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Watford 1 - 2 Everton

Half-time: 1 - 0

Everton Logo
FA Cup 2000-01 – 3rd Round
3 pm Saturday 6 January 2001
Vicarage Road, Watford
Att: 15,645
Derby County (a) Ref: Rob Styles Tottenham Hotspur (h) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 16th [ FA Cup Results ]
Memories of Everton v Watford at Wembley, 1984, were a world away as Everton struggled  to assert themselves in this tough Third Round opener.  Mooney put the home side deservedly ahead after 20 minutes of a first half in which Everton were very poor.

Stephen Hughes came close but it was a dispirited Everton team that went down the tunnel for a verbal battering from Archie Knox.  

Everton piled on the pressure in the second half.  Early on, Duncan prods the ball wide from just 7 yds out, missing a golden chance to equalise.  Everton came close again when there was a misunderstanding in the Watford defence when Cox almost headed into his own net.

Then, with 9 mins left, the game finally turned Everton's way.  A bad foul by Watford captain Page on Tal was rewarded with a second yellow card, and Stephen Hughes scored a peach of a goal from the resulting free kick.  Just his second goal for Everton coincidentally, his first for Everton was also against Watford back in April 2000.

Shortly after the goal had boosted Everton, Moore was shown the red card (his second yellow) after stupidly kicking the ball away when he reacted badly to an offside flag against him.

In the final moments of the match, Everton snatched a dramatic late winner, with Steve Watson scoring his first ever goal for the Blues, rescuing many Everton blushes. 

Technically, Everton picked up six yellow cards (two for Joe-Max Moore, who was dismissed with 5 mins left) and could now face a fine from the FA.


Watford: Mooney (20') 
EVERTON: Hughes (81'), S Watson (89')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
Watford: Chamberlain, Cox, Kennedy, Robinson, Ward, Page (82' Sent Off!), Vernazza, Nielsen, Mooney, Smith, Noel-Williams (78' Helguson).  S Palmer, Hyde, Wooter,  Baardsen.
EVERTON: Myhre; S Watson, Ball, Weir, Naysmith, Alexandersson, Hughes, Pembridge  (78' Tal), Gravesen, (87' Gemmill); Cadamarteri (46' Moore (85' Sent Off!)), Ferguson. 
Unavailable: Gascoigne, Gerrard, Gough, Jeffers, Nyarko, Pistone, Xavier (injured); Campbell (ill).
Simonsen, Unsworth. 
   Playing Strips  Formations
Watford: Yellow shirts; red shorts; red socks. 4-4-2
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2 (75': 4-3-3)
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Watford: [Page (62' & 80')] Page (80')
EVERTON: Watson (35'), Pembridge (37'), Hughes (43'), [Moore (66' & 85')], Gravesen (86') Moore (85')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats  


Mickey Blue Eyes Inglory of The Cup
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Watson capitalises on elementary error
by Patrick Barclay
THE SUNDAY TIMES Everton's late escape
by Rob Hughes
THE TIMES Everton leave it late to put Smith out of his misery
by Keith Pike
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EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

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 Inglory of The Cup
Mickey Blue Eyes
Bear with me.  Eventually I get there.  Eventually

I dont watch much TV.  However, one of the programmes I do watch is a cute little thing on BBC 2 entitled, Robot Wars.  Accidentally or purposely it has hit a winning combination which has you on the edge of your seat agog with admiration, curiosity, horror and sheer leg-kicking laughter.

Superficially it is unpromising: Inventive Joe Publics are primed to manufacture remote-control mobile robots and put them in a protected arena.  They proceed to batter the living bejaysus out of each other until one is immobile in a pool of Swarfega blood or throws in a sheet of white carborundum paper.  The most aggressive wins.  

For sheer spectacle of human ingenuity and stupidity it is hard to beat.  It even has an audience full of cheering, banners and Coliseum-like mannerisms in bear-pit mode.  As a spectacle it works because of near-uninhibited violence and nobody gets hurt except for the inevitable and sudden jolt to ego and id.  Of course, in the process, most of the machines are turned into a wonderfully battered mangle of engineering.  Theres something hugely satisfying about getting our own back on unfeeling metal and power circuits.

