Coventry City v Everton

FA Carling Premier League, Saturday 23 December, 1995

Previous Match: Newcastle United v Everton Next Match: Everton v Middlesborough

Dismal defeat

Coventry City (0) 2 Everton (0) 1

Busst 48, Whelan 84; Rideout 67.

Coventry City: Ogrizovic, Pickering (Rennie 88), Hall, Shaw, Williams, Busst, Richardson, Telfer, Whelan, Dublin, Salako. Subs Not Used: Filan, Lamptey. Booked: Pickering, Dublin.

Everton: Southall, Jackson, Unsworth, Ebbrell, Watson, Short, Limpar (Rideout 48), Parkinson, Stuart, Amokachi, Kanchelskis. Subs Not Used: Kearton, Horne. Booked: Short, Parkinson.

Att: 16,639
Ref: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Everton play crap against crap teams

Guy McEvoy: I have long believed that Everton's ability alters with the quality of the opposition. How else does one account for last seasons victories over Newcastle, Man Utd and Liverpool when compared with our final league position. We all know it's true - Everton play crap against crap teams.

Therefore I was always going to be apprehensive about us playing any team in the relegation zone away. Coventry, are an inconsistent team, one week they batter the champions 5-1, the next they take a 4-1 thumping. Atkinson has long argued that their position in the league does not reflect their quality (sound familiar?), they have been let down this season by an inconsistent defense (sound familiar?), they have thrown away opportunities to seize points (sound familiar?). On the evidence of Saturdays game though I'm not convinced that they are in fact such a good team in a false position, instead I think this match was just another case of my original assertion - Everton play crap against crap teams.

There were no surprises in the team lineup, it was the same team that has given played such attractive football for the past few matches. Rideout, gum-shield and all, returned from injury, reserves goal under his belt and was on the bench (joining Kearton and Horne). Coventry's Noel Wheelan was making his home debut.

The first half was a pretty dire affair. Coventry enjoyed the first attack of the game which Salako headed wide. Everton's response was to send a defense splitting ball through to Amokatchi, he should have been clear but his first touch had let him down badly and the ball ran too far forward. His effort to excuse himself was one of the most theatrical dives I've seen this season. Limpar would have been proud. The referee was not fooled.

The game struggled to develop any pattern or flow. Pretty football was not apparent. The crisp passing we seemed to be mastering completely deserted us, it was frustrating the number of passes going astray.

However, against the run of play Amokachi again found himself clear through with only Ogrizovich to beat, this time he chose to place it - wide. There has been long running debate amongst Evertonians about the worth of Ammo (consider the debates we've had on TOFFEENET), it seems however that the tide is turning and the crowd are becoming ever increasingly more hostile. The "not worthy" waves have become much less of a feature at Goodison of late. Nevertheless opinion is still split. Indeed, it was such a debate amongst the crowd that nearly resulted in the first bit of trouble I've seen this season.

The chap behind me spouted venom at Ammo throughout the game in Barlow like proportions. With the latest miss, I'm surprised his verbal torrent didn't cause him to pop an aneurysm. The bloke sitting next to me was an Ammo fan, and asked him to "just shut up and try to enjoy the game". The verbal exchange that followed would have made a docker blush, both bloke's mates joined in the posturing and we looked set for a major punch up.

The tension was so thick you could have picked it up and taken it home. Fortunately, some (big) level headed neutral was able to jump in and "calm down, calm down", remind everyone it was Christmas and that they were supposed to be on the same side. Needless to say our section of the crowd had a stony silence around it for a good proportion of the game after that. Not that there was much to cheer.

The second half started off disastrously. A Coventry corner on the right was hoisted long and high, nobody picked up the man on the back post and he took great delight in the simple nod in. Our defense was just left looking at each other accusingly, though TV replays suggest that Ammo was the man on that post.

Everton were now not only poor but also dispirited. Limpar and Kanchelskis had not had the distribution to weave their magic. Eventualy, we got the much needed substitution. Limpar making way for Rideout. I have to say that I found the withdrawal of Limpar astonishing. Admittedly he was not having his best game, but then that could be said of any one of our players, at least Limpar has the flair that in just one moment can turn an entire game. Added to that was the fact that we were bringing on an out and out striker who is useful with his head.

