Everton v Coventry City

FA Carling Premier League, Saturday 9 March, 1996; Goodison Park, Merseyside.

Previous Match: Middlesbrough v Everton Next Match: Leeds United v Everton

Foot off the pedal ... again!

Everton (2) 2 Coventry (1) 2
Ferguson 17, 25; Daish 38, Williams 85.

Everton (4-4-2): Southall, Hottiger, Short (O'Connor 89), Unsworth, Hinchcliffe, Kanchelskis, Ebbrell (Capt), Parkinson (Amokachi 46), Grant, Stuart, Ferguson. Subs Not Used: Limpar.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic, Borrows, Williams, Daish, Busst, Shaw, Telfer (Strachan 69), Dublin, Salako, Jess, Whelan (Ndlovu 42). Subs Not Used: Filan. Booked: Borrows, Daish, Telfer.

Att: 34,517
Ref: P Danson (Leicester).

Duncan Scores, Southall Saves

Daily Mail Soccernet: Coventry's brilliant young signing, Noel Whelan, was concussed and had six stitches in a head wound after 36 minutes but the Sky Blues fought back to wipe out a two-goal Everton lead.

Whelan, 21, who has been outstanding since his £2 million move from Leeds United, caught a boot as he bravely launched a stooping header during a goalmouth skirmish. As he fell clutching his head, goalkeeper Neville Southall made a tremendous save to keep out the header.

But Coventry scored from the resultant corner kick as Whelan was being led groggily to the dressing room, eventually to be replaced by Peter Ndlovu. John Salako's kick was headed into the net by Liam Daish, another of Ron Atkinson's recent signings.

Whelan had been thwarted in the 20th minute by another great save from Southall, who tipped over his curling shot from 20 yards. Five minutes earlier Everton had gone into the lead through Duncan Ferguson, who rose a yard above defender David Busst to head in a cross from Graham Stuart.

The formidable striker also got Everton's second in the 25th minute with a 30-yard charge through the middle, brushing Busst and Daish aside, then steering a scrambling shot beyond Steve Ogrizovic.

In injury time Ndlouv missed a great chance to pull of a dramatic win when he was picked out by substitute Gordon Strachan with a pin-point cross but headed over the top.

Coventry battle Duncan's brace

CarlingNet: Battling Coventry fought back from a two-goal deficit to earn a vital point towards FA Carling Premiership survival against Everton at Goodison Park.

Two Duncan Ferguson strikes in the opening half-hour seemed to have put Everton on course for their third successive League victory and fifth place in the table - their highest position of the season.

But Coventry, who had not won away since beating Bolton on December 30, bounced back to win a point through Liam Daish's first-half header and Paul Williams' equaliser five minutes from time.

Ferguson, recently recalled to Craig Brown's Scotland fold, increased his chances of selection for Euro '96 by putting Everton firmly in command.

He announced his presence early by turning David Busst, only for the defender to recover and toe-poke the ball back for goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic to clear.

But Coventry failed to heed the warning and left him free at the far post to meet Andy Hinchcliffe's 17th-minute cross and score with one of his trademark headers.

His aerial threat continued to trouble Coventry's defence and his intelligent knockdown allowed Graham Stuart to advance menacingly on goal before Ogrizovic snuffed out the danger by diving at his feet.

The favour was returned for Everton's second goal in the 25th minute, Stuart flicking on for Ferguson to hold off Daish's challenge and score his seventh goal in the last 10 matches.

Coventry, who had already tested Neville Southall's reflexes through Noel Whelan's stinging drive, were rewarded for some enterprising counter-attacking by reducing the arrears seven minutes before the interval.

John Salako, who had given Marc Hottiger a challenging Everton debut seven weeks after his £750,000 move from Newcastle was finally completed following a change in the work permit rules, switched wings to the right with telling effect.

His far-post cross was nodded back into the middle and Whelan got in a brave header, before colliding with Craig Short, which Southall brilliantly turned round the post.

Whelan was taken off looking dazed and had six stitches put in a head wound before being replaced by substitute Peter Ndlovu and from the resulting corner Coventry scored.

Salako's flag kick expertly picked out Daish unmarked in the middle and his header finally evaded Southall.

The goal boosted Coventry, desperate for points to move them away from the relegation zone, and the introduction of player-coach Gordon Strachan from tiring Paul Telfer midway through the second half visibly lifted their spirits.

