Everton (1) 1 - Leicester
City (0) 1
Scorers: Branch (17); Marshall (70).
Everton: Southall, Unsworth, Watson, Phelan,
Stuart, Ferguson, Speed, Barmby (Hottiger 76), Parkinson (Thomsen 46), Short,
Subs Not Used: Gerrard, Ball, Dunne. Unavailable: Hinchcliffe, Grant, O'Connor, Barrett, Rideout (all injured).
Leicester City: Leicester: Keller, Walsh, Izzet, Lennon, Parker, Heskey,
Kamaark, Prior, Elliott, Marshall, Guppy.
Subs Not Used: Poole, Whitlow, Watts, Taylor, Robins. Booked: Prior, Elliott.
|Ref: S W Dunn||Att: 30,368||League Position: 14th||Results and League Table|
Previous Match: Aston Villa v Everton -- Next Match: Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
SoccerNet: The comfort zone, that no-man's land in mid-table, has become the modest target of two clubs with contrasting reasons to remember this season. Everton, under the temporary managership of their captain and defensive cornerstone Dave Watson, were in greater need of the points than the Coca-Cola Cup finalists so a fine goal after 17 minutes from one of their home-grown talents, 18-year-old Michael Branch, soothed their nerves.
David Unsworth delivered a free-kick at a height some defenders would regard as nosebleed territory. Duncan Ferguson simply nodded down and Branch spun to score his first league goal at Goodison Park. The home fans' anxiety had been evident from the moment Ian Marshall threatened a goal for Leicester in the seventh minute. Craig Short's challenge did just enough to put the former Everton player off his stroke and the ball flew wide.
Marshall was one of three players recalled by Leicester after missing Wembley because they were cup-tied. Matt Elliott and Stephen Guppy were the others and the fresh legs were welcome. Leicester, with an eye on next week's Coca-Cola Cup replay against Middlesbrough, left out Steve Claridge, Michael Whitlow and the injured Simon Grayson.
Joe Parkinson, who has vowed to ignore the pain of a recurring knee injury until Everton are safe from relegation, was a foot too high with a shot from 25 yards. Then Branch, an England Under-21 international, scored but Leicester were unfortunate not to be level within a minute when Garry Parker curled a free kick against the bar from 25 yards.
It was a warning which Everton heeded, picking up the pace again and dominating the remainder of the half. Nick Barmby forced Kasey Keller into a diving save which would have been to no avail had a blue shirt been close by. Keller needed the help of an upright to push away a powerful header from Craig Short but it was an important save and Everton's pressure brought yellow cards for Leicester defenders Pontus Kaamark and Elliott for rash tackles before Marshall thumped a shot wide from 20 yards.
Parkinson's optimism that his knee would hold out proved unfounded. Claus Thomsen replaced him at the start of the second half but Everton lost their momentum and the old nerve-ends jangled as Leicester penned them in their own half. Guppy volleyed a shot over and then Muzzy Izzet headed over from Marshall's cross. Leicester went even closer when Elliott headed against the inside of a post and Neville Southall somehow managed to scramble the ball away.
Leicester were not to be denied, though, and Masrshall volleyed the equaliser in off a post from Guppy's 70th-minute cross. Elliott then had a header cleared off the line by Terry Phelan as Leicester pressed for victory.
Guy McEvoy: A change in the better for the weather gave us all the rare opportunity to travel to the game in shirt-sleeves and shades, unfortunately, for those looking for an omen the change for the better wasn't to be reflected on the pitch. Same old Everton. Same old story.
Those who got in the ground in time (not many as due to the IRA scare the police were searching everyone on entry, so those used to turning up five minutes before kick-off were confronted with a long queue and missed the start) were treated to the curious news that Graham Stuart was starting the game as a right back (in a sort of wing-back way). The man surely only now needs to play keeper to complete the set for the season. Hottiger, for whom this piece of squad selection must have come as a devasting though fair blow, started on the bench with fellow arch-villain Thomsen. Barmby made a start in his ideal position of just behind the front two of Branch and Ferguson giving him a glorious chance to live up to his promise (and price tag).
Like on Saturday the first half signs were good. When Everton got the ball they moved it in the right direction, often, (shock, horror) along the floor and often (shock, horror) showing some good understanding between teammates. On top of this there was some very nifty fast closing down of men which had just a suggestion of the old dog spirit being thrown back in the ring.
We had several decent early chances, Graham Stuart put in a decent cross that Barmby just had snatched away from him, Short managed a quite supreme header from a Barmby free-kick which was somehow reached by the keeper to push it onto the post... but, for all our imaginative play, the breakthrough came from young Branch in a Route One long-ball move. Watson (not Unsworth as the press have reported) took a long free-kick straight down the middle of the park from the edge of the centre circle in the Everton half. Duncan Ferguson flicked it on another five yards and Branch turned a full 180 degrees to kick it first time low into the bottom right hand corner finally burying his Goodison Park hoodoo.
