Skip to Main Content
Members:   Log In Sign Up
Text:  A  A  A

Everton 2 - 1 Leicester City

Half-time: 2 - 0

FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #27
3pm Saturday 10 February 2001
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Att: 30,409
« Leeds United (h) Ref: Rob Styles Ipswich Town (a) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 15th [ Results &  Table ]

Fanny Jeffers scores on his comeback...

By Paul Garrity

This is the win we have all been waiting for and it gives the blues some much-needed space at the bottom of the table.  The beginning of the first half started with a bang as Franny Jeffers had the chance to put the blues ahead.  He shot over the bar and the offside flag was up, and at this point I thought is it going to be one of those days?

After just eight minutes play, Jeffers found himself putting the blues ahead something he has been waiting to do for a while.  He seized upon Thomas Gravesen's through-ball, and put the ball in the back net to get his seventh of the season. 

Sadly after the half-hour mark, Richard Gough left the pitch injured and was replaced by David Unsworth.  Hopefully is absence will be short, as he is a vital part of the Everton set-up.  Leicester then started to find their feet, and one or two half-chances started to appear.  Against the run of play, Kevin Campbell got the much-needed second, from a fantastic run by David Weir.

The second half started a little scrappy, with Everton playing comfortably.  Thomas Gravesen had the crowd chanting his name, and Scot Gemmill tried an effort from fully 40-yards, with the blues in control of the game.  This was until tiredness started to set in.

Leicester started to get more of the ball and were starting to pick Everton apart, and mistakes were gifting the Foxes opportunities.  Dean Sturridge scored with eleven minutes to go and the last ten minutes were nail biting ones.  Kevin Campbell could have put Everton further ahead, but Matt Elliott cleared his effort.

The blues survived the late onslaught, and sealed the deserved three points.

EVERTON: Jeffers (8'), Campbell (43')
Leicester City: Sturridge (78')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used

Gerrard; Weir {36' capt}, Gough {capt}(36' Unsworth), Ball; S Watson, Gemmill, Gravesen, S Hughes (80' Moore), Naysmith; Campbell, Jeffers (83' Cadamarteri).

Unavailable: Pembridge (suspended), Alexandersson, Cleland, Degn, Gascoigne, Nyarko, Pistone, Xavier, Ferguson (injured).

Myhre, Tal.
Leicester City: Royce; Rowett, Elliott, Taggart (Sinclair 46); Impey (Eadie 46), Savage, Lewis, Jones (Mancini 46), Guppy; Izzet, Sturridge.

Price, Bejamin.

   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Blue shirts; White shorts; Blue socks. 3-5-2
Leicester City: White shirts; Blue shorts; White socks. 3-5-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Gemmill (45'), Unsworth (58'), Moore (90')
Leicester City: Impey (62')


Mickey Blue Eyes The Ears is Back!
Steve Bickerton Edging Closer
Richard Marland Franny is back!
Julian Cashen Joy and relief in equal measure
THE TIMES Taylor's tinkering to no avail
by Oliver Kay
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Jeffers return inspires Everton
by Trevor Haylett
THE SUNDAY TIMES Jeffers bounces back
by John Aizlewood
THE INDEPENDENT Link to Match Report
THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited
DAILY POST Link to Daily Post Report
LIVERPOOL ECHO Link to Echo Report
EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

BBC SPORTS Link to BBC Sports Match Report
SKY SPORTS Link to Sky Sports 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 Ears is back!
Mickey Blue Eyes
Leicester.  Grey, midwinter day.  Cloying, drizzly rain.  1-1 draw.

You cant help it, can you?  All these words melt together, all of them triggered off by the single word Leicester.  You dont expect much.  It is unfair of course.  Leicester are no better or worse than any other half-arsed team in the Prem us included.  Just goes to show how image can sometimes overtake reality.

For image read: illusion. or lies.  It keeps the hack/media divvies busy living vicariously off the backs of those of us who try to make a reasonably honest living.  Mass manufacture of lies isnt my idea of civilized life.  Then again, all too often we all use the illusion to suit ourselves.  More often than not it short-circuits genuine thinking and feelings.  So illusion becomes porridge for the lazy-minded.  Doesnt take much swallowing and keeps you going but eventually it repeats painfully on you or lodges like concrete in your digestive tract.

