Aston Villa Logo Aston Villa 2 - 1 Everton 
Half-time: 1 - 1
Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 97/98 - Game 14
Saturday 22 November 1997
Villa Park, Aston
Att: 36,389
« Blackburn Rovers (a) Ref: Uriah Rennie Chelsea (a) »
1997-98 Fixtures & Results League Position: 20th Premiership Results & Table
Aston Villa: Milosevic (36), Ehiogu (55)
EVERTON: Speed (pen:12) Stuart, O'Connor
  LINEUPS Subs Not Used
Aston Villa: Oakes, Charles, Staunton, Nelson, Ehiogu, Wright, Scimeca, Draper, Milosevic, Yorke, Collymore. Grayson, Joachim, Hendrie, Murray, Rachel.
EVERTON: Southall, Barrett (O'Connor, 74), Hinchcliffe, Williamson (Farrelly, 79), Short, Bilic, Stuart, Barmby, Ferguson, Speed, Cadamarteri (Oster, 66).
Unavailable: Parkinson, Grant, Branch, Watson, McCann, Phelan, Gerrard (injured) Allen, Thomas (recovering). 
Ball, O'Toole.
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Aston Villa: Wright, Staunton. --
EVERTON: Hinchcliffe, Barmby. --

Guy McEvoy The football league is upside-down
THE SUNDAY TIMES Ehiogu pounces to complete fightback
by Kevin Connolly
THE TIMES Everton find little comfort in retracing those familiar steps
by Peter Robinson
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Ehiogu's strike consigns Everton to the basement
by Alyson Rudd
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

The football league is upside-down
Guy McEvoy
A trouble-free run for once down the M6 meant that I made the game in plenty of time.  I parked the car outside the 'President Saddam Hussein Mosque' (no bull), and wandered off towards the charm of Villa Park.

Villa Park is a football fans' football stadium.  In many ways, particularly it's location in the city, it is like a Goodison Park with fewer pillars.  The stand the away fans are stuck in behind one of the goals may not have the best facilities, or the most sensible stewarding, but it gives you a good enough view, is reasonably priced at £14, and you feel like you are going to a footy game rather than a pop concert. They've managed to adapt to the Taylor report and modern era without selling their souls, tradition or heritage.  The Executive boxes mingle relatively inoffensively with the massive modern stands. With a near capacity crowd of 36,000 giving a sense of scale to the proceedings you get a much better football experience that you do at the Riverside, or Pride Park or the other new pretenders.

At least you would get a 'better football experience' if you were watching anyone but Everton.  Another away game, another disappointment.

First Half

In many ways the game was no more than a slightly less 'exciting' re-run of the Blackburn game.  For a brief period at the start of the game it looked like our formation – a midfield of Stuart, Speed, and Williamson with Barmby playing where he reckons he's best and Cadamarteri and Ferguson up front – could do the job.  We started in control, had a couple of attacks and before we knew it Stuart was brought down in the box and the referee had no doubt when he pointed to the spot.  Gary Speed converted the spot kick directly in front of the travelling fans.

We celebrated, but it was curiously muted really.  Perhaps the main body of Evertonians there had also experienced Blackburn and was reluctant to believe this could be our day.  I certainly still expected us to get turned over.  Perhaps that is the greatest measure of how far we've fallen.  When die-hard week-in/week-out fans have no faith, who else will?  Not the team, that's for sure.

The remainder of the half was scrappy.  Everton did there best to defend, Ferguson looked like he was 'up for it' and was holding the ball up well, long balls were not particularly in evidence but for those that came, miraculously, the second ball usually reached a blue shirt.  Despite the various individual endeavours that were taking place, we just didn't look like a team unit.

You could see our players snapping at each other on the pitch, and I'm not talking about Schmeichel-like 'get it sorted' shouts but 'outside now wanker' exchanges between the likes of Stuart with Cadamarteri and Speed with Barrett.  Ugly to watch.  The referee was on our side throughout which helped us hold on a bit longer, Southall made at least one save that raised a standing ovation from everyone present, but there was still no surprise when they drew level from a corner.

Second Half

The second half was predictable enough.  A valiant enough backs-to-the-wall job with concentration lost at a crucial moment, again from a corner, and an unmarked Ehiogu able to head in. The Evertonians were left very, very quiet.  Despair became near suicide moments later when Collymore somehow struck the ball from distance under Southall to apparently make it 3-1, thank god the linesman's flag was up.  The highlight of the afternoon was watching Collymore as he realised that the goal didn't count.

