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Everton 2 - 2 Derby County

Half-time: 2 - 0

Derby County Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #3
3pm Saturday 26 August 2000
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 34,840
Charlton Athletic (a) Ref: Mike Riley Tottenham Hotspur (a) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 7th [ Results & Table ]
Thomas Gravesen: his first goal for Everton Everton again pondered a long list of injury worries when facing Derby at Goodison Park.

Duncan Ferguson has a calf problem, while Alessandro Pistone is out with a hamstring injury. Mark Pembridge is sidelined with a calf injury and Abel Xavier, Alex Cleland, and Kevin Campbell are long-term injury victims.  But Walter Smith has Niclas Alexandersson available after an ankle knock to make is debut.

The match started with mixed football from Everton.  Some good promising attacks, with Gravesen starting to pull the strings in midfield, and Joe-Max Moore well involved, and Alexandersson imposing himself.

Jeffers finally opened the scoring on 38 mins after many missed chances, pouncing on a Joe-Max Moore ball to flick it in past Poom.  Then, Gravesen was played in by Stephen Hughes and he finished well for his first senior goal 2 mins later.

But early in the second half, Derby's subs changed the game, Schnoor and Sturridge combining to score after just 7 mins.  Then they banged in another one and suddenly the match had a completely different complexion.  

It set up the game for a tense finish with both teams determined to win, but it just wasn't to be despite good opportunities fro both teams.  A chance to go 2nd in the league thrown away....



EVERTON: Jeffers (38'), Gravesen (40') Alexandersson
Derby County: Sturridge (52'), Strupar (68')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used
EVERTON: Gerrard; S Watson, Gough (62' Gascoigne), Weir, Unsworth; Alexandersson, Nyarko, Gravesen, S Hughes; Jeffers (75' M Hughes), Moore (81' Cadamarteri). 
Unavailable: Dunne (suspended); Ball, Campbell, Cleland, Ferguson, Myhre, Pembridge,
Pistone, Xavier (injured). 
Simonsen, Gemmill.
Derby County: Poom, Johnson, Burton, Higginbotham (46' Schnoor), Jackson (46' Sturridge), Elliott, Eranio (92' Riggott), Bragstad, Strupar, Valakari, Murray. Oakes, Robinson.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2; 4-5-1
Derby County: White shirts; black shorts; white socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Moore (62'), Gascoigne (86')
Derby County: Burton (50'), Strupar (60'), Eranio (83')


Mickey Blue Eyes The definition of "schzophrenia"?
Yozzer Disappointing... but Promising
Steve Bickerton Consistently Inconsistent
Rob Burns Jekyll & Hyde Again!
Richard Marland Love's Labours Lost
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Smith an expert in salvage business
by Jack Carroll
THE SUNDAY TIMES Super Strupar denies Everton
by John O'Brien
THE TIMES Derby hit back as Gravesen's star wanes
by Bill Edgar
THE INDEPENDENT Link to Match Reports
THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited  
LIVERPOOL ECHO Link to Echo Report

EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

BBC SPORT Link to BBC Match Report

SKY SPORTS Link to Sky Match Report
SPORTING LIFE Link to PA Sports Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
FA-PREMIER Link to FA-Premier Match Report


 The definition of "schzophrenia"?
Mickey Blue Eyes
According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary it is: "A mental disease marked by a breakdown in the relation between thoughts, feelings, and actions, frequently accompanied by delusions and retreat from social life."

Yup.  That's about right.  After this match, all Blue Bellies will know what THAT means, on and off the park.  We're all crazy for putting ourselves through this experience.  So why do we love it so?  Search me, search me.

Of course your average peon gets it wrong: He/she thinks schizophrenia is a split personality.  But they get the point anyway.  There's a joke in there somewhere, Blue Bellies........

After the uneven, unsatisfactory tumult of the Charlton match, I never did feel this was going to be as easy as most were saying.  Derby had been two goals behind in their two previous matches and did well in recovering.  For all that, they aren't much of a side... they are going to get really turned over by a coherent and determined team.  Which makes our failure to win all the more frustrating.  The Street End language was PURPLE again.  I made some forceful contributions meself.

