Aston Villa v Everton


FA Carling Premiership 96/97 - Game 32
Saturday 5 April 1997
Villa Park, Birmingham

Result: Aston Villa (1) 3 - Everton (1) 1
Milosevic(41) Staunton(50) Yorke(54); Unsworth(14)

Aston Villa: Oakes, Nelson, Wright, Ehiogu, Staunton (Hughes, 56), Southgate, Taylor (Curcic, 81), Draper, Milosevic, Yorke, Farrelly.
Subs Not Used: Joachim, Murray, Rachel.  Booked: None.

Everton: Southall, Thomsen, Parkinson, Unsworth (Dunne, 60), Watson, Phelan, Stuart, Hottiger (Branch, 54), Ferguson, Speed, Short
Booked: Watson, Short.
Subs Not Used:  Ball, Hills, Gerrard Unavailable: Hinchcliffe, Grant, Gerrard, O'Connor, Barmby, Barrett, (all injured); Rideout (travelling back from China).

Ref: Jeff Winter Att: 39,339 League Position: 14th Results and League Table

Previous Match: Everton v Manchester United -- Next Match: Everton v Leicester City

Match Summary

SoccerNet (Jeff Farmer, The Mail on Sunday):  Dave Watson began his caretaker command of Everton's traumatic season with a depressing defeat. Aston Villa came from behind to punish Everton's indisciplined defence with a match-winning burst of three goals in 13 minutes either side of the interval.

As Villa moved closer to a UEFA Cup place, Everton now face three successive home games as they seek to confirm their Premiership status. But with only two wins in their last 15 outings, confidence is ominously low and the danger signs are clear as they hover just above the relegation quicksands.

Everton's first steps under Watson's control were encouraging as they dominated the first half-hour with bright, positive football. Villa goalkeeper Michael Oakes denied Graham Stuart with a superb one-handed save and then beat out another shock from the Everton striker after he had moved clear onto Ian Taylor's mis-hit backpass. But the corner which followed led to Everton's 14th-minute lead.

Stewart's corner was headed down at the far post by Duncan Ferguson and David Unsworth forced a follow-up shot beyond Oakes after the goalkeeper had parried his initial effort. Despite a booking for a crude tackle on Mark Draper, Watson must have been delighted with Everton's early progress.

But, typical of a season which has seen them in free fall since they occupied a top-six position in late November, Everton collapsed as soon as Villa got their act together. After 41 minutes Savo Milosevic, who scored a last-minute winner for Yugoslavia against the Czech Republic in a midweek World Cup qualifier, began the three-goal salvo which won the game for Villa.

Everton's defence failed to clear Draper's corner and left Milosevic unmarked to head in Yugo Ehiogu's pass. Four minutes into the second half Steve Staunton put Villa ahead with a fiercely-struck 20-yard free kick through Everton's protective wall. Five minutes later Everton's lack of defensive discipline was exposed again as Dwight Yorke was left isolated in the six-yard box to beat Neville Southall with a half-hit shot after Ehiogu had headed down a cross from Gareth Farrelly.

Dave Watson dives in at the deep end

Guy McEvoy: To say that Dave Watson has been thrown in at the deep-end is an understatement.  The Villa game saw the start of a mammoth five games in fifteen days run-in with no fewer than six first team players suffering from injury. About the only comfort to Watson in this situation was that the team practically picked itself in view of the injuries. That there were four youth team players on the bench underlined my belief that, on paper, this was surely the weakest Everton team we had fielded this season. With Villa having both with home advantage and pushing for a place in Europe, expectations were not that high. Just as well really.

It all started with a mirage. For twenty minutes or so, all logic was abandoned as Everton's make-do line-up showed a blitzkrieg approach to the match. Graham Stuart was to be denied twice; firstly after a pass from Ferguson saw him power a shot goalwards which commanded a save of breathtaking quality from Bosnich's more than adequate replacement, Oakes. His second effort, after a quality break saw him clear in a one-on-one 'put-your-mortgage-on-it' situation, demanded nowhere near the instinct and agility from the keeper, indeed it required little more than a crouch down and a polite 'thank you'. So much for Diamond Bobby's extra shooting practise.

