ToffeeWeb Match Reports: Everton v Stockport County , 1995-96

Everton v Stockport County

FA Cup 3rd Round, Sunday 7 January 1996, Goodison Park, Merseyside

REPLAY: Stockport County v Everton Wednesday 17 January

Previous Match: Wimbledon v Everton Next Match: Everton v Chelsea

We're still in it ... only just!

Everton (2) 2 Stockport County (1) 2
Ablett 44, Stuart 7; Armstrong 31, Helliwell 61.

Everton: Southall, Unsworth, Watson, Ablett, Stuart, Rideout, Horne, Limpar (Gran t 66), Ebbrell (Hinchcliffe 81), Jackson, Kanchelskis. Subs Not Used: Kearton. Booked: Limpar.

Stockport County: Edwards, Connelly, Todd, Bennett (Dinning 89), Flynn, Bound, Beaumont (Chalk 78), Eckhardt, Helliwell, Armstrong, Jeffers. Subs Not Used: Dickins. Booked: Helliwel l.

Att: 28,921
Ref: G Poll (Tring).

Basically we weren't very good

Richard Marland: Basically we weren't very good, we gave an object lesson in how not to press home the advantage against lower division opposition.

There was bad news before the start, no Ferguson, no Parkinson and, perhaps more significantly, no Short. Ablett came into the defence at centre back, Rideout and Stuart played up front.

We started off quite brightly, Horne was very involved in midfield, and it was no surprise when we took the lead. Nev launched a long clearance, their left back missed it and Stuart got in behind him to crash in a suberb volley from the right corner of the penalty box. Around this stage of the game we were doing alright, seeing quite a bit of the ball and playing it around quite nicely without really looking like making the game safe.

The turning point came when john Ebrell went off the pitch, I don't know what happened to him, there didn't appear to be any incident beforehand, he ran off the pitch without any obvious sign of discomfort and as he went off he showed Les Helm the inside of his right ankle before disappearing down the tunnel. He was missing for about 15 minutes. During this time we pulled Stuart into midfield and played a holding game awaiting Ebbrell's return. Stockport started to come into the game and it was no great surprise when they equalised. An attack down our left, a cross, an attempt at goal which Nev did well to save put could only push out to one of their strikers who scored.

Ebbrell finally returned, but in many ways the damage had been done we had lost the initiative, their section of the crowd was bouyant and so was their team. However, it was us who went in front again. A corner from the left, the goalie under pressure dropped the ball and Ablett forced it in. I was surprised the ref didn't blow for a foul on the goalie, it was certainly one of those incidents where they normally do.

The second half saw us fail to hammer home the advantage. Despite a few chances to Kanchelskis and Stuart and a Watson header cleared off the line we never looked convincing and always looked dodgy at the back. Then the unthinkable happened, an equaliser. Limpar had the ball just inside their half, Unsworth went forward on the overlap, Limpar instead chose a more adventurous ball in the general direction of Rideout, Rideout missed out and a Stockport player played a good pass to the area vacated by Unsworth, their player took the ball on, put in a good cross and the centre forward buried it. An excellent goal and an equaliser that didn't unduly flatter them.

The final 20 minutes was a blood and guts cup-tie. End-to-end stuff with them looking the more likely to score, in fact they carved out at least 2 very good chances. I was shit-scared at this point as I seriously thought we were going out. We played into their hands by keeping the pace of the game high, launching the ball forward at every opportunity. What we needed to do was kill the tempo of the game and regain some control. Instead, urged on by the crowd, we pressed for the winner, which given the lack of solidity at the back was a dangerous game.

Fortunately, with 5 minutes to go, Stockport decided that they were happy with the draw and sat back.

We got out of jail a bit on this one. On the balance of play we didn't deserve to lose, but we quite easily could have, they certainly had the chances to win the game.

Southall 7 not too much to do, no chance with the goals.
Jackson 6 not impressed with him today, shaky at the back and didn't contribute much going forward
Unsworth 6 ditto Jackson
Watson 7 did OK, solid game, at least he was up for it
Ablett 7 Ditto Watson
Ebbrell 6 not one of his better days
Horne 7 did alright, very involved my man of the match
Kanchelskis 7 sporadically dangerous, hit the post in the 2nd half.
Limpar 6 never really in it.
Stuart 7 ran for miles as usual, scored a cracker but missed 2 chances to put us safe
Rideout 6 no real supply, fairly anonymous

Grant 5 not his kind of game, came on in the 2nd half when it was fast and furious and never really got to the pace of the game
Hinchcliffe 6 not on long, but did OK, one wicked corner.