You would never really have guessed that we were only one behind and that there was still everything to play for during the last half hour.   Passing in circles, not wishing to stick heads down and have a go, not having that long-missing hunger to win.  Three substitutions made no difference.  Oster came on for Cadamarteri, O'Connor at long last came on for Barrett (though to me his self-assurance looked shaken in his brief showing and there wasn't yet much evidence of the player I remember) and finally Farrelly for Williamson (who did a good bit of Villa's time wasting job by taking forever to wander of the pitch once called).  Only Oster looked likely to make a difference, he was popping up everywhere with determination, but footy is much more than a one-man show.

There was one more cruel turn to come though for us long-suffering travelling fans.  Somewhere in the distance a ball was played in, a blue shirt got a foot to it (Barmby), the net rippled, big Duncan could be seen going mad.  We had equalised!  Sheer disbelief and joy... For five seconds 'til we realised that it had been disallowed.  The knife had long been stuck in; this was a needless twist of it.

It was a long lonely walk back to the President Saddam Hussein Mosque.

Individual Performances

  • Southall 8 - Two more staggeringly good saves.  Don't know what happened on the Collymore effort but thankfully that didn't count.
  • Hinchcliffe 6 - Quite good coming forward, waste of space at the back.  Gave the ball away needlessly a few times which could have cost us goals on two occasions.  Had a good run in the last couple of minutes.  Too little, too late.
  • Short 7 - Looked in charge at the back, was having to do the right-back's job for most of the game too so ineffective was Barrett.
  • Bilic 6 - Not the player who arrived at Goodison in August.
  • Barrett 5 - Oh dear.  His critics will have loved this.
  • Williamson 6 - One or two very good touches, don't make up for the fact he hardly imposed himself on the game at all.  Must want the ball if he's to be any use to us.
  • Speed 7 - A bit more captain like than normal.  Still not at his best.
  • Stuart 6 - Won the penalty, came back and did good work in defence, usual decent effort, not sure where he was supposed to be playing though. Didn't look integrated with the team (not that many did).
  • Barmby 6 - Like Stuart good effort but on a different wavelength to everyone else.  When it comes together it looks great... too many occasions of it not coming together, though.
  • Cadamarteri 6 - Couldn't get in it.   A couple of runs but his confidence seems to be down a bit, having senior players like Stuart losing their rag with him can hardly help.  Subbed again.
  • Ferguson 6 - An OK game, held the play up well, could've scored a couple but, characteristically, he didn't.
  • Oster 7 - Up for it.
  • O'Connor 6 - Great to see him back. Worryingly I don't think he looked that self-assured; hopefully his nerves will settle next time and we can get back to that cool youngster who helped demolish 'Boro a couple of seasons ago.
  • Farrelly 6 - No difference between him and Williamson.

Ehiogu pounces to complete fightback
by Kevin Connolly, The Sunday Times
EVERTON must defend better against dead ball kicks – especially Steve Staunton's in-swinging corners. After taking an early lead, all their efforts came to nothing because they failed to mark tightly at two Staunton flag kicks.  The first saw Savo Milosevic stab home an equaliser and, from the second, Ugo Ehiogu rose to head home the winner.

"We're in the habit of conceding goals from corners," admitted Howard Kendall, the Everton manager.  "I don't think the table will be pleasant for anyone connected with Everton."

"We did well to come from behind and this win has made us more relaxed about our league position," said Villa's Brian Little.  "We had a couple of breaks.  We might have had a foul given against us before the first corner and we had another bit of luck when Duncan Ferguson's equaliser was disallowed."

Both sides tweaked their usual formations.  Little paired Stan Collymore and Milosevic up front with Dwight Yorke attacking from just behind them.  Kendall restored Nick Barmby, to break incisively from left midfield in support of Duncan Ferguson and Danny Cadamarteri.

As midfield runners burst forward, Mark Draper enjoyed more space than usual and the Villa play-maker gave one of his most effective displays.

But Villa's defence rarely looked secure against bombardment from the sky.  Ferguson dominated in the air.  An early flick set up Gary Speed for a shot that Michael Oakes turned round the post, but Villa's reserve keeper had no chance with Speed's 11th-minute penalty after Alan Wright brought down Graham Stuart.

Collymore and Yorke almost conjured and instant reply, only Milosevic trod on the ball.  Fitting all three into the same team has constantly taxed Little's brain.  Collymore thrives on early balls into space.  Milosevic is more of a target man while Yorke has done his best work as an out-and-out striker.

