Half-time: 0 - 0
FA Carling Premiership 1998-99 Game 21
Saturday 9 January 1999
Goodison Park, Merseyside
|« Bristol City (a)||Ref: Paul Durkin||Aston Villa (a) »|
|1998-99 Fixtures & Results||League Position: 14th||Premiership Results & Table|
|LINEUPS||Subs Not Used|
Myhre, Cleland, Dunne, Watson, Unsworth, Ball, Hutchison,
Dacourt, Oster, Cadamarteri (75' Barmby), Bakayoko.
Unavailable: Materazzi (suspended, and injured); Bilic, Short, Collins, Williamson, Phelan, Parkinson (injured); Gerrard, Spencer (on loan).
|Grant, Branch, Ward, Simonsen.|
|Leicester City:||Keller, Sinclair, Elliott, Walsh, Ullathorne, Izzet, Lennon, Impey, Guppy, Heskey, Cottee.||Taggart, Campbell, Zagorakis, Marshall, Arphexad.|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leicester City:||Sinclair (75').|||
|REPORTS BY EVERTON FANS|
|Steve Bickerton||Rose-tinted glasses make you squint|
|Jenny Roberts||Wandering in a Wing-back Wonderland|
|Richard Marland||Dreadful. Simply Dreadful|
|THE SUNDAY TIMES||
Cottee made to wait for goals milestone
by Michael Hodges
Still nothing doing
by Dave Hadfield
Smith's drought bugs Goodison
by Dave Hadfield
O'Neill's colourless task
by Stephen Wood
Goodison bows to the inevitable
by Derek Potter
|OTHER INTERNET REPORTS|
|THE EVERTONIAN||Link to the Echo/Daily Post Match Report||
|THE GUARDIAN||Link to Football Unlimited Match Report|
|SOCCERNET||Link to SoccerNet Match Report|
|CARLINGNET||Link to CarlingNet Match Report|
|Rose-tinted glasses make you squint|
A heavy overnight frost that left the roads icy and a bit of a tingle in
the air, led me to believe that the arrival (belatedly) of winter might herald
new beginnings in front of goal. The news that Bilic was doubtful with a
groin strain did nothing to dampen my hopes. Indeed, as the day progressed
the clear blue skies surely would be the precursor to a new assault on opposition
nets. No wind, no rain, a perfect pitch and Leicester City. Only a nagging
fear that Tony Cottee would notch his 199th and 200th career goals against
us stood in the way of a simple victory.
As I entered Goodison Park the rose-tinted spectacles remained firmly in place. Highlights of the midweek win in the Youth Cup against Man Utd left a warm glow in the pit of my stomach I thought it was another omen, it was probably indigestion and the rose-tinted specs continued to flourish.
The line up was unusual no, not a 4-4-2, Walter still perseveres with 5-3-2 (though heaven knows why). No, it was the names on the teamsheet. Now admittedly we'd been deprived of the services of Materazzi (injury/ban), Bilic (injury) and Short (injury) in the middle of the defence, but we now had three centre backs (Unsworth, Watson and Dunne) who are centre backs and two wing-backs who are, well, full-backs (Cleland who is the closest we have to a real wing back and Ball). It had to be an improvement.
The big surprise was the inclusion of Oster in a three-man midfield with Hutchison and Dacourt, thankfully recovered from his elbow injury of last week. Cadamarteri and Bakayoko resumed the starting line up from last week. The team was completed by Myhre in goal. On the bench were Simonsen, Ward, Branch, Barmby and the luckless Grant, who must have thought he'd have made the starting line up this week, with Collins being sidelined with his foot injury.
We started off well enough in the early stages, no real scares. Some good interplay between Bakayoko and Dacourt brought oos and arrs of delight from the smaller-than-usual crowd and we played the ball with ease, on the deck. Oster linked up well with his new midfield partners, but we didn't seem to create anything.
Despite our early control, the first real chance fell to Heskey, who pounced on a loose ball 6 yards out only to see his goal-bound shot somehow cleared by Myhre. Stung into action again we then started to make deeper inroads into the Leicester defence, Oster getting free on the right with Keller in the Leicester goal drawn out of position. He delivered a great ball to Bakayoko who shot sweetly and everyone rose to applaud the goal only to find themselves marvelling at how Keller had managed to get back into position and save the effort. Stunned silence.