Surely, we should have given Rideout a chance to link with the two wingers, at least then we could have added some pattern and formation to our play. Still, what do I know? The substitution heralded by far Everton's best spell of the game. Kanchelskis twice broke free in much the same way as Ammo had in the first half, twice good saves were made, though on the second Kanchelskis really should have passed to Stuart who had an open goal. Eventually it was a long effort from Parkinson, that forced a deflected save to be picked up by Ammo and crossed for Rideout to mark the comeback with a trademark headed tap in.

Despite the equalizer, and the false hope that we could steal the points, Coventry showed great spirit in lifting themselves out of it and putting themselves back into it. A Striker's home debut at a troubled club carries with it the pre-scripted obligation that he score the winner, and so Noel Wheelan did just that to take the points with a class individual goal.

In fairness, on the balance of play Coventry deserved their win. Everton played with little formation or imagination, the talent we know we possess simply was not apparent. It was the worst performance I've witnessed by the Blues this season. If we are to challenge for a European place, the team must get some consistency going. We definatley need some new ideas if we are to compete with Middlesboro.

Individual Performances

Southall 8 - made some very good saves, I would have given him a 9 but for a moment of madness when he tried to dribble past their rushing forward, lost out and nearly conceded a goal because of it.
Unsworth 7 - Showed the benefit of his pace and kept the menacing Salako at heel. Didn't give too much help to Limpar coming forward though.
Short 6 - Looked a bit shakier today, lost out in the air a few times.
Watson 6 - Was beaten for pace, not the dominating Dave we expect.
Jackson 6 - His worst game for a while, made a few good challenges, but his distribution was poor, also let himself sown in his forward role.
Parkinson 7 - Had a very mixed match, a number of wonderful tackles, and a good couple of efforts at goal. Unfortunately responsible for more than one miss-hit pass including a suicidal backpass.
Ebbrell 6 - His purple patch appears to be over, never got into this one. I was very surprised Barry didn't come on.
Stuart 6 - Played better when he went wider after Limpar was subbed, nevertheless yet another player who failed to live up to recent form.
Kanchelskis 7 - Responsible for the only spell when we got back into the game in the second half. Had a couple of good chances, could perhaps be accused of greed on one of them. Having said that, our off-the-ball movement was dire and he, like Limpar, was often left without any realistic option.
Limpar 6 - Simply wasn't presented with the opportunity to do his stuff, and when he did get the ball, the support wasn't there.
Amokachi 7 - If you love him you'd point to the chances he managed to create using his pace, if you hate him you'd point to how he squandered them. Must get credit for an assist. Also best dive of the season. It is apparent he is starting to suffer from a confidence problem.
Rideout 7 - Right place (well, he was off-side but who wants to be picky?), right time. And that is what we needed. Still needs to do a lot of work on his all round play.

Whelan seals thriller

By Frank Clough, Electronic Telegraph

COVENTRY'S latest acquisition, Noel Whelan, moved off to a standing ovation after scoring the deciding goal that gave his relegation-threatened club three precious points.

Only five minutes remained in a pulsating encounter in which the Coventry defence, not for the first time this season, looked to have thrown away all the hard work and enterprise their forwards had shown.

Five minutes into the second half, Coventry went ahead when their central defender David Busst headed in at the far post from a corner by John Salako. But Everton stepped up the pressure and the Merseysiders equalised in the 68th minute with a goal from Paul Rideout.

Whelan, who had impressed in his home debut, scored the winner when he strode into the Everton penalty area and beat Neville Southall with a low and fierce shot.

Coventry did their darndest to dispel manager Ron Atkinson's 'flu blues with a fine display of enterprising football in the first half. They might have had a comfortable lead at half-time but for some wayward finishing.

After only three minutes Salako headed over the bar following a good run and cross by Whelan, their £2 million signing from Leeds.

Whelan endeared himself to the home supporters with his intelligent running and use of space but it was Salako who was Everton's chief tormentor.

He gave defender John Ebbrell a miserable time and in the eighth minute provided a fine cross for Dion Dublin but the header lacked power. Ten minutes later, from another good cross, Dublin found Whelan with a header to the near post but he missed.