Then there were all those other much more important events: Indian earthquake, Lockerbie judgement, Israels mad election of a war-criminal, early days of Americas lawyer-appointed Prez etc. etc.  If you dont use your reasoning power it can overwhelm you to the point of cauterized indifference.  But it isnt in our make-up to be unfeeling.  Act like that and you pay the price sooner or later.

Coupled with all that, I was suddenly tired.  I had had a shitty week at the battle front, missed the Leeds game and had looked forward to this match as my way of feeling human again.  Then I realised it was Leicester.  For a moment the world turned grey, like John Major or Gary Lineker.  It was impossible to shake off the feeling that we were only playing Leicester, a grey ghost.

And yet they arent a bad team at all, in fact, seventh as I write.  You dont get to that level in the Prem at this stage of the season by being lucky.  Peter Taylor seems to have got them through the disruption of the loss of Martin ONeill without major trauma or team surgery.  Given our schizophrenic form I didnt know what to expect.

I certainly didnt expect to see The Ears limbering up before the match, let alone PLAY in it in place of the, er, injured Big Yin.  But there he was.  I tell you, that Smiffy has more twists of the Rubik than an octopus.  I long ago gave up trying to second-guess him.

By the time the match kicked off, the greyness had dissipated.  The atmosphere crackled as much as it has done all season.  Us Evertonians and our club are the despair of much of the media, of course.  What too many journos want is a single-theme story: relegation, sacking of the manager, boardroom problems and a downward spiral.  The fact that we keep them from their one-dimensional, lazy detritus drives some of them right around the lavatory bend, which in their case is the distance from their ears to their useless brains.  It gives the rest of us an added acrobatic and savage delight.

So we started the game at a determined pace and got a quick grip in centre midfield.  Where, it has to said, The Gravedigger gave his best performance since joining us until the inevitable schizophrenia kicked in late in the second half.  In fact you couldnt fault our play.  Good movement off the ball, good tackling, reasonable to good passing, enthusiasm it was all there.

It was no surprise when we got a goal after about ten minutes.  The Gravedigger won two thudding tackles in midfield just as The Ears set off on a right centre run which took Elliot with him.  But the run was so well timed that Elliot was left a couple of metres short, so even The Gravedigger couldnt really fail with the through ball, though he nearly did.  Elliot knew he couldnt get to The Ears in time and got caught in two minds fatal at this level.  He part-turned to go right with the run but the ball was delivered behind him and just close enough for him to try and reach backwards for it.  He missed it and the Ears was on it in a flash, closed on goal, shot, hit the keeper Royce and then knocked in the rebound before setting off on an arms-extended tour of the Park End.

Leicester had none of the fluidity and resilience of earlier in the season and were overrun in midfield the last place we expected to get any room. Savage easily identified by his long hair was in fractious mood and infuriated the crowd throughout with a juvenile, niggling display.  He looked like he could cause an argument in an empty room.  

Elliot was constantly drawn out of position by movement interchanges between SuperKev and The Ears.  Theres no question now that Frannys a natural, only whether his physique can develop as we all hope.  Like SuperKev and The Big Yin, he takes fearful knocks.  Seems to me, too, that SuperKev-Ears is a much better combo than SuperKev-Yin.  But Ears-Yin might be another thing altogether.  Dunno if its on Smiffys Rubik though.

Then Goughy went off, er, injured and Unsy came on his place.  I peered up at the sky.  It was still grey, turning dark blue.  Hope Im wrong, but I cant see Goughy lasting much longer.  Nobody including himself should expect to see him recover quickly.  Time and tide etc.

After sustained pressure and a few near misses, we got a second within a couple of minutes of half-time.  Davey Weir bustled forward and won the ball in the centre circle and repeated The Gravediggers earlier pass, only this time it went left to SuperKev as he moved just left of the penalty spot with a defender behind his left side and nobody in the centre.  He clipped it smartly inside Royces right post.  At which point even with all the examples of a split-personality season to draw on I turned to my next seated Belly and said, Thats IT.  Theres no way theyll lose THIS lead.  I genuinely believed it too.  The display looked too complete.  Will we especially ME never learn?

The half-time interval contained something we all thought was dead and buried the Who Wants To Be An Evertonian? cringe-making muck.  Bellies around me were drawing lots for who was going to go on the pitch and beat the living shits out of the hapless twerp who runs it.  I tell you, my fellow Blue Bellies, a slow and painful execution is too good for whoever thought up this very special brand of coagulated shite.  Kill him and kill him NOW.