It was an open game from the word go.  The Bellies played really well in the first half, sometimes even brilliantly, then Goughy went off injured and, quite simply, the arse fell out of us and Derby over-ran us in the second half and should have won it.  As a season-ticket compadre said, "Christ, if we fall apart when one man goes off, what chance have we got?"  I'm not so doomy but I know what he means.  We all do.

The first half was splendid for our subjectivity.  Derby weren't down and out exactly, though had The Ears converted another chance immediately after the second goal then it would have been all over and no mistake.  By then we had scored two terrific goals of different character.

The first came after a period of pressure in the Park End culminated in a high looped cross from the left.  The Little Yank and what a Big Heart the little man has! had two bites at getting it back in from the right-side goal line in the penalty box.  The second attempt deceived everybody when it went in cutting the grass and The Ears appeared at the near post and slid it in for a classic poacher's goal al la Jimmy Greaves.

The second arrived a few minutes later when Alex Nyarko intercepted a head high ball with his right foot, left side of our half, turned and delivered it perfectly to Yozzer 1 closing in diagonally from the left.  Derby backed off and failed to cover The Gravedigger, right-side edge of the penalty area.  Yozzer slid an absolute beauty of a pass between two central defenders, The Gravedigger ran on to it and hit home a perfect ground cross-shot that went in off the keeper's right post.  Virtually a repeat move in the next minute, but this time The Ears missed by a gnat's fart.

It was no more than we deserved.  After the usual initial sparring we were WAY out in front in almost every department.  Nic was having a great debut day on the right... at one point he almost disjointed the hips of a defender by turning him inside-out.  Alex was doing his Mister Everywhere Class Act.  The Gravedigger won crunching tackles that were audible to the ducks in Stanley Park.  So did Unsy and Stevie.  Goughy-Weir was looking likely again.  The Little Yank and The Ears were working their socks off to compensate for their lack weight.  And Yozzer 1 at last showed some of his easy class and promise still lurking below the surface.

The sun even came out briefly to lighten the slate grey, sticky atmosphere.  At half time I said, "There's two or three more goals in this game."  So there was....

Within 15 minutes of the restart, Derby were level with two absolutely magnificent goals.  The first a truly splendid left-wing move that skinned our entire right side defence and left Stevie and Co. sprawling with indignity... a superb, arrow sharp cross to left side penalty spot... and a downward bullet header that screamed into Paul's bottom right corner.  No chance, no recriminations.  Shortly afterwards we gave away a free kick, dead centre of the penalty arc.  It was virtually a free shot at goal.  A Derby forward just stood in front of Paul so he was unsighted.  The free kick was perfectly crafted, bent and flew inside his left post at ground height.  No chance, no recriminations.

But what followed, after Goughy's removal for what looked like a bad injury, MADDENED the fans.  You can't blame them.  We simply fell to pieces.  It's the only suitable phrase.

In my view, only the Little Yank and The Ears came out of this phase of play with any credit.  They never stopped.  But it was useless because and I exaggerate not the rest of the staff were AWOL.  They simply stopped playing all of them!  Derby won everything and looked as though they were going to score at any minute.  The very same inexplicable "play" we saw against Charlton.  Henceforth I will dub this The Charlton Syndrome.

There's no point me trying to offer constructive criticism because I haven't a clue what happened.  I don't think anybody has.

Afterwards, taking a detachment of the Black Horse battalion into town, I switched on the radio.  Unsie was being interviewed.  He said they all knew the second half performance was "unacceptable."  Well, I hope Smiffy broke a few cups in the dressing room afterwards to reinforce the point.

We didn't even see THAT barmaid in the BH after the game.  Then it started raining... but I was past caring by then.

  Up to Reports Index ]
 Disappointing... but Promising
Just got back from the game, totally pissed off at throwing away 2 points, and a place at the top of the table by an inept and shambolic second-half performance.  I hate to criticise Walter Smith, because he has been great for the club and he is defo the right man for the job, but his tactics at 2-2 were baffling, more on that later....  