Despite the misses, the weight of pressure did demand a breakthrough for the blues which we duly got. Stuart took a perfect corner, Duncan flicked it on, Unsworth hurled himself at it, Oakes got in the way but only managed to parry, and then somehow from the floor Unsworth managed to swing his feet again to strike home the loose ball.

That Unsworth scored was in some ways as a perverse affront to logic as the fact that the team was holding its own. He was, goal excluded, having a shocker of nigh on Arsenal proportions. His first contribution after the goal was to place an unforced twenty yard pass back-to Southall (his recent trademark, probably why his 'passes completed' stats look acceptable) so far wide that Nev couldn't race to it in time to prevent the corner. The illusion that Everton had presented at the start of the game was starting to fade as quickly as Villa started to awaken.

There is little more frustrating for the fan than watching the killer of self-doubt sweep through a team like a notifiable disease, but as Everton collectively realised that through some strange psychological process they'd been, up to this point, playing above themselves, the full swing the other way was devastating.

Watson himself started to show the cracks, a foolish tackle just outside the box saw him into the book and then the punishment was almost worse as Yorke placed the free-kick inches wide. Meanwhile Everton's early creativity seemed like it must have been a false memory as we struggled to turn possession into any advancement. The sudden downturn in performance meant it came as little surprise when Villa got a corner, and Everton watched rooted to the spot as Milosovich headed home. Watson's honey-moon period as manager was over almost as soon as it had begun.

What Waggy said to them at half-time I don't know, but the evidence on the pitch suggests that it was something along the lines of promising them a barium enema each if we won. Soulless, aimless and pointless would be the kinder adjectives you could give us. Villa quickly took the lead through a fine free kick by Steve Staunton of all people which drove low straight past the hapless wall and beyond the reach of a sprawling Southall. From then on in it was just a question of how many more, and we were incredibly lucky to keep it down to just one from Yorke, which at least gave us the chance to see the Villa faithful sing the 'Dwight Yorke song' which is, it has to be said, quite a funny sight if you can block the reason for it out of your mind.

We kept the Royle tradition of hurling on the kids in futile situations by introducing both Branch and Dunne, though this may have been less about giving them a run than about giving a strong message to both Unsworth and Hottiger who they replaced.

But for Nev's endeavours, and a couple of spooned shots in golden situations, four or five would have been a more accurate return for Villa in the second half. It was a blessed relief when the referee blew his whistle and put us out of our misery.

What we can take from this game (other than an excuse to go out and get bladdered) I'm not sure... Clearly it underlines the lack of depth in the squad, -- six injuries, though bad news by any team's standards, should not be unanticipated at this stage of the season and we must get better quality cover during the summer.  Watson at the moment is left with no options whatsoever regarding team selection; it mustn't be a question of narrowing it down to a starting eleven but of cobbling together a starting eleven. I fear that the situation is inevitably going to get worse with so many games in such little time. I still won't sleep easy until we have forty points. At this rate, that could mean a lot of insomnia.

Individual Performances

Bleak, but that's how I saw it.

Result that is true to form

Steve Kirkwod:  The form result, one might say, but for 40 minutes the form team were Everton as they battled to gain the points required to stay up. Things can change quickly and a glance at Derby's victory over Man United, shows how a hopeless team can become one that fights and plays football.

Short was back, along with Hottiger in the back five,-- Barrett being injured. Sitting in the Trinity Road, I suffered the pillar that obscured the Holte End goal, together with two Villa skins that spent the afternoon recounting typical stereotypical comments on Everton fans (unemployed; no blacks; don't sing; etc etc.) Well, all the Villa fans are as thick as they sound, and their team is poor. The difference between success and failure truly is thin....

First Half

For 20 mins we bossed the proceedings: after 7 mins, Ferguson skipped through and squared, Thomsen dummied and Stuart fired - Oakes saved very well to his left. After 12 mins, a loose backpass let Stuart through and to be honest, he and I didn't think he was going to score.. Oakes again, this time catching the ball at face height.

Then a corner, Ferguson heads down, Unsworth and Unsworth again into roof of net. 33-1. I backed Phelan for the first goal. At this stage we were good value and, though we were not in complete control -- Short being beaten for pace by Yorke and the midfield struggling -- they were working hard.

