Blackburn Rovers v Everton


FA Carling Premiership 96/97 - Game 7
Saturday 21 September 1996; Ewood Park, Blackburn

Result: Blackburn Rovers (1) 1 - Everton (1) 1
Donis 32; Unsworth 37

Blackburn Rovers: Flowers, Coleman, Kenna, Sherwood, Hendry, Gallacher (Fenton, 77), Bohinen, Sutton, Berg, Donis, Flitcroft (Wilcox, 46). Subs Not Used: Ripley, Pearce, Given. Booked: Berg, Sherwood, Fenton.

Everton: Southall; Barrett, Short, Unsworth(c), Hinchcliffe; Speed, Parkinson, Limpar (89 Grant), Kanchelskis; Rideout, Ferguson. Booked: Unsworth. Sent Off: Ferguson (89).
Subs Not Used: Stuart, Hottiger, Branch, Gerrard. Unavailable: Watson, Ebbrell (Injured).

Ref: David Elleray Att: 27,091 | League Position: 16th Results and League Table

Previous Match: Everton v York City Coca-Cola Cup, 2nd Round, 1st Leg
Previous League Match: Everton v Middlesbrough - Next League Match: Everton v Sheffield Wednesday
Next Match: York City v Everton Coca-Cola Cup, 2nd Round, 2nd leg

Match Summary

SoccerNet: Everton's malaise shows no signs of lifting after today's showing at Ewood Park where Blackburn should have claimed their first Premiership win of the season. To add to Everton manager Joe Royle's dismay, a bad-tempered clash saw Duncan Ferguson dismissed in the dying seconds.

Greek winger George Donis, who joined the club because he wanted to play alongside Alan Shearer, netted a fine goal to give Rovers the lead but a bizarre equaliser from skipper David Unsworth earned the visitors a point.

Blackburn had the better of things early on and should have been a couple of goals to the good before Donis burst past four defenders with electric speed to place a right-foot shot beyond Neville Southall.

But hopes Blackburn may have had of chalking up a victory after three successive home defeats were dashed five minutes later. Unsworth's back header from an Andy Hinchcliffe free kick eluded Tim Flowers and looped in at the far post.

Blackburn continued to have the best of the play and the chances and only an outstanding double save from Southall prevented Donis getting a second, the Welsh keeper pushing the first attempt aside and then recovering to boot clear from on the line.

Everton rallied for Andrei Kanchelskis to volley over in an increasingly bad-tempered tussle which ended with Ferguson's dismissal. The Everton bad-boy was twice guilty of dissent inside 30 seconds, referee David Elleray finally pointing him the way of the dressing room.

Blackburn sub Jason Wilcox, making his first appearance of the season, went close to a winner in injury time, again being denied by Southall's agility.

The formation seems fine in theory...

Guy McEvoy: One of the endearing things about Joe is that he seems to take genuine note of the feelings from the stands, last season you only had to start a chant of "One Anders Limpar" and the Swede would be off the bench ready to come on as sub within 5 minutes.

That chant was heard on Wednesday when he wasn't even in the squad but nevertheless the advice seemed heeded and Anders was given his first outing of the season. Hence Speed slipped into the centre, squeezing out Grant (Ebbrell has apparently picked up an injury) and Rideout was also given a deserved start.

Everton played towards the large contingent of travelling fans in the first half but in truth most of the action was down at the other end. Again, I found myself scratching my head -- the formation seems fine in theory:-

In theory you'd think chance after chance should come. But the evidence on the pitch was that the theory was missing a detail and it just wasn't happening. The only real chance we created was when Ferguson broke free for a one-on-one against Tim Flowers. The effort disappointingly was hit straight into Flowers' path.

In the meantime, Blackburn had created a steady stream of efforts and it is fortunate that Everton are not the only team at the moment cursed with complete failure of the final touch. Inevitably though the pressure eventually showed when new boy Donis carried the ball diagonally the length of the half before finishing with a fine shot. The goal looked exceptional but inspection of TV replays shows that potentially 4 Everton players could have got a foot in yet in the end only Unsworth even attempted a challenge.