Everton looked to be in all sorts of trouble yet had the best chance of the match. It came in the 22nd minute when a pass by Graham Stuart was deflected into the path of Daniel Amokachi. The Coventry defence seemed to disappear into thin air, but with only goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic to beat, Amokachi shot wide.

Back came Coventry, as Salako provided another telling cross in the 26th minute, but Dublin's header clipped the bar. A minute later Whelan burst into the Everton penalty area but shot wide. He then unleashed a fierce shot that Southall did well to parry.

Electronic Telegraph is a Registered Service Mark of The Telegraph plc

New Signing Sinks Everton

CarlingNet: Noel Whelan plundered a late goal on his home debut to boost Coventry's FA Carling Premiership survival prospects at Highfield Road. The £2million former Leeds forward exploited a retreating and uncertain Everton defence to fire his first Coventry goal low past Neville Southall with six minutes left - a goal that ensured justice was done.

It gave Coventry their second successive home win after substitute Paul Rideout - making his return after injury - headed Everton level from a suspiciously offside position in the 67th minute. Furious Coventry boss Ron Atkinson stood on the touchline berating a linesman after watching Rideout head in from point-blank range following excellent Steve Ogrizovic saves from Joe Parkinson and Daniel Amokachi. Barnsley referee Steven Lodge glanced at a linesman, ignored Coventry protests and Rideout moved to the top of the Everton goal scoring charts with seven.

The 38-year-old Ogrizovic displayed the reflexes of an 18-year-old with a spectacular tip over from Rideout's 55th-minute header. Both teams had opportunities to secure the points long before Whelan's decisive strike.

Everton are unhappy that Amokachi must be released for the African Nations Cup in South Africa in the New Year, but if the Nigerians had seen his glaring miss they might have changed their minds about calling him up. Amokachi ran clear on to Graham Stuart's 23rd-minute pass, drew Ogrizovic and rolled the ball wide of an empty goal.

Coventry responded through their captain Dion Dublin who had scored nine goals in his previous nine matches.

But when he climbed above Craig Short in the 25th minute his powerful header rebounded from the Everton crossbar. Defender Dave Busst eventually found the target with a 48th-minute header from John Salako's corner as Everton's shaky rearguard were once more caught out.

The introduction of Rideout as a substitute for Anders Limpar briefly swung the game in Everton's favour with Ogrizovic denying Andre Kanchelskis twice - the second occasion when Stuart stood screaming for a pass nmarked at the far post.

But hard working Coventry deserved their third League victory of the season. For long periods Salako overshadowed the more expensive Limpar and Kanchelskis with his wing wizardry leaving the Everton duo yearning for absent target man Duncan Ferguson.

Amokachi shoots blanks

Daily Mail SoccerNet: Noel Whelan crowned his debut with a late-match winner to ease the pressure on City boss Ron Atkinson. Whelan, signed for £2 million from Leeds, became an instant hit with the Highfield Road faithful when he drove a fierce low shot beyond Everton keeper Neville Southall six minutes from time.

The 20-year-old's strike rescued struggling City who had looked certain to throw away the points in a pulsating clash.

Substitute Paul Rideout seemed to have earned Everton a point when he headed a 67th-minute equaliser.

Atkinson's side had sqaundered a host of chances before defender David Busst climbed above Dave Watson to head City in front three minutes after the break.

The home side had dominated much of the game but could not turn their superiority into goals. Whelan went close with two first half chances and Dion Dublin hit the bar with a looping header in the 28th minute.

Everton's best chance of the first half fell to Daniel Amokachi but he failed to hit the target with just City keeper Steve Ogrizovic to beat.

It was much the same story in the second period, but City allowed themselves to take their foot off the pedal once Busst had put them ahead. Everton's Andrei Kanchelskis had too much time and space and was clean through on two occasions. But each time he was thwarted by Ogrizovic and it was left to Whelan to turn the match in City's favour.

In the 78th minute he hit the post after Southall and Watson had got themselves into a terrible tangle over a back pass but he made sure he became City's saviour when he jinked his way into the box and left Southall helpless with a stunning drive from ten yards.

Next Match: Everton v Middlesborough

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