Everton Logo

Everton 0 - 2 Newcastle United

Half-time: 0 - 0


Newcastle United Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1999-2000 – Game 30
4 pm Sunday 19 March 2000
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 32,512
« Coventry City (a) Ref: Graham Barber Sunderland (a) »
[1999-2000 Fixtures & Results] League Position: 10th [Premiership Results & Table]
 MATCH SUMMARY
Same say the season ended once Everton secured the magic 40 points against Sheffield Wednesday to ensure top-flight survival for yet another season.  And Everton do seem to have played with their collective minds away somewhere on some sunny summer beaches since that match... but this clash between two teams with the strongest of Premiership followings was fully expected to be a passionate affair.  

Sadly, it fell far short. even though it did feature the first return to Goodison Park of one Duncan Ferguson, Everton idol and braveheart warrior/thug from a previous era (depending on your viewpoint!). 

Add to that the presence of another previous Everton captain and boyhood blue in Gary Speed who received his customary  aggressive reception plus the first managerial visit of four-time Everton hot-seat target, the geriatric Bobby Robson; the result was a tense and fraught tussle.

Everton home fans and armchair viewers got their first views of the cousins Hughes (No, they are not really cousins, silly!) as Stephen and Mark both making their home debuts.  

Everton started very poorly, with schoolboy errors allowing Newcastle to apply relentless pressure for most of the half but to no effect.  Frustration got the better of the geordies, who picked up three yellows cards including Speed and Ferguson.  Everton improved towards the break, but corners and crosses were generally inadequate, and there was hardly a single notable attempt on goal from either side.

Everton appeared to play better in a dull second half, until the last 10 mins when they decided to throw the match and their excellent unbeaten home record.  Two stupid goals, both silly, childish defensive errors, made the difference in a match where Everton's second (third?) string attack could not produce one single goal-scoring chance.

Europe?  Ha!!!  Quite pathetic. On this performance, Everton will finish just outside the drop zone...

 

  

 MATCH FACTS
   GOALSCORERS  
EVERTON:
Newcastle United: Hughes (78'), Dyer (86')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Gerrard; Unsworth, Weir, Gough, Xavier; Pembridge, S. Hughes (76' Ball), Collins, Barmby (85' Dunne); M. Hughes, Moore (65' Cadamarteri). 
Unavailable: Cleland, Campbell, Degn, Jeffers, Williamson, (injured); Hutchison (transfer-listed).
Myhre, Gemmill.
Newcastle United: Given, Hughes, Dabizas, Howey, Barton, Gallacher (68' Domi), Speed, Lee, Solano (76' Dyer), Ferguson, Shearer.  Goma, Harper, Ketsbaia.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
Newcastle United: Black & white shirts; black shorts; _ socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Xavier (70'), Hughes (91')
Newcastle United: Speed (21'), Ferguson (23'), Howey (33').

  

 MATCH REPORTS
 REPORTS BY EVERTON FANS
Steve Bickerton Mark Hughes lost us the game
David Catton Lineker the real villain
Richard Marland Goodbye to our unbeaten home record
 NEWSPAPER REPORTS
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Everton undone by third man
by Nicholas Spencer
THE INDEPENDENT Dyer rises above mediocrity
by Phil Shaw
THE TIMES Newcastle rise above Ferguson furore
by Stephen Wood
 OTHER INTERNET REPORTS
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 Mark Hughes lost us the game
Steve Bickerton
 
Today was a day for reflection.  A day for weighing up how far we've progressed over the last 12 months. 

A cloudy Sunday afternoon match, was prefaced by the presentation to the club of a symbolic cheque for 2.5M from renewing sponsors One-2-One.  With a further 6M to be added to the coffers by Puma UK for the new sportswear (kit) sponsorship, the promise of a handsome prize cheque from Sky for finishing 6th or 7th, and the advance fee of some 5M from Sky for next year, we might see a situation where the club fleetingly crawls into the black over the next couple of months.  All we had to do was to turn it on, at home, in front of the cameras. 

Not a promise I expected to be fulfilled, yet I didn't expect much better from Newcastle, poor travellers, even under their contender for Manager of the Year (Bobby Robson) if the press are to be believed.  But what of our own contender?  How has he done this year?  From the point where we lost at home to Sheffield Wednesday and the drop staring us in the face, to the lofty position of challenging for Europe, how and where had Walter made those improvements?