For the first time so far this season, it was now Everton's turn to have a slice of fortune and it came moments before half time. A free kick was awarded on the left. Hinchcliffe launched it across, Unsworth flicked it on (presumably in the direction of Ferguson and Short) but the flick on had enough power and the right direction not to need another touch. 1-1.

Second Half

The second half was more of the same really. True enough, Kanchelskis had a chance every bit as clear cut as Duncan's (and also blew it) but really we have to thank our lucky stars that Gallagher played like a donkey of Blackpool beach proportions.

Donis, a menace all game, created a number of chances for him to fluff. Also, Southall managed to make a couple of important saves. The pattern remained and the entertainingless nature of the game coupled with my abysmal view means I can't really remember much more to relate.

The one abiding memory I will take with me was that the bloke behind me was the most pathological Earle Barrett hater I've yet come across (and I've sat near a few). It was astonishing. He hadn't come to watch Everton, he'd come to yell at Barrett.

Earle is worse than this bloke's mother. I know this because he told me. He told everyone. And he kept telling everyone. For the full 90 minutes, at the top of his voice. He didn't join in chants, he just shouted louder against Earle.

The annoying thing is this sort of thing becomes infectious in the crowd, and as time passed you noticed more and more people changing to his point of view, anything Barrett does less than perfect being something that not even this blokes "ma" would have done. Bearing in mind how Joe does listen to the fans, I wonder how long Barrett has got?

Anyway, I was busy reflecting on this chap, when in the closing stages Duncan picked up a yellow for something, -- the guess was swearing. There was only time for another volley of Barrett abuse, before the ref again blew. The incident seemed unremarkable, but referee Ellery advanced towards Ferguson and again reached for his pocket, red card. Swearing again? Dunno. It all happened in the space of 30 seconds. What is clear is that it means a totally unnecessary ban coming up for Duncan, and Ellery gets himself talked about in the papers.

So, all-in-all there is little cheer to report: we didn't play particularly well and big Dunc got sent off. The only consolation was that, all things considered, we should at least be grateful for the point, which is more than we've picked up recently when playing well. Meanwhile, the gap to the top widens.

Individual Performances

The Bad, the Worse and The Incompetent

Dave Shepherd: A huge Everton contingent took over three-quarters of Blackburn's ugly-modern Darwen End stand, but there the glory ended on the horns of a game handicapped by the shortcomings of all 23 people on the pitch.

Blackburn were champions only one season ago (plus a few weeks), but the fine line between glory and failure is heavily underlined by their current position. Flashes of that team pique the memory as this year's vintage play in midfield, but they are a team that is doing everything right and getting no rewards for it. Sound familiar?

Big surprise was to see Anders Limpar in the starting line-up, and bigger that the player missing was Ebbrell (injury?), after the disaster last time Parki was played alone in the middle. Strangely this time, this seemed the right formation, as the central areas were not vital to the game. With Rideout up front as forecast, it looked like a team that had escaped from early last season.

The bad news was the referee: David Elleray is the officious little schoolmaster from Harrow, whose hair trigger on the cards has ruined dozens of games. It was he who carded TWELVE players at Newcastle v Everton 2 years ago.

The Match

Early exchanges saw neither side making much progress, with Blackburn having slightly the better of a scrappy contest. Good old Elleray was as gullible as ever -- he blew for a foul almost every time someone fell over -- but surprisingly gave no cards out. I was sitting between a Blackburn supporter and an Everton supporter (long story), and we all just fell about laughing at Elleray as he contrived to get every single foul decision he made wrong, given and not, for home or away teams.

When the ball was not bobbling around in the air, it seems to be out for a throw-in. Particularly just north of half-way where, in the Uncle Jack stand, there seemed to be a gravitational anomaly sucking the ball out: about 15 throw-ins were taken there.

Possibly sensing a chance of setting a new league record, the players seemed to make an effort to gain and give away throw-ins. It was nearly 12 minutes before Limpar touched the ball on the far side. Not to be outdone, David Elleray decided to try for a personal world record -- he went the whole first half hour without booking anyone. Finally he remembered himself and waved a yellow at Berg for a challenge just as innocuous as the others he had not carded.

