Newcastle United 2 - 0 Everton

1 February 1995

Newcastle: Fox, Beardsley (pen)
Yellow cards
Newcastle: Beardsley, Lee, Elliott
Everton: Barrett, Burrows, Horne, Parkinson, Unsworth, Ebbrell, Southall
Red cards:
Everton: Barrett, Horne
Newcastle Hooper, Hottiger, Venison, Neilson, Elliott, Fox, Bracewell, Lee, Gillespie, Mathie, Beardsley
Everton: Southall, Jackson, Watson, Unsworth, Barrett, Limpar (Grant), Horne, Parkinson, Ebbrell, Burrows (Samways), Stuart
Subs not used: Harper, Clark, Watson (Newcastle), Reeves (Everton)
Referee: D Elleray (Harrow)
Attendance: 34,465


Well, I don't know if any of our more reliable observers were at the game last night, so you'll just have to make do with my comments, which may or may not be accurate or pertinent.

Right from the whistle I thought there had been some kind of mistake - we were *attacking* - you know - running with the ball in their half. Only problem was that we didn't have any real attackers. Limpar got through on one occasion but he didn't press on, and decided to pass to Stuart, who lost the ball. In fact the major problem seemed to be that no-one had any real clue what to do when they surprised themselves by getting the ball. Stuart in particular seemed particularly inept. He was beaten for every challenge in the air, and when he got the ball in a forward position he acted lke he was waiting to cross to Fergie or Rideout. That was not a very sensible tactic!

Gradually our attacking minutes subsided and the Toon laid siege to our half of the pitch. We battled manfully. Barret had a good game. He was tussling with Fox and Gillespie, and it was a foul on Fox that led to his first booking. It was in the opposite corner of the park from where I was sitting, so I can't comment on whether it was justified or not. Also, Matt Jackson played with some dignity, getting us out of some squeaky spots with a good tackle, or a good clearance.

The pressure was intense at times, but mostly we were battling in midfield. Even Limpar was spotted by your Eagle-Eyed Correspondent taking part in some tackles. Of course when he got the ball he did what he usually does - run around a bit, beat a couple of players, then lose it and fall over. But he did tackle back on occasions.

Some of our best attacking moves came from Barrett and - dare i say it - Burrows, with runs up the wing - apparently pretending to be Andy Hinchcliffe. But we never bothered the keeper.

And all the time the ref was booking people. From the sheer volume of cards consumed you'd have the idea it was a dirty game - not at all - but as soon as anyone fell over there was the ref with a pretty yellow card. No-one was hurt, I didn't see any bad fouls, no last ditch prefessiona; stuff, no shirt-pulling a la Cripple Palace - just a steady stream of pointless bookings.

We made it to half time well-pleased to be at nil-nil, which seemed a fair representation of the play - scrappy with no real chances to either side.

After the restart we again began with a prolonged attack on the Toon goal, again showing good spirit but lacking the necessary bite in the box - really missing the big lads up front.

And again after our attack subsided the Toon came at us, particularly down the right wing, with Gillespie showing some speed and skill. Burrows was substituted by Samways, presumably to take him off before he got sent off. Samways was most unimpressive - Gillespie left him for speed more times than I can remember.

And then it just got ridiculous. As you've read in the papers, Barrett kicked the ball away at a corner and was sent off, and then a minute later Horne was sent off after some really trifling incident. And it fell to pieces - we were too rattled to organise the defence properly, and after a goalmouth scramble the ball was in the net.

Oh, I should have mentioned the appearance of number 29 - Tony Grant - in place of Limpar. He looked pretty decent - some nices touches, but he isn't big enough, and he played himself into trouble a couple of times around the edge of the box and had to be rescued by Matt Jackson.

It was just a matter of time before we leaked another goal, but the manner of its arrival was a disgrace. I thought the usual rule is that you have to concede a foul *inside the penalty box* in order for it to be a penalty. From where I was sitting, pretty close to the incident, it was clar to me that Rhino was outside the box. Still, Beardlsey made a late effort to wrest the Klinsmann Diving Medal from Gillespie, who'd been the clear leader in that department, by leaping agilely into the box, and taking the penalty. By this time Nev was completely pissed off by the whole affair and kicked the ball away from the spot, making the refs night by allowing him to get another of his favourite yellow cards out. The rest, as they say, is history.

So ...

of course it's a disappointment that we lost, but I think we can actually take some heart from the performance - first of all we didn't go down until the dismissals - our defence, which was suffering so much criticism earlier in the season, now seems to have some real steel in it. We scrapped hard with good spirit and weren't overawed by the Toon in midfield. With a few more attacking options I think we'd have really worried Newcastle, and with a saner ref, we'd have had a good chance of coming out with a point. Think back to the beginning of the season - what odds would you have given against Mike Walker's team coming away from Newcastle with a point?

(Another note about the ref - I listened to the local radio after the game, and even the Metro Radio commentators - not known as the most impartial people in the world - agreed that the ref was absolutely diabolical. I don't fancy being in his shoes if he ever officiates at Goodison!!)

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