Everton Logo  Everton 0 - 0 Newcastle United 
Half-time: 0 - 0  
Newcastle United Logo 
FA Carling Premiership 97/98 - Game 28 
Saturday 28 March 1998 
Goodison Park, Merseyside 
Att: 37,972 
« Liverpool (a) Ref: Mike Riley Southampton (a) » 
1997-98 Fixtures & Results  League Position: 16th  Premiership Results & Table 
EVERTON:    Don Hutchison
Newcastle United:
  LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON:  Myhre, Ward (74 Allen), Short, Bilic(c), Tiler, Ball, O'Kane (57 Oster), Farrelly, Hutchison, Madar, Cadamarteri. 
Unavailable: Parkinson, Branch, Grant, Phelan, Williamson, McCann, Thomas, Thomsen, Barmby (injured); Southall (on loan); Jeffers (sick); Ferguson (suspended).  
Gerrard, Watson, Jevons.
Newcastle United: Given, Barton, Batty, Howey, Lee, Shearer, Speed, Pearce, Gillespie (Ketsbaia 64), Albert, Andersson. Hislop, Peacock, Barnes, Tomasson. 
  Yellow Cards  Red Cards 
Newcastle United:  Lee. – 

Guy McEvoy  Yawn Time   
Richard Marland  Not really acceptable
Jenny  Roberts  Long wait for nothing
Lyndon Lloyd No Show Without Ferguson
THE TIMES  Shearer struggles to rebuild the legend 
by David Maddock 
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH  Newcastle struggle continues 
by Clive White
SOCCERNET  Link to SoccerNet Match Report 
CARLINGNET  Link to CarlingNet Match Report 

Yawn Time 
Guy McEvoy 

This game was always going to be remembered as the 'Gary Speed' match. However, those of us that spend good money to watch the game perhaps hoped that it might also be remembered for some football too.  It won't. The sooner forgotten the better.  This was an absolute stinker of a match. 

Injury and suspension meant that the team was sent out was probably as far away from Kendall's first choice XI as we've put out all season. The defence was familiar enough (with Short chosen ahead of Watson and Bilic as captain for the day), but the midfield was very unfamiliar. Farrelly was joined by full debut boy Hutchinson and home debut boy O'Kane.  Cadamarteri and Madar were partnering each other up front. 

Gary Speed got booed during the warm up, he got booed when the teams ran out, he got booed when the teams were read out over the tannoy and he got booed every single time he got anywhere near the ball.  "Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary Shit-house Speed" was the popular chant of the day, closely followed by "Gary Speed - what a wanker".  The word 'Judas' could be heard time and time again.  In short, he got every bit of the anticipated reception. 

Having a go at Mr Speed proved a welcome distraction for the fans.  Had we not have had that to entertain us there would have been no excuse at all to make any noise.   Indeed, it is testimony to the quality of both sets of supporters that this game had any kind of decent atmosphere given the garbage being doled out in front of us. 

To describe the quality of play as 'ordinary' would be to hype it up. The 'highlights' of this game would not normally merit even a mention in most match reports.  An over-hit cross by Madar, a couple of speculative breaks by Shearer, a ballooned shot by Hutchinson.  Dire, dire, dire. 

You had to feel sorry for the 'Everton Supporters Club from Japan' who were sitting not far behind me in the Top Balcony.  If my journey from Lancaster felt a little costly for this, God knows what they thought. 

The second half was more of the sorry same, there was one genuine highlight when Tommy made himself big enough to parry away in a close range one-on-one, but other than that it was more schoolboy stuff. Probably our only genuine attempts at goal both came in quick succession by Oster from the edge of the box, but both were blocked well before that target... and that was that. 

The only thing of real interest to report is that after the match as Speed left the pitch he was hugged by Adrian Heath (who also had kind words for him the program) and that Bilic felt the need to swap his shirt with Batty at the end.  Mutual admirers? 

