FA Carling Premier League, Sunday, 4 May 1996; Goodison Park, Merseyside
Previous Match: Sheffield Wednesday v Everton
Everton (0) 1 Aston Villa (0) 0
Everton: Southall, Hottiger, Watson, Unsworth, Hinchcliffe, Kanchelskis, Grant (Limpar 55), Parkinson, Horne, Amokachi (Rideout 70), Stuart. Subs Not Used: Short. Booked: Unsworth, Kanchelskis, Parkinson.
Aston Villa: Bosnich, Murray, Wright, Ehiogu, Southgate, Browne, Draper, Townsend, Hendrie, Yorke (Joachim 57), Milosevic. Subs Not Used: Oakes, Farrell. Booked: Wright, Browne, Townsend.
Ref: R Hart (Darlington).
CarlingNet: Everton narrowly missed securing a place in next season's UEFA Cup with a late Joe Parkinson strike.
Arsenal's late fightback to beat Bolton ended the Merseysiders' hopes, although it was only late in the game that Everton looked like scoring.
The goal arrived in the 77th minute goal courtesy of second-half substitutes Anders Limpar and Paul Rideout.
Limpar crossed from the left for Rideout, at full stretch on the far side of the box, to turn the ball back to Parkinson, whose low, miscued shot from just outside the area flew past the flat-footed Mark Bosnich.
The goalkeepers had little to do in a low-key first half, in which referee Robbie Hart was the busiest man on the park, booking three players from each side.
Everton's Daniel Amokachi aimed one low shot straight at Bosnich, who also caught bravely under pressure from Everton skipper Dave Watson following a Graham Stuart flick-on.
Neville Southall, in his 699th and possibly final appearance for Everton, patted down an angled 20-yard drive from Savo Milosevic, but was saved from producing real heroics by defender Andy Hinchcliffe's fine last-ditch challenge on Lee Hendrie two minutes before the break.
Everton, realising from Spurs' and Arsenal's half-time scores that their European dream remained a possibility, immediately upped the tempo.
Parkinson's low 25-yarder after 47 minutes sent Bosnich diving to tip wide of his right-hand post.
But the game soon lapsed back into its first-half mediocrity. Too often the Kanchelskis crosses that seemed Everton's main attacking option were plucked nonchalantly out of the air by Bosnich, with Everton sorely missing the aerial menace of the injured Duncan Ferguson.
With 14 minutes remaining, Limpar sent a dangerous-looking cross bouncing off the top of the Villa bar and Parkinson fired another fierce shot just wide two minutes after his goal.
Richard Marland: Goodison Park was bathed in sunshine for the final day of the season; the stands were, packed to the gunwales with the biggest crowd of the season; the scene was set for an end-of-season extravaganza. Unfortunately, the football rarely lived up to the billing.
Everton lined up with Nev in goal, a back four of Hottiger, Hinchcliffe, Watson and Unsworth. A central midfield trio of Horne, Parkinson and Grant (Ebbrell and his dodgy ankle being rested), Kanchelskis wide right with Amo and Stuart up front. On the bench were Short, Rideout and Limpar.
The first half was a largely niggly, fractious affair. Aston Villa certainly didn't look like they were there just to make up the numbers. They got well and truly stuck in, and, led by the aggressive Townsend, they were somewhat on the physical side. The game was frequently stopped for free kicks and bookings, Villa being the worst offenders but we weren't entirely blameless. The real loser though was the football, with little of it being played. Looking back on the half now I can't recall a decent chance or shot worthy of the name.
Once again we showed ourselves to be bereft of the guile needed to break down a well organised side. Andrei, deprived of the space he finds away from Goodison Park, struggled to make an impact as Villa repeatedly crowded him out. Whilst over on the left, Hinchcliffe ploughed a lonely furrow. Frequently the ball was switched over to Hinchcliffe, but despite the acres of space he had, there wasn't much he could do without support.
The second half was much the same. After about 15 minutes of continuing stalemate, Limpar came on for the largely peripheral Grant. Limpar immediately went wide left, and we started to look better balanced. Limpar was hungry for the ball and saw quite a bit of it, even though he was often over ambitious with his use of it.
We soon made another tactical change as Rideout came on for Amo. Amo hadn't done much wrong, he had chased and harried to good effect, but having a more natural target man in Rideout, again, made us look better balanced.