And Collymore's intervention proved crucial at Staunton's 36th minute corner – this time Milosevic's finish was decisive.

In Gareth Southgate's absence, Villa needed Staunton to calm the defenders around him.  His influence visibly grew after that equaliser.

Everton were criticised for lack of effort earlier in the season.  Nobody could fault their determination here.  But they paid once more for failing to defend a Staunton corner.  Ehiogu, like Collymore earlier, rose unchallenged, and thumped home a header off the underside of the bar.  Everton's hard work had been undone in a matter of seconds.

Everton brought on winger John Oster for Cadamarteri and tried to play with four up.  Barmby, now in the more congested centre, could not repeat the menace he threatened from the wing.  When Ferguson thought he had netted a late equaliser, referee Uriah Rennie chalked off the goal because Barmby was offside.

So, the jury may still be out on Little's three-pronged attack – though the Villa manager thought Collymore's performance 'grew' as the game went on.  Anyway, Villa ended a Premier League run of four games without a win while Everton have not won an away League match since last December.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

Everton find little comfort in retracing those familiar steps
by Peter Robinson, The Times
BLUE-shirted, they sat and moaned.  "Is it any coincidence that Huddersfield are unbeaten in six games since Barry Horne went there?  I don't think so."  "That Joe Parkinson, we miss him, really, he was the best ball-winner we've had in years, better than that Ince."

Gradually, the cafe filled up – more blue shirts – and the conversation died away.  Silent and sullen, they stared at their mugs of tea or idly flicked through newspapers, not even objecting when the woman behind the counter ventured out and picked up a tabloid that one fan was about to read.

"Don't worry love, here's the telly section as well if you want it."  It was an admission of defeat and the kick-off at Villa Park, looming around the corner, was still more than an hour and half away.

Perhaps those Everton supporters knew that Saturday was going to be a bad day, that the trip down the M6, never much fun at the best of times, simply heralded a worse afternoon.  If they did, they were not wrong.  By tea-time, their club was rooted to the bottom of the FA Carling Premiership and the radio was giving bleak warnings of long delays at Stafford and Cannock.

Howard Kendall is an Everton man.  He played in their stylish side of the Sixties and Seventies, won a championship, then won two more, plus cups, as their manager in the Eighties.  He is in his third spell at the helm – and he looked desperately sad on Saturday evening.

He tried to sound defiant – "You have to put it in perspective.  We will get better and we will win games. There is a long way to go" – but it was hardly tub-thumping stuff.  Realistically, Kendall has a big job on his hands and, being a realist, he knows it.  He was asked if Everton are in a false position.  To paraphrase somewhat, the answer was, basically, no.

Indeed, he went further.  "In three of the last four seasons, Everton have gone into the last week of the season under the threat of relegation.  It gets to the players who have been here for that time and who have had nothing but battles against relegation.  They probably think it has started again already."  Which, probably, it has.

Last season, Sunderland were relegated after collecting 40 points and Coventry City, with 41, would have joined them but for Middlesbrough's three-point penalty for taking a sickie.  This season is only five games short of its halfway mark and Everton have 12.  There are lies, damned lies and statistics, but it is bleak reading all the same.

Nor does it look any better on the pitch.  Everton scored an early goal, a Speed penalty after Stuart was felled, but never looked capable of keeping Villa from equalising, at worst.  After Milosevic had spent half an hour missing as much as he could, he finally turned in Collymore's flick from a Staunton corner. Ehiogu launched himself at another Staunton corner for the winner after the break.

And, like all struggling teams, Everton had no luck.  Ehiogu's handball inside the penalty area was overlooked and Barmby's late "equaliser" was ruled out for a marginal offside.  Collymore also had an effort disallowed for offside, but nobody could dispute that decision – Milosevic the offender, predictably.

Villa drew some encouragement from the win before their Uefa Cup-tie in Romania tomorrow, but Steaua Bucharest will present far tougher opposition.  They should be wary.  Everton visit Chelsea on Wednesday.  They have not won away from home for 11 months.  You could say don't bet on them doing it at Stamford Bridge, but then Barnsley won at Anfield on Saturday and they were 9-1 outsiders. That result was some consolation, perhaps, for that trip back to Merseyside.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

Ehiogu's strike consigns Everton to the basement
Alyson Rudd, Electronic Telegraph
ASTON VILLA can take heart from this victory but it is unlikely that their next opponents, Steaua Bucharest, in the third round of the UEFA Cup, will wilt as visibly as Everton did.  Perhaps the visitors intuitively realised that they were heading for the bottom of the Premiership and that is indeed where they ended up.