You have to see some of the competitors to believe them.  And thats just the robots.  Needless to say, the objective is to make them as strong, deadly and maneuverable as possible.  Weapons are de rigueur, and the more deadly the better.  The arena gets full of incredible geometry and mechanised mayhem.  My favourite is a manic wedge of cheese on wheels with a flip-up arm.  You know, of course, that sooner or later its going to end up like a piece of Gruyere.  Until then, it goes screaming around the arena battering shite out of everything in its path, including static steel boundary walls.

Then theres one which looks like a mobile table lamp with a Black & Decker drill stuck on the side.  Another is a steel tube with wheels at each end cant get flipped over, see, unless you hit it wheel-side and even then only at the correct angle but this seemingly unbeatable effort is neutralised by its own quite useless weapon which is wait for it a SWINGING MACE ON A CHAIN!  Still another is a piece of see-through aesthetics with perspex side panels one swing of a deadly pick-axe and it is Good Night in short order...  And so on.

Their inventors give them names like Spawn of Scutter and The Maidenhead Murderer.  Okay, I made the last one up.  But you get the picture: It isnt only the machines which get mangled.

The only drawbacks are the presenters, a dickhead named Craig Charles and an appalling peroxide blond woman with a mannish face who interviews the inventors.  When Charles is talking his mouth reminds me irresistibly of a rip in a welly.  He SHOUTS VERY LOUDLY at the camera to ensure you know hes a PERSONALITY CHARISMATIC.  The woman is truly awful, full of cheap jewelry from Scotty Road, laced up flies on leather kecks, hair like matted rats tails and who seems to think it is sexy to put most of her weight on one hip and stick her groin in the face of the interviewee.  You can only surmise these two are disinterred from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  You have an insurmountable urge to punch them senseless.

Of the humans, the inventors are as amazing as your own imagination.  You couldnt manufacture personalities like these.  Somehow they come to look like their machines.  For instance the mobile table lamp was the brainchild of a couple of I shit you not fat guys in dinner jackets from Essex who re-assure everyone in ear shot that they are class, a sure sign that they are anything but.  Then there was the man with an air of permanent puzzlement who couldnt understand why his robots cloth covered wheels and bear skin coat caught fire the minute it was torched by a highly mobile napalm flame thrower.  The excuses are legion for getting battered: This circuit fell off, that gear got loose, this lazzy band got twisted and snapped, I forgot to comb me hair, sunspots were active again today, etc. etc.

All of it highly entertaining, all of it tiny small-satisfaction revenge on machines.  Those bastard cogs have it coming.

It all reminds me of our beloved Blue Bellies.

Which brings me, tenuously, to our FA Cup match at Watford.  The machine won initially the internal combustion engine, that is.  The Bus took over five hours to make the journey, enough to have the claustrophobics among us almost clawing up the walls.  A lorry had gone half over the edge near Stafford and the southbound motorway was down to one lane.  So of course we didnt make it to the pub for a prematch ansthetic.  In my case it was badly missed because I fully expected us to lose.

The Watford ground is a humorous time-capsule hybrid of 90's stands behind the goals, an acceptable 60'/70's two-tier stand down one touchline, and an amazing main stand awaiting redevelopment.  You have to see the latter to believe it, a combo of 20's industrial shed, 50'2 cantilever and even open air seating all it needed was Norman Wisdom!  But the club has a good feel to it.

However, I felt I was plainly in a minority of one.  The fans were up for this in a big way, looking for relief from league disasters.  Excellent!  It certainly helped to be away from the whingeing "theres-a-cancer-at-the-Club" wankers the ones who just make matters worse.  To hell with them!  The FA Cup is special and always will be.  Everyone has a chance.  Its marvellous to see and feel it.

The Game

So the game kicked off, we went down their end, and Gary Naysmith put in an awkward low shot from the left which their keeper collected well.  And that was it in the first half so far as we were concerned.  Watford ran rings around us.  By half time, they should have been three or four up.  

Watford had nobody to blame but themselves.  Footy being the game it is, if you dont take your chances during phases you dominate, then you can expect to get skinned when fortunes change.  And outright dominate Watford did.  They played good tight stuff, won almost everything in midfield and passed it well.  Williams won everything in the air and managed to direct it to one of his own players almost every time something The Big Yin has always found difficult.