The game started very slowly, strange atmosphere at Goodison, expected more after the win in midweek.  Derby seemed to start the better, but we soon got a grip on the game, and started to show some real skill in the midfield especially Stephen Hughes, showing what he is capable of at last.

We had a few chances before the first goal, with Alexandersson showing some great skill in tight positions, but his final ball could have been better.  Nyarko and Gravesen linked up well in the middle and spread the ball around well.  Class finish from Jeffers for the first goal, quickly followed by some excellent football leading up to Gravesen's goal.  Jeffers should have made it 3-0 and wrapped it up before the break clean through on the keeper, he shot narrowly wide.

At half time we were looking forward to the second half, thinking we would go on to get 3, 4 or even 5 the way we were playing, as Derby's defence looked very shaky.  Everything was rosy at fortress Goodison, and then the second half started and I wondered if I was watching the same game!!!

Derby ran amok through the middle, exactly the same as happened against Charlton in midweek.  Nyarko, who had a great first half, again went missing, and Gravesen seems scared to put his foot in after his pre-season experiences.  Sturridge scored with a great header, although he should never have been allowed to have so much time.  Steve Watson got caught way out of position and Schnoor had acres of space to get a good cross in and Sturridge buried it.

2-1, not too bad at this point, we just needed to re-stamp our authority on the game and get another goal.  This didn't happen, though; Gough went off injured (again?) and the defence went to pot.

Unsworth gave away a stupid free kick on the edge of the box and you could tell it was going to be 2-2.  Gerrard was at fault for the goal as he didn't seem to organise his wall properly.

Now we must attack surely??? ... but Smith brings on Mark Hughes for Jeffers and Cadamarteri for Moore!  And he sticks Hughes up front on his own!!  and plays Cadamarteri in the midfield!!! Absolutely bizarre!!!!  The ball was coming up to Hughes, who held it up well on a some occasions, but there was nobody else up-front with him, and so the ball just kept on coming back putting us under pressure from a buoyant derby side, who would be happy with the draw, but capable of sneaking a win.

Gazza came on for the last 20 mins and showed some excellent touches, putting through some great balls but they were wasted as we didn;t seem to want to attack.  Where is the logic in putting Mark Hughes, who is not a great goalscorer at the best of times, up front on his own for the last 15 minutes at HOME against a poor team in DERBY when we were chasing 3 points???

Very strange indeed, and very frustrating.

CLOSING VERDICT:- The midfield need to get their act together if we are going to aim for a Top 8 finish this year (which should be our aim, no question about it).  The midfield looked class first half, but were nowhere to be seen second half and Derby just sailed through the middle every time they went forward.  If teams like Derby and Charlton can dominate in such a way, what are Man U gonna be like in 3 weeks!!!!  I have to say I have never seen us so over-run in midfield for a long time....

However, Walter knows this, and said so in his interview after the match, so hopefully it will be addressed.  All it needs is for Nyarko and Gravesen to get stuck in and we'll be fine in that department.

The defence is also VERY worrying.  We need to sign a quality centre half and fast.  Richard Gough is outstanding, but his injuries are worrying and he can't go on forever.  Without him at the back we look a mess.  Unsworth had a nightmare today, but he isn't as bad as some people make out.  However we need another experienced centre-half as cover to plug the alarming gaps teams like Derby and Charlton seem to be finding with relevant ease.  Also Steve Watson had an off day, but he will settle down and prove to be a good buy.

Up front, Moore and Jeffers looked very impressive in the first half.  A bit lightweight, but they harried for every ball and closed down well, especially Joe Max-Moore, who always gives 100%, a great team player.  They tired second half, not surprisingly, but we look strong in that department, especially with Ferguson and Campbell to come in.

Gazza did well again when he came on, and would have surely scored had Jeffers looked up and squared it instead of shooting from a narrow angle, as Gazza was alone in the centre of the box and would have had a tap in. Alexandersson had a great first half, but was clearly unfit and struggled through the second.

Never mind, these results can happen (Look at Liverpoo and Man U today).  I think we will do well this season once we get the team settled down and playing as a unit and not 11 strangers.

A disappointing result in the end, but still a great deal to look forward to IMHO.

