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Watford 1 - 3 Everton

Half-time: 0 - 2

Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1999-2000 – Game 18
3pm Saturday 18 December 1999
Vicarage Road, Watford
Att: 17,346
« Exeter City (a) Ref: Alan Wilkie Exeter City (h) »
[1999-2000 Fixtures & Results] League Position: 11th [Premiership Results & Table]
The Don The battle of the winless ones. Everton's dire record since that glorious day way back at the end of September is turning into a serious problem for Walter Smith, who managed to avoid much of the blame for the poor run of form since he was given the dreaded Manager of the Month award.

Injuries are starting to bite, with Franny Jeffers down with the flu, and Gough declared unfit. You'd expect that would be an opportunity for Joe-Max Moore to make his full debut for the Blues, but Walter Smith instead deployed Hutchison up-front, and it worked a treat in the first half, with The Don making an early goal for Barmby, then scoring one himself.

In the second half, Everton lost their shape and their will to win, and were in real danger of being swamped as Ngonge scored an excellent goal.

But it all came good in the last five minutes, when Barmby was hauled down in the area and Unsworth converted from the spot after the linesman had to persuade Alan Wilkie that it really was a penalty. So Everton finally win a match after 2½ months!



Watford: Ngonge (59')
EVERTON: Barmby (4'), Hutchison (37'), Unsworth (pen:86')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
Watford: Chamberlain, Cox (91' Sent Off!), Palmer, Page, Robinson, Hyde (88' Foley), Williams, Johnson, Miller, Ngonge, Smith. Day, Gibbs, Bakalli, Perpetuini.
EVERTON: Gerrard, Cleland (72' Watson), Weir, Dunne, Unsworth, Barmby, Xavier, Collins, Pembridge, Campbell, Hutchison.
Unavailable: Cadamarteri (suspended); Jeffers (ill), Gemmill, Gough, Ward, Williamson (injured); Branch, Myhre, O'Kane, Phelan (on loan); Bilic (in limbo); Parkinson (retired), Farrelly (transfered to Bolton Wanderers).
Ball, Moore, Grant, Simonsen.
   Playing Strips  Formations
Watford: Orange shirts; red shorts; red & orange socks. 4-3-1-2
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Watford: Johnson (61'), Miller (64'), Robinson (72') Cox (91')
EVERTON: Campbell (61'), Gerrard (89')


Steve Kirkwood Walter, sort it out
Steven Daley I Guess That's Why They Call Us The Blues
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Everton leave down-hearted Taylor in need of tonic
by Steve Curry
THE SUNDAY TIMES Barmby sets the pace as Watford struggle
by Kim Fletcher
THE INDEPENDENT Unsworth undermines Watford
by Ronald Atkin
THE TIMES Taylor in need of rapid relief
by Russell Kempson
EFC NEWS SITE Link to the Echo/Daily Post Match Report

THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
SPORTING LIFE Link to PA Sports Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

 Walter, sort it out
Steve Kirkwood
So that we are all clear, we won this game because they were worse than we were. With a couple of exceptions, Walter will know that we were very poor and the 2-2 draw which looked on the cards was spared us by the keen eye of the linesman. (Not often we get help, but I think we did on Saturday.)

First half was not bad at all; we scored two well-taken goals, and we looked tidy enough, but – switch to Stadler and Waldorf mode – we were terrible after half time (of which more later). Gerrard started his own, 'lets-get-Watford-back-into-this-game' with a reasonable save, a kick straight at the number 9, a walk too far and indirect free kick, at least two missed – not fumbled – crosses... This indecision was met momentarily by Weir, and away went Ngonge. Unsworth almost saved the situation, but Ngonge took it well.

And a game in which we were strolling became one that Watford could smell saving. The midfield, as at Old Trafford, went missing. Pembridge tried, but is nowhere near up to it. Xavier and Collins were bossed by a midfield who are one off the bottom. Weir was not his usual self, Dunne was capable enough – better I thought when he moved to right back – and Cleland proved why Walter doesn't fancy him. He's a crap right back. Going forward he's better, but not much.

And it won't be long before there's an incident at Watford. One steward at the gate saying sit where you like, was always going to be trouble. And there was. And its nice to have an end to ourselves, but one with toilets like the ones at Anfield – with standing room for eight – that's TwoToilets, With Room For Eight. And no room to pass under the stand. Blockages are a certainty, god forbid the ambualnce people ever need to get in/through. I think the Park End is ok, loads of room down below, but this place wasn't worthy of the words 'Safety Certificate', there'll be injuries or worse there before long. Rant over.