The second half was a continuation of the first.  Poor Royce looked increasingly nervous as his defence, particularly Elliot, left him exposed time after time.  I confess here to a deep dislike of Elliot.  Ive had it ever since he nearly ended Michael Owens life, let alone his playing career, with a disgraceful elbow to the temple.  That being the case Smiffys bound to go and buy him next week.

By this time, everyone was enjoying themselves.  Stevie Watson embarked on several of his recent wing run adventures.  Naysmith made yet another small but impressive step to adjustment to the Prem.  The centre defence was sewn up by Weir-Bally.  Centre midfield was all ours as Scott Gemmill had another good game at one point he even thudded in a long, high shot from the half-way line which had Royce back striding in panic before gratefully clutching the incoming mortar shell to his chest.  Wouldve been a corker had it gone in, the kind of thing you pay your exorbitant entrance fee for.

Then, osmotically, the game began to eke away.  We lost the odd tackle here and there in midfield. The defence didnt push out fast enough.  Runs made by The Ears and SuperKev went unrewarded.  It all coincided with Peter Taylors furious substitution of three Leicester midfielders after an hour of horror.  I was surprised he left it so long.  It was enough to neutralize The Gravedigger through Mancinis palpably better all round skill.

What maddened the fans was that it wasnt just a change in the games phases.  We can all accept that.  No game is one-way from beginning to end.  Once again, the arse fell right out of our team.  Forgive the pun but it was wholesale, not even partial.  Nobody moved or looked even capable of moving.  It was the proverbial rabbit frozen in the headlights.  Like everybody else I was on my feet effin n blindin fit to beat the band, PUSH UP YOU FUCKERS!  TACKLE IM!  PASS THE FUCKN' THING STRAIGHT YOU DAFT TWAT!  And much more besides.   Thirty thousand people cant ALL be wrong.

After a couple of Leicester near misses which should have been buried, they got a deserved one in the Park End with ten minutes left.  Mancini poked a clever through ball to Rowett just inside the right angle of the box and he took a couple of strides before shooting low to Pauls right. where, inevitably it seems, he paddled it out straight to Sturridge and he couldnt miss.

All of which left us with ten minutes of a nail-biting finale to contend with.  Yet again!  It might be good for your heart but it pisses you off something awful.  By the time the whistle went we were far too relieved to recall that this was only our fourth Prem home win of the season.  It is a thoroughly disgraceful record for a club with our aspirations but right now nobody gives a shit.  How existential.

As we came out of the ground it was still faintly daylight.  The winter has turned.  I lightened up enough to wonder why Anne Widdecombe is the only politician I know who looks and sounds like a whoopee cushion.

I smiled and pulled my hood up against the drizzle.  Life aint so grey even in the depths of winter.  And The Ears is back.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Edging Closer
Steve Bickerton
Recent weeks have seen glimmerings of hope.  True, hopes can be easily dashed, especially where Everton is concerned, but hope has been there nevertheless.  The return to fitness of Alexandersson, the return to injury of Alexandersson. The return to fitness of Ferguson, the return to injury of Ferguson.  Its been that sort of a roller coaster season.  What to expect today? Who knew?  More surprises no doubt, but more disappointment?  The fingers and much more besides, were crossed.

The surprises were immediately there to see.  Jeffers from the start and Myhre on the bench.  Walter seemed to have strayed from the "if you're not the number 1 choice keeper, you're the number 3 choice" tenet as Simonsen had failed to make the bench this week.  Or was he ill so Walter had to use Myhre?  Disappointingly, though Tal failed to make the starting line up.

A brisk first minute saw a cross from the right met in the Leicester box by Naysmith, climbing above the away defence, illegally in the eyes of the linesman and the whistle blew for a free kick as inside 60 seconds, Jeffers was presented with a chance.  That he failed to take it was academic in the event, but his positional play boded well.

Leicester were pedestrian throughout the first half, with Taggart in particular unable to break sweat as he trundled around at the back of the defence.  The general poor quality of their play was encapsulated in the eighth minute as a through-ball from Gravesen was met by Jeffers, who saw his shot saved well by the advancing Royce.  Despite the attention of two defenders Jeffers pounced on the rebound and forced the ball home.  What a return!  Frances Jeffers danced along the by-line in uncontrolled joy, his flashing white boots a testimony to his return.