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 Consistently Inconsistent
Steve Bickerton
I've always been one to believe that variety is the spice of life.  You know what I mean, don't you?  If everybody was an Evertonian, there'd be nothing special about it.  Safe in the knowledge that I was born special, somehow I expect life to treat me in a special way...  Plenty of variety, but not when it comes to Everton.  There, it should be consistent; I should know what to expect.  Life knows this and delivers.  Trouble is, that consistency always takes me by surprise.  Today was no exception.  A second home game inside 4 days, bathing in the glow that a 3-0 win brings, I was looking for that consistency.  It came; life delivered.  But blow me, it wasn't the consistency I expected.

The opening exchanges were poor.  Derby looked nervous, we seemed disinterested.  As a result, the best of the game seemed to go Derby's way.  A drive from 30 yards or so had Gerrard diving to his right, desperate to reach the ball, yet his concern was unfounded as the ball shaved the post.  This seemed to wake us up and Nyarko sparked into life.  Several corners in quick succession and a strike from the Ghanaian which Poom managed to save in spectacular fashion were the catalysts for a dazzling display of controlled midfield football, which was only halted when Gerrard went down under a foul challenge at a Derby corner.

The referee gave Gerrard plenty of time to recover before starting play again, but somehow the break had only contrived to put the Everton midfield back into its shell... for a minute or two.  Gravesen took control and was as key a player as I've seen in midfield since Peter Reid in the 80's.  He's a tackler of great skill, a player who can go past players and who can hold up the ball while others find space... and his passing is superb.  From about 30 minutes into the half, up until half-time, we were quite simply irresistible,

If Gravesen was the conductor of the symphony that we played, Nyarko was the kettle drum; maintaining the beat, he chased, he harried, and he had a hand in both goals.  For the first he picked up the ball in his own half and pushed it wide to Moore, on the right.  The American raced down the wing and made for the goal line.  He looked up and fired the ball across goal only to see it cannon off a Derby defender.  Unfazed, though, he chased the ball and again delivered a cross into the danger area, finding Jeffers who calmly flicked the ball home with the side of his foot from about 4 yards.  A great goal, 1-0, but better was to come.

Derby were deflated.  They weren't able to stay with us at all as Nyarko made an outrageous interception.  He brought the ball down effortlessly and saw Stephen Hughes running into space into the centre of the Derby half.  The through pass was perfect and Hughes ran onto it effortlessly.  Gravesen was also making the run from midfield, but down the inside-right channel as opposed to Hughes' inside-left.  The Derby defenders were drawn to Hughes and as they were, he laid a perfect pass into Gravesen's path.  A goal was the only outcome that could be expected, but nevertheless it needed a rebound off the inside of the post to take it across the line. Two goals in three minutes. 2-0 and we were cruising after 39 minutes.

But more was to come.  Jeffers had an opportunity to wrap it up completely before the half-time whistle went, but he pushed his shot wide from 18 yards.  In real time, it looked like an awful miss from where I sat, but the replay (what a bonus they are!) showed that he was so close from an angle which was quite difficult, trying to steer the ball past a defender and the keeper, in the opposite direction to the one in which he was running.  Oh, what might have been... it later transpired.  Half-time and 2-0. It had been a display of outstanding beauty in that final 25 minutes.  It took me back 15 years.

The Samba band which wended its way around the pitch during the half-time interval somehow seemed appropriate free flowing football at Goodison Park conjured up visions of South Americans at their best.

Sadly the second half blew the Samba away and brought me closer to reality.  We were awful; memories of relegation struggles rather than championship fiestas.  Still, and all, we could have had the game wrapped up as Jeffers had two efforts well saved by Poom: one was a one-on-one, the second came when a pull back for Gascoigne (on for the stretchered-off Gough) would have seen the former Middlesbrough player open his account at the club probably. 

A rasping shot from Gravesen from fully 25 yards out was also saved by the flying Estonian.  Down the other end, Derby were getting on with their recovery.  A goal from Dean Sturridge (a second-half substitute) on a cross from the left saw the deficit halved; and a free kick 20 yards out from Strupar pulled the Rams level. We should have been out of sight by then!

