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 Grabbi (38') (1-0)
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Match Reports

Everton v Blackburn:
Prior League Games
 Blackburn  36
 Everton 19
 Draws 13
 Blackburn  3
 Everton 3
 Draws 1
 Last Time:
 Blackburn 0-2 Everton

Gazza made his first Premiership start for six months but Radzinski failed a fitness test and missed out, along with Tal, Watson, Pembridge, Pistone, and Gemmill (injury crisis?  What injury crisis?).  The only doubtful player to make the field was Niclas Alexandersson, giving Hibbert a welcome starting opportunity at right back. 

Everton started brightly and a great Gravesen ball set up Naysmith to run in on goal but the full-back mis-kicked at the key moment.  Then a free-kick was placed in perfectly by Ferguson, who headed the ball back across goal... but there was no  there!!!

Then Alexandersson brought down Duff who was away to the races, and got himself booked... from the free-kick, Grabbi rattled the bar with Gerrard well beaten.

On 15 mins, Ferguson was tripped in the box for a clear penalty, but the ref gave nothing.  But 12 mins later, Alexandersson was brought down for a penalty.  However, Ferguson's kick was poor and Friedel saves!  Later, Blackburn waltzed through the Everton defence and Grabbi (who had not scored for Blackburn yet) finished off an excellent move on 38 mins.  

Everton continued to press and outplay Blackburn in the main as the first half faded into the second half.  After the hour mark, Grabbi was away again, but Xavier made a brilliant defensive challenge.  Then Mark Hughes came on for Blackburn.

On comes Joe-Max Moore and soon hits the post, with Everton creating numerous chances, but totally incapable of scoring.  A very undeserved loss...

M A T C H    F A C T S
  Match Info  
  FA Premiership 2001-02, Game 6
3:00pm  Saturday 22 September 2001
Ewood Park, Blackburn
Referee: Graham Barber
Att: 27,732
Position: 12th
Line-ups Subs not used
Blackburn Rovers Friedel, Neill, Berg, Bjornebye, Johnson, McAteer (77' Hignett), Flitcroft, Tugay, Duff (43' Mahon), Jansen, Grabbi (63' Hughes).  Bent, Filan.
Everton: Gerrard; Stubbs, Weir, Naysmith, Xavier; Gravesen (72' Unsworth), Gascoigne, Alexandersson, Hibbert (72' Moore); Campbell, Ferguson.  Clarke, McLeod, Simonsen. 
Unavailable:  Gemmill, Pembridge, Pistone, Radzinski (injured); Nyarko (loan) 
Playing Strips Formations
Blackburn Rovers: Blue and white shirts; white shorts; blue socks 4-4-2
Everton: Salmon pink shirts; dark blue shorts; pink socks. 5-3-2; 4-4-2
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Blackburn Rovers: Neill (89') --
Everton: Alexandersson (10'), Moore (80') --

Premiership Results
Blackburn  1-1 Bolton
Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham
Arsenal  1-1 Bolton
Blackburn  1-0 Everton
Leicester  0-0 Fulham
Liverpool  1-0 Tottenham
Man Utd  4-0 Ipswich
Sunderland 2-2 Charlton
Chelsea  2-2 Middlesbro
Leeds  3-0 Derby
West Ham 3-0 Newcastle
Sotton  1-3 Aston Villa

Premiership Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Leeds 14
2 Bolton 12
3 Arsenal 11
4 Man Utd 11
5 Aston Villa 9
6 Chelsea 9
7 Liverpool 9
8 Blackburn 9
9 Sunderland 9
10 Newcastle 8
11 Tottenham 8
12 Everton 7
13 Middlesbrough 7
14 Fulham 6
15 West Ham 5
16 Charlton 5
17 Ipswich 5
18 Derby 5
19 Leicester 5
20 Southampton 3
As of 24 September 2001
M A T C H     R E P O R T S
Everton Web Sites
ToffeeWeb Match Summary
EvertonFC.com Match Report
When Skies Are Grey Match Report
From The Terrace Match Report
Blue Kipper Match Report
Everton Fans' Reports
Rob Burns The Waltershed Match?
Links to Other Media Reports
Electronic Telegraph Match Report
BBC Sport Match Report
FA Premier Match Report
Sky Sports Match Report
Sporting Life Match Report
SoccerNet Match Report
The Observer Match Report
The Guardian Match Report
The Independent Match Report
Liverpool Echo Match Report
Daily Post Match Report