As it is, they scored in something like the 20th minute when Bally pushed out to the left penalty-area corner, out of position, and tried to head clear.  Lack of height told tellingly, the ball shot up backwards into the air, Williams got to it first ahead of Davey Weir and back-headed it into the middle where Mooney had a simple, completely unmarked centre task to divert it in off Tommys right hand post.  If I said our defence was a shambles Id be putting it mildly.  But so was everywhere and everyone else.  Smiffys Rubik had the useless, ineffable Gravedigger back, right-centre midfield.

This might explain why the simple Watford tactic of having striker Mooney slightly left of their centre seemed to be a geometry puzzle we were unable to address.  Once again, there was no apparent teamwork.  Once again, we gave the ball away almost as soon as we won it.  I looked down at me boots glumly.  But like everyone else, I forced meself to watch the horror show unfold.  What amazed me was the unwavering support from the Bellies around me.  Plainly relieved to be away from the dbcle of our league position, they werent going to let this get them down and they didnt stop until the end.  Half time couldnt arrive quick enough for me.

I tried to contemplate what processes were at work in Smiffys Rubik.  I gave up.  I realised there was no point when I saw The Gravedigger was still on the park when the game restarted.  Changes were inevitable.  Danny gave way to The Little Yank; Pembo went off for Idan Tal; and Scott Gemmill came on for The Gravedigger.  Gradually and in staccato, we got back into the game when Nic went wider right and started to play like a winger easily his best role.  Time ticked away...  We missed a couple of easy chances but still looked unconvincing.

The changes made a big difference.  The pressure increased.  With 10 minutes left, Idan Tal made a determined short run just right of the penalty arc and got felled by an awful tackle from Page for which the defender rightly took an early bath.  And then came our only moment of genuine class in the entire match when Stephen Hughes bulleted a quite magnificent free kick straight into the top left hand corner.  Delirium for us, heartbreak for Watford but wed earned it through sheer determinism.

A few minutes later and The Little Yank had a moment of madness when a marginal offside decision went against us and he kicked the ball away soft bastard.  So it was finger-nail chewing time again...

Out on the right, Nic was doing really well when he was given the ball with an even chance of doing something with it.  His crosses, when they came, had Watford scrambling every time two men automatically assigned to The Yin.  

There were only a few minutes left when a Watford attack was broken up midfield and the ball went to Nic yet again, wide right on the touchline in the last third of the pitch.  He took a couple of strides and clipped another one over.  And with the Watford defence crowded around The Yin, Stevie Watson got goalside of the penalty spot, unmarked, right side, and dived in to head just inside the left hand post.  Pandemonium!!!  Where we would have gladly settled for a draw, we got an unlikely win and a deafening wall of We Shall Not Be Moved.

A typically tumultuous FA Cup-tie was over and for once the hordes of Blue Bellies were smiling.  Me too.  And The Bus. 

Whats seldoms wonderful.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Watson capitalises on elementary error
Patrick Barclay, Electronic Telegraph

IN AN extraordinary climax to a match that, for much of its course, seemed likely to conclude Everton's season in any positive sense, the Premiership club emerged triumphant.

Less than 10 minutes of the 90 were left and Watford led through Tommy Mooney when Graham Taylor's captain, Robert Page, tripped substitute Idan Tal on the edge of the penalty area.  It was Page's second cautionable offence and he departed, Thomas Gravesen rolled the free kick to Stephen Hughes and the ball went past Alec Chamberlain in a blur.

Watford, having been pushed back for most of the second half, could hardly complain and their response was creditable; they went for a winner.  But still fate was not finished with them and in the second minute of stoppage time Steve Watson flashed in a header from Niclas Alexandersson's cross.  Amid all the excitement it barely seemed to matter that Everton, too, had had a man sent off: Joe-Max Moore, their other substitute, also following a second yellow card shortly after the equaliser.

And so for Taylor it is back to the League.  While Fulham pursue their long-term ambition to become the Manchester United of the South, Watford would be content to revert as quickly as possible to their early-season status as the Fulham of the North.