The first goal followed within a minute. Everton contrived to turn a free kick near the corner of the Blackburn box into an unchallenged run by Donis, capped by a shot which Neville got a hand to low to his right as he advanced and will be disappointed not to have stopped.

Five minutes later, another Everton free kick from almost the same position produced the equaliser. The Hinchcliffe kick went head-grazing height to the yellow striped shirt nearest to the modest wall, which flicked a backwards header on like those corner kicks we used to set up Andy Gray with -- except the flick missed the intended heads and zipped straight into the net.

In so doing, the ball disturbed the colourful Union Jack towel that 'England's #1' Tim Flowers had hung through the side net (nice touch, but should be a St George's flag). 'Blackburn 1, Referee 1', said the Blackburn fan. I suggested that to save time, we should just have a penalty shootout, since the game was obviously just going down to set pieces from bad decisions anyway.

You could almost taste the Everton relief. One down to bottom of the table, they had not managed to find any extra gear in response to going behind. Fortunately now Blackburn's own defeatist paranoia kicked in, and this combined with the incompetence of Elleray, was the story for the whole of the rest of the game.

Snapshots from the action were:

All of this was punctuated of course by Elleray's interference.

He blew for everything, got his cards out six times in the last hour to keep his average up, ignored strong penalty claims by both sides (no doubt generated by his gullibility in the outfield) and crowned his performance with another world record -- two yellow cards for Ferguson within a minute for swearing -- shock, horror, hanging's too good etc. (Neville would be sent off every week if this was standard operating procedure).

Duncan was very dumb to say anything with the game so obviously dead anyway. I guess his patience ran out with the fiftieth bad decision of the day, and decided he was going to give the little fuhrer a piece of his mind. We ALL know Elleray is a disgrace, Duncan - you didn't have to tell him.

This petty personality clash throws a suspension onto the top of a sharply increasing injury list, on top of a lack of depth in the squad, on top of what I am convinced now is a team morale problem. (We've seen this before under Mike Walker - squad excellent, but morale low and sabotaging potential). Whatever the problem is, NOW is the time that great managers come to the fore and steady the ship. Do JR and WD have what it takes?

Congratulations Mr Elleray, you have contributed to tipping the scales, and what was only a slump before is now officially a crisis. It is not quite time to engage panic mode though.

I'd hate to see tradition sacrificed at the first smell of trouble and Everton convert itself into a foreign legion debacle like Man Utd, Toon, Boro etc., but I'm not convinced the fans or the board will see things this way, and with a derby against the obscenely jammy though paucity-of-talent RS looming, I think Joe will find the hand of interference on his shoulder unless he can fix the leaks and turn the ship before the evening of October 20th.

The York game, whilst insignificant in terms of value, now assumes a devastatingly significant role in terms of confidence in the management. For Joe on Tuesday, 'the best' won't do. It's win, or prepare to fend of the first, least tolerant waves of dissent, voices of no confidence, and wild suggestions of Big Cheque-Book remedies.

The Players

Team Performance: - 6 - Performance matched their league position:-- self-confidence is looking damaged.

Ref: D. Elleray If you fall down in a funny way, Elleray will blow his whistle. The result is a Laurel and Hardy catalogue of mistakes against both teams, and the ruination of a good game of football. Cards surprisingly few today (only 6). Duncan spoke for all fans of both sides in telling him exactly what he thought of him.

Donis goal is little solace for Harford

Ian Hawkey, Sunday Times: HAVING overseen his club's least successful start to a season for 90 years, Ray Harford settled for 90 minutes which, for periods, seemed almost as long. Blackburn Rovers have a chairman with a keen sense of history and a fourth successive home defeat might have completed Harford's chapter in it. Yesterday's point was some relief.

In an afternoon of scrap and toil, Blackburn's goal, from Georgios Donis, produced the one moment where art got the better of graft. Everton replied quickly but spent the second half largely frustrated. So much so that Duncan Ferguson got himself sent off a minute from time, for bringing the argot of the street into earshot of David Elleray. "He wasn't swearing at the referee," protested Everton manager Joe Royle.