Strachan almost conjured up the equaliser with eight minutes remaining, Daish heading his free kick on to the bar and over.

Instead it was left to former England winger Salako to provide the silky skills which brought Coventry level, pulling over a right-wing cross for Williams to head home off Short.

Ace reporter mugged outside Goodison!

Guy McEvoy: At about half-two, I was crossing the road by the club shop toward the Stanley Park pub, when a drunk bloke asked us if I had any spares. As it happened I did, and was just sticking my hand in my pocket to produce one when I got jostled sideways out of the crowd and he produced a 5 inch knife and told "give us your money or I'll blade you". Fortunately, cos my hand was reaching down into my inside pocket, I was able to grab his hand as soon as he got the knife out and tussle with him. As soon as I had a physical advantage, he claimed he was "only messing, mate". Ha ha mate.

Having watched footy for years without any trouble, I have found myself in a rook for two games in a row. I've decided to break the boogie and not go to the Leeds game! What is the world coming to?

Anyway, here are some general thoughts:

Hottiger: looked very good on the run, Salako was attacking his wing for the first quarter of an hour or so, but gave up after that and switched wings to attempt to test Hinchcliffe. Not at all a bad debut.

Duncan: Absolutely magnificent first half. Reflected the team in waning in the second.

Ref - Danson: They reckon that the mark of a good ref is one that you don't notice in a game. Therefore Danson's prominence as the most notable personality on the pitch serves as testimony to his ability. Did his level best to ruin the game.

Midfield: 2 crucial turning points, Parkinson going off did us no favours, secondly the introduction of Strachan won them the game in this area. Once the Ginger fella came on Everton never looked back in the game.

Injuries: Did anyone else get the feeling that they weren't watching the game but instead were watching an episode of emergency ward 10? I haven't seen so many stoppages for injuries in a long time. Has anyone Bled as much blood for the club this season as Craig Short? It's the third time this season I've seen him bleed buckets.

Summary: The whole game seemed like a very early season performance, Good first half hour then we went all half hearted. There was very little formation from Everton, and in all honest the only reason we got a point was because Nev was wide awake.

OK, Who stole my CAR!

Richard Marland: For 30 minutes we were very good indeed. We scored two goals and it could have been more. We then allowed Coventry to come into the game a little and gave them a toehold when we allowed Daish a free header in the box. Coventry's toe hold became a foot hold when Parkinson failed to come out for the second half.

In the first half Parkinson had been playing his usual holding role in midfield with John Ebbrell being given a more advanced role and Grant in a fairly free midfield role. With no Parkinson, Amo came on and played up front, Ebbrell dropped back into the Parkinson role and Stuart dropped back into midfield. We never really got to grips with this reshuffle and Coventry started to take control of midfield and put our defence under pressure.

The equaliser didn't really come as any great surprise. It was a little fortunate in that it wouldn't have beaten Southall without the deflection off Short's shoulder, but on the balance of play it was deserved.

Southall - 8 - Two truly exceptional saves, no chance with the goals.
Hottiger - 8 - An assured, competent debut. Looks to be an excellent defender, he started off against Salako, within 30 minutes Salako had switched wings, and that says it all really. He also had one good attacking run into the opposing penalty area. A genuine MoM contender, I was impressed.
Hinchcliffe - 7 - Did OK, excellent cross for the first goal. Went AWOL once when Salako picked up the ball in our area and Hinchcliffe was standing in a centre half position for some reason.
Unsworth - 8 - My God it's good to see him back to his best. Played well and did a reasonable job of keeping things together in Dave's abscence.
Short - - 7 - Did OK but he's no Dave Watson.
Parkinson - 7 - Did his usual quietly efficient job in the first half, badly missed in the second.
Ebbrell - 8 - Captain for the day and responded with a captain's performance. I spotted him filling four different roles: attacking midfield, defensive midfield, full back (when Hottiger went off briefly), and centre-back when Short was having his head wound attended to. My Man of the Match.
Grant - - 7 - Showed some lovely touches and vision, one in particular was breathtaking, he got under a high, dropping ball in the corner of the Coventry box, he flicked it, on the full, with the outside of his foot into Dunc's path, whereupon Dunc looked to be bundled over by Oggy. Magical stuff, if it had been Cantona and John Motson had been commentating then Motty would have ended up with sticky undies, again. Looked a bit lightweight in the tackle.
Kanchelskis - 6 - Threatened as usual but didn't really deliver much.
Ferguson - 7 - Excellent in the first half and scored two good goals; not so good in the second but that was more a reflection on the teams performance than his.
Stuart - 7 - First half he was excellent, as usual. However, in the second half when he was pulled into midfield he was poor. Missed two good chances to kill the game off but he failed to hit the target with either.

