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FA Cup 4th Round

A look back over the highs and lows of the last 21 years

Paul Green

EVERTON have a proud tradition in the FA Cup, although everyone who has followed the club in recent times will know that our recent form in the competition hasn't been much to write home about.  The visit of struggling third division outfit Leyton Orient to Goodison on Saturday should be a straightforward victory for Walter Smith's side, although he and everyone else associated with the club will well remember last season's debacle against Tranmere Rovers at the same stage of the competition.  With that humiliation in mind, here's a look back at some of the good, the bad and damn right terrible results Everton have produced in the fourth round over the last 21 years.  And don't worry I'm not even going to mention last year again.

1981 EVERTON 2-1 Liverpool

Everton's overall record against Liverpool throughout the 70s and early 80s was so bad that this result will always remain as one of the few highlights from a barren period for the Blues.  Liverpool started as strong favourites against a young Everton side battling to retain their top-flight status.  League form went out of the window as, straight from the off, Everton took the game to their opponents with Steve McMahon and Asa Hartford giving Souness & Co the run-around. 

Everton took the lead in the 16th minute when a clever through-ball from Hartford sent Eastoe clear through on Ray Clemence's goal.  Eastoe's shot was prodded around the keeper and the 53,000 crowd held their breath as the ball slowly rolled into the empty net with Neal in hot pursuit.  It was only after referee Clive Thomas the villain of the 1977 semi-final between the two clubs consulted his linesman before they both agreed the ball had crossed the line.  Goodison erupted.

It stayed 1-0 at half time, and when Dalglish failed to appear in the second half, Everton smelt blood.  On 60 minutes, they increased their advantage when Eamon O'Keefe got past Clemence and turned the ball back for Imre Varadi to hit into an empty net.  Liverpool made a game of it in the 76th minute when Jimmy Case pulled one back, but it was the home side who continued to create the better chances in the latter stages with Varadi twice going close.

Everton went on to reach the quarter finals of the competition before losing 3-1 to Manchester City in a replay at Maine Road.  The club managed to finish a disappointing 15th in the table, resulting in the dismissal of the increasingly unpopular Gordon Lee.

1984 Gillingham 0-3 EVERTON

This was the third time the two club's met to resolve who would face Shrewsbury in the next round after the two previous encounters had ended goalless.  Everton's poor scoring record led to Howard Kendall dropping Graeme Sharp in favour of fellow Scot Andy Gray.  Gillingham won the toss for home advantage, although the weather was so bad that there were doubts right up to kick off about the game going ahead.

The strong winds suited the blues as they raced into a three-goal lead before the break.  Kevin Sheedy tapped in a Gray flick on in the 27th minute and, five minutes later, Gray was again the provider for Adrian Heath to double the lead.  Sheedy killed the game with a third strike just before the interval, and the Blues lead was never troubled by Gillingham in the second period.

After the game, manager Howard Kendall said: "It was a tremendous performance from my team, very professional.  I don't think I've ever seen a game played in conditions like those out there tonight.  "Our confidence is back now we have started scoring a lot of goals.  My lads are now beginning to believe in themselves."

They certainly were as Everton went on to win the competition, signalling the start of the most successful periods in the club's history.

1986 EVERTON 3-1 Blackburn Rovers

Everton dominated the first half against second division Blackburn and went into a 2-0 lead at the break, with a 13th-minute Goal from Pat van den Hauwe and a chipped goal from leading scorer Gary Lineker five minutes from half time. 

Blackburn were transformed in the second period, and an own goal from van den Hauwe eight minutes after the restart gave the toffees a case of the jitters.  Southall produced a fine save to deny Branigan as the underdogs began to take control, bossing the Everton midfield out of the game. 

All fears were allayed on 82 minutes when Paul Bracewell set Lineker clear, and the former Leicester man's pace took him clear of the Rovers defence before slotting the ball past the hapless Blackburn keeper.

Everton went on to reach the final, losing 3-1 to Liverpool. They also managed to finish 2nd in the league as our loveable neighbours became the first team since 1971 to win the double.  The less said, the better.