But Ferguson had not had a good day. To him fell perhaps the kindest scoring opportunity, midway through the first half, when an Andrei Kanchelskis through-ball confounded Blackburn's offside trap. Thus released, Ferguson would have expected to overcome the advancing Tim Flowers.

Minutes afterwards, Blackburn were ahead via a goal powerful in preparation and precise in execution. Donis carried the ball a good 20 yards, beyond two challenges, pacing past the threat of at least two more. Fifteen yards out, his finish was just as assured: Neville Southall had come to him well, Donis simply picked his spot like a seamstress.

Donis, indeed, has been one of Blackburn's better pieces of news in this unhappy autumn. He nursed a limp through much of yesterday and still produced the most singular moments. Another robust foray followed on the heels of his goal and a stinging shot, early on, had whipped across Southall's goalmouth; another, in the second half, almost crept past Southall's parry.

Everton had been a goal down for barely five minutes when David Unsworth equalised. From Blackburn's point of view, it was plain soft. An Andy Hinchcliffe free-kick was met by unmarked Unsworth and his backward looped in at the far post. Set-piece simplicity. Uncannily Everton.

That left a just enough scoreline on a contest in which error and excellence had distributed themselves evenly, for all Everton's growing presence towards the close. Then, Kanchelskis found sufficient room to threaten Flowers twice.

Kevin Gallacher might have done better at the other end, pushing Donis's handsome cross over the bar from no distance at all. Indeed, Blackburn had begun the brighter but only when Donis came over all virtuoso did they really look like asking the right questions.

Report Copyright The Sunday Times

Ferguson rightly punished for football's curse

Mark Hodkinson, The Times: THE machismo of football is such that Duncan Ferguson will find his reputation enhanced by his deeds at Ewood Park on Saturday. With three minutes of a disjointed match remaining, Ferguson chose to develop Tourette syndrome, and began to issue a stream of profanities.

David Elleray, the referee, booked him for the first utterance, and, when he refused to relent a minute later, sent him off.

Joe Royle, the Everton manager, defended his striker, claiming victimisation. "Is the ref trying to tell us that Duncan was the only player out there who swore today?

"I intend to make my feelings known. There is an industrial language in football and I'm very, very unhappy about this. People will be talking about Duncan for the wrong reasons. I don't think he's committed a foul all season," he said.

It is well known that Elleray and swearing are, so to speak, sworn enemies. Last week he sent off Sunderland's Richard Ord for the same offence. Like most referees, Elleray can be dogmatic but, if the Scotsman's language was a notch or two above industrial strength, Elleray's response was just and not without a dash of heroism. Too often players swear and complain. We want to see skills and passion from the feet, not the tongue.

Ferguson's antics at least provided spice to a bland game between two teams determined to play themselves patiently back into winning form, or non-losing form. The first gilded chance fell to Ferguson but he fired straight at Flowers.

Georgios Donis had no such problem. The Greek moved swiftly through Everton's defence and deposited the ball defiantly into their net. Ray Harford, the Blackburn manager, later referred to it as a "terrific" goal and to Donis as an "icing on the cake" player.

Everton responded immediately. Hinchcliffe's powerful left foot drilled a free kick into the penalty area and Unsworth deflected it from his forehead into the net. Kanchelskis had an absorbing duel with Berg but his finishing did not match his pace on the two occasions he dodged his marker. He mis-hit when put through by Rideout and failed to avoid Flowers as he ran in on goal with the Blackburn defence trailing.

Ferguson walks again

Derek Potter, Electronic Telegraph: DUNCAN FERGUSON was sent off for the second time in his span at Everton three minutes from the end following two cautions, apparently for dissent.

Though both teams would have enjoyed the extra two points, life suddenly looked a little brighter for two teams suffering from early-season sickness. But Everton manager Joe Royle was clearly unhappy at losing Ferguson, walking on to the pitch at the end to voice his displeasure.

With both teams regrouping and rethinking after three successive League defeats and only nine goals between them this season, it was unreasonable to expect early goals if any. However, the one scored by George Donis after 31 minutes, when Blackburn had already looked superior and more ambitious, was a classic. Three defenders, with Craig Short the last in line, failed to check the Greek's confident solo run which ended with a final stabbed shot past Neville Southall.