The rest of the half was almost completely one way traffic as Everton pressed forward, but there was a 10-minute interval during which Leicester did threaten to recover.  This was coincident with the arrival of the roller coaster.  The return to fitness of Gough two or three games ago, became the return to injury of Gough today, as he hobbled off to be replaced by Unsworth.

Then, late in the half, came the move of the game.  A ball out of defence by Leicester was picked up at the back by Everton.  The ball was fed to Weir, inside his own half.  He moved forwards, slowly at first looking for a lay-off.  Suddenly, Jeffers peeled away right and an opening appeared ahead of Weir.  Weir set off, racing forward into the Leicester half.  Campbell made a move, between two defenders, Weir slotted a perfect ball through and as we all waited for the inevitable off-side flag, Super Kev pushed the ball sweetly beyond Royce's left hand and into the net.  A silence, no flag, an eruption of noise.  2-0!  Half-time followed shortly afterwards.

The second half was more evenly poised as Leicester made three immediate substitutions.  Both sides had opportunities to score, with, for Everton, Gravesen going close (wide of the post) and Campbell seeing a toe-poke over the keeper headed away by Elliott.  From Leicester's perspective, a Sturridge header should have tested Gerrard, as should a shot from Eadie.  But Gerrard was tested later as Leicester made a late surge.  Failing to hold a drive from the edge of the box, he was beaten by Sturridge, following up at close range.  Confidence drained and panic set in as we tried desperately to hold out.  That we did was no more than we deserved.

So the signs continue to be promising as we edge closer to the mystical 40 points mark, now a mere 9 points away.  Other results went well for us today, with City and Bradford losing and neither Derby nor Middlesbrough able to muster anything other than a draw.  With a two-week break before our next competitive game, there is an opportunity to rest weary limbs and see if some of those sidelined for so long can get back to fitness.  Next up its Ipswich at Portman Road, a side who rolled us over so easily earlier in the campaign.  With five consecutive defeats behind them, is now a good time to play them?

Man of the Match:

Some solid performances from Michael Ball, Steve Watson and Scot Gemmill and outstanding effort from Frances Jeffers and to a lesser degree Kevin Campbell.  But none of these compared to the all action, all heart, all manic commitment shown by Thomas Gravesen.  His performance was epitomised by a cameo late in the second half as he gestured to the crowd to appeal for a penalty as Naysmith was brought down from behind, just outside the box.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Franny's Back!
Richard Marland
Franny's back and suddenly all is well in the world.  It really is quite incredible the difference Franny makes to the team suddenly, everything seems more purposeful, the midfield is more dynamic, Kevin Campbell is galvanised.  The knowledge that you have someone likely to find the back of the net and someone who is constantly offering you options makes one hell of a difference to a football team.

Franny's first touch of the game was a shot at goal, but he didn't quite connect with that one.  He didn't have to wait too long to pick up from where he left off prior to his injury.  On seven minutes, Gravesen found him with an excellent ball into the box; his first touch was poor but he was just able to reach it ahead of the 'keeper and then keep his wits to find the net.  A goalscorer's instincts a priceless commodity.

It wasn't all down to Franny.  Stephen Hughes returned to midfield at the expense of Joe-Max Moore and, even if he didn't play exceptionally well, his inclusion gave a nice balance to the midfield there was little chance of getting overrun in there today.  A consistency in team selection has also helped; this team has, more or less, played four games on the bounce that familiarity was very evident today.

Walter has been explaining our poor showing so far this season by pointing out our lack of consistency in team selection and the fact that we have been unable to field two of our first-choice strikers together.  Excuse-making (some would call that) but I think that today's events largely bears out that analysis.

Some of our passing and possession, particularly in the first half, was a joy to watch and probably the best we have seen at Goodison this season.  The back three are all comfortable on the ball, Gravesen had his most effective game in ages, Gemmill acted as the playmaker in midfield, everyone played their part.

Naturally, this wouldn't be Everton without a wobble.  Having deserved our two-goal lead, we failed to build on it when we were dominating play.  From Leicester looking somewhat hapless in the first half, we allowed them back into the game in the last 20 minutes.  Suddenly we were under pressure and they had two glorious chances before they finally converted one with 15 minutes to go.  It made for an edgy end-game but they didn't really come close to nicking it.

With those below us failing to win, our own win took on added significance.  Suddenly, there is daylight and, with the promise of more players returning over the next couple of weeks, things should continue to improve.  Hopefully, the players will retain the admirable focus they have shown over the last four games; it is also to be hoped that Franny stays injury-free to provide us with that cutting edge.