Walter, sort it out. Lose Pembridge, play Hutch in midfield, and have Jeffers fit – soon. Oh, and keep an eye on Gerrard, he's not long left before Tommy's back.

 I Guess That's Why They Call Us The Blues
Steven Daley, Everton Online
Yawning, I pull myself out of my pit ....... bizarrely enough, the sun shines in, the smell of bacon fills the air, a smile replaces the yawn. A shower and a most enjoyable breakfast later and I'm up and about, ready to take on the world.

The last-minute checks are done and we are ready to leave, goodbyes are said and the front door opens....... Two extra layers of clothing later and I'm de-icing the car.

Anyway, eventually we head down to Watford, probably one of the most uninspiring drives ever, M56, M6, M1 – end of, I hate motorways. Arriving at Junction 5 and we're following directions courtesy of Carling web – as good as they are, they aren't used. Watford, unlike most stadiums these days, is very very well sign-posted. Half an eye is kept open for the "Happy Hour" pub, were Evertonians and the NTAS were meeting up. It wasn't spotted, we didn't go.

After parking the car up on some industrial estate rubble just behind the Stadium, we walk up the side of the ground, allotments on one side, backs of houses with garages to the other. Graffiti adorns the walls, most of it anti-rugby; strange that... Strange, that is, until we reach the stadium itself and a big sign tells us that Vicarage Road is also the home of Saracens, that explains it then.

Your average man in the street is asked "Where can we get a pint mate?" Now forgive me if I'm wrong but, is our accent that bad? Do we sound like we are speaking double Dutch or Portuguese maybe? The reason I ask is due to the blokes reply; "There's a take away just up the road." Errm... thanks pal!

Further up the road and a pub is spotted: no chance; season ticket holders only – must be a great laugh in there. I can just imagine the three of them and Elton having various, riveting conversations, possibly containing boy scouts, probably not. Once again a local is asked, "Where can we get a pint mate?", "Eh?" was the steward's reply. This is going to be a long day I think to myself.

After some gesturing (a bit like when you're on holiday and the barman can't speak English) we eventually have some directions to a nearby pub. Off we trot following the directions given to us. We arrive at "Mac's" shortly after, three locals on the door talking about hub-caps suspiciously, hmmmm.

Anyway, into the bar we go, bloody hell – my living room is bigger – but it did have a nice open fire and friendly staff. Soon after, more and more blues arrive at this pub, until it's full and it's 100% blue. We hate Bill Shankly and we hate St John fills the air more than once. In fact, almost every song I've ever heard is sung at least four times, including a new version of Ooohh Everton, oh we are Everton and we love our etc etc, this version named every player in the current squad – it went on for a while! No one was leaving the pub, mainly due to the freezing cold outside, so it was getting fuller and fuller, still efficient staff meant not long to wait to be served. The ale was flowing, the fans were singing, it was brilliant – this is how away matches should be.

It got a little bit silly; a fire extinguisher was set of to the tune of Ev-er-ton and a load of empty glasses accidentally fell off the fruit machine, down the back, a huge smashing noise stopped the singing for maybe a split second, if not shorter. Not a million minutes later the local constabulary came to huge cheers, louder singing, and plenty of cheap jibes. They walked around the pub, which took about 2 minutes and then left; the noise continued.

After about seven pints, and at roughly half-past-two, we headed back to the ground. From outside, the away end looked the best stand out of them, with a half-decent frontage. We entered the turnstile, wondering about the pay-on-the-gate turnstile that was open to Everton fans? Bizarre that, seeing as Everton had sold all their tickets...

Anyway, in we go, and after a visit to the portable loo, we enter the seating area to be told by a steward – not much older than Franny Jeffers – that you could sit where you like! Ridiculous, in this day and age... Anyway we decided to sit in the seats actually allocated on our tickets.

In a moment of madness, caused mainly by the aforementioned seven pints of Stella, it was like being at home, Z-Cars blasted the stereo system as the teams ran out! The game itself was there for the taking, we all knew that, and the singing from the pub found its way on to the terrace. The usual early Everton goal came via Nick Barmby, latching onto The Don's pass, he tucked a neat low shot into the far corner, get it you beauty.