Still, though, we didn't really look like scoring and it took the crowd to lift the team. News of Bolton taking the lead at Arsenal went round the ground like wild-fire, and soon the whole crowd was buzzing. This was instantly transmitted down to the players on the pitch, as they realised that other results must be going our way. There was a renewed urgency to the players and this urgency soon brought us a goal.
The instigator was Limpar. He picked up the ball wide left, from where he put in a centre; the ball fell behind Rideout at the back post, where he made a half-hearted attempt at an overhead kick but only succeeded in toe-ending it out of the area. Fortunately though the ball found it's way to Joe Parkinson who found the net from outside the area.
The thought of Europe kept the crowd buzzing for the next 5 minutes, it was only when the noise abated and the people with transistors could hear them again that the horrible truth about Arsenal's two late goals came through. How to kill an atmosphere in one foul swoop. For the remainder of the game we pulled Stuart back into midfield, played Rideout as a lone striker and gave the ball to Limpar, whose trickery kept Villa occupied.
The final whistle soon came, and for once on the final day of the season it wasn't accompanied by a mass pitch invasion. The players, therefore, were able to conduct a lap of hounour before leaving the pitch.
Southall 7 Nothing really to do.
Hottiger 7 Did OK
Hinchcliffe 8 Excellent today. Did his best to get some attacking momentum going down the left. One excellent sliding tackle in the box to spare Unsworth's blushes
Watson 7 Solid and dependable as ever
Unsworth 6 Bit shaky today. Nearly gave a goal away when, under no pressure whatsoever, he gave the ball straight to Milosevic. Only an excellent tackle from Hinchcliffe spared a goal. There were a couple of other, not so serious lapses as well.
Horne 7 Did his job, but not at his best.
Parkinson 8 Obviously taken heed of Joe Royle's comments about him having a decent shot. Forced one good save from Bosnich, scored one, and had one narrowly flash wide. Add this to his sterling work in midfield and you have my Man of the Match.
Grant 6 The usual neat touches, but didn't really impose himself.
Kanchelskis 7 Villa covered him quite well, and he didn't really get too many opportunities.
Stuart 7 Ran and harried as usual, but hasn't got back to where he was prior to his injury.
Amokachi 7 Did OK, caused Villa problems with his pace and strength.
Limpar 6 Gave us another attacking option, which was much needed. Largely failed to deliver, but at least he was bright and gave them something to think about.
Rideout 6 linked the play quite nicely, but didn't have much time to do much.
Team 6 It has to be said that this was yet another disappointing home performance. We never imposed ourselves on the game and didn't have too many ideas on how to break down a resolute Villa defence. The introduction of Limpar and Rideout definitely made the shape and balance of the side look better.
Robbie The Newt: The game started off quite brightly, with Everton attacking from the off. But as the game settled down, Villa began to pass the ball about and generally looked quite comfortable. The only real threat from Villa in the whole match was when Savo Milosevic hit a sweet left foot shot from twenty yards, which Southall did well to hang on to. The atmosphere was better than usual, helped by Villa's large contingent of travelling fans.
I can't remember us having too many chances or shots in the first half. Amokachi looked lively, and won a few corners due to his strength and perseverance, but Hinchcliffe's deliveries were poor. We haven't scored many goals from corners this season, whereas last year, it seemed we could only score from corners and free kicks.
I thought Stuart was a bit quiet in the first half. We didn't really play too much football, and certainly didn't have Villa on the back foot. Our best source of attack was generally to lob the ball forward, but we all know that Amo isn't very good in the air, and Stuart was playing on the left, thus leaving no other aerial target, apart from AK, and he's not too brilliant in the air either.
Milosevic got a lot of stick from the Everton fans, because of his horrendous attempts to win free kicks, although admittedly, he was a little unfortunate, because most of our reckless tackles were on him. One tackle that stands out was when Unsworth almost booted Milosevic in the stomach, and the Yugoslav (?) went flying.
Milosevic's' antics didn't get any better in the second half either, and I noticed Joe Parkinson gave him a right earful for trying to get a free kick when nobody had even breathed on him. He looked a bit hurt and embarrassed after being ticked off by Parky, and didn't dive again after that, but he still ended up in a few tussles.