Was it a better quality of player?  Hutchison, Materazzi, Dacourt all key components of last year's struggling side, all gone or going.  Stephen Hughes brought in to replace Hutchison; as far as I'm concerned, a single game today is far too soon to judge the wisdom of that move... 

Gough for Materazzi has been a spectacular success, the benefit of experience over youthful exuberance.  But it would be stretching it a bit to compare the swap of Pembridge for Dacourt as a move in the right direction, wouldn't you think?  Yet, maybe that's the most salient comparison of all.  The promise, the gift and the class of Dacourt was wasted in last year's side.  He had far too much to do on his own, the expectation of the crowd and he had the referees to contend with as well. 

Book it if it moves (last year) has been replaced with move if it needs booking (this year).  How Ollie could have flourished.  But Pembridge is far more suited to the workaday role we need in a side stretched to its limits in terms of both skill and quality.  He symbolises more of the "dogs of war" attitude engendered by Joe Royle than the silky skills hoped for last year by Walter Smith.  Today was to be a measure of what had become of us over that twelve month period.  Over-achievers or European aristocrats?

The game was a poor affair, plenty of effort put in all around the field of play, with no real penetration from either side.  For the first twenty minutes in the first half, Newcastle seemed to hold the upper hand as we struggled with an unfamiliar and unbalanced looking line up.

I've held it up to be a 4-4-2 formation, but it could equally have been a 3-5-2 or 3-6-1 as both Xavier and Moore, at various times, drifted into midfield instead of holding their positions.  This was further complicated by Stephen Hughes moving into a middle area, treading on Pembridge's toes and leaving no width on the left.  

There were spaces galore for Newcastle to capitalise but, poor as we were, they were unable to find a way.  And that about sums up the first half.  No drama, nothing to get fired up about, except for the now tedious diatribe at the returning Gary Speed.  He expects it now, its water off a duck's back or rather it's the fuel to his boiler, it drives him on.  It's time to let it go.  We need to look forward now, not back.  

"If, you know, you're history" may be our favourite chant, but I'm sure it refers more to the "Glory of the Blues" that the revulsion which raises its head every time Gary Speed appears.  But I digress.  Half time 0-0 all to play for, if only one side can find that ignition switch.

The second half was a bit more passionate.  We held them comfortably, in the main, for 30 minutes, without having a shot on goal at all, ourselves.  Several corners, less-than-half-chances and Newcastle on the back foot, but quick on the break.  And break they did. 79 minutes and the ball is bobbling about in the Everton penalty area.  David Weir, so often the hero this year, fell asleep and failed to clear, in nipped the Newcastle Hughes (A) and the ball was in the net. 0-1.

Cadamarteri had already come on for the tireless, but ineffective Moore ("more" of that later).  He'd had a couple of runs at the defence, had shown promise, but now it was time to deliver.  Hughes (S) was running on empty when he was replaced by Ball and Walter then baffled everyone by pulling off Barmby (to a chorus of jeers and boos) to replace him with Dunne.  I can only assume that idea was to give us a target man in the dying embers of the game.  Barmby was by far our most inventive player, on the day.  But the only target we saw was the one hit by Kieron Dyer, a Newcastle substitute, who ran half the length of the field before dinking the ball over the statuesque Gerrard for a second Newcastle goal. 0-2.

After that it was all over almost our first shot of the game (or was it?) flashed across the face of the Newcastle net as Cadamarteri tried a cheeky one, but that was it.  What a surrender of a proud undefeated home record.  As Mr Barber blew the whistle for full time, it was not a moment too soon.

So, where did it go wrong? Well, the first twenty minutes apart, when we were overrun in midfield, we were reasonably secure.  Pembridge in particular and Collins were harrying and chasing, tackling and passing in as effective a midfield pairing as I've seen this year.  But out on the left, Hughes (S) looked lost.  He still hasn't picked up the pace of the game after his long absence from Premiership regularity.  He showed a few neat touches, but its early days, I'll reserve judgement.  

Barmby was his usual self, up and down, beavering away.  But he was playing for two.   Xavier was ineffective at right back.  Too often giving the ball away and finding himself out of position.  On the left, Unsworth was steady (mainly) in defence, but his distribution was very, very poor.  Gough and Weir looked comfortable, with Ferguson having one of those "going through the motions" sort of games, that so often used to infuriate us.  Then Weir went to sleep and we paid the price, losing the first goal due to dallying and the second through trying to rescue our unbeaten record.