After 30 mins, Staunton chips over the back four, and Milosevic misses the ball. We had three corners in quick succession, an then the Villa had .two. The second wasn't cleared and the ball flicks up to Savo, who this time heads firmly down past Neville. Parkinson brings the half to a close by hitting high and wide from 10 yds.

Second Half

Three mins into the second half, a free kick is given behind the pillar. And Staunton runs up, kicks the pillar, but the ball goes in off Nevs right post. Another break, and Farelly heads over… We are truly rocking -- its no surprise when a long cross is headed back and Yorke fires home, Unsworth's goal repeated.

It was also no surprise to see Hottiger replaced -- by Branch. I don't think the Swiss completed a pass all afternoon; he is not fit or worthy to wear the Royal Blue shirt... 5 minutes later, Dunne comes on for Unsworth, Short goes to centre-back as one of four at the back, with Dunne on the right. He's big but he's no whippet, and to be frank we were awful at the back -- no exceptions.

So we tried to change things, but it didn't work, the form is bad. No serious chance was created in the second half;all huff and puff, and a lot of Villa and Everton fans called it a day well before the end.


Form? I'd call it 'previous'.

Watson faces harsh reality

Clive White, Electronic Telegraph: IF EVERTON were banking on Dave Watson's appointment as caretaker-manager having an immediate galvanising effect, a la Stuart Pearce at Nottingham Forest, they were in for a disappointment. There is no quick fix for Everton's problems as Aston Villa amply illustrated with a victory in which they didn't even play particularly well.

Everton did nothing to suggest they will soon buck their recent trend -- two wins in 15 League games -- and were fortunate not to come away from Villa Park with an even worse beating. They can be grateful that their plight isn't more serious, but there may still be time for that. Villa eventually overhauled David Unsworth's 14th-minute lead for Everton with goals by Savo Milosevic, Steve Staunton and Dwight Yorke.

Watson said he wouldn't be scared to make ruthless decisions, although yesterday's team selection was fairly elementary with Nick Barmby and Earl Barrett injured. Despite the millions lavished by his predecessor, Joe Royle, on the likes of Duncan Ferguson and Andre Kanchelskis, Everton do not possess a particularly big squad.

Rumour had it that, had they been better off for players, Ferguson might have been dropped by the "ruthless" Watson in a deliberate attempt to change tack from Royle's one-dimensional approach. Ferguson, however, quickly showed his new boss that there was more to him than just an aerial threat, unhinging Villa with a fine run and cross from which Graham Stuart drew an excellent one-handed save from Michael Oakes, standing in for the injured Mark Bosnich.

Stuart certainly should have scored minutes later, but again the Villa goalkeeper was more than a match. However, from the corner by Stuart, Ferguson demonstrated his forte with a downward header. David Unsworth pounced and, although Oakes parried his shot, Ferguson scored from the rebound while seated on the ground.

No Villa game would be complete without at least one horrendous miss by Milosevic and the Yugoslav obliged when he failed to make contact with Staunton's cross in front of goal. This time, however, atonement was close at hand. From the second of two corners forced in quick succession just before half-time, Ugo Ehiogu dug out a cross to the far post where Milosevic, even Milosevic, could hardly do anything else but head home the equaliser.

Within seven minutes of the restart, Everton were 2-1 down, their defensive wall offering little resistance to a manipulative left-footed free kick by Staunton, from just outside the penalty area. Everton barely had time to gather their senses before Villa clobbered them again. Yorke -- in keeping with the match -- miskicked the ball over the line after Ehiogu had headed the ball down.

Report Copyright The Electronic Telegraph

Villa remember winning script

Philip Craigie, The Sunday Times:  EVERTON nerves will be jangling this morning; Villa are still dreaming of Europe. Everton needed a point from this game, and after an early goal following a fairly bright start, their prospects seemed good against erratic Villa. But they were blown away by two goals in four minutes at the start of the second half.

Dave Watson, their caretaker manager, was plunged into a difficult baptism with six first-teamers injured. At least the side picked itself. He will need every fit man for the crucial games to come.

