Coca-Cola Cup, 2nd Round, First Leg, Wednesday 20 September 1995
Previous Match: Nottingham Forest v Everton Next Match: West Ham United v Everton
Millwall: Keller, Newman, Thatcher, Bowry, Witter, Stevens, Van Blerk, Doyle, Malkin, Dixon (Fuchs 70), McRobert (Forbes 70). Subs Not Used: Webber. Booked: Forbes.
Everton: Southall, Barrett, Hinchcliffe, Watson, Rideout, Horne, Amokachi, Samways, Parkinson, Grant, Short. Subs Not Used: Unsworth, Kearton, Limpar. Booked: Samways.
Ref: D Gallagher (Banbury).
David Shepherd: For those who thought a typical Millwall fan was a skinhead with an expression like a psychopathic killer, congratulations ... for once reality fits the rumour. Despite the looks however, their behaviour seemed last night as docile as any team's following.
The omens were for a night of mystery, horror and the unbelieveable. During a pre-match pint of Tetleys (1.80) in the Oast House, London Bridge station, the pinball machine was 'Frankenstein', and Wheel of Fortune on the box had the solution 'Interview with the Vampire' on the screen. Drinking in a 1-exit room containing a mixture of after-work city gents and psycho skinheads, with my Everton shirt barely hidden by my jacket, was pretty macabre too. With these clues to horror, I though Gary Ablett was a cert to score, but actually he never started.
It was good advice to take a London Bridge BR train to South Bermondsey, just one stop and 5 minutes and 5 more minutes walk to the shiney New Den -- another production line characterless modern statium. In a touch of true London spivvery, I was quietly offered a match program for 'a nikker' (cover price 1.70). Inside, the stadium was rather poorly populated. Everton filled only two upper blocks (12.00) of the North End and there was plenty of space for a few thousand more home fans. (total att ~12000, 'normal' home att ~9000).
Then the horror connection clicked - the referee in the program was David (12 yellow cards at Toon Stadium) Elleray. The announced team news said Limpar was out, Grant in, and Unsworth on the bench. It also cancelled the ref-panic by saying the ref was now Dermot Gallacher. I'll bet you Everton complained and got Elleray changed. If nothing else, Elleray is unsatisfactorily from North London.
The match started very well for Everton. No 90mph attack (even though manager Mick McCarthy had seen us wilt under it at Forest), and no cup-tie frantic tackling from Millwall left EFC to control the midfield comfortably and pass around with ease.
Fifteen minutes in though, Everton were still passing and had still not created a decent chance. The trouble seemed to be that the formation had nothing wide except Andy Hinchcliffe.
Meanwhile Millwall were diabolical. I'd watched extended highlights of Bradford v Forest the night before, and I can Assure you that Bradford, exactly one division lower, were much better then than Millwall were this night. The Lions' possessions all ended in an embarrassingly bad or impotent breakdown, and the crowd would cheer any decent pass louder than (for example) you would if it was the 11th goal in a rout of Wrexham.
These rare wing breaks created a modicum of danger, but with Craig Short playing out of his skin on the ground and in the air, nothing looked like going in. Neville made his only save of the night from a cross which an attacker 3 yards out had at impossible waist high and pushed straight at the keeper.
At the other end, another of my famous premoniitions told me Amo was bound to score, so that the headlines could be about "Daniel in the Lions' Den" ... he was in the wars a bit, and for reasons unfathomable was being booed by the home fans, but he chased everything, which was mostly supplied by the authoritative figure of Tony Grant. Even a weak attempt at a new Amokachi chant couldn't conjure the magic or luck he needed.
Half time came quickly and with inevitable scorelessness.Coffee (0.90), beer (1.90) and indigestible chips (1.00) were consumed with good heart and confidence that Joe would have the key to breaking the frugal Millwall defence in the second half.
Unfortunately the second half was 45 minutes of 'more of the same'. Rideout went close, a post was hit, Watson got a head to a corner but the challenge did enough to misdirect it wide ... the opportunities were too few to force any lapses. Although Millwall have only managed 7 goals in nine games, their defence has only conceded 3, and had an effective enough cover scheme to soak up all but the best Everton moves.
The most interesting thing that happened to me that half was an exchange of information with the author of EFC's Reserves Review, and considerable surprise at actually finishing a (disguised) pint of disgusting beer.
A double substitution from Millwall made no difference, and the final score was as inevitable a 0-0 as you will ever see, which was good in respect of a 2-leg tie, but bemusing after so much comfort in passing and midfield.
Obviously few better at such operations, the police detained us twice for a total of 35 minutes on the way to the station. As a result, it took longer for me to cross London than to drive home, and a journey time a good bit longer than last year's return from PORTSMOUTH! (who also played better than Millwall). I'll not be in a big hurry to make a 2nd-ever visit to the Den. Fortunately the horror story was the journey, not the game. One visit was nice, but plenty. Give me Lincoln, Bury or Wrexham instead any year.
Southall 8 Had his head together and dealt comfortably with the little
that came his way. Highlight: bawling at Hinch for conceding a corner --
but Andy ignored him.
Barrett 8 Fitting nicely into the team but badly needs to be taught how to look for and execute an accurate cross if he's going to be any use in wide positions.
Hinchcliffe 8 Very good performance - just lacking any of those 'too dangerous to stop' corners or free kicks.
Short 9 A performance of confidence & solidity & skill & guts. What a difference 3 days make!
Watson 8 Comfortable throughout, though the ref didn't like his challenges and kept whistling him for them.
Horne 8 In the game much more, running midfield, supporting attack and defence. Still not up to his best of last season though.
