FA Carling Premier League, Saturday, 28 October1995
Previous Match: Everton v Tottenham Hotspur Next Match: Feyenoord v Everton
Aston Villa: Bosnich, Charles, Wright, Southgate, Ehiogu, Tiler (Scimeca 75), Taylor, Draper, Milosevic,Yorke, Townsend. Subs Not Used: Johnson, Spink. Booked: Ehiogu.
Everton: Southall, Amokachi (Unsworth 65), Hinchcliffe (Limpar 77), Jackson, Watson, Ablett, Stuart, Rideout, Samways, Kanchelskis, Ebbrell. Subs Not Used: Kearton.
Ref: K W Burge (Tonypandy).
By Clive White
VILLA may have arrested a minor decline after the defeats against Chelsea and Arsenal but they provided further irrefutable proof that they can be discounted as Championship contenders. They should be so lucky, Everton might think.
Joe Royle's team have not won a League game since Aug 30, but they probably thought they were heading for a fourth consecutive draw when Dwight Yorke, virtually the game's only bright spark, lifted the gloom over Villa Park with a headed winner 14 minutes from time.
Royle had forfeited any sympathy when he sent on central defender David Unsworth for striker Daniel Amokachi with almost a third of the game still to run. The belated introduction of Anders Limpar proved there were other options.
Villa manager Brian Little also seemed to be less than positive afterwards about the prospects of a team who not so long ago had somehow spirited themselves into second place in the Premiership. "When you look at the table we're in the right section which is a big boost," he said, indicating a definite lowering of sights.
Predictably, after the tactical nonsense at Highbury the previous Saturday when they played only Yorke up front, Villa returned to a more recognisable line-up with Savo Milosevic restored to the firing line. Steve Staunton's hamstring injury had further simplified selection matters.
The only change of note saw the debut of Carl Tyler, the midweek £750,000 signing from Nottingham Forest, in place of the injured Paul McGrath and a couple of mistakes by the central defender early on did not auger well for the immediate future of either player or team. He eventually limped off with a hamstring injury.
When he lost his footing in the 13th minute to let in Paul Rideout it presented a rare goalscoring opportunity. After selling a neat dummy the former Villa striker drove high over the bar to the warm appreciation of the home supporters.
They had precious little else to respond to in the first half, other than a speculative first-time volley by Yorke, as Villa produced a curiously passionless display. A narrow miss by the £3.5 million Milosevic, arguably the most overpriced purchase of the season, provided brief comic relief for a home crowd still awaiting his first goal.
It was all just what a hard-working but generally unimaginative bunch such as Everton needed to grind out another potential draw. Their ambitions were unexpectedly heightened when Rideout drove across the face of goal, but Amokachi and Graham Stuart missed the ball at near and far post.
Villa opened the second half with more vim while still lacking the craft of a quality side. For all their pressure, which David Watson and company steadfastly resisted, they failed to create a single clear-cut chance until the 76th minute when Yorke stepped in front of Matthew Jackson to power a looping header from Mark Draper's cross just beyond Neville Southall for his seventh goal of the season.
A fine recovery tackle five minutes from time by Jackson was not much consolation for either the full-back or the Merseysiders.
"It's puzzling that a side who got out of trouble last year by being hard to beat all of a sudden look soft touches in certain areas," the Everton manager concluded.
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Mark Barrow: Another great turnout from the travelling blue army. No empty seats, and plenty of vocals - which not surprisingly turned into despair and frustration by the final whistle, which was greeted by boo's from a now very p***ed off away end.
The second half performance was undoubtedly one of the poorest I've seen from an Everton side in some time (and there have been a few in the last 2/3 seasons). That said, Villa looked a very strong side, particularly in midfield where Townsend was in complete control, and both Draper and Taylor caused Hinchliffe, Jackson et al, no end of misery. Dwight Yorke similarly stood out, running defence ragged at times.
First half there were some neat interchanges at times (Samways, Kanchelskis, Stuart in particular) but again no real penetration when going forward. Second half, the blues en masse gave a dismal passing performance. With the exception of 2 or 3 brief moments of hope there was hardly a time when we managed to string more than two passes toget her.
Southall - 8 : Some fine saves in the second half kept us with a chance of a result. Had no chance with the goal.
Jackson - 5 : A poor performance from a man trying to win back a place. Took a lot of stick from some blues fans, not all of it undeserved. 5 mainly for his appalling distribution, lumping countless balls forward for Andrei to chase in vain. Let Taylor get the better of him too many times. Guilty of poor marking for the goal ? I thought so, but didn't get the best of views. Vital tackle on Yorke near the end though that stopped a certain goal.