But Everton should have been savouring the tonic of a goal much earlier when Andrei Kanchelskis sent Ferguson on an unimpeded track for goal. A second thought allowed Tim Flowers to spread himself and save with his knees the big Scot's delayed shot.

An assortment of near misses by Blackburn had a costly price after 37 minutes. Everton's free-kick expert Andy Hinchcliffe swerved the ball low into the centre of the goalmouth where David Unsworth's back-head flip saw the ball fly unpredictably off course and leave Flowers and his defenders floundering.

Blackburn's search for a striker had taken them to Italy in midweek hoping to sign Oliver Bierhoff from Udinese. The German would have thrived on the kind of service Donis provided in the first half.Another wonderful run shortly before half time ended with an appalling miss by Kevin Gallacher in the six yard box.

Shots by Kanchelskis and Donis went close before Southall snatched the limelight in the 51st minute when he soared across his goal to reach an explosive shot by Donis, completing the save with his feet.

Despite his vast experience, Kanchelskis wasted a gifted chance of shooting Everton ahead. Chris Coleman was left standing as the Russian raced clean through and but he managed to shoot straight at Flowers. Another miss by Kanchelskis did nothing to inspire Everton's defence, often troubled by Jason Wilcox making his first appearance of the season following a knee injury.

Report Copyright The Electronic Telegraph

Results and League Table

Monday, 23 September 1996

WIMBLEDON               3-1    SOUTHAMPTON                8,572
Gayle(12) Ekoku(38,73)         Oakley(77) 

Sunday, 22 September 1996

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR       1-2    LEICESTER CITY            24,159 
Wilson(pen 64)                 Claridge(22) Marshall(86)

Saturday, 21 September 1996

ASTON VILLA             0-0    MANCHESTER UNITED         39,339  

BLACKBURN ROVERS        1-1    EVERTON                   27,091  
Donis(32)                      Unsworth(37)
LEEDS UNITED            0-1    NEWCASTLE UNITED          36,070  
LIVERPOOL               5-1    CHELSEA                   40,739  
Fowler(15) Berger(42,49)       Leboeuf(pen 85)
Myers(og 45) Barnes(57)
MIDDLESBROUGH           0-2    ARSENAL                   29,629  
                               Hartson(3) Wright(27)
NOTTINGHAM FOREST       0-2    WEST HAM UNITED           23,352  
                               Bowen(45) Hughes(54)
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY     0-0    DERBY COUNTY              23,934  

SUNDERLAND              1-0    COVENTRY CITY             19,459  

Table after 23 September 1996

Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD  Pts

Liverpool                     7    5    2    0   16    5   11   17 
Newcastle United              7    5    0    2   10    6    4   15 
Arsenal                       7    4    2    1   15    8    7   14 
Manchester United             7    3    4    0   16    6   10   13 
Sheffield Wednesday           7    4    1    2    9    9    0   13 
Wimbledon                     7    4    0    3   10    7    3   12 
Aston Villa                   7    3    3    1    8    5    3   12 
Chelsea                       7    3    3    1   10    9    1   12 
Middlesbrough                 7    3    2    2   14    9    5   11 
Derby County                  7    2    4    1    8    8    0   10 
Sunderland                    7    2    3    2    6    4    2    9 
Tottenham Hotspur             7    2    2    3    6    6    0    8 
West Ham United               7    2    2    3    6   10   -4    8 
Leicester City                7    2    2    3    5    9   -4    8 
Leeds United                  7    2    1    4    6   12   -6    7 
***EVERTON***                 7    1    3    3    6   10   -4    6 
Nottingham Forest             7    1    3    3    8   13   -5    6 
Coventry City                 7    1    1    5    3   13  -10    4 
Southampton                   7    0    2    5    6   12   -6    2 
Blackburn Rovers              7    0    2    5    4   11   -7    2


This League Table Update provided by Lawrence "Leagueman" Breakey

This Match Report Compilation was prepared by Michael Kenrick for Marko Poutiainen. 12 Dec 1996.