Recent results enhanced by all but the last part of this performance suggest Taylor's team have put behind them an alarming spell during which they collected a single point from eight matches.

But it did matter, this question of Everton, who will now be cast as the bogeymen off all time; even after the passage of 16 years, the town had been gripped by the prospect of revenge for an FA Cup final defeat that followed what they believe was a foul by Andy Gray, then Everton's centre forward, on Watford goalkeeper Steve Sherwood.

Contrary to myth, Sherwood was not to blame for the goal that ensued.  Now 47 and a provider of financial services, he came to yesterday's match to see if the club could do something on behalf of those with long memories.  They so nearly did.

Everton's Duncan Ferguson continued his latest comeback but struggled to disconcert his almost equally lofty marker, Darren Ward, one of five players aged 22 or younger amid the home ranks, during a first half in which Everton as a whole were distinctly inferior and lacking the slightest evidence of their higher status.

Watford's approach involved seeking out their burly young centre forward, Gifton Noel-Williams, from whose headers and flicks Mooney could feed, often with the eager assistance of Allan Nielsen, surging through from midfield.  Early on, a cross from Neil Cox bypassed Nielsen and was collected beyond the far post by Mooney, though the popular and wholehearted striker's attempt was diverted for a corner by Michael Ball.

Everton were again rescued, this time by Watson's last-ditch tackle, when Noel-Williams picked out his partner, but the combination worked perfectly as Watford got what they already deserved with less than a quarter of the match gone, Noel-Williams bettering first Gary Naysmith and then Ball in the air so that the lurking Mooney could gently volley out of Thomas Myhre's reach, the ball bouncing off a post and along the line before finally Mooney's 15th goal of the season could be celebrated.

Having been undone by the weak heart of their defence, Everton looked to those in front of them, but the reaction was aggressive in the wrong way:  Watson, Mark Pembridge and Hughes were cautioned within the space of eight minutes.  At least Hughes also had a shot, which went across the face of Chamberlain's goal.

After half-time, Watford twice erred with impunity.  Paul Robinson let Alexandersson nudge the ball to Ferguson, whose stab went wide, and Cox's header to Chamberlain would have been an own-goal but for the keeper's reflexes.  Chamberlain, having stooped to deny Moore, thwarted Alexandersson.  Although at the other end Myhre had done well to touch over a glancing header from Noel-Williams, the tide had turned.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Everton's late escape
by Rob Hughes, The Sunday Times

CHARACTER has always been the quality that illuminates the first Saturday of the year in the FA Cup.  Yesterday in Hertfordshire, things were turned on their head when Everton, a goal down at half-time, discovered some courage to impose their slightly greater skills and found some will to safeguard the tenure of their manager, Walter Smith.  Instead of capitulating, they made their great escape to put Watford in their place.  Smith, his team's performance rescued by two Scandinavians, Thomas Gravesen and Niclas Alexandersson, who worked tirelessly, must know that his board would not have tolerated a third-round Cup exit allied to freefall in the League.

"A lot of our recent games have been like that," he admitted.  "We seem to react after a position of going behind.  I'm pleased we managed to get up enough steam to keep Watford under pressure after the break, but, as you could see, we are suffering from a lack of confidence.  I can only hope that this will turn it all around."

He hopes and doubtless Bill Kenwright, the theatrical impressario whose first instinct as chairman was to endorse Smith's management, will demand that Everton show the passion that surfaced for the second half of this match.

The first half was virtual one-way traffic.  Everton's abject lack of passion and self-belief, born of so many injuries and so few goals in a run of six games without a win, was terrifyingly evident.  Watford, themselves just out of a barren spell, preyed on that fear.  Their goal in the 20th minute was an exposition of the art of direct play that has characterised Graham Taylor through almost 1,300 matches as a manager.

The long ball out of defence was played with precision by Neil Cox.  It was met in the air by Gifton Noel-Williams, a tall, sturdy and willing centre-forward.  From his flick at the ball over the hesitant backline of blue, Tommy Mooney turned and easily dispatched it into the unguarded net. Simple, effective, and too smart for the Merseysiders.