But I've not mentioned the forwards, have I because it was here, in my opinion, that we lost it.  If God loves a trier, then he must idolise Mark Hughes, because he tries my patience every time I see him.  Now I know defenders aren't all angels, but Mark Hughes, he pulls at them, digs them, jumps into them without challenging for the ball and is an outright cheat in my opinion ( Rodney Marsh).  

Mark Hughes lost us the game, because in a one-on-one tussle with a defender, he's a marked man.  We never got the benefit of the doubt and we never got the advantage.  Why?  Because Hughes's reputation is deserved and goes ahead of him.  It's no wonder Moore was ineffective.  How can anyone be expected to play well alongside the Welsh Manager?  Cadamarteri faired a little better, but only because he had the ball played directly to him more often.

Overall we got no more and no less than we deserved.  On another day I'd have been philosophical and said "C'est la vie".  But not today.  Newcastle didn't deserve a point either. The loser today was "Nil satis nisi optimum".

Man of the Match:

A toss up between Barmby, Collins, Pembridge and Gough.  Little to choose between any of them.   I'm going to give it to Pembridge because of all those on show, he was the one who got stuck in the most.


 
 Lineker the real villain
David Catton
 
Walter Smith, Manager of the Season? Spherical rotundities 'balls' to the rest of you.  Three substitutions (a record?) in one game and not one of them the player who contributed least to the team.  Get a grip, Walter, others may think you're the answer but you're just reinforcing my prejudices against you with your selections and tactics.

For openers, Abel Xavier was as effective as Earl Barrett used to be can't match the pace of his opponent so stands 4-5 yards off and tries to get him to stay out wide, hoping he'll run off the field or turn back onto his right foot so he can catch up or, if he gets a cross in, it won't be his problem.  When Weir (or anyone else) goes across to cover for him, he dithers in no-man's land around the edge of the area making space and leaving an uncovered attacker behind him.  His distribution is Barrettesque as well.

Pembridge continues to make progress and may yet be Barry Horne II if only he could pass to another Everton player.  Collins had the best game I have seen him play for Everton but just occasionally his last minute lunge tackles are so mis-timed that he's lucky to stay on the pitch.  Yesterday he didn't even get booked such was the leniency of Mr Barber surely the most home-biased referee we've had at Goodison in years.  If only he could have contrived a penalty for us, we might have scored.  There was no other way we were going to.

Mark Hughes was all I expected.  Grit, determination, a great deal of skill, some lovely ball control and (unusually) as many fouls for as against.  Pretty much any other referee than the Everton-friendly Mr Barber could easily have seen more to penalise than he did in Mark's 'getting-stuck-in performance' but nevertheless it was a performance of stunning mediocrity.  For all his endeavour there was no penetration either by himself or those alongside him.  It might be better after some work on the training ground but I'm not going to hold my breath.  Still it's early days yet ...

Barmby was as energetic as ever but not particularly effective not one of his better days.  Stephen Hughes was largely peripheral; some nice touches but a promising rather than a major contribution.  Joe-Max Moore ran around a lot Walter says he does that during games but he never got into any dangerous positions.

Unsworth's distribution was no better than usual but at least he gave Shearer a hard time, as did Gough; Weir managed to get an arm over Ferguson's shoulder in most challenges which reduced his ability to make the most of his heading ability.

As for the substitutes: Cadamateri did nothing that Joe-Max Moore hadn't tried and Ball may have touched the ball once or twice but to no great effect.  The 'masterstroke' was the introduction of Richard Dunne.  The sight of him stripping off to come on with 5 minutes to go almost redeemed my views of Walter for a second or two.  Now, surely, Xavier would be put out of his misery but, no, Dunne went to centre-forward!  I have the feeling that if the FA allowed 10 substitutes in a game, Walter would still have had Xavier on the field at the end.

Apart from that, Gerrard did play the ball out short once but otherwise every clearance was a Southall signature punt up-field.  Everton's corners were equally unimaginative crosses.  With Ferguson and Shearer coming back to defend, surely one or two short corners could have been tried?

Of course, the real villain of the piece was Gary Lineker.  His last comment on MotD was to the effect that if Everton beat Newcastle they would go 6th in the table.  I went to bed knowing that we couldn't win.