Up until now we'd been pressing well, playing controlled football in the Leicester half, giving them more problems than they were giving us. That was until Izzet switched from right to left to keep an eye on Oster. After that, the game went downhill. Pretty patterns, true, but we went back into our shell playing our football just inside our half, inviting Leicester forward. They took the chance eagerly.
The second part of the first half was dominated by them, in a passionate manner rather than the controlled way they had shown earlier. The best chance of the match fell to them in this spell, with a close range header from Cottee producing a spectacular save from Myhre which clawed the ball over the bar for a corner. Plaudits from the crowd, Cottee and referee Durkin emphasised the quality of the save.
Half-time came though, with a 0-0 scoreline, and an entertaining game on our hands. The roses were beginning to wilt.
The second half was a scrappy affair. No passion from either side really. Centre-stage was taken by Paul Durkin who had obviously decided that, as none of the players were making their mark on the game, he might as well. Whistle, whistle, whistle. No real howlers, though some of the decisions were 50-50 and invariably went against us.
Take the incident where Sinclair was booked. A foul tackle on Hutchison is allowed to go as Danny is racing up the line with the ball. The ball appears to be going out after having been touched by the defender. Durkin turns away from play to tell Sinclair he wanted to see him, just as Danny is dragged down by the defender, level with the 18-yard line. The ball went out of play, and instead of the expected free kick for the foul on Danny, Durkin indicates a throw. No resulting cross, no goal chance, a waste.
Still though in this period Keller was called upon to make a save from Cadamarteri who, racing through met a cross from the left and lofted the ball over the keeper's head and towards the goal. Somehow Keller got to it, not only stopping the goal, but also holding the ball comfortably. Even though goals were going to be in short supply it was, nevertheless, 2-2 in terms of goalkeeping excellence.
Despite being pegged back a lot in our own half, we did create chances. One in particular saw a defence-splitting ball of the highest calibre from Oster, deep in his own half. Cadamarteri latched onto the ball at full speed just inside the Leicester half. He raced for goal but some excellent defending from Leicester saw him pushed slightly wide. With Keller narrowing the angles well, the chance was gone and Danny's effort came to naught. But the football was still there!
Other efforts were pushed (often very) wide by Bakayoko and a fierce drive from Cleland saw Keller, body behind the ball, gather just inside his left post. Hutchison, too, saw an effort balloon wide as we created chances, generally on the break. But we were never going to score. The late introduction of Barmby for Cadamarteri made little difference, though Barmby did present Bakayoko with a sniff of a chance, with which he nearly hit the corner flag.
Dacourt saw his name enter the referee's note book after a clumsy tackle on Lennon, who seemed to make a meal of the incident, lying on the floor, before being helped off the field. Dacourt can have no complaint though as he was quietly warned a few minutes earlier after a similar tackle on the same player. Not that Lennon was an angel though. How his name didn't increase Paul Durkin's meagre tally of two bookings I'll never know.
The same goes for Heskey, poleaxed a number of times in the box, only for the referee to wave play on and wag a finger at him. Late in the game, though he was floored by Dacourt, who, on another day might have received his second yellow. Deep into stoppage time it left Leicester with a free kick, to the centre of the Everton goal a couple of yards outside the box. Elliott was the danger man here, prowling over the ball. Two other players were there too. The other two tapped the ball between them and Elliott struck a terrific shot goalwards. The roses were now distant memories as I realised there was no way back from this. Then Tommy produced another spell-binding save. 3-2 to Tommy!!.
And then came the whistle. 0-0, the points shared, the rose-tinted glasses now a vague memory.
We never really looked like scoring, though we were pretty secure at the back. All of the centre-backs made telling interceptions at various points though none were outstanding. Cleland gave an adequate display on the left, but Ball seems to be going nowhere since he's been played as a wing back. Too many mistakes. I think he needs a rest, though who we'll replace him with, I don't know. Phelan's jogging now maybe he'll do a job? Though from the rumours I've heard, late night fights in Manchester city centre seem unaffected by his injury.
In midfield, Hutchison and Dacourt played well enough and Oster showed glimpses of his real capabilities, playing with enthusiasm and confidence. Thankfully, from where I was sitting I heard none of the complaints and abuse which he endured earlier in the season when he made the odd mistake.