Villa began with neat incisive play and looked more than capable of taking Everton apart. Alas, Villa are equally adept at self-destructing, a point highlighted in the latest issue of a fanzine which suggested this season's video review should be entitled How To Avoid Winning Matches.

Sure enough, twice in the first 10 minutes Villa almost gave a goal to Graham Stuart, who might consider bringing out his own video and calling it How To Miss When Absolutely Clean Through, something he did four times against Forest earlier this season.

His first chance came when Dwight Yorke's lackadaisical back-pass was latched on to by Duncan Ferguson whose cross reached Stuart via Claus Thomsen's dummy. Stuart shot straight at the keeper, Michael Oakes, from six yards. A few minutes later Gareth Farrelly's pass to Steve Staunton was intercepted by Stuart, who raced goalwards with just Oakes to beat. The result was the same. A routine save.

So when an Everton goal arrived, it was no surprise that Stuart was not responsible. Over came a corner. In went a Ferguson header and the ball reached David Unsworth, whose first close-range effort was blocked by Oakes, but he scooped the rebound into the roof of the net.

Villa's equaliser was a triumph for the goal-starved Serbian striker Savo Milosevic. All season, it seems, Brian Little has been saying "the time is now" for him to come good. Perhaps his last-minute World Cup winner for Yugoslavia on Wednesday would be the launch pad?

It seemed not, when he tamely shot at the keeper early on, and later embarrassingly swung and completely missed the ball with the goal at his mercy. But just before half-time, he applied his head to a loose ball in the box and scored easily.

On their first-half performance Everton deserved to be level at least, and had Joe Parkinson taken advantage of further slack defending and buried the ball in the net instead of the crowd, who knows what might have happened? As it was, Villa came out inspired for the second half and Everton folded. Villa went in front with a howitzer of a free kick from Staunton, after Yorke had been brought down by Thomsen. A little later, with Everton's defence scattered, Farrelly crossed, Ugo Ehiogu headed down and Yorke tapped in.

Villa, with Mark Draper, Alan Wright and Farrelly constructing some pleasing patterns, might have scored more, and Draper will wonder how he managed to miss after Yorke had set him up. Meanwhile, Everton did not manage a second-half shot until the 83rd minute. They need a resurrection soon.

Report Copyright The Sunday Times

Martyn torments Everton

Jon Culley, The Independent: Once upon a time, faced with the loss of a manager at a critical moment, a club such as Everton would have wasted no time in hiring a replacement, the premise being that a ship in troubled waters needs a steady hand at the wheel. The essential requirement, it was argued, was that everyone should know where they stood, or at least whom they should try to impress. Caretaker managers were strictly short term.

Oddly, this seems no longer to be the fashion. Following the lead of Blackburn and Nottingham Forest, Everton have evidently decided stability can wait. Thus they have placed Dave Watson, their stalwart centreback, in charge until the end of the season, keeping the seat warm for person or persons unknown.

No one is more committed to Everton than Watson and yet it is still a risky appointment, prolonging the kind of uncertainty in which few players thrive. Look at Blackburn. Who can be sure of his future until Roy Hodgson takes control? And who can feel settled at Forest, where no one seems to know whether Stuart Pearce or Dave Bassett is in charge?

Blackburn are better off than Forest but neither is guaranteed safety. Nor are Everton, who have trusted their survival to players who, come the summer may find themselves surplus to requirements. Watson took his insecure crew to Villa on Saturday convinced that all was well. He left only too well aware that it is not.

'I was disappointed with what happened once Villa scored their second,' he said. 'We gave the ball away too much and didn't battle. One or two heads dropped and that is something that has to be put right.

'It was bad enough that we gave away an equaliser just before half-time, but what was worse was that when they scored their second goal we just didn't react. There was no fight.'

It was a rude coming down to earth for the 35-year old captain, who had seen his side start with great purpose. Even before David Unsworth gave them an early lead, they had forced two fine saves from Michael Oates in Villa's goal.

Their revitalised spirits were short-lived, however. Savo Milosevic headed Villa level just before half-time and Steve Staunton fired them in front just after, beating the defensive wall with a wonderfully curled free-kick.