 
 Goodbye to our unbeaten home record
Richard Marland
 
My enthusiasm for writing match reports has gone the way of the teams motivation these days, so I'll restrict myself to some observations this time.

At the start of the game I thought we looked distinctly ropey and disorganised.  I guess that was largely due to a bit of a reshuffle with Unsworth coming back into defence and Collins returning to centre midfield.  Newcastle had us under quite severe pressure early on and I started to fear the worst.

Fortunately we got better, we began to get more organised and gradually we worked our way back into the game, starting to spend some time in their half.  The general play was fairly fast and frenetic with midfield being by-passed in a bit of a blur.  In all, though, the first half came to naught.  Neither 'keeper had had a save to make and defences had, more or less, been on top.

The second half brought no discernible change to this pattern.  Both teams had their moments in the opposition penalty area but these were invariably scrappy opportunities which never led to clear cut chances.  It started to look like a 0-0, certainly neither team had imposed themselves upon the game and neither looked worthy of a goal.

Of course there was always the danger of a scrappy goal and it duly arrived for Newcastle.  It was another one of those catalogue of errors type things, first there was a panicky clearance from our penalty area (not sure who it was) that fell straight to a Newcastle player just outside the box.  The ball was played back into the area where David Weir picked it up, he tried to work it clear but lost possession and Aaron Hughes found the back of the net.  A bad goal to concede and another instance of us getting caught out by failing to defend positively in our own penalty area.

With our lack of attacking invention, that looked like it. We went through the motions, Walter made some changes but we never looked likely to drag ourselves back into it.  Any faint hopes we may have harboured were soon killed off by Kieron Dyer.  His burst from midfield caught us horribly square and flat-footed, Gerrard came out but not decisively enough and just set himself up to be lobbed.  Dyer applied the necessary touch and that was that, game over and goodbye to our unbeaten home record.

Whilst being disappointed at losing our unbeaten home record, it has to be acknowledged that it had led a sometimes charmed life, and our current run of form had always made it's loss a possibility.  The fact is we haven't played well at home for some time now possibly Sunderland on Boxing Day was the last time we played well.  I don't think that we deserved to get beaten today but we certainly didn't deserve to win.

  • Gerrard 6  Not at his most convincing today.  No saves to make but didn't command his area as he should.
  • Xavier 5  Fast becoming the target of the boo boys and frankly with performances like this he isn't doing his case much good.  I certainly didn't think he was as bad as some were making out but there is definite room for improvement.
  • Unsworth 7  A competent defensive performer who isn't quite at his best at the moment.
  • Gough 8  Shearer and Ferguson barely got a sniff all day and that's largely down to Gough.  Another masterful defensive performance.
  • Weir 8  The other reason why Shearer and Ferguson were so quiet.  It's just a pity he blotted his copybook by getting caught dallying on the ball for their first goal.  Still, after the marvelous consistency of his performances this season, he's allowed the odd indiscretion.
  • Barmby 7  Another exceptionally energetic performance from Barmby, he really does work so hard for the cause.  Unfortunately he needs a little more going on around him to be truly effective.
  • Collins 7  Continuing his recent run of form.  Worked hard, tackled well and used the ball quite well.  Even managed one sweeping cross-field pass to put someone away down the left flank.
  • Pembridge 7  Another who worked hard, he must have run miles just trotting across to take the corners and throw-ins.
  • S Hughes 6  Peripheral for large portions of the game.  Showed some nice touches, particularly in the first half, but needs to contribute more.
  • M Hughes 6  Pretty much what we expected combative and put himself about a bit.  Showed a decent touch on the ball and, on occasion, did well in linking up the play.  Heavily penalised by the referee for the physical tussles with Dabizas and ultimately booked.  In instances like that it is impossible to tell from the stands who is fouling who, and I often wonder how the referee adjudicates on things like that.  I personally thought that with Hughes and Dabizas it was six of one and half a dozen of the other and would have expected the foul count to have reflected that, instead it was heavily weighted against Hughes.
  • Moore 6  Eager and willing as ever but fed on scraps today.
  • Cadamarteri 6  Always looks keen, eager and full of running but never really looks like he's going to achieve anything of significance.
  • Ball 6  Not on long and didn't get too involved.
  • Dunne 6  Don't think he'll make a centre-forward somehow.