  • Gerrard  The usual few dodgy moments but he did OK generally.
  • Watson  Another hard-working performance with plenty of good attacking moments.
  • Naysmith  Seems to be getting better as his fitness returns.
  • Weir  Didn't seem as assured in defence as usual but what a pass for the second goal.
  • Gough  Was doing his usual thing before being forced off with injury.  I spent a while watching him today and the amount of talking he does on the pitch is amazing to Gerrard, Gemmill, Ball, Weir... in fact anyone within earshot.
  • Ball  Didn't think he was quite as good as Wednesday but still bloody good.
  • Gravesen  Best game in ages.
  • Gemmill  Always looking for the ball and saw loads of it today, can't be dropped on this form.
  • Hughes  Still not convinced by him but definitely helped the shape of the team today.
  • Campbell  Still not there yet but another goal and yet more evidence of his understanding with Jeffers.
  • Jeffers  In reality only lasted about 60 minutes but that was enough.  His intelligence and quality just shines through.
  • Unsworth  He's no Gough but did his job in his typically whole-hearted manner didn't let us down.
  • Moore  Contributed a fresh pair of legs but not much else.
  • Cadamarteri  Ditto Moore.

Man of the match Gemmill

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Joy and relief in equal measure
Julian Cashen
The Pre Match Nerves

The problem with having such a long journey to the match (from Ipswich) is that invariably by the time you arrive at the stadium you're a nervous wreck.  As it happens, all week leading up to this one I'd been feeling fairly optimistic, but, as I made my way North, I became increasingly anxious about our prospects.  No home win since November, and still only one fit forward??  And against a team with such a work ethic as Leicester?  It was hard, looking at it unemotionally, to see us getting much more than a draw from this one.  Then again....

Franny, the God

The news that Franny was in the starting line up provoked a mixture of emotions.  I firmly believe him to be our best player by about a mile, and his appearance on the pitch gives everyone not least, surely, the players, the belief that we will get goals.  However, was this too soon to be risking him?  And, most importantly, what had happened to Wally?  His fabled caution, and his stated intention of easing Franny back in, had been jettisoned in favour of a cavalier, positive, winning mentality!!!!

Almost from the kick off, Franny was showing us what we have been missing for 16 weeks (count 'em!).  As soon as a Blue shirt is in possession, Franny is in motion, giving the man with the ball an option, pulling defenders around and making spaces for SuperKev.  His goal in the 7th minute was brilliantly simple, peeling off as soon as the Gravedigger got the ball, leaving Matt Elliott lumbering in his wake as he took the through pass in his stride, before riding his luck and finishing at the second attempt.  Watching it again on Match of the Day, Franny's delight at scoring was obvious.  He's as Blue as any of us in the stadium, and I believe he'll stay at the Club if we pay him what he's worth.

With the confidence of a rare early goal, and Leicester's formation a shambles, we went on to play as well as we have done for a long time.  For once, I don't think any of us could argue with the team selection, and for a change we had 11 men on the park who looked as if they actually knew each other.  However, Leicester had been coming in to the game a bit when we hit them with the sucker punch.  A stride forward from Weir..... SuperKev peels off the shoulder of his marker..... it's threaded through..... YES!!! Get in there!!!!

For once, the half time cup of tea can be enjoyed, the half time chat with my Aging Parents in the Lower Bullens, an enjoyable and relaxed affair, rather than the usual doom and gloom.

The During - Match Nerves

It couldn't last.  The away dressing room must need re-painting this week, cos Peter Taylor must have really laid in to his side at half time.  With three substitutes on, including Mancini and thank God he wasn't on from the start the Foxes were an altogether slier proposition in the second half.  

We became increasingly entrenched in our own half, and, particularly having lost Gaugh, looked wobbly at the back.  How much longer can we rely on a near 40-year-old to organise our defence?  Anyway, our only effort of note was a brilliant 40-yard punt from Gemmill what a good run in the side he's having but most of the action was at the wrong end of the pitch.  

We had clear notice of what was going to happen when Sturridge, one of two unmarked men in our box, headed wide with the goal, as they say, at his mercy.  The inevitable came when Paul Gerrard made a good save only to find no defender reacted and there was Sturridge to tuck away the loose ball, to Paul's understandable fury.