Everton looked in control for the remainder of the first half, and when we got the ball on the floor we looked three divisions higher than Watford. Unfortunately for the loud, huge away following, we didn't do it often enough and so entered the interval only two up after Hutch had scored a neat half-volley from Campbell's pass.

The second half brought the inevitable attempted fight-back from Watford; Ngonge managed to finish well to make it 2-1 but he should never have got near it, with Dunne and Weir both closing him down. The ball should have been cleared; it wasn't and a good turn and shot rippled the net. Once again, no blame at the hands of Paul Gerrard who wasn't really troubled for the 90 minutes.

Everton became nervous, giving possession away far too cheaply and this led to Watford having the majority of possession. They couldn't however turn the possession into decent chances and the closest they were to come for the rest of the match was a free kick which was far away enough to be watched over by Gerrard.

As we entered the final five minutes, Barmby started to see more and more of the ball and was playing well down the right-hand side. He burst into the box and was tripped before latching onto a pass. Alan Wilkie , this week's inept referee – waved play on but the Linesman's flag went across his chest. Wilkie, to his credit, saw this and had enough faith in his linesman to point to the spot.

Unsworth stepped up and, after a word in his ear from Don Hutchison, he slotted the ball in, running off to the celebrating blues fans. A few jumped the barrier and entered the pitch; stewards and police quickly moved in but not before Hutch could run twenty yards, grab one of the invader's hats and lob it full force into the traveling blues, much to the amusement of us – not so much to the arrested pitch invader.

With the game in effect over, Jingle bells rang out from the Evertonians and the Watford fans headed for the exits. In the final minutes, Campbell chased down a loose ball, which looked to have been kept in by Neil Cox but the linesman (yes, the penalty-giving one) gave a corner, Cox had a word with the linesman, who in turn spoke to Wilkie, who obliged and Cox walked.

So the three points secure, and we needed them, especially with Sunderland next up, albeit at home. On looking back to the game, Watford have got a few things that Everton could learn from: lids on the beers at half time and hot dogs in crusty french bread. That however is it: Vicarage Road is by no means a Premiership ground; Watford are a team of, at best, First Division players – the bald centre-back Page the exception to this.

Not to worry; by the end of the season, Watford will not be a Premiership team.

Visit Ste Daley's Everton Online Website

 Everton leave down-hearted Taylor in need of tonic
Steve Curry, Electronic Telegraph
ABYSS beckons for Watford. Everton, no great shakes themselves, found a visit to Vicarage Road therapeutic, as so many other Premiership sides have done this season and, sad to say, Watford's chances of survival are now minimal.

Just two points from a possible 30 is no vehicle for top-flight status and Graham Taylor, absent with flu, might feel inclined to prolong his stay in bed once he sees the video. Despite being an absentee he left his mark in his programme notes when he rounded on his players, sparing nobody, not least himself. But then the fans deserve an explanation.

He suggested that the FA Cup defeat by Birmingham a week earlier had left him feeling more down-hearted than he had been since he returned to the club. "We will start winning again as soon as we get rid of all the excuses and stop wallowing in self-pity," he wrote.

"Some of my players seem to have forgotten that whenever you point your finger at someone there are usually three fingers pointing back at you. Everybody has problems and what separates the winners from the losers is how you react to them. We are underachieving and it is my job to give the lead as to how we are going to alter that."

You cannot do much from your sick-bed and, in any event, Taylor's assistant, Kenny Jackett, did his job in terms of making the team fight. However, the fact is that Everton ended a run of nine games without a victory.

Manager Walter Smith said: "We did dictate matters for spells but never for long enough. Maybe that is because we lack a bit of confidence. We have been in a winning position in too many matches and not imposed our football."

That might apply to the team in general but for Don Hutchison and Nick Barmby there was no shortage of class, the Scot dictating matters from midfield to such an extent that he could have been wearing pips on his shoulder.

The goal Barmby scored after four minutes was a delight to see. He was instigator and finisher with a superb run, receiving a return ball from Hutchison and taking a yard in pace out of Paul Robinson before finishing well.

It was 20 minutes before Watford got a shot on goal and that was a weak one from Charlie Miller. Everton fortified their position with a second goal in the 38th minute. There was poor defending from first Steve Palmer, who failed to prevent Kevin Campbell from pulling the ball back from the byline. Hutchison then got across Robert Page to volley the ball home.

Game over, Watford have not scored three all season. They did pull one back from Michel Ngonge, who shielded the ball well from the chasing Richard Dunne before firing home powerfully. Any hope of parity was ended by a linesman, who decided Mark Williams had fouled Barmby in the penalty area. David Unsworth sent Alec Chamberlain the wrong way with his penalty.

