Blackburn Rovers v Everton

FA Carling Premier League, Saturday 30 March 1996; Ewood Park, Blackburn

Previous Match: Everton v Wimbledon Next Match: Everton v Bolton Wanderers

First, the facts ...

Blackburn Rovers (0) 0 Everton (0) 3
Amokachi 71, Kanchelskis 76, 89.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers, Coleman, Kenna, Sherwood, Ripley, Gallacher (McKinlay 71), Newell, Wilcox, Marker (Fenton 81), Berg, Flitcroft. Subs Not Used: Croft. Sent Off: Flitcroft (3). Booked: Coleman.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall, Hinchcliffe, Unsworth, Watson, Ferguson, Horne, Limpar (Rideout 15; Amokachi 28), Kanchelskis, Hottiger, Grant, Short. Subs Not Used: Speare. Booked: Hinchcliffe, Watson, Ferguson.

Att: 29,468
Ref: J Winter (Stockton on Tees).

Match Summary

CarlingNet: Dashing winger Andrei Kanchelskis inspired Everton to a deserved victory over 10-man Blackburn in a match which exploded as early as the third minute with the sensational sending-off of the FA Carling Premiership champions' £3 million debutant Garry Flitcroft.

Flitcroft got his marching orders following an aerial challenge with Tony Grant in which the former Manchester City midfielder appeared to lead with the elbow.

Everton striker Duncan Ferguson rushed across to become involved and after referee Jeff Winter had yellow-carded the Scotsman, he produced the red-card for Flitcroft.

Three more players were cautioned during a bad-tempered first half, Blackburn's Chris Coleman and Everton's captain Dave Watson and Andy Hinchcliffe.

Kanchelskis gave a warning of what was to come, testing Flowers with a fierce left-foot drive after cutting in from the right.

But Blackburn captain Tim Sherwood had the best chance to open the scoring four minutes from the interval when the ball broke kindly to him in the six-yard box after Mike Newell's shot was blocked. Sherwood screwed his left-foot shot horribly wide.

There was sufficient time left in the half for Kanchelskis to get in three more worthy efforts on goal but Blackburn seemed to have gained the initiative early in the second half when first Kevin Gallacher and then Stuart Ripley went close.

The home side's superiority was short-lived, however, as Kanchelskis continued to torment his marker, Jeff Kenna.

On one occasion, just after the hour, he fired almost comically wide when it seemed easier to score and then had another shot blocked.

Barry Horne brought a great save from Flowers, who tipped his rising 25-yard drive over the bar but it was only a matter of time before the visitors had a goal to show for their dominance and it arrived from the resulting corner.

Duncan Ferguson helped Hinchcliffe's cross into Daniel Amokachi's path and the Nigerian drove home though Flowers managed to get a hand on the ball.

Just six minutes later it was 2-0 when Kanchelskis got the goal his virtuoso display deserved, latching on to Grant's pass to yet again leave Kenna trailing in his wake before his shot took a wicked deflection to take it into the far corner.

With virtually the last kick of the game, Grant again freed the Russian who had half the field to himself before cleverly lobbing the ball past the advancing Flowers into the roof of the net.

Everton Devour the Pieman's Jinx

Guy McEvoy: The sign on the refreshment stall exclaimed proudly; "No British beef in any of our pies!". After 90 minutes it was apparent that there was no longer any beef in any of their players either.

Blackburn have looked nothing like the team that lifted the championship last season. Their cause today was not to be aided by the absence of the prolific Shearer or the solid Hendry, nevertheless they had on show newly signed Gary Flitcroft.

Everton were without Stuart and Ebrell but Parkinson returned from his suspension. Indeed, when the team bus arrived at Ewood, he got as big a cheer getting off as Duncan from the waiting Blues crowd, it turned out though that Joe Royle was not going to let the hoodoo pick his team and Pieman, despite his availability, was a surprise omission when the starting line-ups were announced.

Blackburn had invested a lot of hope into Flitcroft; they wanted him to transform their back four -- a task he applied himself to straight away, by turning it into a back three! No more than three minutes could have passed when Flitcroft elbowed Grant in the face as he tried to reach a Hinchcliffe corner, Dunc saw the action and went charging at Flitcroft flat of hand thrusting into face.