Amokachi (Sub) - 6 - Never really got going as the team struggled. Brought down no less than 3 times on the edge of the box, none of them were given.

O'Connor (Sub) - he was on for about 2 minutes after the ref forced Short off because of his head wound. Looked composed but not really called into action.

Team - 7 - The first half was a definite 8, but in the second we defended poorly as a team and gave the initiative to Coventry.

Bastard who stole my car whilst I was at the game - 0

In my humble opinion ...

Michael Barker: We weren't all that bad against Coventry. There were several small factors that contributed to what appears to be a poor performance.

    1. The absence of Watson, big Dave isn't the most skillful of defenders but he is still more effective than Short. What we missed most about him was his motivation, John Ebbrell didn't do anything wrong, he just didn't motivate the other players. I think Nev should be captain in the absence of Watson, simply because he hates to lose & would give the other players a kick up the backside when they begin to slack. Did you see the look of disgust when Coventry scored their first?
    2. The loss of Joey Parkinson at 1/2 time. Our record without Joe was mentioned last week P10 D5 L5, he provides most of the midfield's bite in the absence of Horne.
    3. Giving Hottiger his debut. Again Hottiger didn't do anything wrong, but he looked short of match practice (obviously), he even had a couple of good runs down the wing. But I don't think O'Connor should have lost his place to a player that hasn't had 1st team football for 9 months.[On that logic, Hottiger would never get a game! - Ed]
    4. Stuart had an off day, he is entitled to one every now and then, -- Limpar has enough of them!
    5. Duncan had a poor second half -- I can't remember who was on him, was it Daish? Which was surprising as he tonked Coventry in the first half. He played too deep in the second half. I noticed he came back to defend a corner when we were 2-1 up & should have been looking to kill the game off.

Anyway, at least we extended our record to only 1 defeat in 9 Premiership games this year!

Quiet Goodison crowd fails to motivate

Gordon Baxter: For the first 35-40 minutes we were cruising. Nev had little or nothing to do, and our midfield were running the show. When they lost Whelan it seemed to inspire them, and when Strachan came on they never really looked back.

The crowd were even more muted than usual. It's hard to explain, we were playing well, bossing the game, and the place was a bit like a morgue. On the radio before the game, Clifford Finch was asking for the crowd to make more noise because it helped the players. All that happened was that as the game wore on and Coventry got on top the crowd got restless, and started getting on players' backs when they made a mistake, which simply made things worse.

Hottiger, -- not a bad debut, although his positioning was a bit iffy at times. He seemed fairly quick, but will need to develop a better understanding with Kanchelskis. He did have one brilliant run into the box which Coventry snuffed out.

Amokachi -- he had a nightmare. It seems that, whenever we try to play Amokachi, Ferguson and Stuart together, the balance of the team is upset. It was kinda sad though that people were actually laughing at Amokachi's attempts to control the ball. I can't help thinking that a good run in the reserves or even on loan would help him regain his confidence.

Big Nev -- another blinder -- made two or three saves right out of the top drawer. He was the difference between 1 point and a defeat.

Grant - still seems a bit lightweight, and wants too much time on the ball. I'd prefer to see him out wide, even though he prefers a more central role.

Parkinson - we missed him when he went off, but I think that was more because the midfield was under greater pressure, because we lost a tackler. Maybe JR should have brought on O'Connor to sit in front of the back four - he has played in that position for the reserves on a few occasions.

The Big Man - had a storming first half, but faded in the second as the service deteriorated. He was being persistently fouled by Daish and co. but carried on with the game - the second goal was a testament to his strength and determination.

Short - I thought his injury was caused by Dublin's elbow. It didn't seem to affect him too much, though, apart from the fact that he was off the pitch for about 5 minutes to get patched up. Wonder why the referee didn't stop play immediately since it was a head injury, and he did appear to see it.