I can't decide whether to make do with point and be happy on account of just how poor we were or bemoan two points on account of just how bad they were.  Ho hum.  A terrible advert for the game. 
Individual Performance  

  • Mhyre 7 - First time he's ever flapped on a cross but made up for it with a splendid save later on. 
  • Ward 6 -  Had added nothing to the game, then was butchered by Lee after silly pass from Oster showed too much of the ball for Lee to hold back on.  Stretchered off.  It looked bad. 
  • Bilic 7 - Captain of the day.  Sound enough.  One brilliant over headclearance at speed to stop a long ball reaching Shearer. 
  • Tiler 6 - Like at Liverpool, I thought he looked the weaker of the three, however, you can't really knock the fact that as a unit they made Shearer look a nobody. 
  • Short 7 - Brave decision by Kendall to omit Watson.  Justified by Short's performance. 
  • Ball 8 - Hardly put a foot wrong.  We're just not missing Hinchcliffe. My Man of the Match. 
  • Farrelly 6 - Probably the most involved player on the day.  Couldn't knock him for effort.  Mind you given the number of unforced errors he was making it might have done him some good to hide.  A come-down from his performance last Monday. 
  • Hutchinson 7 - Promising debut.  Bloke next to me sees him as the 'Peter Reid' piece of the Jigsaw.  Hmmm.  Like what I saw. 
  • O'Kane 7 - fair enough.  Not inspiring, but not making the errors other were. 
  • Madar 6 - If we could get a work-rate out of him to complement his positional sense we'd have a superstar on out hands. 
  • Cadamarteri 6 - Honest effort.  Thought he always tried to do too much though and not use support on the rare occasions it was offered which is frustrating to watch.  Having me said that Radio 5 described him as 'inspirational'.  Would love to know how they work that out.  Who did he inspire?  No one in a blue shirt.
  • Allen 5 - Thought we sold him?  Pity we didn't, I've yet to see him play well outside the reserves.  Brought nothing to the game and talk the worst throw in of the season.
  • Oster 6 - Anders Limpar all over again.  Remember when he first played for us?  Remember the crowd reaction to him?  Get off his back. 

Not really acceptable 
Richard Marland 
Our performance in this game can be summed up succinctly by saying that we were good defensively and crap offensively. The benefit of having all our defenders fit and available was obvious with a fairly solid rearguard display. Apart from a couple of dodgy moments, like Gillespie's chance after Myrhe missed a cross, Newcastle never really looked like scoring... inspite of having the majority of the possession.

If we were solid defensively we bordered on the inept in an attacking sense. A home match with no shots on target says the whole story. Without Barmby, Ferguson and Grant we looked bereft of ideas. The midfield, despite boatloads of effort, never established a platform and were often second best to Batty and Lee. Ball and Ward offered precious little width, and Madar and Cadamarteri despite both showing some good touches didn't combine well as a partnership.

Once again Madar did show his intelligence, picking up good positions and showing a few delightful flicks, but without similarly intelligent players around him his influence was greatly reduced. Cadamarteri was full of running but didn't really cause the Newcastle defence too many problems.

The positives to come out of the game were all about the defensive performance. All of the back five, plus Myhre, played their part. Hopefully we will now be able to achieve some sort of continuity in defense, I know that has gone already with the unfortunate injury to Ward, but I feel that Thomas, O'Kane and Ward are all somewhat interchangeable.

So, considering our injury and suspension problems I think we should be relatively happy with a point. It is another point closer to safety and the bottom three are still not closing in on us. It is just frustrating that we have stopped picking up the wins that would have put us well clear of the bottom three.

  • Myhre 7 A number of excellent saves but he did drop one cross which presented Gillespie with the best chance of the game.
  • Ward 6 Had been solid, reliable and uninspiring before being stretchered off.
  • Ball 7 Yet another impressive performance from Ball. Frustrated Gillespie right from the first minute and Gillespie was ultimately substituted. I always think that this is the ultimate accolade to a full back. My man of the match
  • Short, Bilic, Tiler 7 All worked hard and looked pretty solid and reliable.
  • O'Kane 5 Barely noticed him. Showed some neat touches but didn't do anything in an attacking sense and wasn't particularly high profile defensively.
  • Hutchison 6 Competent debut. Showed a willingness to put his foot in and used the ball quite well.
  • Farrelly 6 Another energetic performance but was frequently second best to Lee and Batty. Contributed his usual couple of excellent passes and couple of shots which actually almost hit the target.
  • Madar 6 Not the same player without Dunc but still showed some quality.
  • Cadamarteri 5 Despite his undoubted hard work I thought he was disappointing. Once again showed his inexperience in failing to link effectively with those around him.
  • Oster 5 Came on for O'Kane in the second half and once again proved to be a frustrating player. There is no doubting his talent and potential, but his casualness can be incredibly frustrating. The hospital ball to Ward sums up his recent performances. A simple ball in our half yet he underhits it and Ward is obliged to go into a 50-50 with Lee and so ends up in hospital and possibly out for the season. If it was an isolated incident it wouldn't be so bad but he lets himself down on simple things like that all the time.