Injuries throughout the game hadn't helped our flow, of course.  Strong tackling from Derby in the first half was matched and then some in the second.  Richard Gough went off after taking a knock and Stephen Hughes was down for a while after taking a kick from Sturridge.  Jeffers took heavy punishment and he limped out to be replaced by Mark Hughes.  

The late appearance of Cadamarteri for Moore added a bit of pace but it was too little, too late although we were still able to go close.  For the second match running, we were denied a penalty: Thomas Gravesen was the victim this time, upended in the box as he prepared to cross the ball but the referee waved play on.  No justice.

In the end, I was happy to have salvaged a draw.  But what a disappointment, that we should play so inconsistently.  That's what surprised me.  Yet I should expect it.  We're always inconsistent.  That's the consistency!

Man of the Match:  Thomas Gravesen, for a dazzling first half display and nearly snatching it for us in the second.

As for the team, it can only get better as they adapt to each other. But I do wish they could play at a level of performance which would be satisfactory for a full 90 minutes.

Visit Steve Bickerton's Blue Horizons website

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 Jekyll and Hyde Again!
Rob Burns
Everton played up to the "game of two halves" expression this afternoon, conceding two goals to Jim Smith's muscle men after appearing to cruise to victory and the fans expecting a big margin.

A cheeky backheel from Franny Jeffers opened the scoring after good wide running by Joe-Max, whilst Gravesen showed brilliant determination to run through and side-foot from the right, just inside Poom's right hand post for the second.

Alexandersson showed class, as well as die-hard commitment to run the right wing; on the left Stephen Hughes looked good but still hasn't sorted out his defensive duties.  Nyarko played a supporting role in the first and was an absent friend in the second; Weir was generally solid alongside General Gough.

Sadly the second half was no reflection of the first.  Derby made changes including the introduction of Sturridge; Walter pulled Moore back into midfield and inexplicably conceded ground.  Suddenly, there were problems and the defence looked stretched.  Sturridge found himself on the end of a quick passing move and headed home. Gough was hurt and left the field in some pain looked like it could be a real problem and Unsworth swallowed the pink liquid from the test tube as he moved from left back to centre-half.  Panic stations.

According to spectators in the Park End, there was a huge gap as Joe-Max tried in vain to get Gerrard to re-align his wall, Strupar also had a good view and nestled the ball in the net from the D.

Gravesen lost conviction from his passing, Alexandersson looked like he had played extra time.  Steve Watson tried but was tiring.  Stephen Hughes was solid as he adapted to left back but the introduction of Mark Hughes for Jeffers, Gascoigne for Gough, and Cadamarteri for Moore made little impact. Gerrard kicked hopelessly wide on a number of occasions and proved that he has little idea as far as directing the gameplay is concerned.  In fact he did more to frustrate Mark Hughes, our lone striker, than the Derby defence or his biggest enemy, himself.

Gough is the mainstay of the defence and, either Everton have a team of geneticists cloning him as we speak, or we need a centre half desperately.  Xavier could walk in but could easily walk straight back out again.  Matrazzi could be an option as playing in the side we now have could be ideal for the Italian who has proven quality.  Either way, don't be surprised to see Walter linked with a defender next week, or alternatively see Everton leak goals whenever Gough's super-powers fail.  In addition, I would be inclined to get Myhre back in the first team as Gerrard, a great shot stopper, does not command his defence or his area.

Unsworth sorry, Mr Hyde will spend the bank holiday shaving his new found wolf-man beard and bodily hair in time for training on Monday.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Love's Labours Lost
Richard Marland
At half-time today a message went over the PA summonsing someone to the Royal Liverpool Hospital as his wife had gone into labour.  Now, assuming that he actually went (I'm sure she would have been alright on her own for an hour or two), that man would be going round thinking that we were capable of competing for the championship this season.  He certainly would have been spared the distressing sight of us looking more akin to relegation fodder in the second half.

In the first half we truly were assume.  With a midget frontline of Jeffers and Moore we were forced into playing it on the deck.  We actually saw Gerrard roll the ball out to Richard Gough and Davey Weir, we saw the midfield making angles for the defenders to pass to them, we even saw Niclas Alexanderrson providing us with genuine width... it was a sheer joy to watch.