Ablett - 6 : Again guilt of poor distribution. Won more headers than he lost, but was at times exposed for his lack of pace compared to Villa's front men. Looked solid on the w hole though.
Watson - 8 : Didn't put a foot wrong for me all afternoon. Won every header and m ade every challenge. Great captain's performance showing boundless enthusiasm and desire to win.
Hinchcliffe - 5 : Very poor game from Hinchcliffe. I can usually forgive him if he has a poor game defensively (again was beaten too often) for his passing and dead ball kicks. However, his corners were all (but one) overhit, and his passing in open play was dreadful - again too many hopeful (or hopeless) balls into space.
Ebbrell - 7 : Solid performance from a player I have cursed in the past. Like Watson showed determination and desire to win, and won many 50/50's. Did a good job in Horne's role. Still scared to shoot though.
Samways - 6 : Very average. Didn't really look interested and was guilty of giving the ball away on too many occasions.
Stuart - 7 : One of the few good individual performances, and looked probably our most dangerous player. Some good runs and intellengent short passes almost created goals (notably for Rideout in the first half) but still looks slow to me at times. Gets up bloody well for one so small!
Kanchelskis - 6 : Some dangerous crosses and runs, but doesn't quite seem on the same wavelength with his teamates at times. That said, he hardly received a decent pass and was expected to beat his from a standing point when he did get the ball. We've got to release the ball to him sooner.
Amokachi - 5 : Very anonymous performance compared to recent weeks. His control was decidely dodgy and he never really caused any threat to the Villa defence.
Rideout - 7 : Again got a lot a flak from the travelling blues' fans, but IMO worked hard. Nearly scored one, should have scored one, and very nearly made one (Amo and Stuart just missing his low drive across the goalmouth). Still looks the most likely to score .
Unsworth - 6 : (for Amokachi) Didn't really get in the game. Good interchange with Limpar late on put Anders away (poor cross however) and some good defensive work stood out. I COULD see him in a midfield role, but he still IMO is in his best role in defence.
Limpar - 6 : (for Hinchcliffe) What exactly can a player do in 8 minutes in a side playing as poorly as we were ? Managed a couple of runs one good cross. one poor, but you c an't judge a player on the time had had on the pitch. I'd give him 11/10 if it meant he wouldn't go though. The crowd were again chanting his name with 20 minutes to go to no av ail, and he got a rousing reception when he came on and when he took the corners, so at le ast he knows no-one wants him to go. Did Joe pick Stuart above Limpar because he is resigned to losing him, though? Lets hope not.
PA News: Daniel Amokachi has given Joe Royle a new selection headache for Everton's Cup Winners' Cup mission against Feyenoord in Rotterdam on Thursday. Amokachi damaged a knee in the 1-0 defeat by Aston Villa todayand left the ground on crutches. "We don't know how serious it is yet but things don't look too good," said Royle.
To add to Everton's problems they have defender Craig Short in hospital undergoing tests for a virus and defender Earl Barrett due for an exploratory knee operation on Tuesday.
Royle was disappointed with the defeat after Everton had bossed the first half, saying: "I thought we would go on to win and told the lads so at half-time. "But the opposite happened and they stepped up a gear. We were just tired and faded out a bit. It is puzzling why a side who were so difficult to beat last season looked soft touches at times."
John Lloyd: The weekend continued with Everton's worst display since the team surrendered at Maine Road last season, conceding four second half goals. It could have been the same result! The strategy seemed to be to stop Villa scoring and hope for a 0-0 point. But it was only a question of time before Villa found the net and then Everton were sunk.
Last season we hadn't much quality but JR inspired passion which brought Premier League safety and a glorious winning of the FA Cup. Now we have neither quality or passion! The attack is powder puff stuff - Rideout will never have another season like the last one and should be retired permanently to the bench; Stuart is to slight to shoulder a striking role. The midfield is totally anonymous, without any quality and even fight; the defence looks decidely creaky.
The club has failed to build on the FA Cup triumph and I think we are back to a situation akin to Walker's last days; after the next two league games we could well be second from bottom. The Derby game will not be a repeat of last year's, we could be in for a right hammering!
Where does the club go from here? We scrambled to safety in the last two seasons but can we manage a third escape because at the moment I dont think there are three poorer teams than Everton.
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