary. He earned a booking. However, this yellow could have so easily been avoided had the linesman flagged Wanchope offside. I could not watch the subsequent free-kick, as it had been achieved so dishonestly, that to lose the match through such a goal would have been unbearable.

The whistle blew. The boot connected with the ball. I heard the thump of the ball as it made contact with Myhre. I heard the roar of delight, and looked up quickly to see a white shirt wastefully blast the rebound, Derby's greatest chance, deep into the Gwladys Street stand.

However, down at the other end, Everton were poor. How appropriate it was that the club chose this afternoon as an "Official Flag Day." We were constantly flagging up front.

Half-time came with little to warm our hearts. Even the scores elsewhere were disappointing. "Middlesbrough 1" came a glimmer of hope, only for Liverpool to have scored one more.

Second Half

The second half was even worse than the first. It became even colder, too cold for even the Street End's noisiest to muster a chant. The wind whistled around the stadium, until the Park End goal was surrounded by pieces of shiny foil, blown onto the pitch. Dave Unsworth and Richard Dunne's crisp packet collection, perhaps?

When Nick Barmby began to prepare for his substitution, we hoped that perhaps Smith would take off a defender. But, eternally respectful to the opposition, Barmby replaced Cadamarteri. Barmby made little difference, although he did battle down the left wing. But Everton needed a goalscorer.

Finally, Branch made his appearance. Would Bakayoko be removed to persist with the ineffective two-man attack? Or would Smith substitute a defender instead? Neither. It was Collins who came off. I was not sure what to make of this. Could we still supply our front line with the ball if we lost a man in midfield? The answer was in the final scoreline.

When the final whistle blew, I was relieved that I could go home, delighted that Michael Ball had begun to tackle again, maddened at the fact that we should have won, but didn't, and sickened at the other final scores. It was a terrible afternoon, not appalling enough to rank alongside the Aston Villa 4-1s and Bradford City 3-2s, but nevertheless, it was a match I would prefer to forget.

I think that at future home games, Smith should consider starting with three attackers. I can understand using a more modest, respectful two-man attack at away games, but I think that at home, we should definitely play three. We need to improve our goal difference. I feel that we only miss Ferguson at corners, so a third attacker, with good aerial ability would be useful at such set pieces.

This whole year has been traumatic, with so many suspensions, injuries, boardroom problems and financial difficulties, not to mention a brush with relegation. Hopefully, we can begin to put 1998 behind us at White Hart Lane, and prove that 1999 will be a happy blue year.

 Warning signs flash for goal-shy Everton
by Graham Otway, The Sunday Times
JIM SMITH, the Derby County manager, was stopped in his tracks twice while trying to deliver his post-match verdict – by a mobile telephone and a police SOS message over the Goodison Park public address. Struggling to justify the lack of entertainment in this dire encounter, the interruptions produced the only light moments of the afternoon.

Smith could, in fact, be satisfied after banking an away point that maintains his team's position of relative comfort in mid-table, but if Derby are to make a quantum leap and start challenging for a European place they will need to be more adventurous.

The visitors rarely strayed into the Everton half, and managed only two efforts at goal. On the hour, Steve Elliott's header from 12 yards was weak and off target, then Paulo Wanchope, presented with a rebound off the body of Thomas Myhre, lashed his shot over the bar from close range.

"We have had several draws that could have been turned into wins by accepting easy chances, and you don't get into a better position than Wanchope did," lamented Smith. Yet if Derby had headed back along the M6 with all three points, it would have been a travesty. Much the same could be said of Everton, although the Merseysiders tried to introduce a festive element to the occasion by allowing their fans to carry flags into the ground for the first time since they were banned as a safety hazard in the early 1990s.

After the first 11 minutes, in which Everton might have scored twice, the flags remained largely out of sight, and by the end the stands reverberated to a chorus of boos. Even the faithful among the crowd of 39,206 had long since lost patience.

To them, the short-sightedness of selling Duncan Ferguson to Newcastle United must become ever more apparent as Everton continue to suffer from a famine that has now seen the side score only three times at home in the League this season. There is still a sizeable gap between Everton and the five teams most directly threatened by relegation, but the warning signs are flashing.

During a bright opening spell, Everton might have scored twice. Olivier Dacourt tested Mart Poom with a thunderous 30-yard free kick, and when Ibrahima Bakayoko's shot on the run took a tricky deflection, the Derby goalkeeper ran back and arched his body to tip the ball over the bar.

The eager running of Bakayoko and Danny Cadamarteri early in the match stretched the Derby defence in all directions, and desperate tackles brought three bookings for the visitors in the opening half-hour.

The two Everton strikers are, however, built on the small side and are no substitute for Ferguson's menacing presence. Once the Derby defence had found its composure, not to mention laid out its stall with a series of bruising challenges, it was rarely threatened again.