Every Evertonian in the country is familiar with what happened next.  Ten minutes of nerve-shredding, gut-wrenching agony, praying for the time to pass quickly; blow you bastard blow, blow that bloody whistle!!  3 minutes of added time!!!  And then the relief, the sheer relief and delight when the whistle goes and at last we have three lovely points and for the first time in three months the walk back to the car is a happy one, the drive home seeming to pass in no time.

Next for the Chop Ipswich

OK let's not get carried away.  For once, Walter gambled by starting with Franny, and it paid off big time.  But can we stick in two good performances on the trot?  We're suddenly comfortably ahead of the relegation zone, a win at Ipswich would make us almost safe.

Ipswich is my adopted home town, and I've seen them a few times this season.  Most recently they were desperately unlucky to lose to Leeds, having played excellently.  However, with luck Stewart will be suspended, and without him, it's hard to see who will get them a goal.  They have a few injuries and are vulnerable, especially at full back, whereas we have a few players returning.  They are in a bad run and, importantly, we owe them one after the 3 - 0 fiasco at Goodison.  It's certainly a game we can win, but nevertheless I look forward with some nervousness to submitting my report on the one game in the season I don't have to travel hundreds of miles to see.........

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Taylor's tinkering to no avail
by Oliver Kay, The Times

IT IS perhaps an exaggeration to say that Leicester Citys players, having merely been used in a different formation by Peter Taylor, were baffled by science, but a change of tactics did not sit easily with them.  They achieved great things playing the same way each week under Martin ONeill, and under his successor earlier this season, but Taylors tinkering has taught them that variety is not necessarily the spice of life.  

Taylor, who is No 2 to Sven-Gran Eriksson, the head coach, in the new England set-up, is understandably keen to experiment and to develop his own ideas, but, since he began to look for an alternative to ONeills tried and trusted 3-5-2 formula, Leicesters results have taken a turn for the worse.  A dire first-half display with Robbie Savage and Muzzy Izzet, tigerish midfield players under ONeill, ineffective in a more advanced role was enough to send them to their sixth consecutive away defeat.

The manager conceded as much with a drastic triple substitution at the interval.  His players looked far more comfortable after that, but by then it was too late, two first-half goals having earned Everton only their second victory in 12 FA Carling Premiership matches.

Gerry Taggart, whose replacement at half-time was forced by a hamstring injury that may rule him out of Northern Irelands friendly against Norway, did not point a finger at the manager, far from it, but his words did indicate a little discomfort at Taylors tactics.

One thing about him (Taylor) is that he has courage in his convictions, the defender said. His approach is all about instilling different ideas into the players minds. It didnt work today, but were all grateful to him.

He could have just come in and copied Martin ONeills methods, but hes not that type. Hes a coach who thinks about the game. Hes done it before with different teams, like the England under-21s, but the difference here is that the players were used to playing the same way week in, week out.

The absence of Savage and Izzet from the midfield allowed Scot Gemmill, in particular, to dictate the game in the first half, but it was a pass from Thomas Gravesen that allowed Francis Jeffers, showing few signs of rustiness on his first appearance since September, to open the scoring in the eighth minute.

Walter Smith, the Everton manager, wrote in his programme notes that he had no intention of putting Jeffers in the starting line-up for some time, until he was fully recovered from an ankle injury, but the loss of Duncan Ferguson forced his hand.  As Ferguson did against Leeds United five days ago, Jeffers justified the gamble with a goal.

David Weir was the next to march unchallenged through Leicesters toothless midfield, producing an incisive pass to Kevin Campbell, who extended Evertons lead in the 43rd minute.  The visitors improved in the second half, Roberto Mancini impressing as a substitute, but Dean Sturridges first goal for the club, a tap-in after Gary Rowetts shot was saved, never looked likely to be more than a consolation.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Jeffers return inspires Everton
by Trevor Haylett, Electronic Telegrapgh

FRANCIS JEFFERS' absence had extended to 18 weeks before yesterday's return, and the fact that he was able to regain his place as Everton's leading scorer with an eighth-minute strike said a lot about how poor they had been while he was nursing an ankle injury.

Kevin Campbell grabbed Everton's second to move ahead of his partner again but the Jeffers' value had been comprehensively underlined.  It was a half-time advantage that looked enough for Walter Smith's side but Dean Sturridge's reply, with 12 minutes left, made them sweat.

The last time Everton had back-to-back home matches in the Premiership they beat Arsenal and then Chelsea, which suggested that relegation would not be on their schedule this season.