After much pushing and shoving the ref got the two players to one side and you just got the feeling which cards would be shown was going to be a lottery, fortunately our section of the crowd managed a better rendition of the "off, off" chant and Duncan got away with a yellow whilst Flitcroft marched on the red. An infamous debut if ever there was one.

The bad feeling on the field set the tone for a physical first half, crashing tackles were everywhere. Limpar was the first casualty, he went down in agony after about five minutes after being sandwiched. His replacement, Rideout, lasted maybe another five minutes, but never recovered from a shocking tackle by Sherwood(?) half way through his brief spell on. The sub was consequently substituted and Amokachi now took to the field.

Everton too managed their share of the hard-man stuff. Dave Watson picked up a yellow for a less than gracious challenge just inside our half. Andy Hinchcliffe also picked one up, though exactly what for remains a mystery.

It was quite easy at this stage to get drawn into all the hustle and miss the fact that Everton had started to play some extremely controlled football. This time last year, Tony Grant would have responded to such close physical attention simply by falling over, playing for the foul and then spending the rest of the game avoiding the ball. Now he seems to relish in it, the harder they came at him the more outrageous footwork he'd come up with to avoid them.

Some of our approach play was as crisp and sweet as we've seen all season, only being let down by the final ball. Blackburn's 10 man re-organisation had created a lot of space in midfield and Everton, for once, looked like working the man advantage.

A conservative estimate would be that we enjoyed 70% of possession, everything was there but the final touch. Although it was disappointing to end the half on level terms, things looked set up nicely for the second half when Everton would be attacking in front of their own fans.

And it turned out that there was no let up on the restart. Our domination in the middle was quickly absolute and the game was a matter of wearing down the defence, (easier said than done with the Blackburn centre halves playing their skins out).

One man in particular was having a field day. Time after time, the ball found Kanchelskis; time after time, he weaved through the defenders with contempt. It was sheer pleasure to watch. The man was simply a level of class above all else on the pitch. He was the cornerstone of every Everton move.

Nevertheless, frustration did begin to set in a little as the game progressed, the pressure remained constant but so did the scoreline. This became all the more nagging when Blackburn managed a couple of counter-attacks spear-headed by Ripley (and who was first back to defend - Kan the man!).

Andrei was making no secret in his body language that he was less than pleased with Duncan's inability to get into position for some of his crosses. Watching him reminded me of (*spit*) MacManaman, splitting the defence apart all game but not turning the good work into the due reward of a goal.

When the goal did finally come, it wasn't from the fast break, or the smooth play but the slightly more traditional route of a Hinchcliffe corner. Finally, the tired defence was unable to pounce on the loose ball that Ferguson touched into space on the 6-yd line, and Amokachi smacked the ball hard enough to see it fly past Flowers into the roof of the net. All Everton's doubt about Blackburn hanging on vanished and it was instantly apparent that it was not going to be a question of us winning but of by how many.

Blackburn, having finally been breached, realised that they had to stretch their play to get something back. The extra space created by that, and the now near exhaustion of the defence just made conditions all the more ideal for Kanchelskis.

In the last 10 minutes he finally got the goal he'd been promising all game when he picked up an astutely weighted Amokachi pass into space wide on the goal line, hit it hard on an extremely narrow angle and picked up a kind deflection just to make sure. The ball flew up over Flowers and just inside the far post.

The scoreline became a little more accurate in the final minute when Tony Grant hit a fantastic 60 yard pass, every inch as good as Limpar's famous assist to Stuart earlier in the season, into the path of who else. Andrei still had the keeper to beat. With his first touch he headed it, his second he kneed it, his third he flicked it over Flowers, and all that at full pace.

And so we bury a sloppy run of results with a 3-0 away scoreline that certainly doesn't flatter our performance on the day. Everton have not dominated a game in that way since our 5-0 drubbing of Norwich at Goodison in the FA Cup last season. We sang our hearts out, the champions were silenced. And all this without Joe Parkinson ...

Individual Performances

Southall 7 - Very Quiet afternoon, only one real save to make from a long distance shot dealt with comfortably.

Hottiger 7 - Competent, and best performance yet, however still has shown nothing that makes him look any better than O'Connor (or any of our other right-backs for that matter!).

Watson 8 - Good game, did the best of the 3 paying close attention to Newell and removed him as a threat. Has that wonderful ability to look like there is always so much time in any situation.