Team 5 Very poor. Away from home it may have just about been acceptable. But we were the home team and despite the selection problems should still have carried more attacking threat than we did.

Long Wait for Nothing
Jenny Roberts

Arriving at Goodison at 12.45, I faced a long wait until the turnstiles opened.  I was determined not to miss a single second of the build-up to the game, and so I stood outside the gate for 45 minutes in the icy-cold hail. 

When inside the ground, I went to stand by the dugout.  I was so early that many of the players were still coming through the entrance next to the Park End stand.  Peter Johnson eventually appeared, notably reading a copy of Speke from the Harbour!  I didn't actually realize that our beloved chairman was literate! 

The players began to gradually materialize for the warm-up.  However, a certain Mr. Shearer evidently believed that he was too talented to require a warm-up, and did not appear. 

Speed was instantaneously welcomed with vigorous jeering as soon as he made his reluctant entrance.  He looked very nervous at this reception. However, Goodison was not even half-full. 

At every opportunity, Gary Speed was made to regret the way in which he has treated our great club.  Chants of  "Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary Sh*thouse Speed," rang out triumphantly as his head and his heart sank lower and lower.  Many in the Park End waved money at him, accompanying the amusing action with "There's only one greedy b******." 

Don Hutchison looked exciting on his debut, and fitted in perfectly with Kendall's team.  Nobody could have possibly guessed that he was the new lad in the side.  I'm certain that he will prove himself as yet another route to feed Madar and, eventually,  Ferguson.  I can see Kendall building his team around these two superb front men, therefore allowing them to get forward much more often, and scoring many more goals.  If we can just stay up this season, then we could be challenging for the European places next year. 

The three key defenders, Bilic, Tiler, and Short, were once again magnificent, and they rarely lost their vice-like grip on the Newcastle attackers.  Myhre's praises were sung in the programme – a massive mistake – as fate was tempted to mar his 100% catch success rate.  It was fortunate that the lob flew over the bar, but I would call the drop Myhre's first real mistake as an Everton player.  The goal against Derby that was labelled by some as Myhre's first mistake was really (in my completely biased eyes), simply a misunderstanding between himself and the defender. 

Madar seemed reluctant to get as far forward as he normally would, and insisted on assisting the defence, the midfield, and occasionally, the attack.  Mickael must not be scared to be selfish – he must be the Ferguson of the side for the next two games.  He will be far more useful as a target man rather than as a midfielder or a defender, trying to supply a striker that isn't there.  He is superb in the air, and can work wonders with his feet, making him the player in the side who is by far the most similar to Dunc.  He was trying to get crosses in, but as he is the tallest, Madar should be on the receiving end of crosses while Duncan is absent. 

Speed played an appalling game.  Dalglish should have really brought him off at half-time, but I don't think that would have deterred us fans from chanting at him. 

Craig Short was hailed a hero when he made an excellent tackle on Speed.  He managed to escape a booking, which made the tackle even greater! 

Farrelly had a superb shot from just outside the box which was amazingly close.  It's a pity that he is going to be suspended just when he has started to look as though he has been practising those shots in training.  Maybe one day it will go in...... 

However, apart from Farrelly's effort, there were very, very few shots on goal from Everton.  Ferguson's return cannot come soon enough – it almost looked like we had five men on the pitch.  Bilic, Short, Tiler, Hutchison and Myhre (despite the mistake) seem to be the least affected by Ferguson's absence. Unfortunately, we also need other players to make a full team.  The rest seem lost without him.  Who will we look to for providing us with his fiery inspiration?  It looks as if we could be resigned to battling out another two goalless draws.  I sincerely hope that we can find some goals in our next two games, but Madar must start to act like a forward if we are to win. 