On paper, this promised to be an open game with neither side fielding anything approaching a rugged midfielder, and so it proved.  The pace was frenetic and with no one to call upon to hold the ball up, or kill off an attack, the action careered from one end to the other.

You could not fault the competitive spirit, but you could nit-pick with the standard of finishing.  In a match where the phrase 'run of play' was redundant, Villa found themselves a goal down after 12 minutes.  Alan Wright stretched to prise the ball away from Graham Stuart, but only succeeded in reaching Stuart's ankles.  Gary Speed drove his penalty kick past Michael Oakes in goal.

Savo Milosevic, whose future at Villa seems to hang in the balance as a matter of routine, really should have equalised almost immediately but bizarrely contrived to shoot backwards after Dwight Yorke had delivered a tantalising ball into the area.  The ball spun off Milosevic's boot away from Neville Southall.

That is not to say the Everton keeper would have been found wanting had the shot been on target.  His reflex save from Stan Collymore's powerful and well-directed header was as impressive as they come.

Milosevic made amends via a tap-in for the equaliser.  Yet the Everton defence allowed Collymore to flick on Steve Staunton's corner and when the ball landed almost on the line between Milosevic and Fernando Nelson, Milosevic proved to have greedier instincts.

In the dying seconds of the first half Everton's Danny Williamson attempted an audacious long-range strike which served only to draw attention to the fact that he had been peripheral, in his defensive midfield role, to the action thus far.

Gradually the war of attrition in terms of the number of crosses and corners the Everton defence were having to cope with paid off.  Villa are blessed with an abundance of players able to whip the ball into the heart of the penalty area and in the 56th minute Ugo Ehiogu stormed onto yet another excellent delivery by Staunton from a corner to give Southall no chance.

Howard Kendall brought a halt to the embarrassment by bringing on John Oster. The substitution broke Villa's rhythm and Everton would have profited but for Oakes' fine save from Duncan Ferguson's strong header from Nick Barmby's corner.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

RESULTS  (Game 15)
Monday 24 November 1997
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR       0-1    CRYSTAL PALACE            25,634

Sunday 23 November 1997
LEEDS UNITED            3-1    WEST HAM UNITED           30,031
Hasselbaink(76,90) Haaland(88) Lampard(64)

Saturday 22 November 1997
ASTON VILLA             2-1    EVERTON                   36,389
Milosevic(36) Ehiogu(56)       Speed(pen 12)
BLACKBURN ROVERS        1-0    CHELSEA                   27,683
DERBY COUNTY            3-1    COVENTRY CITY             29,351
Baiano(3) Eranio(pen 30)       Huckerby(71)
LEICESTER CITY          0-0    BOLTON WANDERERS          20,464

LIVERPOOL               0-1    BARNSLEY                  41,011
NEWCASTLE UNITED        2-1    SOUTHAMPTON               36,759
Barnes(55,75)                  Davies(5)
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY     2-0    ARSENAL                   34,373
Booth(42) Whittingham(86)
WIMBLEDON               2-5    MANCHESTER UNITED         26,309
Ardley(70) Hughes(72)          Butt(48) Beckham(66,76)
                               Scholes(81) Cole(87)

LEAGUE TABLE (after 24 November 1997 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            15    9    4    2   36   12   24   31
Blackburn Rovers             15    8    6    1   27   13   14   30
Arsenal                      15    7    6    2   30   17   13   27
Leeds United                 15    8    2    5   23   17    6   26
Chelsea                      14    8    1    5   29   17   12   25
Derby County                 14    7    2    5   28   20    8   23
Leicester City               15    6    5    4   19   14    5   23
Liverpool                    14    6    4    4   25   14   11   22
Newcastle United             12    6    3    3   16   16    0   21
Crystal Palace               14    5    4    5   14   15   -1   19
Wimbledon                    15    5    4    6   18   20   -2   19
Aston Villa                  15    5    3    7   15   21   -6   18
Coventry City                15    3    8    4   13   19   -6   17
Southampton                  15    5    1    9   18   23   -5   16
West Ham United              14    5    1    8   18   24   -6   16
Sheffield Wednesday          15    4    3    8   25   35  -10   15
Tottenham Hotspur            15    3    4    8   11   22  -11   13
Bolton Wanderers             14    2    7    5   10   21  -11   13
Barnsley                     15    4    1   10   12   40  -28   13
Everton                      14    3    3    8   16   23   -7   12

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© Michael Kenrick 1997
Last updated: 26 Nov 97