Short 7 - Nearly got on the score sheet again with a header from a corner in the first half, sometimes looked uncomfortable trying to deal with Ripley but had got to grips with him by the end.

Unsworth 7 - Looked like he enjoyed this game, game forward a lot more, and MUST have been working on his passing, maybe, despite my scepticism, there is a midfielder in there waiting to get out after all.

Hinchcliffe 7 - Got himself in all the right positions but will be bitterly disappointed with how few of his crosses were actually completed.

Grant 8 - (a very high 8 at that) Grant's best first team game yet. Had so much space in the middle to act as playmaker and used it to such good effect. Some of his tricks repertoire in the first half were nothing short of world class. If there is any weakness in his game it's his physical strength but if he's going to over come that by pure skill rather than by going to the gym then that's fine by me. The pass to Kan at the end showed exceptional vision. I will be mystified if this performance doesn't guarantee him a first team place next week.

Horne 8 - Proper Barry Horne again. Tackled, passed, stuck at it for 90 minutes and even managed a shot to equal 'that goal' which demanded a great save from Flowers, Joe's going to have the right kind of selection problems next week.

Amokachi 7 - Doesn't look as strong as he used to. This game was a golden opportunity for him to come up with those powerful runs he used to do but he didn't. He did show another side to his game though, the clever passer. He kept finding Hinchcliffe and Kanchelskis in space, and of course made the valuable contribution of the first goal.

Kanchelskis 9 - Outstanding. Picked and picked at them all game, couldn't possibly have left the stadium and not been on the score-sheet due to the law of averages. Blackburn simply did not have any answer to him. He was literally walking right through them with the ball. What most impressed me was that he looked today like a fully integrated member of the team rather than as a slightly separate individual talent. This was his day.

Ferguson 6 - Might look a bit tight that mark but I've knocked one off for his sheer stupidity in getting involved in the Flitcroft thing. From what I saw, he's gone to jail for less and so was lucky not to go off. Having said that he had an OK game otherwise, treated us to some of his ability on the ground, but never looked all that sharp in the box. Hinchcliffe and Duncan would probably argue all day about whether it was the delivery or the positioning that were at fault but there was no real threat from that source despite the number of opportunities.

Cameo performances from Limpar and Rideout both injured too quickly to make any constructive comment, other than perhaps to note that Rideout did manage to get a good head to a corner in his brief appearance.

Flitcroft walks as Everton run riot

By Derek Potter, Electronic Telegraph

WINNERS' hats were still in the air at Aintree when Garry Flitcroft fell at the first, sent off three minutes into his debut for Blackburn Rovers.

Tony Grant was on the receiving end of the £3 million midfield signing from Manchester City's elbow and Everton striker Duncan Ferguson was cautioned, presumably for the passion of his protest.

"I spoke to the referee and he told me Garry elbowed him," revealed Blackburn manager Ray Harford. "It ruined the afternoon and had to be the most decisive moment of the game."

"It was an awful challenge on Grant," said Joe Royle, the Everton manager, his chances of winning a place in the UEFA Cup enhanced after a nose-dive that brought the Goodison side only two points from the previous nine.

"It upset me, and I was equally upset by Ferguson's reactions because that kind of involvement can bring a sending-off. But all our players were incensed about it."

It was a physically painful first half after a delayed start of 10 minutes for late arrivals in the decent turn-out of 29,468, considering the neighbouring national sporting attraction.

Anders Limpar and Paul Rideout, his replacement, were carried off with four booked altogether, including Mike Newell and Chris Coleman for the harshness of their tackles. "Limpar is on crutches and Rideout is looking for a pair," was Royle's synopsis.

It always looked only a matter of time before outnumbered Rovers fell. Then it was a question of by how many with the lightning Andrei Kanchelskis scoring twice to bring his tally to 11 for the season.

Kanchelskis, in yesterday's mood, will take some stopping. "I bought him as a striker rather than a winger and I was delighted at his performance," revealed Royle

Rovers were not happy without Alan Shearer, who missed out on recording his 100th consecutive League appearance due to the groin strain that offered Les Ferdinand the chance to impress to such great effect at Wembley on Wednesday. Harford's side gave Neville Southall few anxious moments, the most testing coming in injury-time when he dived to the foot of a post to thwart Graham Fenton.