It was sad to see Mitch Ward stretchered off.  He seems to have caught the injury bug from Grant and Parkinson.  I think it was the Wimbledon game in which he was last injured, but he went down in exactly the same area of the pitch – just after the half-way line, on the right hand side as you run towards the Gwladys St goal.  Everyone thought that he had broken his leg, but Kendall says that he has seriously damaged his ankle ligaments, and could be out for a month.  I hope to see him back in a blue shirt as soon as possible. 

Shearer is completely over-rated. He actually derives pleasure from constantly diving and winning free-kicks.  I would have thought that a player of his talent would not need assistance from the referee in order to succeed.  However, I have to draw the conclusion that if Shearer IS worth £15 million, then Duncan Ferguson is priceless.  If he had played, Everton would have been three points richer, and at least a place higher (if Liverpool had beaten Villa).  We could have got to fourteenth, but to pass Wimbledon, we would have needed to win 7-0! 

Listening to a football phone-in yesterday, I heard all of the Reds trying to defend Friedal's conceded goals by going on and on about how difficult it is for a goalkeeper to make his debut away from home. Did Thomas Myhre not make his Everton debut away from home?  We would have won too, had a certain Mr Speed not missed a last minute penalty...... Anyway, my point is if it is so hard for goalkeepers to make their debuts away from home, then Howard has once again excelled himself in picking one of (if not the) best keepers in the world. 

Also on the phone-in was an Evertonian who sounded very upset at the reception that Speed was getting.  I didn't hear his name, but perhaps it was a Mr H Evans. In my opinion, us fans who give this magnificent club our emotional and financial support week-in, week-out, thoroughly deserve to express our disgust and detestation of a player.  We pay their wages, so we should expect them to give everything for our club. Never before have I known an old player to get such a reception. Why? Because the rest left on amicable terms.

Other recent departures include Hinchcliffe, Stuart, Barrett, and O'Connor. We won't jeer at Hinchcliffe 
or at Barrett when Wednesday come in April, and if Stuart or O'Connor ever came to Goodison (in a cup tie, not in a first division league fixture), we wouldn't want Short, Bilic or Duncan to fly in with a ferocious tackle, would we?  Hinchcliffe and Stuart have spoken about how they were happy at the club, and neither Barrett or O'Connor asked for a transfer.  That is what makes the difference.  Gary Speed had no right to insult our club, and to disgrace Everton's fine name with his comments.  It is, therefore, our right to despise him. 

Man of the Match:  It could be any one of the defence – Short was excellent, and often ran at the Newcastle players.  Ball looked superb, and I cannot wait for Ferguson to come back so that they can link up. Ball should be put on corners, if he can make them half as accurate as his throw-ins.  Tiler looked like a world-class player, as did Bilic, but we already know that he is great.

The treatment of Cadamarteri was bordering on the ridiculous. I was in line with the linesman during the first half, and so I saw the offsides as he saw them.  Cadamarteri was often onside, but the linesman constantly waved his flag.  I was waiting for him to rule Thomas Myhre off-side.  Yet Danny kept smiling throughout, and obviously anticipates the return of his captain with delight, as his crosses were rarely met in the area by a head - and then it was a Newcastle defender's head. However, I nominate Hutchison, who has instantly fitted in to Kendall's jigsaw, with supreme class and dog-of-war commitment.  

No Show Without Ferguson
Lyndon Lloyd

All my previous visits to Goodison Park had been by car so my day started unusually early this morning. I was out of the house by 6.55am and hot-footing it through the streets of Staines via the cash-point to the station to catch the 7.05 to Waterloo. I arrived on the platform just as the train pulled up and embarked on the first leg of my journey. I would be in the same spot 13 minutes later.

Sitting in the calm of the carriage as the train paused for any late-comers I thought wistfully of The Netley, of walking down Goodison Road, of taking my seat in the Glwadys Street end and watching my beloved Blues live for the first time since November. But as I sat there I realised something was amiss. It took a few more seconds before my sub-conscious delivered a hammer-blow to my sleepy brain. 