The second half performance was much better, and the whole team raised their games, especially Unsworth who had a terrible first 45 minutes. We were much more dominant in the second half, and every time we went forward we looked dangerous, but still, the only player that looked like scoring was Kanchelskis. Unfortunately, he didn't have his shooting boots on, and a few of his efforts went wayward.
Amokachi's passing let him down, and the fans got agitated about that, but still he got a good ovation when he was subbed on about 65 mins, probably because today he showed commitment in abundance. Rideout replaced him and I immediately said "Oh bollocks, what sort of a substitution is that?" Branchy should be on
(I'm not sure if he was on the bench - was he?), cos he's got pace and generally is a better option than Rideout who's a bit slow". However, Rideout is a good footballer, and is especially useful with his back to goal, and his passing is quite good too - I remember him playing a lovely ball to Limpar (he came on for Grant on about 55 mins), but Limpar cocked it up.
The goal came about 20 mins from the end, and the fans had a large role in it. News came through that Bolton had gone one up at Arsenal, and suddenly the atmosphere became like a Cup Final, with singing going on all round the ground, and lots of shouts of "Come On !!!!". This obviously got through to the players and the Everton players began to fight for every ball,
Eventually we got our just reward, and it was a fine goal too from the ever-improving Joe Parkinson. He picked the ball up outside the box and just hit it on his left foot; Bosnich got no where near it. A few minutes later Parky had another effort which flew a whisker wide, then Hottiger and Horne went close with good efforts.
Villa didn't have a shot on goal, but in the last few minutes, they were hanging around our penalty area. By now though, I already knew that Arsenal had gone in front, and my face just sank - one minute I was delirious at the prospect of playing in Europe, and then the next I had my head in my hands thinking about the Coventry game at home, and the Leeds game away and thinking "If only...".
The final whistle went and I cheered and gave the lads a standing ovation. The lads also ran around the pitch thanking the fans for the support this season, and that was better than last years effort when they stood in the centre circle and waved for 30 seconds.
This season we did everything better - but don't get carried away, there's plenty of room for improvement. I think there is room for a new player in every department - that is, a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder (possibly two -- one left sided and definitely one central, because we had absolutely zilch in the centre of the park today), and one striker who can score goals.
Southall - *7* Had nothing to do apart from one save in the 1st half, and a few backpasses to deal with. Touching moment when the Park End stood up and sung "There's only one Neville Southall" at the start of the 2nd half.
Hottiger - *6* Again I wasn't too impressed, but I'll give him more time, considering he's been out so long. He's got an appalling first touch though -- let him down a few times today.
Hinchcliffe - *8* Made one absolutely outstanding tackle, saving a goal, when Unsworth made a mistake. He slid in from behind, and hooked the ball away from a young Villa player and, despite his poor corners, he had a good, solid game.
Watson - *7* Looked a bit shaky for some reason, but settled down, and was his usual no-nonsense defender; coped with Yorkie quite well.
Unsworth - *7* Made a few howlers in the first half, and really, was having a nightmare, but improved vastly in the 2nd half.
Kanchelskis - *7* As ever he looked dangerous, and gave Alan Wright a harder time than he did at Villa Park; didn't have his shooting boots though .
Grant - *6* A bit quiet, made no impact on the game, and a few attempted passes didn't exactly reach their target. Subbed by Limpar.
Parkinson - *8* Had a good game, tackling, attacking, and scored a goal to boot. Picked up a yellow card for a silly tackle. My Man of the Match
Horne - *7* Ran all over the place as usual, his passing was spot on, but didn't go on ANY runs today, which is slightly unusual.
Stuart - *6* Very quiet, he didn't seem to fit in with the system, and made no impact whatsoever on the game. Disappointing.
Amokachi - *7* Worked hard, pacey, energetic. Caused their defence a few problems and heart attacks, but his passing was awful. Had a good opportunity in the 1st half, but decided to pull it back instead, and the defender cut it out. He doesn't seem to have much confidence in his shooting - that's twice he's done that now - pulled it back instead of having a crack
Limpar - *6* Got a good ovation when he came on, but didn't really change things apart from giving us a better balance. Had one awful shot which peed everyone off a bit, and I was very disappointed to see that he didn't stay and run round the pitch with the other players at the end - he just ran straight off the pitch, which is a bit shallow. The fans have always been good to him, and he couldn't even find the decency to applaud us -- sell him.