In truth, it could already have been three by then.  As early as the sixth minute, Cox found the soft centre of the Toffeemen with a fine angled ball from the right.  Allan Nielsen anticipated it, but missed the ball.  Mooney, beyond him at the far post, should have done better than hit it into the body of David Weir.

Again and again, Watford exposed a static Everton.  Everton have been so desperate this season that they have tried 28 players, many of them in makeshift positions, some of them palpably suffering from injuries.  Yesterday they had, notionally, big Duncan Ferguson lurking without menace in attack.  Appearances from him have been as rare as UFO sightings, and apart from his hectoring of the officials, it was hard to see much of a contribution from a Scottish international who, at the height of his game, can be a match-winner.

Everton, perforce, had to make changes in attitude and personnel.  Smith, his career riding on it, replaced Danny Cadamarteri with Joe-Max Moore at half-time, injecting pace and driving purpose.  Now we saw Watford forced back on their heels, defending sometimes with the same panic that Everton had shown in the first half.

The pressure mounted; the equaliser looked inevitable.  Ferguson spurned an open goal when he stretched and, from eight yards, mis-hit a cross from Alexandersson wide.  Then a horrendous misunderstanding between goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain and Cox almost turned comedy into black farce.  The keeper came for a cross, then hesitated. Cox, with nobody at his back, no danger, but apparently no warning call, headed towards his own goal.  Fortunately, Chamberlain reacted with a finger-tip save above his head.

Then mayhem took a hand.  Robert Page, the Watford captain, was sent off 10 minutes from the end for fouling Everton substitute Idan Tal, and Hughes took extra revenge with a left-foot free-kick driven from the edge of the penalty box clean past the despairing right hand of Chamberlain.  Higher and higher went the temperature.  And shortly after Moore had stupidly got himself sent off for kicking the ball away, Everton rescued their season and their manager.

Alexandersson, once again, raced down the right, and from his hanging cross Steve Watson rose majestically to glance the winning goal in the 90th minute off the top of his forehead.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Everton leave it late to put Smith out of his misery
by Keith Pike, The Times

SUCH has been the wretchedness of Evertons recent form that the BBC must have come close to offering Match of the Day viewers some protection: warning, this programme contains bad language, crudity and scenes of a team playing so appallingly that it may offend lovers of the beautiful game.  Yet, as Walter Smith skipped jauntily out of Vicarage Road on Saturday, he could happily confess that he was rushing home to watch the highlights, knowing that, for once, I will not have to put my hands over my eyes.  

What a difference a win makes, even a fortuitous one against opposition from a lower division.  Certainly, defeat for Everton against Watford they were behind until the 82nd minute and ahead only in stoppage time could have been ruinous for the Everton manager.  Their runs to the 6th Round of the FA Cup in the previous two years have helped to disguise the fact that they are a fixture down among the FA Carling Premierships dead wood and elimination at the first hurdle would have left Smith, for all that boardroom upheavals and injuries have beset him, having to explain why, 2 years into his reign, there has been no discernible improvement.

As his team remained fixated with trying to land the ball on Duncan Fergusons head and as Ferguson, in turn, remained sulky and statuesque so Watford made the running.  The long, early ball remains in their armoury, too, but there was much more variety and exuberance about their attacks and Tommy Mooney gave them a deserved lead with a clever cushioned volley in off a post.  Everton were on their way out; worse, it looked as if they did not care.

One could imagine that they were stung into improvement by the ferocity of Smiths diatribe at half-time, but it was more the managers tactical manoeuvrings, especially the decision to push Niclas Alexandersson forward, that turned the tide.  Ferguson, Joe-Max Moore and Stephen Hughes went close, and Alec Chamberlain reacted sharply to prevent Neil Cox heading an own goal.  But where pressure failed to work, a red card did the trick.

Robert Page, the Watford captain, booked for a foul on one substitute, Moore, was sent off for up-ending another, Idan Tal, and from the free kick, Hughes struck the equaliser from 25 yards.  Moore, crassly, then followed Page down the tunnel, also for two bookings, yet if both managers and both sets of fans had settled for a replay, Steve Watson had not.  The defender joined one final Everton attack and headed Alexanderssons cross inside the far post to secure a flattering win.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
   Up to Reports Index ]

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