I realised that the doors were still open so I bolted out of the station, over the footbridge and back to the car before screaming back home, thankful that there are no speed cameras on the way. The surreal quality of my already eventful morning was enhanced by the sight of a swan sitting serenely in the road, just looking at me as I whizzed past. 

Two minutes, a match ticket and mobile phone later I'm retracing my journey back to the station, content in the knowledge that I would safely make the next train. It left me enough time to ring the RSPCA to report my bizarre sighting and complete my deja-vu journey within the legal speed limit. I hopped on the 7.18 but within minutes was struck by the realisation that it was the cattle-run train that was going to stop at every single stop on the way. As I sat glumly listening to the train clunk and grind its way along an insane detour via Brentford to the south end of the City, I reconciled myself with the thought that getting to Euston at my projected time was not going to be possible. As it turned out I made it exactly on time to meet Dr Paul, convince the powers-that-be that my membership was pending and I was
able to make my inaugural ESCLA journey north courtesy of Virgin Trains. 

A half-hour delay apart it was a pleasant journey and Paul and I talked at length about the two mailing lists, about Everton and the future under Johnson and Kendall. By 12.30 we were at the appointed venue for the rendezvous with Sir Michael Kenrick in the Philharmonic, lunch was enjoyed until 1.15-ish and by 1.45 we were on the hallowed ground of The Netley mingling with the rich and famous from both lists. It was a good turn-out which was to be replicated by a few thousand-fold inside Goodison - presumably the crowds were drawn by the desire to welcome Gary Speed back to Everton.

The streets around the ground were amazingly clear at ten to three and I was inside the ground in no time. Again, I presumed that there were plenty who wanted to expose Mr Speed to maximum antagonism by jeering his pre-match warm-up. Talk in The Netley suggested Dalglish might leave him out of the side but he played and he was booed at every opportunity. 

I surfaced in the newly renovated Street End at the top of the concrete stairs at the same moment as the players emerged from the tunnel to the heart-stirring strains of Z-Cars. Infectious pride came over me in the same way it has done every time I have attended a home game over the past 12 years. I took my seat 10 rows back and 10 yards to the right of the goal and settled down for the encounter.

Everton's injury-hit side pretty much "picked itself", to use a Sky commentary cliche. Myrhe lined up behind a back five of Ward, Bilic, Tiler, Short and Ball with debutants Hutchison (full Everton) and O'Kane (home) making up the midfield with Farrelly. Madar and Cadamarteri made the attack while Gerrard, Watson, Jevons, Oster and Allen had to be content with a place on the bench. Reports that the latter had signed for Wigan had proved premature and it is now thought that Allen is considering a new contract.

The opening exchanges brought forth little in the way of excitement or goalmouth incident. It was to be a consistent theme throughout a truly dreadful game. In fact, I can't remember seeing a game so bereft of genuine chances in a long while. The first real opening came in the ninth minute when Myrhe dropped a cross at the feet of Gillespie but the winger kindly scooped his lob over the bar. It was a real let off but it didn't really spur either side to greater things. The visitors were by far the more
composed and technical outfit and although the Blues defended shockingly, desperately and assuredly in equal measure, United didn't find a way through. 

Shearer had the best opportunities for Newcastle, fizzing a shot across the face of Myrhe's goal and going just as close with a volley off Batty's cross from a tight angle. Had he hit the target you felt it would have burst the net but the England man's profligacy, not to mention his near-legendary dirty tactics were a prominent feature of the game. Another was the gross incompetence of the referee and his "assistants", who barely called a correct decision all game. A particularly bad second-half tackle on Madar (from which he didn't really recover) went unpunished and the challenge that has possibly ended Mitch Ward's season looked equally
punishable from my vantage point.

The home side's directionless performance was due in no small measure to two players. And neither were playing today. Without Nick Barmby and, especially, Duncan Ferguson Kendall's men were a distressingly clueless bunch, reliant on the fledgling abilities of the industrious but frustrating Farrelly in the middle of the park and the erratic communication lines between Cadamarteri and Madar. Cadamarteri was full of running up front and was easily our most creative influence but even he
could not break down a disciplined Newcastle defence single-handedly. When he did threaten he was either the victim of poor refereeing decisions or some careless control at the crucial moment. You couldn't fault the lad's effort, though.