Rideout - *7* Did well when he came on, and I think he had a hand in one of the goals. Good passing, touch, and gave us more threat in the air
Dwight Yorke played well for them, and was applauded by Evertonians for a few touches and pieces of skill. I say we should buy him! Other players who played well for them included Bosnich, Draper and Ehioghu. Southgate wasn't too bad either.
By Peter Keeling, Electronic Telegraph
DISAPPOINTMENT mixed with realism were the contrasting emotions at Goodison Park as Arsenal's late rally stopped Everton earning the final UEFA Cup place for next season.
Joe Parkinson's third goal of the season clinched this hard-won victory over the Coca-Cola Cup holders -- and for a few fleeting moments turned thoughts towards the attractions of the Continent. But although that bubble was quickly pricked, there was still some satisfaction to be gleaned from a season that has produced the club's best points total in eight years and their highest League position since 1990.
Said Everton manager Joe Royle, who has produced a transformation in his 18 months at Goodison: "It has been a good season, and a place in Europe would have been marvellous although we expected Arsenal to win.
"There was only one side in it in the second half and we never had any fears against them. When Limpar came on he stretched them and made a difference."
Limpar's appearance in the 55th minute certainly was decisive for Villa's hard-working defence had hitherto looked impregnable.
A dry, crumbling pitch made a classic encounter unlikely with control difficult, and neither Neville Southall, in what could be his last and 699th game for Everton, nor fellow goalkeeper Mark Bosnich were overworked in the first half.
Southall had to dive to his left to save from Savo Milosevic early on and Bosnich got down smartly to save a low drive from Daniel Amokachi.
Referee Robbie Hart showed little consistency in the first half, booking six players, at least three of them for what seemed trivial offences, yet often letting blatant fouls go unchecked.
But he allowed the game to flow more in the second half as Limpar added a more fluid look to the Everton attack.
With Dwight Yorke looking unusually lightweight in the Villa forward line, most of the positive action came from Everton with Limpar showing superb skill in the 70th minute as he shimmered round the back of the Villa defence.
He then found time to look up and chipped a delicate effort over goalkeeper Bosnich only for the ball to bounce on the cross bar.
Eight minutes later however, from another Limpar cross, substitute Paul Rideout's overhead kick came back to Parkinson, who rifled home a stunning winner from 20 yards across the diving Bosnich.
Villa had not produced the power up front to trouble Everton, who finished stronger with Parkinson nearly adding a second and Limpar having claims for a penalty ruled out after he was bundled to the ground by three defenders in the last five minutes.
Electronic Telegraph is a Registered Service Mark of The Telegraph plc
SoccerNet (edited): Joe Royle gave an optimistic end-of-season report despite yesterday's low-quality finale, when Everton's fan-inspired win failed to clinch a place in the UEFA Cup next season.
After three seasons fighting relegation, FA Cup holders Everton were consoled by collecting their best points total for eight years and finishing in their highest League placing - sixth - since 1990.
Joe Parkinson responded to the urging of Goodison fans who knew there was a chance of Europe when news filtered through from Highbury that Arsenal were struggling against Bolton. A cross by Anders Limpar set up Parkinson's fine goal from 20 yards in the 78th minute, worthy of winning any match.
'It's disappointing to miss Europe and it looked rosy for us for a while but I think our goal must have stung Arsenal into action,' said Royle. 'Villa are always hard to break down and bobbly pitch didn't help.'
PA News: Everton manager Joe Royle was in philosophical mood tonight after seeing his side miss out on a UEFA Cup place despite beating Aston Villa.
"It is a shame, but it has still been a very good season," he said. "We have finished sixth in the table after years of struggling.
"We have been progressive, have scored freely and can look forward to next season after a good summer. The crowds have been incredible all season.
"We knew Arsenal were one down and when we went 1-0 up, it looked quite rosy, but we probably stunned Arsenal into action. But we expected them to win that game anyway."
Royle confirmed that he would be looking for new players to strengthen the squad this summer, and would be looking to sell Vinny Samways, Matt Jackson and Gary Ablett. Ablett has just finished a loan spell at Sheffield United and Royle said: "He has done outstandingly well there and they want to tie it up. I hope that will be concluded in the next seven days."
But there was no news yet about Neville Southall, who is holding out on signing a new two-year contract after completing his 699th appearance for Everton today. "You will probably hear before I will," Royle told reporters with a smile at the after-match news conference.
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