It wasn't just pretty, pretty stuff either.  Without creating an avalanche of chances we always looked threatening, with the best chance falling to Franny Jeffers who should have scored but instead saw his shot beaten away by the 'keeper.  We dominated the entire first half; Derby had a couple of sporadic chances but the rest was about us.

Despite the quality of our football, it took us a long time to score.  It was just beginning to look like we weren't going to make our period of ascendancy pay when Joe-Max, from the bye-line, laid a ball back to Franny Jeffers who converted with a neat little flick.  Within two minutes we had extended the lead with Thomas Gravesen converting following a quick breakaway led by Stephen Hughes.

By the end of the half, Derby were looking a little ragged and in seeming danger of losing their discipline, I really began to sense that a rout might have been on the cards.  We were two goals to the good, it could have been more, and it certainly didn't flatter our first half performance.

Half-time arrived and it was never the same again.  Derby made two changes I guess they also had the mother of all dressing-downs from Jim Smith (from my perch in Gwladys St Upper you could see how red his head was during the first half).  I guess we also arrived back on the pitch feeling that the job had been completed.  It wasn't.

Derby denied us the space we had had in the first half, they pressed up onto our defense and never let them settle in possession, the wheels fell off big time.  A quick break down our right, Steve Watson missed a tackle quite woefully and one substitute (Schnoor) crossed for the other (Sturridge) to convert.

Our edginess wasn't helped by the loss of Richard Gough as he injured himself making a last ditch tackle, it didn't look good as he was taken away on a stretcher.  Gazza came on for him and the subsequent reshuffle saw Unsie go to centre-back, Stephen Hughes to left-back, Gazza into centre-midfield and Joe-Max pulled back to left-midfield.  A five-man midfield with Franny up front on his own... yes, we were struggling that badly.

Derby scented blood. They soon got it. A needless free kick given awayin a central position, the wall lining up and inviting Strupar to make a straight, right-footed drive into the far corner, and Strupar obliging with a strongly hit shot that went straight as an arrow. The logic of it all escaped me, if you're going to invite him into making a shot why not the other side, as it was all he had to do was hit it straight and hard.

The remainder of the half continued at a frenetic pace. Mark Hughes came on for Franny, Cadamarteri for Joe-Max. The delay in Hughes' appearance puzzled me, with us being out-muscled and unable to control the possession he seemed the ideal man for the occasion. We still had opportunities, before he left Franny had another chance he should have converted, again he hit the target and forced a save which at least is something, but he should have scored.

Everything that had been good about the first half went in the second. Alexandersson disappeared and seemed strangely reluctant to make runs down the flank. Gravesen who had so impressed in the first half seemed unable to find a blue shirt, Nyarko and Hughes were two more who disappeared from sight.

Personally I was relieved when the final whistle came. Derby throughout the second half looked the more likely to score, it had definitely got to the stage where we should accept what we had and be thankful for the point.

  • Gerrard 7 Another competent display but what was he playing at with the wall.
  • Watson S 7 Very impressive first half. Saw a lot of the ball and used it well. Like everyone he fell back from that in the second.
  • Unsworth 7 In this sort of company his passing is definitely shown up. But don't forget that he was only there because of Pistone's injury. Defensively he did his job.
  • Weir 7 I don't need to tell you.
  • Gough 7 The defensive stuff you take for granted. What takes him beyond the ordinary is his use of the ball on the deck, he really is very good at constructing the passing movements from the back.
  • Alexandersson 7 A revelation in the first half, practically anonymous in the second. He showed great touch, he could beat men, he could pass, for a while he looked the part.
  • Gravesen 7 Outstanding in the first half, dreadful in the second.
  • Nyarko 7 Again showed his potential, but was rather blown away in the second.
  • Hughes S 7 Undoubtedly an intelligent footballer with a good eye for a pass.
  • Jeffers 7 Another well taken goal, and again he worked hard but again he missed chances he should have converted. At least though, he is getting into those positions and with the confidence of regular goals he should get better.
  • Moore 7 Some of his general play was the best I have seen from him, did OK.
  • Gascoigne 6 I guess the idea was that he was supposed to get us passing again. It didn't work but I guess that wasn't totally his fault.
  • Cadamarteri 5 Barely involved.
  • Hughes M 6 Why wasn't he brought on earlier? When he did come on he held up the ball and laid it off intelligently. In fact just what we had been crying out for.