Team 6 poor performance. Played into their hands by not keeping it on the deck more and by getting sucked into their frenetic pace when we should have been dictating the pace. Didn't create too much up front, dodgy at the back, Missed Short badly.

Depressed, and still sulking ...

Guy McEvoy: I will probably get round to writing a report when I've got over my mild depression:

No Duncan. No explanation. Abblett back in. Grant evidently not on loan yet. Parkinson suspended. I thought Short was supposed to be back. Does this mean Abblett is first choice?

Corking goal by Stuart though!

Can't add to the report that has already been written so here for personal indulgence is the players scores as I saw it.

Be happy. It should have been worse. We deserved to lose.

Southall 6 - Failed to organize his defence properly, wasn't shouting half as much as normal. Made one good save, unfortunatly the rebound from it resulted in teh second goal.
Jackson 6 - Matt looked out of sort with his team-mates. His movement up front was very dissapointing with passes going astray. Looked the week link at the back.
Abblett 7 - nice to see him back, particularly as he nicked a goal. Was good in the air, though more than once strayed well out of position to open up a gap.
Watson 8 - The only man at the back who played anywhere near the standard we expect. In my opinion it was Dave who kept us in the cup tie.
Unsworth 6 - Much the same as my critism for Jackson except Rhino was marginally more threatening on his forrays up front.
Horne 6 - Competant, but certainly not as dominating as I would have expected against lesser opposition.
Ebbrell 6 - Same as Horne, but may have the excuse that he's carrying a knock. If that's the case should have been subbed sooner.
Limpar 6 - Saw an awful lot of the ball in the first half, and had the opportunity to launch many attacks. Perhaps suffered from trying to be to clever. His moves just didn't come off (though he did - making way for Grant)
Kanchelskis 6 - Failed to look committed at times, didn't follow balls up or chase and so on. Nevertheless on the breaks he did have he looked a fearsome sight as always. Thought he was going to snatch it for us in the last minute.
Rideout 6 - Thought he started off well, but by the second half no-one was making any attempt to find him, he didn't chase the game, so he became (as another poster said) anonymous.
Stuart 7 - another good game, a particularly nice goal, and along with Kanchelskis looked our biggest threat. His general contribution was however better than Andrei's.
Grant 6 - Just didn't get into it. They had the big men on him straight away and he looked a bit shaken. Clearly a confidenceplayer, his absence from first team football looks to have had a mark - if that is the case then a spell on laon will so him the world of good.
Hinchcliffe - not on long enough to be objective about, one great chasing tackle does stick in the mind though.

Embarrassed Everton survive Stockport revival

By William Johnson, Electronic Telegraph

THE FA Cup holders came perilously close to falling at the first hurdle yesterday as a determined Stockport County belied their mid-Second Division status to outplay Everton at Goodison Park.

The Merseysiders were reduced to the role of hangers-on in the closing stages of an extraordinary match. Stockport, who twice fought back bravely to equalise, looked the more likely to snatch a winning goal in the last 25 minutes and almost did so when Chris Beaumont directed an angled drive inches wide of the far post and Alun Armstrong and Ian Helliwell had fierce shots deflected off target.

Helliwell had scored Stockport's second equaliser 16 minutes into the second half with a diving header from Beaumont's curling cross. Dave Jones, Stockport's manager, thought it was as good a goal as any seen in the Premiership - an observation typical of his overall views on an outstanding team performance.

"We told ourselves beforehand that to have a chance we had to play to the best of our ability, and at times out there we went beyond that," said Jones, expressing delight at remaining in the the bag - or is it a cylinder? - for the fourth round draw, which offered the reward of a home tie if County can win the replay on Wednesday week.

It seemed that Everton were in for a routine passage into that fourth round meeting with either Crystal Palace or Port Vale after Graham Stuart had opened the scoring inside seven minutes. Full-back Lee Todd, who otherwise gave an impressive display, failed to deal with goalkeeper Neville Southall's long clearance and Stuart punished him by volleying confidently past Neil Edwards.

Everton made the mistake of easing off and were punished when Stockport drew level on the half-hour. Southall did well to parry Beaumont's header from a Tom Bennett cross but was powerless to prevent Armstong from ramming home the rebound.

Everton's second goal, scored just before half-time, was, by comparison to County's delightful second, a scrappy affair. Mike Flynn's attempted headed clearance of Stuart's corner only directed the ball dangerously under the crossbar where Dave Watson put Edwards under pressure. Gary Ablett, pounced on the loose ball to score at the second attempt.

Joe Royle, Everton's manager, described himself afterwards as the "happiest man in the stadium, because we are still in it. I thought we were awful," he added, concerned that his players had been outfought by inspired opponents.