In contrast, Rovers counterpart Tim Flowers hardly had time for a breather. He palmed away a 25-yard effort from Barry Horne only to be beaten following a 70th-minute corner from Andy Hinchcliffe. Ferguson bravely went in where it hurt, got half a head on the ball and Daniel Amokachi did the rest from close range.

Amokachi provided the ammunition for the Russian's first, a deflected left-foot effort. Kanchelskis's second in the 89th minute followed a devastating long pass by Grant, who always looked likely to be the most creative.

Kanchelskis, in yesterday's mood, will take some stopping. "I bought him as a striker rather than a winger and I was delighted at his performance," revealed Royle, though he must have been frustrated by the Russian's earlier misses that could have set his side on the way to enhancing an impressive scoring record.

The energetic Ripley had similar long-range chances to Kanchelskis, but frustrated Rovers fans with his failure once again to deliver a knock-out blow when it was needed most.

Rovers often moved the ball to good effect with the unsupported Newell impressive against his former club. But the energy was inevitably drained from their legs, and without the most clinical marksman in the Premiership, the writing had long been on the wall come the final whistle.

Electronic Telegraph is a Registered Service Mark of The Telegraph plc

Winter's flurry fuels discontent

By Mark Hodkinson, The Times

JEFF WINTER stands out from the crowd. A financial services adviser, tenpin bowling enthusiast and FA Carling Premiership referee, Winter is a bear of a man. This particular bear relishes attention and can perform all manner of tricks with red cards, yellow cards and effusive movements of the arms and legs.

Blackburn Rovers and Everton were always going to be too uncooked and candid for Winter. The match at Ewood Park on Saturday was an accident waiting to happen, and, within three minutes, the crowd was in Winter Wonderland. Garry Flitcroft, making his Blackburn debut, lunged into Grant with his forearm raised. Ferguson, as is his wont, offered his muscular arbitration. Flitcroft walked before he had even ruffled his Britpop haircut, and Ferguson was booked.

Minutes later, Watson greeted Newell, his former team-mate, with a raw challenge. Another booking. Newell matched the aggression in an encounter with Limpar. No booking, but Limpar was taken off on a stretcher. Winter maintained the yellow blur by booking Coleman for a foul on Rideout, the Everton substitute. He, too, had to retire hurt. Sherwood continued the feral intent with a ferocious tackle on Horne. Nobody was wounded or booked ­ so much for consistency.

The half-time whistle is an arbitrary matter. Its timing owes much to prudence and a sense of fair play. Winter blew just as Amokachi raced through clear on goal, a scene-stealer to the end.

Amazingly, in the second half, Winter all but disappeared and the players supplied some reasonable football. Ferguson and Horne almost scored before Amokachi forced the ball past Flowers from a corner to give Everton a deserved lead.

Kanchelskis then cut inside from the right and appeared to roll the ball down his leg, under his sock and out from the end of his boot. Flowers was mesmerised and the shot looped over his diving body into the net. The scoreline was made rather deceptive when Grant, Everton's most creative player, made a marvellous pass for Kanchelskis to once again lob Flowers.

Ray Harford, the Blackburn manager, was terse afterwards, reluctant even to shape words into sentences. Did Flitcroft's sending-off ruin the afternoon? "You could say that," he replied. Have you spoken to him? "Not really." He implied that a double sending-off might have been more judicious. "It was a bit heavy on the lad, especially after just three minutes," Harford said. "Ferguson certainly inflamed the situation. I have seen referees send off both players in similar incidents."

Joe Royle, his Everton counterpart, was unequivocal. "I thought it was an awful challenge by Flitcroft and I was upset with him and Duncan's reaction to it," Royle said. "All the players were incensed about it." Understandably, he wanted to talk about the individual performances within his team. Kanchelskis was "going round them and through them", while Grant "passed the ball throughout".

Both teams will still press for a place in Europe, but whether either has the guile or the temperament to make it anything more than a duty-free shopping trip is another matter.

Rovers Dogs wreak wrong revenge for Flitcroft's Fling

SoccerNet: Gary Flitcroft suffered a spectacularly bad debut, possibly the shortest on record, for the fallen champions after his £3million move from struggling Manchester City.

The former England Under 21 midfielder, who arrived at Ewood Park last week, was sent off in the third minute by referee Jeff Winter after apparently elbowing Everton's 21-year-old Tony Grant at a Rovers corner.