Team 6  Looking at the individual scores it doesn't look that bad.  That, though, partly reflects the fact that everyone worked hard without really achieving too much.  Defensively we coped pretty well, but it was further up the field that we struggled.  Once again we didn't pass particularly well and any kind of creative spark was sadly missing, we never really looked like scoring.

Man of the match Gough just ahead of Weir.


 
 Everton undone by third man
Nicholas Spencer, Electronic Telegraph
 

ON THE day Everton introduced two home debutants called Hughes it was perhaps inevitable that the third man on the pitch boasting that name should score the goal which would cost Walter Smith's team their unbeaten home Premiership record.

Unfortunately for spectators anticipating a decent contest, Aaron Hughes, Newcastle's Northern Ireland international defender, waited until the 79th minute to produce the first shot on target of a desperate game.

The chance only fell his way courtesy of David Weir's misjudgment in trying an elaborate drag-back on the edge of his own six-yard box.  Hughes duly took his chance to steal the headlines from his namesakes, Mark and Stephen, by driving the ball past Paul Gerrard.

Hughes owed his chance to the speed of substitute Kieron Dyer, whose energetic burst had unsettled the Everton defence.  Eight minutes later the England player rounded off a mesmerising contribution by sprinting clear of three defenders and calmly lobbing Gerrard to complete the job.

Bobby Robson deserves credit for a typically shrewd gambit in sending on Dyer and Didier Domi.  The pity is that he waited until the final 20 minutes to release a combination of pace down either flank which shredded the Everton defence at regular intervals.

Newcastle headed home in 11th place, a point behind Everton.  Robson praised his players' climb from the relegation places to 40 points, a total he considers sufficient for safety.  Possible FA Cup glory awaits.

"What we have acquired is a tenacity and resilience to weather storms when things aren't going our way.  With the quality in the side we will get forward and score goals," said Robson.

The last time these sides met Everton achieved a victory which was overshadowed by the sale of Duncan Ferguson to their opponents for 8 million, which precipitated the departure of chairman Peter Johnson and ultimately a change of ownership and a new confidence at the club.

The warmth of Ferguson's greeting from the Everton faithful quickly dissipated in the wake of a late tackle on Weir which earned a booking.  Gary Speed, a less welcome old boy, also transgressed with a foul on a Wales team-mate, Mark Pembridge.

The enforced absences of Kevin Campbell and Francis Jeffers has prompted Walter Smith into the transfer market and meant a home debut for Mark Hughes.

The game's failure to breathe did little to help Stephen Hughes assert any of his class following his 3 million move from Arsenal in an unbalanced midfield, in which he found himself the widest of three left-footers.

Everton toiled long and hard in search of an opportunity and Smith sent on Danny Cadamarteri in the hope that his pace would disrupt Newcastle.  He was overshadowed by Dyer, who flicked the ball past Weir and John Collins and beat Abel Xavier before lobbing home.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 
 Dyer rises above mediocrity
by Phil Shaw, The Independent
 

Two goals in the final 12 minutes, after neither team had managed a shot or header on target in the previous 78, simultaneously propelled Newcastle into their highest position this season, 11th, and plundered Everton's unbeaten Premiership home record yesterday.

More importantly for the exultant Toon Army, victory also took Bobby Robson's revitalised side to within two points of Sunderland.  When Newcastle last tangled with Everton, in November, they were slumming in 17th place as Robson sought to restore order amid the debris of Ruud Gullit's reign.  Moreover, they were 16 points adrift of their neighbours and had a solitary draw to show for seven away fixtures.

Aaron Hughes, the Northern Ireland defender, eclipsed his better-known namesakes, Mark and Stephen, on their home debuts for Everton by breaking the deadlock.  After beating Kieron Dyer to a cross by Didier Domi, David Weir committed the cardinal error of trying to dribble the ball clear.  He was promptly dispossessed by Hughes, who cleverly dragged the ball forward before angling it past Paul Gerrard.

If that goal owed more to persistence than virtuosity, the same could not be said for the second. Dyer, feeling his way back to fitness as a late substitute, was in Newcastle's half when he received Warren Barton's throw-in.  Lifting it over Weir and John Collins in one touch, the England midfielder galloped towards goal, performing another audacious flick over Abel Xavier en route.  As Gerrard tried to narrow the angle, Dyer deftly lobbed him from 18 yards a sublime piece of skill to round off a contest characterised by a dearth of refinement and a surfeit of ruggedness.