Team 7  As for most of the players, this is an average score:-  8 for the first half, 6 for the second. Although it was somewhat alarming to witness the wheels coming off like they did, at least we've seen what they are capable of.  With more games and familiarity, and with either Big Dunc or Super Kev up front, we should be able to hit those heights with more consistency.

Man of the match  On the second half performance, no-one really deserves it.  If pushed I would say Stephen Hughes he played well in the first half and made a decent fist of his emergency left-back role in the second.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Smith an expert in salvage business
Jack Carroll, Electronic Telegraph
DERBY MAY still be without a win this season but Jim Smith can take great pride in this battling draw at Goodison Park.  Two goals down at half time, few would have thought Derby could get back into this match, but some inspired substitutions at the interval, coupled with some woeful Everton defending saw them grab a point.

After making his return to Goodison Park with two goals in midweek against Charlton, Duncan Ferguson's injury problems also resurfaced and a calf injury he sustained in that game made him unavailable yesterday.

Paul Gascoigne, who produced a fine home debut in the same match, could find a place only on the substitutes bench as Walter Smith chose Niclas Alexandersson, the Swedish winger signed from Sheffield Wednesday in the summer, to make his bow after recovering from injury while Thomas Gravesen was moved back to central midfield.

Derby, meanwhile, were again, without key players because of injury, this time Georgi Kinkladze, Craig Burley and Horacio Carbonari were absent.

With Francis Jeffers and the American forward Joe-Max Moore chosen to lead the Everton attack, the home side began in impressive fashion, although they were made to wait for their opening goal. Moore found himself in plenty of space and, from his second attempt at a cross, Jeffers casually stroked the ball in the net.

Two minutes later, Everton had their second.  A surging run from Stephen Hughes unsettled the visitors before he laid the ball off to Gravesen, who started celebrating before his shot went in off of Mart Poom's far post.

During the interval, Derby made two changes with Stefan Schnoor and Dean Sturridge coming on for Danny Higginbotham and Richard Jackson and the effect was dramatic.  Within seven minutes of the restart, Schnoor's cross was headed powerfully by Sturridge past Paul Gerrard and it was almost 2-0 moments later but Johnson's volley went just inches wide of the post.

Once Richard Gough had departed with a knee injury, Derby stepped up the pressure and they equalised with half an hour remaining.  A clumsy challenge from David Unsworth on Dean Burton just outside the area set up Branko Strupar who beat Gerrard with ease from the free kick.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

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 Super Strupar denies Everton
by John O'Brien, The Sunday Times
IT WAS impossible not to look at the respective sick-lists before this game and not conclude that Derby were in for a rough passage.  In Georgi Kinkladze, Horacio Carbonari, Rory Delap, Lars Bohinen and Craig Burley, Derby were deprived of five internationals.  The fact that they finished the game marginally on top was almost superfluous.  Missing their heartbeat, Jim Smith's men will have been happy to come away with their lives.

Last season Goodison represented something of a fortress for Everton and they set about their visitors as if it would have been nothing short of monumental impudence for Derby to expect anything out of their journey.  Behind 2-0 after 40 minutes, the odds on Derby doing so must have been as long as the road home itself.

In no way did the scoreline flatter Everton.  Thomas Gravesen, making only his second start for the club, bossed the midfield exchanges without breaking sweat.  The Dane was surrounded by Everton new boys but the manner in which they dominated created the impression that they were all old hands.  Niclas Alexandersson, making his debut after signing from Sheffield Wednesday, and Stephen Hughes, starting only his third game for the Toffees, lent valuable support.

