Everton Logo

Everton 4 - 2 Watford

Half-time: 3 - 1

Watford Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1999-2000 – Game 32
3pm Saturday 1 April 2000
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 31,960
Sunderland (a) Ref: S Dunn (Bristol) Leicester City (a) »
[1999-2000 Fixtures & Results] League Position: 9th [Premiership Results & Table]
John Collins After a poor run of results Everton got the better of a Watford team who, for some time, have looked out of their depth in the Premier Division.  Although Everton could hardly be said to have looked impressive, their injury-depleted team put four goals past a side that seem doomed to relegation.

Joe-Max Moore got two of the goals and Mark Hughes another as Everton went in at half time with a 3-1 lead that looked destined to grow ever larger in the second half.  However, Watford brought the game back within reach at 3-2 and it took a late goal from Stephen Hughes to ensure the home side won.

Man of the Match was John Collins who was involved in everything finally playing the role of the midfield general, and relishing in the absence of arch-nemesis Don Hutchison.



EVERTON: M Hughes (18'), Moore (30', 36'), S Hughes (86')
Watford: Smart (35'), Hyde (80')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used
EVERTON: Gerrard, Ball, Gough, Dunne, Xavier, Pembridge, S Hughes, Collins, Barmby, Moore, M Hughes.
Unavailable: Cleland, Campbell, Jeffers, Weir, Williamson, (injured)
; Myhre (on loan).
Unsworth, Hutchison, Jevons, Simonsen, Milligan.
Watford: Chamberlain, Robinson, Williams (46' Ward), Palmer, Cox, Easton, R. Johnson, Hyde, Smith, Wooter (46' Miller), Smart. Day, Bonnot, Perpetuini.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
Watford: Yellow shirts; red shorts; yellow socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Watford: Hyde (60')


Guy McEvoy Slow but sure, we're getting there
Steve Bickerton Never a convincing performance
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Everton get by on Second Best  
by Michael Staniforth
THE SUNDAY TIMES Steady Everton too hot for sad Watford
by John Aizlewood
THE INDEPENDENT The Hughes brothers
by Dave Hadfield
THE TIMES Generous Watford flatter Everton
by David McVay
EFC NEWS SITE Link to the Echo / Daily Post Match Reports

THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report Available late Saturday
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report Available late Saturday

 Slow but sure, we're getting there
Guy McEvoy
Was it quiet or what?

I suppose I'm as guilty as the next man; I don't think I've been less bothered about a match for years, just turned up and expected us to win without it particularly mattering whether we did or not.  Sort of a pre-season freindly feeling.

But the downside of this was the place was a morgue.  There is something very wrong when from the top balcony you can actually hear what the players are saying (Alan Smart to Linesman: "You are a F**kin' nightmare!"). Something even wronger when the away fans (credit to them) give the loudest rendition of "Everton" of the day (after a chorus of "Shall we help you sing a song").

Credit where it's due:

  • Pembridge and Barmby both did their international ambitions no harm; 
  • Collins had another solid performance; 
  • Nice to see the two Hugheses on the Sheet

I'm still dubious about Hughes senior but if he can nod in a goal a game, I'll keep that to myself and not go off on one about once-decent players being a yard behind the pace and wanting too much time and lashing out and backing in all the time like spoilt kids looking for fouls to detract from the game passing them by (like Ince has been doing for about three years now)... Cos if I went off on one suggesting Hughes reminded me of that, I'd probably get a pile of abuse.  So I definitely won't.

The really good thing was that the two times we messed up and looked like throwing in the towel as the Everton of recent years always would, not only did we cling on, but we found enough in us to restore the distance. Slow but sure, we're getting there.

 Never a convincing performance
Steve Bickerton
There was an inevitability about today's result.  Watford, all but adrift at the foot of the Premiership, with nothing more than a single away win (but what a win!) all season and only one other point gleaned on their travels; Everton almost unbeatable in the league at Goodison.  But when have we bowed to the inevitable, especially when it in our favour?  Today was a disaster waiting to happen.  Not won away for 142 games?  Go to Goodison, you'll win there!

But then, these days, we're not quite the easy mark we were as little as a year ago, so maybe we should feel confident after all.  Ah well, the game will tell.  At least, so I thought as I wandered down Gwladys Street pre-match.