For an event that had no bearing on the relegation issue, and only a tenuous connection with the question of qualifying for Europe, the match generated passions which might have surprised neutrals.  The reason could be summed up in two words: Duncan Ferguson.

The manager who brought Ferguson to Everton, Joe Royle, once described him as being "a legend before he was a player".  The Scot's cult status obviously survived his transfer to Newcastle, the mere announcement of his name provoking a huge roar from the Goodison faithful.  Gary Speed is less fondly remembered by Evertonians after his defection to the north-east: his every touch prompted booing, his early booking a cheer.

Newcastle's players knew that anyone sent off would be suspended for next month's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.  Yet their early fractiousness seemed designed to test the tolerance of Graham Barber, who will also referee their game at Wembley.  Ferguson had already got away with a potentially dangerous swing of the forearm against his former Rangers team-mate, Richard Gough, when the referee booked him for a feisty challenge on Weir.

Steve Howey received Newcastle's third yellow in 12 minutes, for dissent, and Speed flirted with red by blatantly body-checking Collins.  The latter, meanwhile, was fortunate when his sliding tackle on Aaron Hughes passed without so much as a foul being awarded.

As for the more wholesome first-half action, only isolated moments stood out.  Everton's Mozambique-born Abel Xavier startled the crowd with a stylish back-heeled clearance; like his two-tone quiff, which would have done Little Richard proud, such ingenuity is seldom seen from defenders.  Howey, hooking the ball behind as Joe-Max Moore prepared to shoot, curtailed Everton's best move, while Speed headed over Newcastle's only half-chance from Nolberto Solano's corner shortly before the break.

For a long time, the second half was no better.  Mark Hughes and Abel Xavier also had their names taken, the 37-year-old Gough policed Ferguson and Alan Shearer with embarrassing ease, and a game featuring no fewer than 21 full internationals stuttered along until Hughes and Dyer struck.

Quite what Hughes, a left-back, was doing in the centre-forward position was a mystery.  For the sake of the spectacle, it was as well that he was.

Report © The Independent

 
 Newcastle rise above Ferguson furore
by Stephen Wood, The Times
 

THE dross contained in the corresponding fixture last season was overshadowed by the furore of Duncan Ferguson's departure, but not even the interest created by the return of the former Everton talisman could disguise the lack of quality at Goodison Park yesterday.  It appeared as though Newcastle United had won by default but, given that it represented Everton's first home defeat in the FA Carling Premiership season, they will claim a worthy achievement.  Within reason, Bobby Robson, the Newcastle manager, felt justified in doing that.  Their fourth win in five outings lifted them to eleventh place and Robson said: "When I was appointed earlier this season, my brief was to help the club avoid relegation, which was a real possibility.

"It is only the second week of March and, with 40 points, we are already safe and there is still an FA Cup semi-final to look forward to."

Newcastle certainly displayed the "resilience and tenacity" yesterday that Robson believes has characterised their revival, but the saddest indictment of the game was contained in the statistic that only two efforts were made on target by either side.  Waiting for them to arrive was certainly the hardest part and, when they did, in the final 11 minutes, their sources contrasted sharply.

A mistake by David Weir, the Everton defender, precluded the breakthrough.  The Scotland international attempted to dribble out of his own penalty area but was dispossessed by Aaron Hughes and the Newcastle defender, making his fiftieth appearance for the club, toe-poked the first goal of his career.

Moments before the final whistle there was a treat to savour.  Kieron Dyer, the England midfield player who had been on the pitch for ten minutes, lifted the ball over Weir and then tempted Xavier into a rash challenge before advancing on Gerrard and arcing the ball over the stranded goalkeeper.

It mattered little to the outcome, in fact, that Ferguson, who had passed a fitness test to play six hours before the kick-off, was in the black and white of Newcastle.  It looked as though the only significance attached to his presence, 16 months after the 8 million transfer that led to the downfall of Peter Johnson, the former Everton chairman, would be to highlight the progress made by his former employers.

Alas, even that was not possible for Everton.  Victory would have elevated the home side into the top six of the Premiership, but perhaps dreams of qualifying for European competition are premature at the moment.  Yesterday was the perfect example of their shortcomings.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 
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