Apart from a superb Farrelly volley that flew inches over Given's cross-bar, I can't recall a single shot or chance that really troubled the Magpies defence all game. Newcastle always appeared to be in control and although Cadamarteri and Madar found themselves in some great positions there was a noticeable lack of support from the midfield, not to mention the kind of target Ferguson would have provided. Two delicious balls into the six yard box in particular were a case in point and you could just imagine big Duncan storming in to bury the inviting chances. Alas, Madar was dealt with fairly easily by the visiting defence and Cadamarteri was
eventually stifled when he simply ran of room. At the other end, Myrhe excelled himself by blocking Andreas Andersson's shot after the Swede had broken clean through the Everton defence.

The whole purpose of the game for the fans seemed to be jeering Speed at every opportunity for 60 minutes. However, once it became clear that three much-needed points were not forthcoming on current evidence, they became  more frustrated at the team instead. Young O'Kane, who seemed to me at least to have his best game yet in a blue shirt, was replaced by Oster round about this time. I have read about how the home crowd barrack our No 19 but I was to experience it first hand today. Voices of dissent erupted as soon as the substitution was made and they never gave the lad a chance all game. Admittedly he was pretty awful for the most part but he was by no means alone on that score and I wondered how much of that was due to the uncertainty from the stands combined with Kendall's need to throw him into the middle of the park to scrap it out alongside Farrelly. It's not his forte and he is being used less and less in the wide position he most favours and is renowned for.

The one bright spot for Evertonians, apart from sterling defensive work by Bilic, Tiler and Short and the industry of Cadamarteri, was the debut of Don Hutchison who showed a pleasing willingness to get stuck in. Some of his challenges were a touch over-exuberant but, as they went unnoticed or undocumented by the officials, that was never a problem. His distribution was superior to that of Farrelly and we could very well have found one of the answers to our midfield vacuum. On this evidence, he appears to be the sort of player who can do the Parkinson and Speed roles at the same time and he certainly looked more composed than some of his more familiar team-mates.

There was an attempt by Everton to raise the tempo towards the end in a bid to snatch a late winner but seeing as no-one could really envisage us scoring for 80 minutes, there was little chance of a dramatic seizure of three points in the final ten. A few corners were forced by both sides and both had goalbound efforts deflected away, although Newcastle's luck was thwarted by a diving save by Myrhe. For Everton, Oster had two bites at the cherry from 18 yards but both were blocked and Madar sent a glancing header inches wide.

The inevitable result was confirmed after 92 minutes when referee Riley blew for full-time and 38,000 agitated souls trooped out into the freezing evening contemplating another set of miserable results for Everton at the bottom of the Premiership.

Individual Performances:

  • Myrhe - 8 One fluffed cross aside, it was another solid performance by Thomas and further evidence that the end of the Southall era won't be as bitter a pill to swallow as we had first envisaged. The gulf between Myrhe and Gerrard is sizeable.
  • Ward - 6 As I write this I am still not sure about his fate but I watched as he was   loaded onto the ambulance outside the ground and the rumour was that he  had broken his leg. He was solid enough while he was on the field; again nothing spectacular.
  • Ball - 8 Reliable and enthusiastic, Bally really gets stuck in in both defence and attack. Still puts Hinchcliffe to shame!
  • Tiler - 8 Kendall has excelled himself with this signing. I remember when we were first linked with him under Royle and everyone kicked up a fuss and also how reluctant we were when Howard eventually signed him. How wrong we were. Everton's Mr Dependable.
  • Short - 9 Short has undergone an amazing transformation under Howard. The Matthaes Sammer of the English game?
  • Bilic - 7 Fine defensively but his distribution was pretty dire today.
  • O'Kane - 6 Tried hard but looked lost for much of the time.
  • Farrelly - 6 Again, lots of effort but poor passing and an annoying tendancy to go backwards when the better options lay in the forward pass to the front two. Looked like a boy being ordered to do a man's job and he just isn't up to it. Unfortunately, we have no alternatives unless Howard gets his chequebook out.
  • Hutchison - 7 Looks to be a good addition to the squad. Although we saw little of his attacking flair today, he linked well with the defence and midfield players.
  • Madar - 6 Pretty ineffectual to be honest and he tired visibly after taking a bad knock from Pearce midway through the second half. His crossing is abysmal for a Continental player and I bet he can't wait for Duncan to get back. Nor can we because he seems to work better with the Big Man.
  • Cadamarteri - 8 Tremendous effort and brilliant holding play up front. The ball seemed to stick to his feet no matter how awkward the ball from midfield and he harrassed Howey and Albert all game. But, with little or no movement from midfield or from Madar his options were much restricted.
  • Oster - 6 These are difficult times for Oster who is the sort of luxury player who will flourish when the team is doing well but struggles without a a strong midfield. The crowd don't do him any favours either but I am convinced he will be a star in a few years' time.
  • Allen  Not really on long enough (or in contact with the ball enough) to rate him but suffice to say that I don't think he has much of a future at Goodison.  But, having said that, Howard does appear keen to keep him.