The ground was empty as I wandered in.  I just missed the team announcement on the pre-game TV Everton, so I made my way up to the terrace.  The players had emerged from the dressing room for their warm up and as I cast my eye around I notice Jevons knocking the ball about with Hutchison.  Intrigued, I looked at the rest of the players, no Cadamarteri rested after his mid-week performance in Barcelona (only as a sub, but a cap's a cap).  There was Milligan, his diminutive figure looking inadequate against those around him.  Would either of them start, I wondered... No: Unsworth on the bench, Hutchison, too, as expected and no start for either of the youngsters.

The match started predictably.  As the home side we took the game to Watford.  But unlike other sides who've visited Goodison, there was a fear about them.  They were unwilling to press forward unless it was with a ball into open space.  Keep eleven behind the ball and we'll keep them out seemed to be the philosophy.  

We'd had so much possession after 15 minutes that it was worrying that we hadn't really tested the keeper.  During this early spell, had you looked at the stats, you might have assumed that Watford were dominating the play, but it wasn't the case.  Everton corners 0, Watford corners 3.  They were all a case of punt the ball forward and chase it down with the defender.  Invariably a corner and invariably we seemed to panic in defence. But we didn't concede and that was the important point. 

A corner at the other end after 18 minutes changed the whole picture of the game.  Pembridge, on the left, took the kick and the ball bounced off Dunne's head beyond the back post.  The lively Barmby retrieved it and crossed again from the right only to see it clear everybody (bouncing through) and reach Pembridge, again on the left.  A cross to the near post from Pembridge found Mark Hughes who climbed well and directed the ball into a space at the foot of the post and into the net.  1-0 Everton.  First goal of his Goodison career for Mark Hughes.  Love him or loathe him, it was a fine goal.

After that it was a stroll in the park.  Everyone having a go at the fancy footwork and much of it coming off. Pembridge (re-christened Zico today by someone behind me) was revelling in the taunts of the Watford crowd.  A legacy of days at Luton?  He showed the Watford defence a clean pair of heels a couple of times as well as a steely competitiveness. 

Collins, again, was performing well in midfield, finding team mates with unerring accuracy and tackling like a demon.  Barmby ran tirelessly again, chasing every ball as if his life depended on it.  The new-found urgency after the goal was rewarded after a quick clearance from Gerrard, found Mark Hughes, back to goal, on the halfway line.  He controlled the ball well, turned and delivered an excellent ball to Barmby.  Barmby charged down the right, beat his marker and crossed the ball, which Joe-Max Moore headed into the Watford goal.  2-0 game over.  Or so I thought.

We didn't so much take our foot off the gas, as get out and push.  We tried, its true, and in trying were nearly the architects of our own downfall.  Some neat footwork on the left flank saw the ball eventually lost (given) to the Watford defence.  The ball was once more launched forward to Smart, the lone striker.  Ball, who'd been the culprit as far as losing possession was concerned, chased back after Smart, but was unable to mount a challenge.  Meanwhile, Gerrard came running off his line as the ball approached the area, too late though as Smart was able to lift the ball over his despairing dive to find the empty net. 2-1 and Christmas in Watford.

A minute later it was all over again as Mark Hughes crossed a ball from the right and found Moore, sliding in.  The ball found the goal. 3-1 and not yet half time (37 minutes) . Time to fill our boots with goals.

Yet half time came with no addition to the score.  But we expected more.

So it appeared did Everton.  Or rather, the team expected Moore to get a hat-trick.  The second half had started in bizarre fashion.  We kicked off, Collins stumbled over the ball in the centre circle and they were away on goal.  Xavier stepped in to rescue the situation, though and pushed the ball forward to Barmby.  An early opportunity to cross and it went long never mind, plenty more to come. 

And come they did.  Barmby was through on goal and when a strike by him seemed the sensible option he tried to find Moore, but the ball was whipped away from the American.  Hughes (M) too, played the ball to him, when other options were open.  But the strangest opportunity fell to Mark Hughes.  

The ball had danced around in the Watford box, mesmerising both forwards and defenders alike, finding its way out onto the Everton left outside the Watford box.  Moore had chased after it and delivered a thumping cross into the box.  Playing offside, the Watford defence stepped out, but too late.  Mark Hughes was left in space with only the keeper to beat.  He met the cross full on, twisting his neck at the last moment only to see the ball fall into the arms of former blue Alec Chamberlain.  It was only a matter of time.

The Watford goal lead a charmed life as defenders cleared balls from impossible situations.  Moore was continually denied his hat-trick by defensive errors which saw the ball mis-kicked away from him.  The top of the net was the final resting place of a couple of clearances as they spooned over the keeper.  Their defence was a shambles.  It's no wonder they're where they are in the league. 