Within four minutes of Villa's second, Everton let their concentration slip as Ugo Ehiogu met Gareth Farrelly's cross, leaving not just Milosevic but Dwight Yorke unmarked in front of goal. Yorke, despite miskicking, did the necessary and effectively ensured Villa's three points.

Their manager, Brian Little, was less impressed than one might have imagined, acknowledging that the opposition had looked dispirited. The result makes Villa's qualification for Europe all the more likely but, with an eye on two upcoming away matches -- at Wimbledon and Derby -- Little was cautious.

Trouble Watson might like

Russell Thomas, The Guardian: It's an indication of Aston Villa's so-called disappointing season that they can attract a full house for the visit of one of the Premiership's worst teams, win ultimately at a canter and reinforce their drive for another sortie in Europe. If this constitutes anti-climax for the Midlands' premier club, then Everton would dearly love to share that feeling. Villa are talking of significant changes this summer; in Everton's case the blatant need is for a drastic overhaul, whatever their status.

Dave Watson has been entrusted with the task of banishing the lingering - but real - threat of relegation, a subject this 35-year old Everton loyalist verbally confronted as fearlessly as any of his on-field challenges. The caretaker-manager sees three successive home games as offering the chance to leap to respectability but seasoned Everton watchers cannot see even one Goodison win coming.

Watson has inherited a team short of individual quality, one lacking pace and wit in every department. Yet these deficiencies might be the least of his immediate worries. 'I thought one or two heads dropped after their second goal,' said Watson. 'That's got to be put right. The worst thing to do is to sit and mope now. We want to see a good reaction against Leicester on Wednesday.'

Curiously Everton's confidence drained away after going ahead. That took 14 minutes, by which stage Watson should have been celebrating a three-goal start. Stuart failed twice, on the first occasion baulked by Oakes' magnificent save. Unsworth, almost apologetically, scored at his second attempt minutes later.

Everton's response was to trade unforced error with Villa in a first period of extraordinary inaccuracy. Milosevic grotesquely failed to connect with a Yorke cross but four minutes before the interval Ehiogu sliced an intended shot across goal and the Serb headed home.

Villa attacked with only mild menace, yet Everton's defence faltered twice in four minutes early in the second half. The wall for Staunton's free-kick 20 yards out left an inviting gap for the defender to fire through. Southall was then cruelly exposed when Ehiogu's knock-down found Yorke and Milosevic with the freedom of the six-yard box. Yorke's mis-hit shot deceived the goalkeeper.

Brian Little watched his untroubled team create a stream of late chances thereafter as Everton's defence disintegrated. No one, Little said, is guaranteed first-team football at Villa, which explains why the manager has so far failed to re-sign the 21-year old Farrelly who is out of contract in the summer. On this evidence, his first start of the season, the manager cannot afford to lose a player of such good touch and high energy.

Report Copyright The Guardian

Everton lose early sparkle after Watson's pep talk

Nick Szczepanik, The Times:  WHATEVER it was that Dave Watson said in his first half-time team talk as Everton's acting player-manager, he would be well advised to change the script next time. An even first half was followed by such a one-sided second period that Everton barely managed a shot in the entire 45 minutes, while Villa, who had looked unconvincing earlier in the match, could have doubled their final score.

Watson has only six games to get it right, beginning on Wednesday when Leicester City visit Goodison. And while Everton are better-placed then some, and could plead, in mitigation, that they were down to their last 11 fit men at Villa Park, they dropped closer to the FA Carling Premiership danger zone after this result on Saturday and came off looking dispirited and demoralised.

It could all have been so different. Everton opened with some determination and took a thirteenth minute lead when Unsworth hooked the ball in at the second attempt from Ferguson's header. They could already have been ahead, Stuart forcing Oakes into a superb, one-handed save after Thomsen had dummied Ferguson's cross, then shooting straight at the goalkeeper when Farrelly's back-pass sold Staunton short.

The defence, however, always suggested there was a way through for Villa, especially when Staunton's run and one-two with Draper gave Milosevic a good chance that he squandered with an embarrassing air-shot. Perhaps Everton imagined that, if the Serb was in that sort of form, they need pay him no further attention. At any rate, five minutes before half-time, they failed to clear a corner and Milosevic was left unmarked to head in.