Team: - 5 As a unit Everton were pretty dire today. Without the creativity of Barmby and both the leadership and direction of Ferguson we looked utterly bereft of any attacking ideas. Defensively we coped well enough despite the porous midfield but I think that Kendall is going to have to spend some of the money he has been allocated before this month's transfer deadline because we are firmly back in relegation danger. 

Standing outside the ground afterwards, Michael Branch came out and walked off down Goodison Road with no sign of injury so he looks to be on the mend. Also saw a suave looking Duncan coming down the road in the opposite direction but he disappeared through the VIP doors before I could accost him!! 

Shearer struggles to rebuild the legend
by David Maddock, The Times 
IN THE sleet and hail that preceded this match, a young boy was dragged down Gladys Street by his father, his tear-stained face distorted by a wail that made the supporters milling around look up with a start. "D'ya think he knows something we don't," one said, with a rueful smile.

If the child's protests were a small rebellion against watching this match, then his youthful instinct proved uncannily correct. Even Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, responded to the laughter that coincided with his entrance into the press-room after the match, by saying: "I suppose you've got to find some entertainment from somewhere."

The home team did not manage one shot on target and Newcastle United were not much better. Despite a dominance in terms of possession that saw them camped in their opponents' half, only Andersson, with a close-range effort, and Lee, from distance, stung Myhre's hands in the Everton goal.

It wasn't so much a poor game as a bankrupt one, and yet Newcastle created enough chances to have won comfortably, but for the profligacy of one of their forwards. His identity? Whisper it quietly in the footballing halls of fame, but it was a certain Alan Shearer.

On three occasions, he was presented with scoring opportunities at the far post that the real Shearer would have buried. At Goodison, an imposter was wearing his jersey. The great man may have recovered his fitness after a debilitating ankle injury, but his sharpness in front of goal has yet to return.

Do not get too carried away, because the No 9's movement off the ball and typically physical approach in leading the line suggested that he is not far away from the sort of form that has made him a legend in his own injury-time. The fact is, though, that Shearer is going through the sort of barren patch that plagued him for 14 matches for England. Terry Venables stuck by him, but if Glenn Hoddle's treatment of Robbie Fowler is anything to go by, we can not be sure that he will get the same understanding this time.

Shearer spurned three chances in his last match, against Leeds United, and repeated the unlikely trick here. His first miss after 17 minutes was the worst, a cross from Batty finding him in space at the far post, but Shearer shot across the face of what was an inviting goal.

"It's not been ideal for him really – he had to come back earlier than he should have done because of our predicament," Kenny Dalglish, the Newcastle manager, said afterwards. "He hasn't really had the chance for a full week's training, but he'll be alright. As far as we are concerned – and England – he is further on than we anticipated. He'll be ready for the summer."

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd 

Newcastle struggle continues
Clive White, Electronic Telegraph 
WHATEVER Kenny Dalglish might have had to say on the subject, this was two points lost rather than one gained at Goodison Park against an Everton side who looked a pale imitation of the one who had stood up so manfully to their big brother, Liverpool, five days earlier.