The foul and abusive language subsequently used by Neil Cox against the linesman earned him a red card and three-match ban. Hardly what Watford need.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 Barmby sets the pace as Watford struggle
by Kim Fletcher, The Sunday Times
POOR Watford. Out of the FA Cup before Christmas and now without a win in the Premiership since September 18. After a stirring comeback against an Everton side that showed why it has so frustrated its fans this season, they had the stuffing knocked out of them when the visitors converted a late penalty given after the referee's assistant had flagged for a foul. Alan Wilkie, the referee, had missed it but that – Watford must have thought as they trudged off the pitch – is what happens when you are at the bottom.

In truth, Watford never deserved to beat an Everton side arrogant and jittery by turns, but the enthusiasm of their second-half performance, rewarded by a fine goal from Michel Ngonge, who burst through the defence to blast the ball into the roof of the net, had promised at least a point.

But Watford will have to start taking their chances. Yesterday they didn't, with Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard twice saving well from Tommy Smith, and Paul Robinson going close with a free kick from the edge of the area after 82 minutes.

Four minutes later, Nick Barmby, who had set Everton off to a great start in the fourth minute, tangled with Mark Williams in the box. Mr Wilkie waved play on, but saw his assistant flagging and changed his mind. David Unsworth scored with confidence and that was the end of Watford. The end of Neil Cox, too, the Watford full-back being sent off a couple of minutes later for using foul and abusive language to Mr Wilkie's linesman.

Watford must have doubted at first that the game would go that far, having let Everton in so early and shown a first-half reluctance for the fray. With the teams just finding their feet, Barmby played a neat one-two with Don Hutchison and discovered himself running clean through a flat-footed Watford defence. Everton hadn't won in the previous eight games, but he reacted coolly and placed the ball inside Alec Chamberlain's right-hand post off the goalkeeper's despairing arm.

Everton had the better of the half, looking slick and intelligent and threatening to score more, though it wasn't until the 37th minute that Hutchison swooped on a near-post cross from Kevin Campbell and, with the Watford defence standing obligingly still, he rifled home.

Everton showed in patches the form of which a talented side is capable, but proved that they are still prone to disaster in the face of a purposeful assault. Their fans must wonder when their team will consistently perform to the standard of which they are capable. As for Watford, they must be wondering where help is coming from. The panto at the town's Palace Theatre is Robinson Crusoe. The way things are going, it is Graham Taylor who is going to be marooned longer.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 Unsworth undermines Watford
by Ronald Atkin, The Independent
A late David Unsworth penalty sealed a victory which brought to an end Everton's sequence of eight games without a win. After a first-half of total domination, Everton came close to being pegged back by a determined Watford, but this latest setback pitches them into even deeper trouble. They have not won since mid-September.

After 12 games without a victory, Watford came in for a blast from Graham Taylor, their manager. Having admitted in the programme notes that last week's home FA Cup defeat by Birmingham was "the lowest I have felt since returning to the club", Taylor put the boot in.

Perhaps the manager expressed similar thoughts before sending out his team yesterday but, if chastened, Watford could hardly be described as alert when they leaked a goal after only five minutes. Nick Barmby, exchanging passes with Don Hutchison, ran through a static defence and, though Alec Chamberlain half parried the shot, he could not prevent it creeping in near the goalkeeper's right-hand upright.

It took Watford 20 minutes to put together a decent attack, one which carried the ball the width of the field and culminated in a Charlie Miller drive which Paul Gerrard held comfortably. Suitably inspired, Watford came again, but Michel Ngonge miscued his header from Paul Robinson's inviting cross. Soon enough, however, Everton resumed a control that bordered on the contemptuous, with John Collins masterful in midfield and Hutchison winning everything in the air as he pushed forward to partner Kevin Campbell.

Watford had a stroke of luck when Mark Williams miskicked an Alex Cleland centre, but the loose ball did not bounce kindly for Everton in the subsequent mêlée. Then Mark Pembridge and Campbell combined to offer Barmby another sight of goal, but a flick with the outside of his boot landed on the roof of the net.

Watford's respite was brief. After 38 minutes, a punt into the penalty area by Richard Dunne reached Campbell, who touched it back for Hutchison to earn reward for a fine first-half display by scoring easily. Right on the interval, it could have been 3-0 as Collins and Barmby linked to send Campbell through, but Chamberlain's fine deflecting save averted further misfortune for Watford.