The second half - I can't remember much about it, except that it simply seemed to be a matter of time before Coventry scored. Even though we didn't play particularly well, we wasted some good chances (especially Stuart), and Ogrizovic made a couple of good saves.

Overall - a curate's egg of a game - first half performance was possibly worth 8/10 (well the first 35-40 minutes, anyway). The second half was worth about 4/10.

Referee - Paul Danson - made some strange decisions, and didn't make some obvious ones.

If we ARE going to get back into Europe, we need to finish off teams like Coventry once we get the upper hand. We also need a better balance to the side - two wingers helps, because from a defensive point of view it means that their wingers can be closed down quicker. I suspect that this was one of the reasons why Big Ron moved Salako across from their left wing to the right - it gave him a few extra yards to make headway and do something with the ball, rather than have to get past Kanchelskis before facing Hottiger.

Let's hope we can improve on this for the next two games: Leeds (bogy ground) and Wimbledon (bogy team).

Coventry curb Royle ascent

By Derick Allsop, Electronic Telegraph

COVENTRY CITY dredged another point from the murky waters of apparent defeat to reinforce their belief that they can re-enact their escape from relegation. Gordon Strachan, the reluctant inspiration, again provided the late and decisive guidance as Everton drifted surprisingly off-course of their plotted European destination.

Duncan Ferguson had looked to have sustained Everton's aspirations and compounded Coventry's anxiety with a demonstration of raw, traditional centre-forward play.

The Scot, cleared to play after a late fitness check, scored twice in eight devastating first-half minutes and continued to torment Coventry with his aerial dominance and sheer presence.

But Everton, at last introducing Marc Hottiger to their defence, discovered, as most teams do, that Coventry's propensity for leaking goals is almost matched by their capacity for scoring them. Liam Daish, recently recruited by Ron Atkinson to bolster his defence, proved a sort of inspiration at the other end, bringing his side back into the game with a powerful header.

This match of contrasting requirements brought together two of football management's biggest buddies in Atkinson and Joe Royle. While Atkinson's team wish for nothing more than Premiership salvation, Royle's side have raised their sights to a place in the UEFA Cup and the inclusion of Ferguson hugely enhanced morale.

Andrei Kanchelskis inevitably provided the thrust of the Everton threat, giving Richard Shaw a torrid time on the right. David Busst, too, was left floundering when he ventured across to offer cover. But for all the menace, Coventry restricted the delivery, and the penetration was to come from the left, after 17 minutes. Andy Hinchliffe supplied the centre, and Ferguson the regulation finish.

Noel Whelan attempted to add to his glossy catalogue, drifting in from the left and seeking out the top corner of Southall's goal. The Welsh goalkeeper ushered the ball over.

Coventry, however, are not a side to be deflated by conceding a mere couple of goals and Dublin and Whelan combined to test Southall after 35 minutes.

He was spared that task from the corner, Dion Dublin lofting the half-chance. Steve Ogrizovic, the Coventry goalkeeper, was called on moments later, throwing his considerable frame into Tony Grant's path.

But nothing Ogrizovic or his colleagues could muster was good enough to defy Ferguson after 25 minutes. The Scot bulldozed his way through, the momentum enough to push the ball just inside the far post.

Coventry, however, are not a side to be deflated by conceding a mere couple of goals and Dublin and Whelan combined to test Southall after 35 minutes. Whelan hurled himself at the chance, and Southall saved brilliantly.

Whelan was eventually helped to his feet but led away to have six stitches in a head wound and was replaced by Peter Ndlovu. From the long-delayed corner, John Salako produced a perfect opportunity for Daish to head in.

Kanchelskis saw a shot blocked and a sprint interrupted by Shaw's excellent tackle as new territory was sought down the middle in the second half.

Stuart managed a repeat he would not have wanted, shooting too high after another jinking, teasing right-wing run by Kanchelskis. To Everton's relief, much of Coventry's play was equally erratic. Eoin Jess, still adapting to the pace of the Premiership, ought at least to have exercised Southall. Ndlovu and Salako each attempted single-handed solutions, but with similarly wayward consequences. When Salako was on target, Southall saved acrobatically. It became another mission for the veteran, Strachan, though he perhaps was not expected to head clear from his own goal-mouth before instigating the move which brought Coventry an equaliser six minutes from the end.

Salako's cross found Paul Williams at the far post, whose header flew in off Craig Short.