Match Preview

After the trauma of another three defeats, including the now ritualised exit from the Worthington Cup to inferior opposition, Everton need nothing short of a win to restore confidence, and demonstrate that the bright early-season start was no fluke.

There must be a strong chance that Tomasz Radzinski will make his first start after recovering from the hamstring injury and getting an ultimately frustrating run out against Liverpool.  But it will be no surprise if Walter Smith sticks with his talismanic "Bruise Brothers" pairing of Captain Campbell and the Big Yin despite that ridiculous name, they have scored in every match so far this season, after all!

Pistone, Alexandersson. Pembridge and Gemmill all remain injured and apparently have little chance to play, which is a pity because Gemmill has been one of the few positives in Everton's weak midfield.  But Gazza could well get another chance, after showing he still has that football brain.

Everton need much stronger performances from a number of key players who have done poorly in recent matches.  And this match must be considered winnable, despite some good recent work by Blackburn, who held high-flying Bolton to a 1-1 draw during the week.

For Blackburn, Martin Taylor has twisted his knee.  He joins Craig Short and John Curtis in the treatment room.  They are also without the injured Keith Gillespie and David Dunn.  Out-of-favour Jason McAteer, who has again been linked with a move to Everton, remains in the squad because they are so short of first-team players.


The Waltershed Match

by Rob Burns

A full compliment of Evertonians at Ewood Park witnessed what must surely be Everton's waltershed match of the season.  Possibly the most lacklustre Everton performance, including the roll-over in the Derby last week, the salmon pinks simply weren't at the races. 

Frustration boiled over and the early bickering between supporters was one unified voice by the end, calling for the removal of the manager and his animated but ineffective assistant.  To add irony to the drama, the 'talisman' that is Duncan Ferguson was roundly booed as he led the team off the field and briefly clapped the travelling support.  He is rapidly becoming more of an albatross than a lucky charm.

The team selection that had been widely predicted on Friday did not materialise, although Gascoigne's name made the team sheet relatively good reading along with the inclusion of the youngster Tony Hibbert, impressive as a substitute on several recent occasions.  Radzinski was a notable and mystifying absentee, rumours abound of a fall-out with the manager, the official line that he pulled a groin muscle in training on Friday - either way, extremely disappointing. 

Naysmith held his place on the left, Xavier lining up at the back with Weir and Stubbs and Hibbert on the right.  In midfield Gravesen, Gazza and the recent struggler Niclas Alexandersson.  Ferguson and Campbell up front the two foreign strikers (to each other, anyway).  No sign of Idan Tal on the bench, perhaps involved in a disastrous three way pile up with Radzinski and the injured Watson on Friday that never even got a mention on the traffic and travel news.

Of course the game was all set for an upset: Grabbi labelled a 'misfit' by Rovers fans ('desirable' by Evertonians...) was looking for his first goal of the season; Mark Hughes the ex-Everton man on the bench; and transfer target (hah!) Jason McAteer looking to do the highly possible and impress his boss-elect, but messing the whole thing up by crossing the half-way line just after kickoff.

The whistle came and Blackburn looked there for the taking.  As in their match against Bolton, passes failed to find men and Everton stumbled back into possession.  Gascoigne showed the enthusiasm of a 19-year-old, picking the ball up at the back and supplying Naysmith, Alexandersson and Hibbert who impressed the fans but disgusted Walter with their moves forward. 