Electronic Telegraph is a Registered Service Mark of The Telegraph plc

Theory of Relativity

Dave Shepherd: I know being morbid and fatalistic is all part of being Evertonian, but quite honestly I can't find anything to be morbid about.

Without Ferguson, Parkinson & Short, who have a reasonable case for being called the 'first name on the team sheet' in Attack, Midfield, and Defence, and Amo - a good bench option, Everton still held a decent Division 2 team whom, to quote David Jones "Had their best game for 6 years". (Indeed, their performance on the day produced better skill-football than either Leeds or Boro had shown at GP!).

DON'T be fooled by the over-romanticised bull about Everton being on the ropes and lucky to survive. The same reporters conveniently forgot to mention Stockport having to clear off the line, Kanchelskis hitting the post, and also being fouled in the box but not going down, so not being given a penalty.

They also forgot to mention the many other Everton chances, especially two from Stuart, yet failed to mention that County's first goal came from their first attack, or that Ebbrell was off the field for it.

It was a very bizarre incident. JE RAN off the field and then down the tunnel, then didn't reappear for at least 10 minute. His reappearance was almost as strange.. play never seemed to stop. Meanwhile the white shirts who had previously just jogged around accepting the inevitable had got new heart from a goal which fell perfectly to an unmarked striker after a flying Southall punch-save of a cross from (you guessed it) the new-look left-wing of the recalled 4-4-2.

County tried to press more, but were ineffective, and went behind again from a corner which the keeper dropped and Ablett stabbed through a crowded 6 yard box. This was added to a sweet Stuart diagonal strike when their midget left-back made a complete hash of a bouncing clearance. GS is definately on a roll, and the confidence with which he hit the shot is something rarely seen from Everton strikers.

Second half everything was going very smoothly, and the only question was whether Everton would win 4-1 or 3-1. Then the left side was caught on the break, and their man steamed down to the line like a train and thumped a cross almost to the base of the far post, where some fashionably-disadvantaged visitor had a simple low header. A typical low-division goal, but even so a cross which was one in a million just proved Stockport were just going to have a golden day.

With half and hour still to go, JR brought on Grant and later Hinchcliffe for Limpar and (the injured?) Ebbrell. This was enough to keep the flow of attacks coming, and quite honestly it was a miracle that none produced a goal. Meanwhile it was stars in their eyes time for the Cheshire team, and they press forward with blind optimism, flashing long range shots from all angles and trusting in fate to deflect them in.

Such a sight is always a bit scarey - compare for example similar donkey-assaults from Bristol City, Portsmouth, Millwall and Ipswich - but that was their lot for luck, and at the end of the day, Everton had achieved Task One - to be in the bag for Round 4. Blues concerned only with an 'embarrassing' scoreline booed and headed for the exits. Those with more fortitude waited to give half-hearted applause to the team who's league record hinted they are tricky visitors..

Their relatively brilliant performance failed to beat our relatively poor performance. Who do you think will prevail in the replay?

Southall 6 A weakness has always been his choice of times to punch. Made mistakes doing so at least twice, though I'd count the 'save- punch as a good save'.
Jackson 7 Got a lot more abuse than he deserved. Was not expected to go forward, because Stuart was playing on the right with AK.
Unsworth 6 Obviously pencilled future Left-back, but his crosses are NOT YET GOOD ENOUGH to justify first team selection in that position!
Ablett 7 Shoved in at centre back because JR wanted Rhino on the left. This left the middle vulnerable to being run at.
Watson 6 Looked very vulnerable without Short or Unsworth. Unlucky not to score.
Horne 8 Barry had a good game in midfield without having to tackle much. Several good passes.
Ebbrell w 7 Did fine - WHEN he was on the field.
Limpar w 6 Another poor game with the magic not sparking. Flair players suck.
Kanchelskis 8 Didn't see enough of the game - looked very dangerous as usual.
Rideout 6 Got no service all day, and contributed little else.
Stuart 7 After a great start managed to get himself in scoring positions at least 3 times but not be able to do a thing. Seems confused having to play inside right.
Grant s 6 Brought needed originality at a crucial time. Tried his best to 'magic wand' wingers free, did so twice, but was hustled out of it by keen journeymen on 'their cup-final day'.
Hinchcliffe 6 Came on too late - pity, cos his delivery looked better than it has for a long time. Amusing confusion when he came on to total 3 left-backs.

Team Performance: 6 The flow wasn't too bad, but was rather too patchy to take full advantage of inferior opponents.

Ref: G Poll (Tring) A cabbage. No whistles for pushes in the first half, only in the second. Some nasty tackles were ignored. Other innocuous ones carded. A disaster looking for somewhere to happen.

REPLAY: Stockport County v Everton Next Match: Everton v Chelsea

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