Parkinson 8 A brilliant start, more innocuous later, but still stode around the middle with authority.
Grant 8 Everton's only creativity on the night, again looked very comfortable and ready to take on a regular place.
Samways 8 Enthusiastic & keen and wholehearted performance, but it was all bustle and none of those 'magic wand' passes to release someone & create danger.
Rideout 8 PR's skills are not amongst the most highly appreciated by fans who count success only by goals, but almost all buildups involve him, and he is not slow to join the defence if needed.
Amokachi 8 Daniel had a rough night in the Lions' Den - clattered into a wall, kicked in the face, and booed by the charming fans for every touch in the first half. Much work, no magic. Again.
Subs Not Used: Unsworth, Kearton, Limpar
Team Performance: 8 Comfortable, flowing, confident, full 90 mins work. A steady job in the Ensleigh minefield only lacked goals.
Ref: D Gallacher Am I getting mellow in my old age or was that two
decent reffing performances in a row??!? [Note - I NEVER say a ref is good.
The last time I said that was about Tyson just before he blew a sanity chip
and awarded a ridiculous free kick to Forest which knocked us out of the
IN terms of a defensive lesson, this will have proved invaluable to Everton, who in their previous three games had conceded eight goals. But it was dire entertainment and did little to whet the appetite for the return at Goodison Park.
Everton made two changes from the team which lost at Nottingham Forest with Gary Ablett and Anders Limpar making way for Tony Grant and Vinny Samways.
Against a team boasting eight goals in three games and a healthy cup pedigree, Everton elected to adopt caution with no wide men and Samways, in his first full game since scoring the Charity Shield winner, sitting behind the front two.
Millwall, quarter-finalists in the competition last season after beating Nottingham Forest, began confidently but Kerry Dixon wasted a headed opportunity in the seventh minute.
Then Lee McRobert, who a year ago was working in a perfume factory, put pressure on Andy Hinchcliffe and the ball bounced off the defender forcing Neville Southall to make an outstanding save.
But after 30 minutes Everton should have scored when Grant crossed from the right and Daniel Amokachi took advantage of slack defending but goalkeeper Kasey Keller won the challenge with his body.
Millwall's Bobby Bowry might have brightened an otherwise dour game when, in the 55th minute, he had two chances, the second a 20-yard half-volley which only narrowly missed the left post.
Everton continued to play through the middle and responded almost immediately when, from a Hinchcliffe corner Paul Rideout was allowed space but his headed attempt bounced off the outside of the left post.
Millwall, for whom full-back Ben Thatcher was outstanding, made a double substitution with 20 minutes remaining, with former Middlesbrough striker Uwe Fuchs adding his weight to Millwall's attack.
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John Coghlan: Went to the Millwall game last night. Nice new stadium, reasonable prices (12 pounds) but in the middle of an industrial desert a long way from a serious station.
Good bits: Tony Grant had a good game, having seen a run to the byeline work against Forest, he tried it at least 3 more times last night but the final cross wasn't as good as on Sunday.
Craig Short was much improved. Barrett did OK but was all over the park, turned up at left wing on one occasion. Neville of course did well. Samways did well but was clearly knackered by the end.
Defence was solid and a clean sheet will have done their confidence good.
Not so good bits: The wingless formation didn't suit us too well and we missed Limpar's inventiveness. Final ball into the box was poor; Rideout became very frustrated. Amo continued to be totally one footed (as per someone's comments on the Toffeenet a day or so ago) but was dangerous enough to get the bird from the home fans. Few chances except a Rideout header from a Hinchliffe corner, which shaved the post.
Really bad bits: After the game, the police shepherded everyone to the station (eventually) through a 15 foot wide passageway up some stairs, just perfect for a riot. But then, who would expect trouble at Millwall?
Verdict: Tony Grant should stay. Barrett should have a 30 yard length of rope tied to one foot and the goalpost. Samways can do the playmaker job when he's fit.
On to West Ham!
Wayne Jones: Although the score was 0 - 0, we played the best football of the season, the new diamond formation looked very good.
Millwall were very physical, but were no match for a very fluid midfield. At one point BARRETT found himself on the left wing, but the system allowed for it, Parkinson, who played the holding role, simply went to the Right back position. Everyone played well, except Rideout who had a average game. Vinny Samways was the link, that made the system work.
Although we played without wingers it did not matter as both Hinchcliffe and Barrett got forward on a regular basis. Horne got us the ball and then passed it simple to either Vinny or Tony Grant who was inspired. Amokachi worked hard all game (something he did not always do last season) and made some great runs linking the play. Until Fergie and Andrei are back I think it is the way we should play, with Graham Stuart taking Rideout's place.
Paul Edmonston: I was at Millwall last night and I'm starting to wonder whether I was at the same game as one or two people who have sent in their comments to Toffeenet today. I thought the overall performance was OK at best. I can only think of one really good chance that we created and Keller did well to dive at Ammo's feet to block it. Apart from that we could have played all night and not scored. Some of the passing football was good but we simply did not create enough chances.
High points of the evening were:
I also thought Barrett played well. He is, of course, liable to wander, but his appearance on the left wing is not as worrying (or as brilliantly fluid depending on your point of view) as it sounds. Millwall had a corner from their right immediately beforehand, Barrett was on the near post so the natural place for him to go when the ball broke was out to the left touchline - some one had to be out there after all.
Here's hoping Limpar (and some inspiration) make it back for Saturday.
ps. Sorry to complain so much -- I actually quite enjoyed last night -- ground was good, view was great and the price (#12) wasn't bad either.