Bakayoko flattered early on to deceive. He ran hard, controlled the ball well, had plenty of chances, albeit from long range, but I'm not yet inspired by him, though he has undoubted ability. Cadamarteri was just Danny. I'm more than ever convinced he should be played wide in a four man midfield, where his skill and pace could be used to deliver the ball to one of two real forwards. The first problem here is that it leaves no room for his replacement Barmby, who needs that fourth midfield berth. The second is where do we find two forwards who are going to score?
Truthfully then, no candidate from the outfield players for Man of the Match. Winner of this, by a Gwladys Street, was Tommy Myhre, for three truly outstanding saves which kept us in the game and at the end delivered another precious point.
|Wandering in a Wing-back Wonderland|
Yet another freezing 0-0 draw awaited us at Goodison, and, realistically,
who would have predicted otherwise?
I groaned as the team lined up with wing-backs. However, Materazzi's absence allowed Richard Dunne to impress at centre back. And impress he did. He looked excellent in a defensive partnership alongside Dave Watson. Every time that the ball came into the box, Dunne was there to head it or kick it away. He took a lot of the pressure off Tommy. Walter Smith's adjustment of the formation suited him perfectly. Unfortunately, there were no such advantages for Michael Ball.
At times, Michael looked appalling. He would not tackle, and when he did, he was so half-hearted in his challenges that he would not win the ball. He would not jump for headers, and seemed almost as reluctant to attack as he did to defend. I really hope that this was just an off-day for Bally, as at times he looked so disinterested and anonymous, that I wondered if he was unsettled. I think that we'd all prefer a Michael Ball who was playing badly in our squad to a Michael Ball playing well for another team. He definitely needs a rest.
Another young player shone John Oster. He ran at players, did not back out of tackles, could turn with the ball, and occasionally displayed such skill that would even make pundits drool. However, he must work on his first touch.
We had various shots during the first half, but a combination of lack of accuracy and Keller's superb reflexes meant that they were not to be converted. One stood out in particular. I think it was Oster who played the ball through to Bakayoko. We all rose to celebrate as he shot, but, alas, Bakayoko's shot was saved superbly by Keller. I think we realised then, that if we could not put away chances like that, this was not to be our day.
Meanwhile, down at the Street End, Myhre kept us in the game. "Norway's Number 1" rang out around the ground as he made save after stunning save. Even when he parried away, and the ball began to roll towards a Leicester attacker, Richard Dunne was there to stab it away. Tommy came for every corner and cross, and caught them all. He was constantly screaming instructions to his back line of defence, and really commanded.
For a change, I was not too displeased with the officials. I was unhappy with Dacourt's booking, but I suppose that football is a non-contact sport now, isn't it? Lennon really overreacted, and several minutes were wasted while he refused the stretcher and instead insisted on dramatically hobbling off the field. Dacourt's problems with the referees make me wonder why Joe Parkinson is even trying to make a come-back. The game has taken several steps backwards since the days of the Dogs of War. There doesn't seem to be a place in the game for tough-tackling midfielders anymore, not even the skilful ones.
The second half was about Myhre. He showed us that he is one of the very best goalkeepers in the Premiership, even if the Carling Opta statistics try to contradict him. There was just one slight mishap. He came racing out of the penalty area to challenge for the ball. He booted it in the direction of the Gwladys Street goal, only for a team-mate, running for the same ball, to make contact with Tommy's kick. It rebounded off him, and began to roll towards the goal. Archie Knox, on the bench, kicked a water bottle in anger, which, according to my sister, soaked Chris Woods the goalkeeping coach! Fortunately, it rolled wide. However, Myhre's save just seconds before the final whistle from a Leicester free kick was magnificent it gave us a point.
Man of The Match: Although Dunne and Oster deserve mentions for their excellent performances, it has to be Tommy Myhre. He is so dedicated to our club, loves making saves, loves seeing us win, and hates playing badly (just look at the time he shaved his head because of the goal he conceded). He deserves to follow in the footsteps of previous greats by sporting the No.1 jersey. With Ferguson gone, he must be one of our greatest assets.
|Dreadful. Simply Dreadful|
Dreadful. That just about sums this match up. A dreadful attacking performance
from us and an unambitious approach from Leicester brought about the almost
expected stale mate. It's getting to the stage where I'm not looking forward
to the rest of the season as I really can't see where the improvement and
the goals will come from.
We lined up with our typical 5-3-2 formation, no Bilic (injured) or Materazzi (suspended) today so we had a non-footballing back three of Dunne, Watson and Unsworth , with Cleland and Ball at wing back. The selection surprise of the day was the midfield inclusion of Oster at the expense of Barmby, joining Hutchison and Dacourt. Up front we had Bakayoko and Cadamarteri. The bench (yes they finally decided to tell us today) was Simonsen, Ward, Grant, Barmby and Branch.