Since that November peak, however, Goodison Park had offered nothing in the way of home comfort; six matches League and Cup all failing to produce a single victory.

They came close on Wednesday, twice forcing themselves in front of Leeds before having to settle for a point.  Now Jeffers was back and despite concerns about his readiness, Evertonians believed that sequence was about to be broken.

A glance at Walter Smith's programme notes would doubtless have confused them because there was his manager declaring that the 20-year-old would need "several competitive outings" before he was ready to start.

A mistimed swing in the first minute from a scoring position (which did not look so good once one spied the offside flag) shed a layer or two of rust.

Fortune favoured him on the goal for, after receiving from Thomas Gravesen, his initial touch was a might heavy and seemed to have offered Simon Royce the chance to make the block.  The goalkeeper was not convincing and Jeffers' final task was easy once the ball had rebounded kindly off the Leicester man.

It was the worst of starts for the visitors given that Sturridge was their only forward player. Stephen Hughes bounced a shot just wide, Steve Watson required Royce to make a reflex stop and on top Everton remained. Then two minutes before the break they increased their advantage.

Leicester's formation always left scope for Everton's defenders to push out and join with attack. Michael Ball, the principal focus of England scout Dave Sexton's visit to Merseyside, had already distinguished himself in that regard and when David Weir ventured forward he found huge space between Matt Elliott and Gary Rowett which Campbell exploited with cool aplomb.

Peter Taylor's response was to utilise every one of his substitute options, introducing Roberto Mancini as well as Darren Eadie and Frank Sinclair but it was an injection of self-belief that Leicester needed more than anything.

This they got when Sturridge, a signing from Derby, was able to open his account for his new team but time ran out for them.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 Jeffers bounces back
by John Aizlewood, Sunday Times

IT LOOKS close.  It was close in the end, but Leicester City were so poor for the first 75 minutes that were this a boxing bout they would have been denied the opportunity to embark upon their revival.  Everton's midweek point against Leeds ensured that whatever happened yesterday, they would not find themselves in the relegation zone this morning. Now, with three more points, a reasonably untaxing run-in and the return of most of their wounded before March, they should ensure survival.

"We're delighted to have won," said manager Walter Smith.  "We deserved it, despite the last 20 minutes."

With Duncan Ferguson absent yet again, Francis Jeffers was dragooned into starting for the first time since September.

Although not fully fit, Jeffers is a natural finisher, as he show- ed in the eighth minute when Matthew Jones was dispossessed in the centre circle by Thomas Gravesen.  Referee Rob Styles ignored Jones's rugby tackle, which enabled Gravesen to play a ball inside Matt Elliott and Jeffers scored at the second attempt, after Simon Royce had parried the first.

In the first half, Everton exemplified eagerness.  Gravesen matched Robbie Savage for rough-house and still found time to dictate the midfield.

In contrast, lethargic Leicester were a pale imitation of the team who sparkled so effervescently against Chelsea last week.  Muzzy Izzet's 22nd- minute drive was all they had to show until they roused themselves as the end drew nigh.

Indeed, they would have been further behind four minutes later had not Royce spectacularly tipped over Steve Watson's header.

Everton's sealed the points just before half time. David Weir carried the ball through Leicester's powder-puff midfield.  His slide-rule through ball found Kevin Campbell, sloppily shackled by Gary Rowett.  The striker fired handsomely past Royce.

"A tough first half," admitted Leicester manager Peter Taylor. "We seemed to keep losing the ball."

In response to that dismal showing, he made three substitutions at the break.  The notes may have been changed, but the song remained the same.

Yet, after Roberto Mancini and Darren Eadie linked splendidly in the 73rd minute, only for Eadie to roll his shot fractionally wide, Leicester began to sense they might be gifted some reward, however undeserved.  Five minutes later, their suspicions proved well-founded. Fluffing his only task of the afternoon, Paul Gerrard fumbled a Rowett drive, City's first effort on target. Dean Sturridge tapped in their second for a consolation goal.

Such was the fragility of Leicester's revival that their goal also spurred the home team.  Both sides could have scored in the frantic finale; indeed Izzet should, following a magical Mancini backheel.

By the end Everton were hanging on, but both teams got what they deserved.

Report © The Sunday Times

We use cookies to enhance your experience on ToffeeWeb and to enable certain features. By using the website you are consenting to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.