A treacherous playing surface made control difficult, and once the wind reached its forecast gale-force strength, neither side possessed the wit or skill to overcome the conditions.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 Everton dull the senses
by Jon Culley, The Independent on Sunday
HAVING been invited by a public address man with a keen sense of irony to applaud a "year of great football" at Goodison Park, a 39,000 sell-out crowd witnessed what they might have remembered as the poorest match of 1998 had they not spent so many similar afternoons enduring Everton's particularly perverse brand of entertainment.

Everton's home record this season is singularly dreadful – just three goals in 10 matches – and against unambitious opponents beaten only twice away from home the scoreline was not difficult to predict, if not exactly encouraging for Everton's hopes of enjoying a meaningful season under Walter Smith's management.

It could be assumed that yesterday's Everton line-up represented Smith's first-choice team, given that the treatment table has now almost been cleared. Only the long-term casualties – Joe Parkinson, Danny Williamson and Terry Phelan – remain out of contention. The England international Nick Barmby, previously sidelined for 12 weeks because of a hernia, made his second substitute appearance since his comeback.

After six months in charge, Smith has at least brought defensive stability, but as an attacking force Everton are still pretty limp. Mikael Madar's omission from the 16 yesterday appears to signal the end of the Frenchman's Goodison career, but the preferred combination of Ibrahim Bakayoko and Danny Cadamarteri has yet to click.

After 10 appearances in an Everton shirt, Bakayoko is still looking for his second goal, and it almost arrived in the 11th minute yesterday when the goalkeeper, Mart Poom, had to make an athletic leap to push a deflected shot wide for a corner. That apart, the pair found it difficult to trouble Derby's big central defenders.

In the absence of Dean Sturridge, left on the bench by the Derby manager Jim Smith, saying he was "not mentally right" to play, Derby operated with, effectively, only Paulo Wanchope as a striker, yet went closest to a goal in an uninspired opening period. Wanchope should have made more of Stefano Eranio's through-pass after 25 minutes and then missed an open goal after Thomas Myhre could not hold a powerfully struck free-kick by Horatio Carbonari following David Unsworth's foul on Wanchope.

Sturridge, by Smith's account, is unsettled by speculation linking him with a move either to Sheffield Wednesday or Nottingham Forest, the latter reported to have proposed a swap for Pierre van Hooijdonk. "I did speak to Dave Bassett [the Forest manager] some time ago, but Van Hooijdonk was not mentioned," Smith said afterwards. "I don't really want to talk about speculative stories," he added. "His agent is trying to start the January sales in December. But I can tell you I won't be swapping Dean for Paolo Di Canio."

The gathering strength of the wind did nothing for the quality of the contest. Everton dominated possession after the interval but could make it count for little. A frustrated Walter Smith responded by sending on Barmby in place of the largely ineffective Cadamarteri with 20 minutes left. There followed another wave of Everton possession, although there was still no finishing touch and the long-suffering Goodison crowd began to resign themselves to a sixth goalless draw in 10 home matches.

Report © The Independent

 Same old record wearing thin at Goodison
by Stephen Wood, The Times
BLOWN by the gales that swept the country, much of the litter inside Goodison Park had found the back of the net by 4.50pm on Saturday. That was the limit to the goalmouth incident, for the ball, generally abused by players of both teams over the 90 minutes beforehand, never even got close. The history of a stupefying 1998 at Everton was repeating itself: will someone please change the record?

The other kind of records show that five home victories in the FA Carling Premiership have been earned in the calendar year, while, under the control of Walter Smith, the manager since the summer, Everton have scored three league goals in the stadium that used to intimidate visiting sides.

In spite of this, they remain one of the best-supported clubs in English football. However, even the infamous Scouse sense of humour is being tested more often than the opposition's goalkeeper. Before this latest, inevitable stalemate began - Everton have now endured six goalless draws in ten home league matches this term - the announcer asked fans to show their appreciation for a "great year of football" at Goodison Park.

To dwell on the positive nature of life at Everton would be to admire how Smith has brought security to the defence and a desire not to be beaten. Alas, in attack, Ibrahima Bakayoko and Danny Cadamarteri are willing and occasionally able, but it will take more time than Everton can afford for them to gel. Mickael Madar, the France-born forward, could have played his last game on Merseyside, while Nicky Barmby is still trying to deal with injury and inconsistency of form.

Derby do not have much to cheer them, either. Seven points and four places worse off than this time last year, Jim Smith, the manager, admits that they are "drawing games we should be winning and losing ones we should be drawing".

It will be interesting to see which Smith, Walter or Jim, manages to turn things around at their respective clubs next year. Their characters and public persona could not be more polarised and, fittingly, even Saturday's events could not suppress Jim Smith's wit.

Before their fourth draw in as many matches, it was rumoured that Nottingham Forest would like to swap Pierre van Hooijdonk, the striker, for Dean Sturridge, the Derby forward. Sturridge was a substitute at Goodison Park and did not appear and Smith said: "Dean told me he was not mentally right to play – at least he was honest with me. I think his agent must be trying to start the January sales in December.

"I did speak to Dave Bassett [the Forest manager] recently and he mentioned a few names, but Van Hooijdonk was not one of them. I don't know where these stories come from. All I know is that I won't be swapping anyone for Paolo Di Canio."