We actually showed some nice passing stuff at times in the first half. Dacourt and Oster looked particularly useful and some balls of quality went into the box, alas no-one was able to press home any kind of advantage.
For most of the afternoon we coped pretty well with the Leicester attack. Admittedly they weren't too adventurous, but Heskey is always a handful and Unsie coped fairly well with him. Notable goal chances in the first half amounted to about three, the best fell to Heskey, one-on-one against Myrhe with Myrhe doing very well to come on top.
Myrhe did even better with Leicester's other goal chance, Cottee seeing a good diving header brilliantly saved, this really was a top quality save shades of Nev at his best. Our only really good chance fell to Bakayoko, with Keller stranded he had an open goal to aim at, alas Keller managed to come flying back across to deny him. Keller did well but I feel Bakayoko should have done better.
A half-time stalemate was probably fair as neither team had managed to impose themselves, both had had some good moments but too few for real entertainment.
If the first half had been a little disappointing, we hoped for better in the second; it wasn't to be. We struggled to impose any kind of passing game, giving the ball away all too readily. All departments of the team were equally to blame. The defense failed to build from the back, indeed they rarely even tried to. All Heskey and Cottee had to do was position themselves in a fairly advanced position, this was enough to dissuade us from even attempting to pass it around them.
Midfield never really dropped back to collect the ball and rarely worked together to keep possession. As for the attack's part in our passing game, well the less said the better. Bakayoko and Cadamarteri proved to be inept at holding up the ball. True, they weren't helped much by the service they received, but there were still a number of occasions when they did get the ball, only to lose it immediately so putting us straight back under pressure.
Throughout the second half I am struggling to recollect a moment in which I even thought we could score. We did manage to put together a few good, passing movements but once we reached the penalty area it seemed to fall apart. Actually I've just remembered our one good moment of the entire second half. A quick, positive break out of defense, a rarity in itself, ended with Cadamarteri being put through by, I think, Oster. This should have been Danny's moment, he had the pace to out-distance the defense, he reached the edge of the box but there was a lack of conviction and he wasted the opportunity. Confidence, or a lack of it, clearly played a part, but it reinforces my belief that Danny just isn't a finisher.
Like Derby before them, Leicester seemed too ready to accept a draw. They had quite a lot of possession in the second half but rarely made it count. Obviously our defense deserves some credit, the central three in particular all defended well, but I had the feeling that a better, more ambitious side would have made us pay. The only real scare we had was a last minute free-kick, which Elliot caught really well and produced Myrhe's third top-class save of the day.
The team left the field to muted boo's, Tommy being the only one to get any real applause. It had been the kind of match when you really begin to wonder whether your Saturday afternoons might be more gainfully employed. The most depressing thing is wondering where the spark, the improvement is actually going to come from. As a team we look utterly toothless.
The whole shape and balance of the side looks wrong. I appreciate that Walter's first priority is to keep things tight at the back, and he is reluctant to move away from his three central defenders. But it is frustrating when you look at the bench and you see some of the players that could come on, change the shape of the team and maybe help us to get something out the game.
Walter waited till almost 15 minutes to go to make his only change, bringing on Barmby for Cadamarteri. I really couldn't see what this was going to achieve. Barmby was hardly going to change much, in fact he barely made an impact. What was wrong with going 4-4-2 for the last 15 minutes, bring on Branch's pace, Grant's passing ability, push Oster out wide right? We had the options there, it would hardly have been throwing everything into attack.
So, it looks like we continue with Walter's ultra cautious game plan. I have no doubt that he knows our short-comings, and that he will keep us up with something to spare. But, at the moment I don't see why we can't be a little bit more ambitious. We still have a 7-point cushion on the bottom three, a couple of wins will virtually put us out of sight, why not take the opportunity of some relatively easy home games to do just that?
Team 5 The clean sheets obviously have their uses, but aside from that we are on a wretched run of form and our lack of firepower is getting to be embarrassing. We've already reached the start of January, 11 home games, and we've seen 3 goals. That's frankly disgraceful.