Parkinson could have restored the lead late in the half, but shot wide; within ten minutes of the restart, the contest was over. First Staunton's free kick flew past Southall from 20 yards, then Farrelly's cross was headed down to Yorke, attended only by a team-mate ­ another dreadful piece of Everton marking ­ and his volley, although mis-hit, beat the unprotected Southall. "We didn't react well to their second goal," Watson said. "Everything seemed to go a bit dead after they went 2-1 up. One or two heads dropped and that's something we need to put right."

Villa, in contrast, with Milosevic now a man inspired and the visitors marking and passing sloppily, should have added to their lead several times. Comfortable for his team in the end, then, but Brian Little, the Villa manager, was not fooled. "It wasn't comfortable for 45 minutes," he admitted. "In their situation, conceding a goal knocks something out of you. Once we'd scored a couple, it could have been more, but I'm happy."

Cautious as ever, Little downplayed the significance of the weekend's scores for Villa's European ambitions. "We've had a lot of these days, when results have gone for us, then we've not responded in the next game," he said. "Experience this season suggests we're quite capable of not following up this result. It's in our hands. If we don't qualify for Europe, it will be our fault."

Watson had other priorities. "We've got to get today out of our minds and prepare for Wednesday," he said. "The worst thing is if you sit and mope. We have the quality as long as more don't go down injured." And as long as he finds something different to say at half-time.

Report Copyright The Times

Results and League Table

Monday, 7 April 1997

LEEDS UNITED            0-0    BLACKBURN ROVERS          27,264

Sunday, 6 April 1997

LIVERPOOL               1-2    COVENTRY CITY             40,079
Fowler(52)                     Whelan(65) Dublin(90)

Saturday, 5 April 1997

ASTON VILLA             3-1    EVERTON                   39,339  
Milosevic(41) Staunton(50)     Unsworth (14)
CHELSEA                 0-3    ARSENAL                   28,182 
                               Wright(22) Platt(53) Bergkamp(80)
MANCHESTER UNITED       2-3    DERBY COUNTY              55,243 
Cantona(47) Solskjaer(76)      Ward(29) Wanchope(35) Sturridge(75)
NEWCASTLE UNITED        1-1    SUNDERLAND                36,582
Shearer(77)                    Gray(32)
NOTTINGHAM FOREST       1-3    SOUTHAMPTON               25,134  
Pearce(pen 88)                 Magilton(8) Evans(87, 89)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR       1-0    WIMBLEDON                 32,654 
Dozzell (81)

Table after 7 April 1997

Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD  Pts
Manchester United            32   18    9    5   63   36   27   63
Arsenal                      33   17    9    7   55   28   27   60
Liverpool                    32   17    9    6   54   28   26   60
Newcastle United             31   15    8    8   60   37   23   53
Aston Villa                  32   15    8    9   40   28   12   53
Chelsea                      32   13   10    9   51   47    4   49
Wimbledon                    31   12   10    9   42   38    4   46
Sheffield Wednesday          31   12   13    6   41   37    4   49
Tottenham Hotspur            32   12    6   14   39   43   -4   42
Leeds United                 33   11    9   13   26   34   -8   42
Leicester City               31   10    9   12   37   44   -7   39
Derby County                 32    9   11   12   38   49  -11   38
Blackburn Rovers             32    8   13   11   33   32    1   37
Everton                      32    9    9   14   38   48  -10   36
Sunderland                   33    8   10   15   30   49  -19   34
West Ham United              31    8    9   14   31   41  -10   33
Coventry City                33    7   12   14   29   47  -18   33
Middlesbrough                31    9    8   14   44   52   -8   32*
Nottingham Forest            34    6   13   15   29   52  -23   31
Southampton                  32    7    9   16   42   52  -10   30

* Includes 3 pts deducted from Middlesbrough for illegal match postponement  

This League Table Update provided by Lawrence "Leagueman" Breakey

This Match Report Compilation was prepared by Michael Kenrick for Marko Poutiainen 7 Apr 1997