The incident incensed Everton striker Duncan Ferguson, whose confrontation with Flitcroft earned him a booking. The drama certainly didn't stop there. In the fifth minute Andrei Kanchelskis had a goal disallowed for offside after a 40-yard run, then Everton skipper Dave Watson was booked for a late tackle and in the 10th minute winger Anders Limpar was carried off after being injured by a Mike Newell challenge.

His replacement, Paul Rideout went close with a header before he too was carried off. After a futile attempt to continue, his afternoon was curtailed just 13 minutes after he took the field. Rovers' 10 men held out for 70 minutes before Rideout's sub, Daniel Amokachi, hammered in a close-range shot. Despite a fighting display by goalkeeper Tim Flowers, Kanchelskis added two more in the last six minutes.

He was set up for the first by Amokachi, ending his dash into the goalmouth with a left-foot shot which brushed Flowers' fingers as it entered the net. His second followed a long through ball from Barry Horne [errr.... shurley shome mishtake -- you mean Tony Grant Ed]. Kanchelskis headed straight for goal and although the ball ran away from him, managed to lift it over the keeper's head.

Fiery Flitcroft sells Rovers short

Louise Taylor in the Sunday Times

ALAN SHEARER had barely settled into his VIP seat before Ewood Park erupted.

Blackburn's injured centre forward watched, presumably appalled, from the stand as a third-minute fracas involving Flitcroft and Ferguson prompted the dismissal of his new colleague.

If the Blackburn debutant was rightly shown the red card ­ he elbowed Grant before a head-to-head inquest with Everton's fiery striker ­ Ferguson, who appeared to raise an arm in anger, was fortunate to get away with a booking.

Their encounter reminded everyone of a recent joke from Alan Ball, Flitcroft's erstwhile manager at Manchester City: "If we had as many [disciplinary] points as Flitcroft, we'd be in Europe."

Everton experienced difficulties of their own when Limpar was carried off, to be replaced by Rideout, who appeared fleetingly before another injury dictated his withdrawal and Amokachi's introduction.

The Nigerian may well wish to fast-forward any videos of his performance until little more than a quarter of an hour from the end, when Hinchcliffe's corner and Ferguson's flick enabled him to stretch out a boot and finish from seven yards.

Kanchelskis seemed to do much as he pleased against Kenna, a right-footed left-back, and duly claimed number two with a whiplash left-foot shot which arrowed over Flowers into the top corner from a tight angle.

Then, in the final minute, Kanchelskis collected a through-ball and advanced to beat Flowers with a cute chip.

Why Ray Harford, the Blackburn manager, saw fit to prolong Kenna's misery when he had Croft, a fine left-back just signed for £1 million from Grimsby, on the bench is unfathomable.

In the end, Harford was left to reflect on his shaken faith in Flitcroft. How he must wish all players were as dependable as Shearer.

Andrei Offers Key to Europe

PA News: One of Europe's top stars will be the key to Everton's bid for a UEFA Cup place, according to manager Joe Royle.

Russian winger Andrei Kanchelskis destroyed Blackburn with two second-half goals and a blistering all-round display that terrorised the champions' defence and allowed Everton to move three points clear of their opponents in seventh place on the back of a 3-0 victory.

Royle persevered last summer to sign Kanchelskis from Manchester United when the deal often seemed on the point of collapse.

But he has never regretted the troubled transfer and believes the winger's lethal combination of pace and finishing power could still help Everton win a European place for next season.

``He's been tremendous. He's in double figures even after missing the first third of the season a tremendous feat,'' said Royle.

``They had to chase the game a bit in the second half and their full-back kept getting isolated. Nobody in the world can afford to be isolated with Andrei.''

Blackburn's £3million new boy Garry Flitcroft was sent off after just three minutes for raising his arm in an aerial challenge with Tony Grant and that set the tone for a bad-tempered match.

Everton's Duncan Ferguson was booked for over-reacting in the ensuing melee and the first half provided no goals but several bookings with Everton's Anders Limpar and then his replacement Paul Rideout both carried off after heavy challenges.

Their second substitute Daniel Amokachi got the crucial first goal after 71 minutes and then Kanchelskis twice outpaced the stretched Rovers rearguard in the closing 15 minutes to make the scoreline more emphatic.

``We passed the ball well once we had settled down because the sending-off affected us as well,'' added Royle. ``It's not as easy as people often think playing against 10 men.''

Next Match: Everton v Bolton Wanderers

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