Man of the match - only one contender, Tommy.
|Cottee made to wait for goals milestone|
|by Michael Hodges, The Sunday Times|
THIS was supposed to be about Tony Cottee reaching 200 career goals, not
a maddening example of how poor English football can be. So much for supposed
To the same man, Leicester City are patently superior in form and content. All Everton had to offer was intent, the midfield promptings of Olivier Dacourt and Ibrahima Bakayoko's undoubted muscle. Not enough, surely, against Martin O'Neill's team.
But Leicester squandered their natural advantage. A Steve Guppy free kick hit straight at Thomas Myhre and a certain amount of unwarranted hurry at the back made Everton look the better team. A hard job, but some individual sharpness from John Oster and Danny Cadamarteri helped.
It was mystifying stuff from Leicester, who survived Everton's clumsy attacks only because Matt Elliott was bigger and better than anybody the home team put against him.
All of which invited queries as to where Leicester's midfield might be. Mostly playing too deep. Neil Lennon was so far back, Dacourt had to seek him out to be tackled which, in fairness to Lennon, is what usually happened.
The game was not the platform for Cottee to grab glory at his former club. Subdued, uninspiring and sloppy, it was not the platform for anything other than complaints until Cottee put Emile Heskey through on goal, only for Myhre to save. But by then Goodison Park had slumped into the unearthly quiet of an abattoir.
Cottee, seemingly oblivious to his bicentennial potential, punctured the gloom with several gracious and generous balls for Heskey, but the man Glenn Hoddle is not supposed to be able to ignore any longer made a bright case for remaining unconsidered, looking for penalties and missing from a variety of angles.
At least Heskey showed some awareness of where the goal might be. His opposite number, Bakayoko, continued to blast and blow at all the areas outside the posts.
Once, just once, he appeared on the edge of scoring. Oster, continuing a display that was as near to sparky as the afternoon got, crossed from the right and there was a hint of a deflection before the ball landed with Bakayoko, who found a shot that finally made Kasey Keller move.
Walter Smith may have sorted out the defence, but up front Everton are woeful, in midfield only occasionally intelligent and on the whole, well, poor.
Myhre, at least, is a beacon of ability. When Heskey returned some of Cottee's favours after breaking towards the right flank, Everton's goalkeeper produced an excellent arching save from Cottee's header.
There was a smidgen of admirable passing in the second half. Although it soon deteriorated, Oster's crossfield pass was of enough quality to damn Cadamarteri for not taking the chance it provided.
Bug-eyed, sometimes pointless, the game edged away from comprehension, although Muzzy Izzet did produce a bicycle kick, Heskey fell over again, and Myhre saved Elliott's late free kick.
Everton, as Smith remarked, stayed tight. Yes, tight but ugly.
|Report © Times Newspapers Ltd|
|Still nothing doing|
|by Dave Hadfield, The Independent on Sunday|
ON a day when Everton's supporters were again reminded of the toothlessness
of their present team, all it needed was a goal or two from Tony Cottee to
bring back the ghosts of more productive times. Cottee, needing two more
for his double-century in league football, scored 72 of them for Everton
or about three season's output for the whole team at its present rate
Everton's three goals in their first 11 games at Goodison Park represents the worst home drought in their history and a strike from their prolific old boy was a more likely proposition than one from the present crop. Although his link with Emile Heskey was not at its sharpest, Cottee was responsible for the two best chances of the first half. His clever nod through allowed Heskey to turn for a shot that was pushed out by Thomas Myhre, who also thwarted Cottee's close-range header.
Against that, Kasey Keller had to make a fine save from Ibrahima Bakayoko's volley and that, in terms of excitement, was just about it until the very end. Leicester, despite appearing to approach the game initially with limited ambitions, took control in the second half. "Overall, I thought we had the advantage in terms of possession," said their manager Martin O'Neill. O'Neill thought that Leicester might have had a penalty for Heskey being pulled back if the referee's assistant had taken a more interventionist approach and was also critical of Olivier Dacourt's tackle on Neil Lennon, which earned him a booking. There was little doubt, however, which manager was happier.
"The problem is obvious," said Everton's Walter Smith. "We are working very hard to deny other sides a lot of opportunities, but we aren't making or taking many ourselves."
Smith's mood will hardly be helped when he learns that Mikael Madar, the striker he let go, scored on his debut as Paris St Germain ended a five-match goal drought in the French League Cup. It might have been even worse for Everton had Myhre not pulled off an excellent save from Matthew Elliott in injury time and Heskey shot wide of an empty goal.
|Report © The Independent|
|Smith's drought bugs Goodison|
|by Dave Hadfield, The Independent|
The fear at Everton is that the club's electronic scoreboard will become
an early victim of a new strain of the Millennium Bug. At some stage in 1999,
the customary zero after their name will be replaced by a one higher
numbers than that represent just a fevered dream and few would have
much confidence in the computer being able to cope.