Yet they didn't give up.  One attack was broken up by a thumping tackle from Dunne, who turned two defenders with his silky ball control skills.  "Dunnilson!" came the cry as he delivered a perfect pass to Barmby.  Then we got sloppy, very sloppy.

A nothing ball down field which should have been cleared fell to a Watford forward, who, from maybe 25 yards (difficult to tell from behind him) drilled the ball towards the goal. Now I don't know if Gerrard's view of things was blocked, but he seemed to dive (too) late to his right as the ball scuttled past him and into the net.  3-2 and a nervous 10 minutes remaining.

They now found hope, where none deserved to live.  They pushed forward down the right causing panic in the Everton defence, but the ball was cleared, but they came back and pressed again, this time Gerrard almost sprinting out of his goal.  Just as it looked as though we were going to give it all up we pushed forward again.  A ball was delivered from the right into the box.  A scramble between two defenders saw Moore nick the ball, but he pushed it towards the edge of the box, rather than towards the goal.  But up stepped Stephen Hughes to cap a capable display with a fine goal. 4-2 and it was all over.

After that the game drifted to an untidy close, the referee drawing proceedings to an end before his allotted 3 minutes of extra time was up.

There is a saying that you can only beat the eleven who turn up to face you.  We did that, but it was never a convincing performance.  So many "nearly" events that seem to be the result of lack of application or a lack of belief.  We are nearly there, where there is, yet we're so far away.  Walter still has much rebuilding to do.  Let's hope the summer sees some interesting moves into Goodison to bolster what we have and add the spark of creativity we need. 

As for individual performances, I have to single out three from midfield.  Pembridge, Collins and Barmby all showed that they have much to offer in the future, Collins in particular catching the eye with a hard-tackling display.  He also showed not a little skill as he beat men with ease, the ball at his feet or in the air (he didn't necessarily use his head).  His passing was superb.  

But the pass of the game never happened.  Stephen Hughes met a loose ball on the left and without looking up sent the ball across the width of the pitch, inches from the head of Nick Barmby, who needed only to flick it forward into space to be through on goal.  It was a marvellous show of skill and vision.  A bit of the Oliver Twist in me cried out for more.

The final comment I'll leave for Mark Hughes.  In previous games I've had a go at him deservedly so, in my opinion.  But today he deserved none of the criticism I've laid at his feet.  He was combative, he was skilful.  He held the ball up well and passed it to blue-shirted players more often than not.  He got a raw deal from the referee (that reputation that goes before him?) in his second-half battle (for a battle it was) with Ward, a substitute brought on to "deal with" his threat.

Nevertheless he nearly let it all get to him, when, after one clash between the two he decided he was going to sort out Ward once and for all.  At this point Moore was being marked by Ward and Hughes by Palmer.  Hughes walked over, purposefully, to Moore and directed the American over towards Palmer.  His face said to Ward "I'll have you!"  

Laudable though his competitiveness is, he needs to draw the line before the referee draws it for him.  It took two interventions from Richard Gough to calm him down, but even then his attitude still brought a ticking off from the referee.  He's missing next week already, we can ill afford him being missing later on in the season, too.

After all that though it was back to the winning trail and another three points.  Twelve more at home will do me.

Man of The Match: John Collins

 Everton get by on Second Best
by Michael Staniforth, Electronic Telegraph
EVERTON'S second-string strike-force finally came good at Goodison Park to leave Watford's relegation back to Division One looking a formality.

Mark Hughes and Joe-Max Moore scored three goals between them in the first half to condemn Watford to a 14th away defeat of the season. Their demise is likely to be confirmed in the next fortnight.

Hughes and Moore have teamed up only because of the long-term loss through injury of first-choice strikers Kevin Campbell and Francis Jeffers. The new duo went into the game on a collective drought, Hughes having failed to score in his three games since moving from Southampton - all of which Everton had lost - and Moore having fired blanks for five games.

But Watford must seem like a godsend to needy strikers and sure enough the visitors conceded two goals in the first half-hour through basic defensive lapses. The first to benefit was Mark Hughes, who outjumped his marker at the near post to head in a Mark Pembridge cross from the left.

Everton went further ahead through the same aerial route. This time Nick Barmby supplied the cross from the right and Moore rose highest to head home; Alec Chamberlain managed to turn the ball onto a post but watched helplessly as it rolled into the net.