Sturridge's future at Derby looks bleak, which is a pity for Paulo Wanchope. The Costa Rica striker, who wasted Derby's best opportunity by blasting over the crossbar after being presented with a rebound off the body of Thomas Myhre, has not scored for seven matches and needs some quality support.

The support required by Everton is as much psychological as functional. The club held an official flag day on Saturday, the time when football gives permission for fans to go wild and crazy. As it turned out, there were not many flags, just plenty of flagging – mostly of Everton's spirits.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 Everton drought at home goes on
David Horridge, Electronic Telegraph
BETTING people who put money on this game turning out as it did were never in danger of losing it. Everton now go into the second half of their Premiership programme no nearer to solving the problem that has haunted them all season, with only three goals and two wins from 10 home games.

The depressing scoring records of these teams always threatened the spectators with this outcome and little happened in the first half to dispel those fears.

While Everton have the worst return in the Premiership, Derby have been even less impressive over recent games, prompting manager Jim Smith to step-up his search for a striker. The fact that he was missing four first-choice players did not help Derby's cause.

Everton's £4.5M investment in Ibrahima Bakayoko has hardly paid off with only two goals from 11 appearances and he made an optimistic attempt to improve on that with an 11th-minute strike from the corner of the penalty area. After the ball took a deflection off Horacio Carbonari it promised to loop over Mart Poom until the goalkeeper turned it over the bar one-handed.

Lee Carsley made a spirited attempt to break the deadlock with a long run and accurate pass to Paulo Wanchope but he fell victim to a well-timed tackle by Michael Ball.

When the lanky Derby striker broke through Everton's defence, leaving him to confront only goalkeeper Thomas Myhre, he was brought down by David Unsworth who was booked.

Myhre made a reflex punch-out from Carbonari's 30-yard free kick following the offence but Wanchope lifted the loose ball over the bar.

Derby brought on substitute Kevin Harper for the second half and he made an early impact with a long run that promised something until he ran out of pitch. Following the departure of Duncan Ferguson, Everton are less attracted to Route One football and concentrate more on passing and moving but they cannot find the penetration to go with it.

Derby were no more menacing and the big crowd, 39,206, must have been surprised by a goal attempt at each end within the space of two minutes although neither Everton's Ball nor Steve Elliott could find the necessary power and direction.

The unorthodox Wanchope is always likely to pose a threat and when he made a solo charge with five minutes to go he was brought down by tackle from Marco Materazzi at the cost of a booking and Myhre also collected one for dissent.

Everton invited forgotten man Nick Barmby to get his career back on track in the 70th minute after a three months absence through injury but he was unable to make a significant impact.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 RESULTS  (Game 19)
Saturday 26 December 1998
Arsenal  1                 West Ham United  0        38,098
Overmars 7
Blackburn Rovers   2       Aston Villa  1            27,536
Gallacher 44, Sherwood 88  Scimeca 81
Coventry City  1           Tottenham Hotspur 1       23,098
Aloisi 81                  Campbell 17
Everton  0                 Derby County 0            39,206  

Manchester United  3       Nottingham Forest  0      55,216
Johnsen 28,60, Giggs 62
Middlesbrough  1           Liverpool  3              34,626 
Deane 32                   Carragher 16, Redknapp 35, Heggem 88
Newcastle United  0        Leeds United  3           36,783
                           Kewell 37, Bowyer 61, Hasselbaink 90
Sheffield Wednesday  0     Leicester City  1         33,513
                           Cottee 33
Southampton   0            Chelsea  2                15,253
                           Flo 20, Poyet 48
Wimbledon  2               Charlton Athletic 1       19,106
Euell 33, Hughes M 50      Redfearn 28

 LEAGUE TABLE (after 26 December 1998 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Chelsea                      19    9    9    1   31   17   14    36    
Aston Villa                  19   10    6    3   29   19   10    36    
Manchester United            19    9    7    3   39   23   16    34    
Leeds United                 19    8    8    3   32   17   15    32    
Arsenal                      19    8    8    3   21   11   10    32    
Middlesbrough                19    7    9    3   31   24    7    30    
West Ham United              19    8    5    6   22   23   -1    29    
Wimbledon                    19    8    5    6   25   30   -5    29    
Liverpool                    19    8    4    7   32   23    9    28    
Leicester City               19    7    6    6   22   20    2    27    
Derby County                 19    5   10    4   18   17    1    25    
Newcastle United             19    6    6    7   22   24   -2    24    
Tottenham Hotspur            19    6    6    7   24   29   -5    24    
Everton                      19    5    8    6   12   17   -5    23    
Sheffield Wednesday          19    6    4    9   20   20    0    22    
Blackburn Rovers             19    4    5   10   19   27   -8    17    
Coventry City                19    4    5   10   16   27  -11    17    
Charlton Athletic            19    3    7    9   23   30   -7    16    
Southampton                  19    3    4   12   15   37  -22    13    
Nottingham Forest            19    2    6   11   17   35  -18    12
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© Michael Kenrick 1998
Last updated: 27 December 1998