Everton's impotence is past the point of being a laughing matter, even for Goodison habitues brought up on this sort of gallows humour. When most sides fire blanks, the fault is traceable to their finishing; Walter Smith's team do not even create the chances to miss.
Leicester, without truly being at their resourceful best, became the seventh Premiership side this season to come away from Goodison without conceding a goal. They should have done rather better than that and would have, but for the Everton goalkeeper, Thomas Myhre.
The Norwegian has recently had his head shaved as a form of penance for what he regarded as sub-standard performances. On this display, he can hold back on the sackcloth and ashes. Myhre made three outstanding saves; one to foil Emile Heskey, another to deny the veteran ex-Everton striker, Tony Cottee, and one right at the end from Matt Elliott's fierce drive.
Despite his heroics, Leicester should still have won, Heskey putting his shot wide of an empty goal after Myhre had temporarily been obliged to desert his post. Against that, Kasey Keller had to make just one demanding stop albeit an excellent one from Ibrahima Bakayoko's volley. Otherwise, Everton were every bit as unthreatening as their recent record suggests.
If the crowd is frustrated, said Walter Smith, then so is the manager. "We've tried different formations and different players, all with the same result," he ruminated. His main innovation on Saturday was the inclusion of John Oster. In his brittle way, Oster shows some skill, but the effect of a formation that also featured wing-backs was to push him into a midfield hurly-burly for which he seems too fragile. Olivier Dacourt and Don Hutchison had their fleeting moments in that midfield, but Bakayoko and Danny Cadamarteri were largely reduced to chasing around in a futile search for a sight of goal.
The presence of Cottee was a reminder that it was not always so difficult to score goals at Goodison. Supporters there are not just getting nostalgic about him let alone a Lineker, Latchford or a Sharp; they are even starting to reminisce fondly about Daniel Amokachi.
|Report © The Independent|
|Expectations add pressure to O'Neill's colourless task|
|by Stephen Wood, The Times|
THERE was a theme running through the feelings expressed by many Everton
fans before their team's meeting with Leicester City on Saturday. Martin
O'Neill, the visiting manager, had come perilously close to accepting the
manager's job at Goodison Park last summer: that he did not, they said, was
because he could not handle the pressure of working for such a big club.
O'Neill's take on the situation became clear a couple of hours later. Although he never said as much, managing an aspiring-yet-unfashionable club was just as stressful: a no-win situation, in fact.
He could not tear himself away from the press lounge before he had hammered home his incredulity. "I received this letter from a supporter a couple of weeks ago," he said. "He has been a fan for 32 years and he was telling me that, since winning the Coca-Cola Cup in 1997, we had done nothing. What has he been watching for 30 years? It might seem nice and comfortable at Leicester, but people expect too much from us now."
Leicester will never be considered a big club. O'Neill knows that more than anyone, for it must occupy his thoughts and dreams every time he is connected with another vacancy. Instead, O'Neill's task at Leicester is to keep their status in the FA Carling Premiership, something that is becoming increasingly difficult.
"The amount of money in the Premiership means that the better players are tending to gravitate to the biggest clubs more and more," O'Neill said. "That gives us a problem because we've got some fantastic players, players that other clubs are always looking at.
"We've got to keep them if we're going to have any more success, but we've got to have some success soon if we're going to keep them. Heskey, Izzet, Lennon, Elliott they all need a reason to stay with us."
The goalless draw was Everton's seventh from 11 home games this season and their total of three goals scored at Goodison Park has become the club's worst form at home in 121 years.
More worryingly, the dross is taking its toll on the players' minds and bodies. Michael Ball, a colleague of Heskey in the England Under-21 squad, is a talented wing back in need of a rest. Having played non-stop for more than a year, Ball is looking laboured and ineffective. "It has got to me a little bit," he said.