Hibbert's confidence grew as he found space to run the line and cross.  Ferguson particularly arrived late and failed to connect.  Alexandersson looked indecisive and weightless and failed to hold the ball or really penetrate.  Naysmith made some good chances from the left but too often found the box overcrowded or deserted.  

Campbell's first touch was poor, but forgivable in the early stages.  Ferguson showed all the strength of Bonnie Langford without the aerial prowess and neither used or held the ball up.

Cue the white-shell-suited, made up to the nines,  female character from Harry Enfield on Row 30 to begin a volley of verbal abuse re my frustrations with 'the Big Yin'.  A good cross-field move that resulted in a foul on Alexandersson on the right of the box as he steamed in to volley home was Dunc's chance to repay our olive skinned beauty - but a weak side foot into the already prostrate Friedel was the result.  

More criticism led to the offer of a personal 'golden shower' from said lady when the big man made up for his error as he was certain to do later.  ("I'll piss on yer when e scores ya bastard").  Sadly, I left the ground pac-a-mac intact in pocket.

The bickering ceased as the two front men showed the mobility of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, on top of each other, failing to make the runs into the box and leaving Gazza and Gravesen to look foolish as they tried to play the through-ball. 

Blackburn, for their part, showed more inspiration from the penalty miss than the Everton number 10 and attacked with fervour.  Grabbi, every inch the diving, whinging Italian, hit the post with a clever free kick from 25 yards after an Alexandersson foul as he was forced to make up the numbers in defence when out of possession - this is surely not a position that will allow him to show his real ability.

Shortly before half-time, it was Grabbi again who got on to the pass and some terrible uncertainty in the defence was expolited.  No-one moved towards the man on the edge of the box.  Hibbert read the game well and shot in from wide to make the tackle, shortly followed by Weir.  The Italian was open on the right and couldn't fail to score past a helpless Gerrard who for once had caught the early bus.  1-0; half time and they really rub it in at Ewood by running through the goals from every angle - mainly to show those fans who'd been discussing the pies during the half to see how the action went.

The second half was much of the same.  Naysmith got forward well and crossed on several occasions, Ferguson was lost in mid-air and penalised for fouls on the keeper, and later missed a gilt-edged chance for 1-1 when he turned a header past the post.  Again when the ball did arrive there was no recipient. 

Walter really provided the rope for a hanging when he sent Unsworth and Moore to warm up Unsworth of course a certain match winner for every occasion.  Gravesen was coming into the game more and more and would surely have set-up a goal if the two idiots on the front line had not run alongside each other into the box as he broke through the middle - a pass either side or a run through and the Blackburn defence were outnumbered. 

The boards went up and there was chaos.  Unsworth for Gravesen and Moore for Hibbert.  Astonishment led to boos - and chants of "you don't know what you're doing".   

Everton pressure but little in the way of chances - Moore making one good break, but unable to find the shot.  Campbell was abused by a player in the stand as he waited to take a 'sporting' throw - in after a Friedel injury.  He looked distraught. 

But the crowd did sing for the team - a sort of 'its not you' gesture.  'We want Walter out' at the end said it all - the scenes were depressing as another Everton manager lost credibility with the supporters, but not undeservedly.  

Campbell called the players around to acknowledge the support before they left the field - Ferguson had already left, Gascoigne received an ovation for his 110% game. 

Walter does not inspire the side, appears to have personal issues with players, is tactically lost, and above all self-righteous.  His press conference could have been lifted from any game since he came here - no defence or criticism, not even a variation in tone.  

It is sad that any one man can be chastised by thousands of others who ultimately want the same thing.  But until the board wake up to performances like this and see that his stewardship is fair to neither the players whose abilities and confidences he is destroying nor the supporters whose souls he is slowly destroying. 


Please note: these are the expressed views of Everton fan Rob Burns, who was at the game.  They are not necessarily endorsed by the management or workers at ToffeeWeb.

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