1992 Chelsea 1-0 EVERTON

With Everton stuck in mid table, the FA Cup provided the only realistic opportunity of a much needed trophy and European football.  This game killed off both of those ambitious hopes as Tony Cottee missed two clear goalscoring opportunities to book Everton a place in the last 16.  The game was televised, although most of those watching at home probably switched over long before Clive Allen lashed the ball past Southall in the 72nd minute so bad had it been until that point.

The goal seemed to bring Everton to life and Cottee shot straight at the keeper when it looked easier to score.  In the 79th minute, Ward's quick ball released Beagrie into the box and the winger was sent tumbling by Chelsea keeper Kevin Hitchcock.  TC wasted the chance to take the Londoner's back to Goodison when his tame penalty was easily saved by Hitchcock, and the blues went home with nothing.

1995 Bristol City 0-1 EVERTON

With Duncan Ferguson suspended, Joe Royle was forced to give Stuart Barlow only his second start of the season.  Not surprisingly, it was a game which Everton never looked like scoring in.  To say that Bristol City were unlucky to lose would be an understatement.  In the second half particularly, they launched wave after wave of attacks on the Everton defence.  It was only thanks to their dogged resistance and several world class saves from Neville Southall that the score remained 0-0.

In the 78th minute, Everton made a rare venture into their opponent's half.  Bryant's poor clearance was picked up by Matt Jackson, who launched an unstoppable volley which flew past Welch and into the City net.  Recenty appointed manager Royle was honest when he said: "A bit lucky? I can't really argue with that." 

Not that he was too worried though.  Everton went on to win the competition and avoid relegation and they do always say you need a little luck along the way to success.

1996 Port Vale 2-1 EVERTON

One year on from their fortunate escape from Ashton Gate, cup holders Everton found themselves on the end of an embarrassing defeat at lowly Port Vale. 

The struggling First Division club could consider themselves hard done by after creating the better chances in the 2-2 draw at Goodison.  In the replay they signalled their intent from the off when, on 14 seconds, Foyle saw his shot fly inches wide of Southall's post.  On 17 minutes they deservedly took the lead when Ian Bogie's right foot shot from 25 yards flew past Nev and into the empty net. 

Everton somehow equalised on 32 minutes when Graham Stuart met a Paul Rideout flick and his shot deflected off Neil Aspin and beyond the previously untroubled Vale keeper Musselwhite.  That fortunate deflection failed to inspire the blues through to the next round and a fixture against Leeds, as Vale continued to create the better chances.  Foyle, Bogie and Steve Guppy all missed good chances before lady luck stopped shining on Everton when Jon McCarthy put away Guppy's cross to give the Staffordshire side a well earned victory.

Manager Joe Royle held up his hands when he admitted: "They were the better side over both games.  We made Port Vale look like Real Madrid."  Despite the disappointment of this defeat, Everton managed to reach their highest Premiership finish when they ended the season in 6th place.

1997 EVERTON 2-3 Bradford City

On the back of five consecutive Premiership defeats, Everton again exited the competition at the 4th round stage to another team struggling at the wrong end of the First Division. 

All of the goals came in the second period.  Bradford took the lead in the 50th minute when John Dreyer beat Southall with a left foot volley.  Within a minute, City had doubled their advantage when former England international Chris Waddle unleashed an unstoppable 40-yard strike which flew past Nev. 

Everton were fortunate when on 55 minutes, Andrew O'Brien headed past his own keeper and the blues appeared to be right back in the game.  A succession of long hopeful balls to the head of Ferguson failed to bring an equaliser, and it was Bradford who hit the target again when Steiner met Waddle's through ball to put the game beyond doubt. 

Everton scored a minute from time through Gary Speed, but it wasn't enough to trouble the gritty Yorkshire side.  Afterwards, beleaguered Everton boss Joe Royle said: "First Division clubs have been a curse on us but perhaps we've been a curse on ourselves."  Royle would soon be wondering whether he himself was cursed, as he was soon to be shown the door by the club as the poor run of results continued.

I hope these history lessons don't result in nightmares for any of you on Friday night, but instead act as a reminder of the dangers of complacency to those already thinking about who we want in the Fifth Round draw on Sunday evening.  If recent form is anything to go by, Everton are by no means guaranteed to be there unless we treat the Orient game seriously.  After all, it is they who have absolutely nothing to lose...

Paul Green

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