Watford resumed in altogether livelier fashion and, when a corner from the right skidded off Ngonge's head to the feet of Tommy Smith, he wasted a good chance by shooting straight at Gerrard. The goalkeeper made a hash of the clearance and Smith raced in on goal again but, with the unmarked Ngonge screaming for a pass, Smith elected to shoot, once again straight at Gerrard.

Home hopes were raised as Gerrard was penalised inside his area, but the free kick was repelled by a mass of blue shirts. With an hour gone, however, Watford's determination was rewarded. Micah Hyde threaded a fine pass through the heart of Everton's defence and Ngonge, holding off Dunne's challenge, left Gerrard helpless. It was the Watford top scorer's fifth goal of the season.

As Everton came under pressure, manager Walter Smith soon replaced Dunne with the experienced defender Dave Watson, soon after referee Alan Wilkie cracked down on mounting nastiness by booking Everton's Campbell and Watford's Johnson and Robinson. Though Everton had gone off the boil, Chamberlain had to sprawl to turn away a Barmby left-footer, while, at the other end, Gerrard did equally well to clutch Steve Palmer's half-volley from outside the area as he fell to his left.

Twice more, Watford came close through Johnson, only for their hopes to be dashed five minutes from the end. Williams blocked Barmby and, though the referee saw nothing untoward about the tackle, a linesman flagged for a penalty. Mr Wilkie confirmed the award after a chat with his colleague and Unsworth struck a low left-foot shot inside Chamberlain's left-hand upright. When a couple of ecstatic Mersey fans had been wrestled off the field of play, there was just time for Gerrard to go into the referee's book for dawdling and then, sensationally, Neil Cox to be shown a red card, apparently for something he said.

Report © The Independent

 Taylor in need of rapid relief
by Russell Kempson, The Times
ON SATURDAY evening, the Watford players, officials, spouses and a select group of supporters gathered at one of the town's nightspots. It was an £85-a-head, black-tie affair, a convivial get-together to mark the festive season and a memorable year in which the club had risen to great heights. Fabba, the tribute band, sang nostalgically and a good time was had by all.

The Coliseum was an appropriately named venue. Hours earlier, at Vicarage Road, Watford had done battle with Everton and did not survive. They were teased gently, toyed with, allowed a brief respite and then dispatched with a clean blow. As the Watford fans streamed to the exits, away from the gloomy amphitheatre, they muttered their disapproval. Thumbs down for the bloodied gladiators.

It is easy to sympathise with players and punters. They knew life was going to be difficult in the racier environment of the FA Carling Premiership; they knew it would not take long before wide-eyed optimism was replaced by grim reality. But now that it has happened, defeat after demoralising defeat is hard to stomach.

Even Graham Taylor, the Watford manager, sees the signs. "We will start winning again as soon as we get rid of all the excuses and stop wallowing in self-pity," he wrote in his match programme notes. "Some of my players seem to have forgotten that whenever you point your finger at someone, there are usually three fingers pointing back at you. Everybody has problems and what separates the winners from the losers is how they react to them."

Taylor was absent on Saturday with a heavy cold. Had he attended, shivering and snuffling as the temperature plummeted, his physical and mental health would have only deteriorated. "The spirit is still good," Kenny Jackett, Taylor's first-team coach, said. "Southampton were in the bottom three all of last season but got out of it at the death. If that's what it takes, then we'll do it. We're not just going to lie down."

Southampton had Kachloul, Pahars, Hughes, Le Tissier; Watford, lamentably, do not have such instant game-turners. Yet it is in defence that Watford are hurting most. In the opening nine games of the season, they conceded nine goals. In the nine since, they have conceded 27. Everton scored twice in the first half, Barmby brushing off Robinson to beat Chamberlain and Hutchison guiding the second in at the near post.

Watford replied when Ngonge barged past Unsworth and Dunne to reduce the gap. The home fans sang the theme tune from The Great Escape but their hopes proved premature. With five minutes left, Williams and Barmby collided in the area, Alan Wilkie, the referee, heeded the advice of Andrew Butler, his assistant, and Unsworth popped in the penalty.

In the last minute, Cox was sent off for verbally abusing Butler over the spot-kick decision. "I've been in and apologised," Cox said. "I was frustrated." Happy Christmas? Bah, humbug.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd


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