Doubtless Newcastle will continue to struggle to win matches – only three in their last 14 in the League – until Alan Shearer regains full fitness. Everton, for their part, are facing an exacting couple of weeks without their talismanic striker and captain, Duncan Ferguson, missing through suspension.

Next up are Southampton at the Dell, followed by Blackburn Rovers here at Goodison, by which time the blues could find themselves up to their necks once more in the relegation mire.

Everton, also without the injured Nicky Barmby, started tentatively against a side they may have feared had the measure of them after two defeats, in Cup and League, this season. Newcastle were also without two of their better players in full-backs Alessandro Pistone and Steve Watson but decided to accentuate the positive, which in their case is Alan Shearer.

He was within inches of claiming his first Premiership goal of the season after 16 minutes when David Batty picked him out in a position that was as much offside as Barnsley's John Hendrie had been in the momentus midweek Cup tie against the champions – and again referee Mike Riley and his assistant failed to spot it. Fortunately for Everton, he drove just wide of the far post with his cross-shot.

By then Newcastle should have already been ahead when Thomas Myhre – excellent in midweek – spilled a cross from Stuart Pearce under pressure from Andreas Andersson, but Keith Gillespie lobbed over the unguarded net.

Gareth Farrelly delivered Everton's first shot of note after 21 minutes and Shearer again went close with a far-post volley, but the first half drew to a close with neither side having found the target in a match that rivalled the recent Cup tie between the two teams for sheer drudgery.

The second half continued in the same vein with neither side able to mount concerted attacks although Newcastle had a couple of shots on target, one of which Myhre managed to block with his body from Andersson; the other he pushed around the post from Robert Lee.

Everton's resources, already seriously depleted, were further reduced when Mitch Ward was carried off after a 'hospital pass' from John Oster which invited a fierce challenge from Lee.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph 

RESULTS  (Game 28) 
Monday 2 March 1998 
West Ham United 0 - 0 Arsenal
Sunday 1 March 1998 
Tottenham Hotspur
Nielsen (45)
1 - 0 Bolton Wanderers
Saturday 28 February 1998 
Aston Villa
Collymore (10, 65)
2 - 1 Liverpool
Owen (pen 6)
Fjortoft (25, 63)
2 - 1 Wimbledon
Euell (71)
Blackburn Rovers
Dahlin (11) Sutton (25, 45, 47) Hendry (63)
5 - 3 Leicester City
Wilson (68) Izzet (80) Ullathorne (81)
0 - 1 Manchester United
P. Neville (31)
Crystal Palace
0 - 3 Coventry City
Telfer (1) Moldovan (40) Dublin (77)
Derby County
Wanchope (3, 49) Rowett (67)
3 - 0 Sheffield Wednesday
0 - 0 Newcastle United
Leeds United
0 - 1 Southampton
Hirst (54)

LEAGUE TABLE (after 2 March 1998 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            28   18    5    5   57   19   38   59
Arsenal                      26   13    9    4   45   26   19   48
Blackburn Rovers             27   13    9    5   49   33   16   48
Liverpool                    28   13    8    7   46   28   18   47
Chelsea                      27   14    3   10   52   30   22   45
Derby County                 28   13    6    9   44   34   10   45
Leicester City               28   10   10    8   34   28    6   40
West Ham United              27   12    4   11   38   36    2   40
Leeds United                 27   11    6   10   35   30    5   39
Coventry City                28   10    9    9   35   35    0   39
Southampton                  28   11    4   13   34   37   -3   37
Newcastle United             27    9    7   11   26   31   -5   34
Sheffield Wednesday          28    9    7   12   41   54  -13   34
Aston Villa                  28    9    6   13   30   39   -9   33
Wimbledon                    26    8    8   10   28   30   -2   32
Everton                      28    7    9   12   32   40   -8   30
Tottenham Hotspur            28    8    6   14   26   43  -17   30
Barnsley                     27    7    4   16   24   63  -39   25
Bolton Wanderers             27    4   12   11   23   43  -20   24
Crystal Palace               27    5    8   14   21   41  -20   23

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© Michael Kenrick 1998
Last updated: 14 Mar 98