Electronic Telegraph is a Registered Service Mark of The Telegraph plc

Coventry can draw hope from Royle seal of approval

By Pat Gibson, The Times

THERE was enough blood spilt at Goodison Park to dispel any suspicion that the old pal's act might have been at work as Coventry City recovered from a two-goal deficit to take a point which could be crucial in their annual battle to avoid relegation from the FA Carling Premiership.

Joe Royle and Ron Atkinson, the respective managers, are so close that they telephone each other several times a week to talk about how their teams are playing, but it is not that which makes Royle hope and believe that Coventry will stay in the top division for the thirtieth consecutive season.

"Our friendship has got nothing to do with it," Royle said. "I hope Coventry get out of trouble because they try to play and get forward, and I think they can because they score goals. That is the great thing. I know they leak goals as well, but, as long as you can score, you can always win a game. Looking at the teams around them, they seem to be struggling because they don't score enough."

This match proved his point. Most teams in Coventry's position would have thrown in the towel after they had conceded two goals in the opening 25 minutes to the rampant Ferguson, the first a classic header from Hinchcliffe's cross, the second a clever finish after Stuart's flick had sent him striding clear of the visitors' defence.

Coventry, however, pressed on in the belief that they could get back into the game and they were rewarded when a brave diving header by Whelan forced Southall into a magnificent save. Whelan suffered a gashed temple that needed six stitches, but, as he was led from the field, Daish headed in the resultant corner and Atkinson said: "All credit to the lad. As he went off, I shouted to him: 'Hey, you've just got us a goal through your bravery'."

It was the turn of Short, Everton's central defender, to show his courage in the second half. He had to go to the touchline three times for treatment after sustaining a cut above his nose before the referee eventually decided he had seen enough blood for one day and ordered him off for good two minutes from the end, but it was all to no avail.

Coventry had already scored the equaliser they deserved when Williams's header went in off Short's shoulder, leaving Atkinson, as flippant as ever, to say: "We made it hard for ourselves but that's our game. We don't like anybody to leave until we've finished."

Everton lack finish

By Martin Searby, The Sunday Times

THAT EVERTON should be contemplating Europe next season and Coventry life in the first division proves there is little justice in football on the evidence of a scrappy game of little wit or merit.

There was an astonishing lack of technique, skill, tactics and flair given this is supposed to be the creme de la creme of the English game, and surely the lesson will sink in soon that there are no more than four clubs in the country who can live with Europe's best.

Coventry, rising to their best position in the table since August, deserved their point and might have taken all three for only the second time away from home had it not been for a quite brilliant save from Southall, who fingertipped Salako's well-placed cross-shot to safety in a second half that belonged to the visitors.

Everton dominated the first 45 minutes with Ebbrell and Parkinson overrunning Telfer and Jess in midfield, and it looked as though their strength would be too much.

They are not a pretty side but, much in the fashion of that great and undefeated heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, they absorb punishment and then batter opponents into submission.

Ferguson headed them in front, outjumping Busst at the far post to convert Hinchcliffe's cross from the left and register his seventh goal of a season curtailed by reasons well within his own control.

Then, strangely unattended, Ferguson picked up Stuart's header to stride forward and roll the ball beyond Ogrizovic for a 2-0 lead.

However, the outstanding moment of the match was provided when Dublin headed Salako's cross back into the middle for Whelan to hurl himself forward, only for Southall to make an astonishing save at point-blank range.

Whelan retired from the match to have six stitches in his head, but from the resulting corner Daish rose to head the goal that gave Coventry heart and hope.

Parkinson did not reappear for the second half, suffering from a thigh strain, and without his industry Coventry regained what initiative there was. But so many passes were badly struck and received with such ineptitude that the second touch was often yards away from the first.

Everton were further handicapped by an injury to Short, who had to have two stitches in a cut across his nose and left the field five times to have his blooded face mopped up.

Ron Atkinson, the Coventry manager, was as upbeat as ever: "You can never write us off. We have not been playing badly recently. We haven't had too much luck, but we'll keep battling away."

For the manager, the result is all that counts, a dangerous philosophy as football moves away from its roots and into an era where entertainment as a feel-good factor counts for much more.

There was little of either for the delectation of nearly 35,000 customers who became increasingly disillusioned as the game bore on interminably.

Next Match: Leeds United v Everton

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