Both first-half goals were the result of simple executions but, in each case, the hard work had already been done.  Gravesen was the architect of the first, playing in the American, Joe-Max Moore, with a precise pass down the right after 38 minutes.  Moore's initial cross failed to meet its intended target, Francis Jeffers, but the rebound fell kindly for Moore, who ensured, at the second attempt, that Jeffers second goal of the season was a casual tap-in from close range.

Gravesen capped an outstanding half by scoring the second two minutes later.  Hughes fashioned the chance from a run that started inside his own half.  Mart Poom got a hand to Gravesen's angled side-step but could not prevent the ball going in off his right post.

Jeffers spurned a gilt-edged opportunity to increase the lead before half-time and tested Poom again in the 49th minute, but Gravesen was a paler influence now and Derby were getting a sniff at the other end.  Smith had introduced Stefan Schnoor and Dean Sturridge for the second-half, so how gratifying it must have been when the former crossed for Sturridge to score within seven minutes of the restart.

Against the run of play it might have been, but when Branko Strupar, the Belgian striker, expertly curled a free-kick around the Everton wall 16 minutes later, the home team had only themselves to blame for losing their advantage.

Alex Nyarko came closest to restoring Everton's lead with a snap-shot after 72 minutes but their first-half superiority was, by now, a fading memory.  Sturridge proved a constant menace to the home defence and Derby simply grew in confidence as the game got older.

A more pleasing afternoon than we had any right to expect signed off with a couple of Paul Gascoigne corners that came to nought.  By then, you had to say, deservedly so.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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 Derby hit back with purpose as Gravesen's star wanes
by Bill Edgar, The Times

WE spotted him straightaway, a crowd favourite whose reputation as a wild man did not deter Everton from signing him this summer.  Thinning on top now, he was still able to use his international experience to rise above the mediocrity around him, his creative talent illuminating midfield and steering the home side into a commanding lead.  Admiring it all was Paul Gascoigne, seated on the substitutes' bench.

Unfortunately for Everton, Thomas Gravesen's impersonation of Gascoigne also extended to replicating his tendency to fade in the latter stages, a failing that Derby County seized upon with relish.

Three days after Duncan Ferguson had marked his return to Goodison Park by scoring twice against Charlton Athletic, here was a two-goal comeback that was less appealing to the locals.

Poor Walter Smith.  After helping to restore sanity and stability to a wayward club, he found his carefully-constructed midfield ripped apart by the close-season defections of Nick Barmby, John Collins and Don Hutchison.  In their places have come Gascoigne, Gravesen, Niclas Alexandersson and Alex Nyarko but, as Smith indicated on Saturday night, a period of transition and indifferent results is inevitable while they acclimatise.

While Evertonians were consoled by the even greater collapse suffered by Liverpool, at The Dell, the comparison with the Anfield side merely re-emphasised the huge task that Smith faces in attempting to gain supremacy on Merseyside.  The title triumphs of 1970, 1985 and 1987 are the only occasions in the past 35 years that Everton have finished above their city rivals in the league.

Such figures no doubt encouraged Barmby to cross Stanley Park, but, in Gravesen, Everton appear to have acquired another player who can open up defences.  Having missed the opening FA Carling Premiership match after being dismissed for striking an opponent in a pre-season game, the Dane, known as "Mad Dog" at SV Hamburg, his previous club, played on the right of midfield on his debut against Charlton before warming to his preferred central role at the weekend.

A ball-winner with an inventive eye, Gravesen, who cost Everton 2.5 million, lofted a pass for Joe-Max Moore to collect and tee up the first goal for Francis Jeffers.  The Dane, prematurely balding at 24 "he looks as old as me", Jim Smith, the veteran Derby County manager, said then side-footed home off the far post, but a 2-0 advantage was insufficient for a side that had blown a lead six times at home last season.

With the shot-stopping of Mart Poom and pace of Dean Sturridge lifting a Derby side missing six first-team players, a point was salvaged through goals from Sturridge and Branko Strupar.  The equaliser came shortly after the introduction of Gascoigne, who exerted little influence on the game.  Still, with another midfield player carrying off a passable impression of the former England hero, Everton have some cause for optimism that, eventually, fortunes may improve.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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