At 2-0 it felt like the floodgates would open; instead Watford threw themselves a lifeline as the impressive Tommy Smith broke clear and fed Alan Smart, who chipped the ball exquisitely over the advancing Paul Gerrard. It was his third goal in as many games and thoroughly deserved for his lively performance, the only blemish on which was a bad miss after the interval.

But Watford's next act, a minute later, summed up their season. Mark Hughes' low cross was met with only a light touch by Moore, but Chamberlain made a terrible hash of his attempted save and the American striker had his eighth goal in just 13 games.

That half-time 3-1 scoreline rendered the second half almost redundant. Everton should have won it at a canter but complacency and over-complication set in and they subjected themselves to an unnecessarily uncomfortable final 10 minutes when Micah Hyde's shot flashed through a forest of legs from fully 30 yards.

But Watford collapsed again as Hyde and Darren Ward hesitated over a clearance and allowed Stephen Hughes to rifle in his first goal for the club.

"It saps your morale when the naivety of your defensive play undoes your good intentions," said Watford manager Graham Taylor of a team who have conceded 40 goals on their travels.

Forthcoming games against Derby and Southampton may conjure up a dramatic change of fortune in a season blighted by long-term injuries to their main strikers, but they still have to face Arsenal, Leeds and Manchester United in quick succession. It will need a near-miracle to survive in the top flight.

"I was pleased to get back to winning ways," said the Everton manager Walter Smith. "That was the most important thing for us even if we made it edgy for ourselves during the game. I was really pleased for Mark Hughes and Moore to get on the scoresheet; they have worked really hard for us in the last few games without any luck at all."

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 Steady Everton too hot for sad Watford
by John Aizlewood, The Sunday Times
MISSION possible? Not any more. Four away points all season tell their own tale for Watford. Three of them might have been poached at Anfield back on a freakish August afternoon, but had Everton stepped up a gear yesterday, Watford could have been humiliated rather than humbled.

Everton's season, meanwhile, has collapsed into contract wrangling and a winless March. Worse are the lingering suspicions that Aston Villa's FA Cup semi-final place today was theirs for the taking and that Kevin Campbell, unlikely to play until next season because of a knee injury, is best removed from Goodison Park's ocean of apathy.

Watford began as if they were already chasing the game. When any of their three-pronged strike force were dispossessed, Allan Smart, Tommy Smith and Nordin Wooter would charge back and harry Everton's sloppy midfield, who, not being at these particular races, often appeared to wish themselves up the road at Haydock Park.

"It's not easy at this stage of the season," said Everton manager Walter Smith of motivating his side. "But we always looked like winning."

Watford are not bottom of the Premiership by quirk of fate and when Everton ambled upfield in the 18th minute, they promptly scored. Mark Pembridge's corner was returned to the Welshman. Again Pembridge crossed. This time, Mark Hughes's 37-year-old legs sprung him higher than any Watford defender and a handsome header opened his Everton account.

Everton managed a second attack 12 minutes later. And with what had become depressing inevitability for Watford, another goal resulted.

Nick Barmby, mentioned in Kevin Keegan's Euro 2000 dispatches last week, surged down the right, skipped past Paul Robinson and Joe-Max Moore was given time and space to head his centre into the far corner.

Watford were rattled, but as Everton dozed, Smith's work-rate brought dividends. He strode past Michael Ball in the home midfield before a perfect through-ball found Smart, who clipped his third goal in three games over Paul Gerrard.

From the restart, Everton scored again. Mark Hughes bolted down Watford's still-unprotected right and his low cross was turned in by Moore, with the assistance of goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain, who allowed what was hardly the most searing of touches to trickle beneath him.

Watford stiffened their defence and midfield for the second half, but Everton briefly honed their concentration and swarmed forward, with Barmby the fulcrum of all that sparkled. His prompting created chances for Moore and Mark Hughes, who enjoyed a ferocious rough-house tussle with fiery substitute Darren Ward. All the same, had Smart's cute 68th-minute backheel not missed Gerrard's post by inches, Everton's fragile resolve might have been tested more stringently.

As it was, doughty Watford did craft a pleasing second goal in the 80th minute, when Smart's delicate lay-off was met by Micah Hyde, whose carefully-placed low drive swept past Gerrard. The closing minutes saw Everton retreating back into the shell they had only reluctantly emerged from, but Watford never made a game of it.