Foreign leagues would never countenance such treatment of their young stars, but, perhaps, foreign football is still more attractive than the celebrated English game. There was no evidence to the contrary on Saturday. Thomas Myhre, the Everton goalkeeper, and Kasey Keller, his counterpart at Leicester, each produced two excellent saves to ensure stalemate once again. The rest was embarrassing.
|Report © Times Newspapers Ltd|
|Goodison bows to the inevitable|
|Derek Potter, Electronic Telegraph|
BOOKMAKERS are rarely so generous. Ladbrokes were positively magnanimous
yesterday, offering 7-1 against a seventh goalless draw of the season at
gloomy Goodison Park.
At least the successful punters had something to shout about following a game of much staunch effort but no magical touch in front of goals defended with consistent brilliance by Thomas Myhre and Kasey Keller.
Three goals in 11 games make it the worst sequence at Goodison Park in Everton's 121 years. And for all the potential of Tony Cottee needing two against his former club to give him a total of 200 goals in the League and his partner Emile Heskey, who have nine goals each so far, Leicester were not big enough or clever enough for the job.
While they lacked a knock-out punch, Leicester had a strong case to claim the match on points after much successful sparring in mid-field. "We just have to keep plugging away," said Walter Smith, the Everton manager. "We must turn the nil-nils into one-nils in our favour."
It was always deuce between internationals Myhre of Norway and Keller of the USA. Myhre's save from a free-kick by Matthew Elliott in the last seconds was worth the entrance fee for those who stayed to the end of what always seemed an inevitable deadlock.
Keller began the goalkeeping duel with a super save from Ibrahima Bakayoko. Myhre matched that spectacular effort to save Cottee's powerful flying header.
Everton's most threatening attack, early in the second half, ended when Keller casually plucked the ball off Danny Cadamarteri's toes. And a long run by Cadamarteri was halted by a well-timed, penalty-secure tackle by Robert Ullathorne.
Heskey missed the best chance of all in the 86th minute when he rolled the ball wide from 35 yards after it had bounced off Myhre as he checked a run by Cottee. One goal, you always felt, would have done it.
"We were reasonably comfortable and I was reasonably pleased with our performance," said Martin O'Neill, the Leicester manager, who was disturbed by Oliver Dacourt's officially cautioned lunge at Neil Lennon.
"It was a nasty challenge and I was concerned for my player," said O'Neill, sensing that his team had been one touch away from a precious three points. "He does not go down unless there's something wrong."
Everton, however, might well go down unless they start scoring soon.
|Report © The Electronic Telegraph|
|FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP|
|RESULTS (Game 21)|
|Saturday 9 January 1999|
Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0 38,107 Blackburn Rovers 1 Leeds United 0 27,620 Gillespie 22 Coventry City 4 Nottingham Forest 0 17,172 Huckerby 45,46,75, Telfer 54 Everton 0 Leicester City 0 32,792 Middlesbrough 0 Aston Villa 0 34,643 Newcastle United 0 Chelsea 1 36,711 Petrescu 38 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0 28,204 Southampton 3 Charlton Athletic 1 15,222 Kachloul 8, Colleter 52, Hunt 13 Beattie 89 Wimbledon 2 Derby County 1 12,732 Euell 8, Roberts 83 Wanchope 76
|Sunday 10 January 1999|
Manchester United 4 West Ham United 1 55,000 Yorke 10, Cole 40,68, Lampard 89 Solskjaer 81
|LEAGUE TABLE (after 10 January 1999 )|
Club P W D L GF GA GD Pts Chelsea 21 10 10 1 32 17 15 40 Aston Villa 21 11 7 3 31 20 11 40 Manchester United 21 10 8 3 43 24 19 38 Arsenal 21 9 9 3 22 11 11 36 Leeds United 21 8 9 4 34 20 14 33 Wimbledon 21 9 6 6 29 33 -4 33 Liverpool 21 9 5 7 36 25 11 32 West Ham United 21 9 5 7 25 27 -2 32 Middlesbrough 21 7 10 4 32 26 6 31 Leicester City 21 7 8 6 23 21 2 29 Derby County 21 6 10 5 21 20 1 28 Tottenham Hotspur 21 7 7 7 28 30 -2 28 Newcastle United 21 6 6 9 24 29 -5 24 Everton 21 5 9 7 13 21 -8 24 Sheffield Wednesday 21 6 5 10 21 22 -1 23 Blackburn Rovers 21 5 6 10 21 28 -7 21 Coventry City 21 5 5 11 20 29 -9 20 Southampton 21 4 5 12 19 39 -20 17 Charlton Athletic 21 3 7 11 24 34 -10 16 Nottingham Forest 21 2 7 12 18 40 -22 13