Their undistinguished final flourish - notable only for Gerrard's unsteady handling - ended four minutes from time when Stephen Hughes belted a loose ball past Chamberlain after Ward and Hyde got themselves into a comical muddle in the six-yard box.

"The trapdoor's sliding a little," smiled Watford manager Graham Taylor ruefully. "But it's not closed yet."

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 The Hughes Brothers
by Dave Hadfield, The Independent
The first goal of what is likely to be the final phase of Mark Hughes' distinguished playing career steered Everton towards a first win in six games and Watford a little closer to the inevitable trap door.

It was not such much Hughes' goal, a glancing header from Mark Pembridge's cross after 18 minutes, as his well-honed skills as a combative target man that gave Everton their thrust and focus. His partnership with the American, Joe-Max Moore, had not yielded a goal in three games; yesterday it produced three in the first half.

Hughes was the indirect provider when Moore scored his first on the half-hour, his pass releasing Nicky Barmby in limitless space down the right and a perfect cross finding Moore, whose header went in off the post.

Watford had shown so little that their riposte was entirely unexpected, but it came four minutes later when Tommy Smith ran at the Everton defence and Alan Smart tucked the ball past Paul Gerrard.

That was the signal for Hughes and Moore to get to work again, the Welsh team manager whipping the ball across from the right wing and the American getting enough of a touch to squeeze it through Alec Chamberlain's arms.

"I was really pleased that Joe-Max and Mark got goals. They've worked very hard over the last few weeks with little reward," said the Everton manager, Walter Smith.

Of Hughes' robust contribution to the cause, Smith said: "The goal makes a difference to everyone's perception, but he has played to that level in every game. It was a game we always looked like winning, but we made it a little bit edgy for ourselves."

One reason Everton failed to kill off a doomed Watford after the break was Graham Taylor's introduction of Darren Ward, a strapping 20-year-old defender recalled from a loan at Queen's Park Rangers, at half-time.

More than the senior Watford players, Ward seemed to relish the physical confrontation with Hughes. Despite his attentions, though, the old Manchester United war-horse could have put it beyond doubt with either a blocked shot, a saved header or a wonderful cross-field pass that set Pembridge free.

There was a warning from Watford that they were not entirely finished when Smart put a shot narrowly wide. Then, 10 minutes from time, Micah Hyde did find the net with a crisp, low volley.

Everton were in danger of throwing the points away. "But we're a very generous side," said Taylor, a description borne out by the way his defence failed to clear from Moore and allowed the other Hughes, the former Arsenal midfielder, Stephen, to make the game, and the three points, safe.

Report © The Independent

 Generous Watford flatter Everton
by David McVay, The Times
HOW feverishly the marketing department at Vicarage Road must be beavering away at their new line of T-shirt for the club shop. Watford: The Relegation Tour: 1999-2000. An impressive list of venues but few memorable ones, apart from Anfield in August. The highs have seldom risen above the level of Sir Elton John's vintage platform heels. However, when Watford finally depart the FA Carling Premiership, tears will be shed among certain members of the elite. Southampton and Coventry City, those perennial relegation dodgers, must send "come back soon" cards to Graham Taylor, the Watford manager, in the hope of preserving their own tenure at the top.

Perhaps, though, their kismet is coming. The promotion candidates in the Nationwide League first division - Charlton Athletic, Ipswich Town, Manchester City and Birmingham City - surely possess the resources to survive that are so lacking within Watford and Bradford City. Everton, too, will be mournful that the flattering presence that is bestowed on the opposition when Watford are playing has passed on for another season at least.

On Saturday Everton ended a sequence of three defeats but this was not a six-goal classic. An evocative cameo of petulance by Mark Hughes after he was clobbered from behind by young Darren Ward, a substitute, did stimulate, and to judge from Nick Barmby's verve down the right, the midfield player should cancel his summer holidays and expect an England calling to Belgium and The Netherlands instead.

The Hughes corporation of Mark and Stephen opened their Everton accounts. In between, Joe-Max Moore underlined the home team's superiority with a header and near-post finish, yet the marksmen were indebted to witless defending, suspect goalkeeping and an indecision that gnawed at the visitors' cause.

Watford were offered respite by Allan Smart's 36th-minute clip over Paul Gerrard to make it 2-1 and then Micah Hyde's 20-yard grass-cutter. "We are a very generous side," Taylor said, mocking his players whom he claimed had allowed Everton the freedom of the 18-yard box.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd



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