However, the sheer relief we all felt perhaps lifted our spirits prematurely, it is easy to see with hindsight that the signs of a comeback were already there in the first half. Straight after the goal Leicester caught Southall off his line in a free-kick which the bar was kind enough to deflect away and, despite not having much possession, they did pick up a worrying number of chances. Nevertheless, we applauded the team as they left for half time, more of the same we all felt would secure us those vital three points.
As an aside I had began to ponder who is 'really' managing Everton at the moment, twice in the first half Watson wandered over to where he could get in earshot of Donachie and you could see Willy yelling at him, finger wagging, and Dave sheepishly nodding. Later in the game when the substitution was made, as on Saturday, it appeared to be a unilateral decision from the bench with no visible or obvious signal from Watson. Anyway, whoever is pulling the strings they want to sort out the half-time talk because again the break seemed to be the death of Everton.
Parkinson didn't reappear and so was replaced by Thomsen, thus adding to the anxiety creeping in.
The second half really was another white-flagged Everton display. Again, after such promise in the first half, we choose to concentrate on the long ball, which was to constantly cost us possession. With Leicester stepping up a gear, this was fatal. Given the seriousness of the situation, sitting in the stands it felt like we were being subjected to a bombardment.
The travelling fans droned on and on with the longest rendition of the monotonous "[whichever manager][whatever colours] army" chant we've heard all season, I reckon they must have managed a full quarter of an hour of it without a break. Their team responded to this droning tempo and we clung on just as long as we could. Terry Phelan twice managed to head goal bound efforts off the line, but eventually Guppy charged down the line shadowed by Stuart but managed to whip in a cross that Ian bloody Marshall converted with style on the volley. Thirty thousand Evertonians' heads collapsed into their hands.
Our last throw of the dice was to remove the ineffective Barmby, let Stuart have a go in his place, and bring Hottiger on. It wasn't to make any real difference and in the end I guess we just need be thankful that Leicester didn't complete the turnover and at least be glad of the point.
Richard Marland: I'm scared. I'm very, very scared that we are going to go down. We need one more win for safety, and I can't see where it's going to come from. Half the team is struggling for fitness and there is nothing in the squad to replace them with.
Despite the lack of numbers in the squad, Dave Watson still managed to drop the ineffectual Thomsen and Hottiger; in their place came Barmby and Branch. We lined up with a back five: Short, Unsworth and Watson in the centre, Phelan and Stuart as wing backs. Speed, Parkinson and Barmby in midfield and Branch and Dunc up front.
The first 45 minutes went quite well; despite looking frail at the back everytime questions were asked of our defence, we largely controlled the first half. We played the ball through midfield quite well and had a number of chances. Unfortunately only one was converted, Branch doing well to swivel onto a Dunc flick and despatch it into the bottom corner. There had been some ominous warnings at our end, but we ended the half as deserved leaders.
The second half started badly as Parkinson was replaced by Thomsen. Parkinson had clearly been struggling (a legacy of his knee injury which needs complete rest to cure), but had still put in a reasonable performance. Despite this being a supposed like-for-like swap, it had a disastrous result on the shape of our team as we very quickly lost our way. We proceeded to put in a truly awful second half performance. We stopped playing the ball through midfield and started launching it towards Dunc, the result was that we failed to hold onto the ball for any length of time. It seemed that as soon as we got the ball we gave it straight back to Leicester.
Leicester clearly sensed that we were there for the taking and built up some attacking momentum. We had a number of close escapes, one in particular which hit the inside of the post and bounced back along the goalline. Their eventual goal was no surprise, it was equally no surprise to find it was ex-Evertonian Ian Marshall who scored with a good volley which left Nev with no chance. They continued to have the better of the remainder of the half but seemed to settle for the draw, -- despite that, they still had a header cleared off the line by Terry Phelan.
Full time came as a relief, there was no sense that we could have scored to win the game. We did have a bit of pressure but failed to test their keeper (Keller didn't have a save to make in the second half). Leicester always looked the more likely to win.
So. where to from here? A number of players are carrying injuries, Parkinson clearly struggled prior to being taken off, Branch also finished the game, almost literally, on his knees. You can add to this Phelan, Short, Unsworth, Ferguson and Barmby who are all carrying injuries, and then you look at our bench and see it occupied by Dunne, Hottiger, and Ball. The cupboard is bare, it is very scary.
Team 5 After a reasonable first half a truly awful second half. We were deficient in all parts of the field, but particularly at the back where we were frequently all over the place.
Steve Kirkwood: The Everton season -- which has been pouring down the drain -- was last night plugged a little, courtesy of a deserved draw, and the shining light that is Michael Branch. Branch had a very good game but, as with the rest of the team, faded physically against a side that had played 120 mins at Wembley on Sunday. It was Leicester who were striving for the three points at the end.
Watson started with at least three players carrying injuries -- Parkinson, Unsworth and Barmby -- there may have been more. With Short, Watson & Unsi making up a back three, Phelan and Stuart as wing backs, Parkinson Barmby and Speed limping around in midfield, Branch started up fron with Ferguson.
Everton started reasonably well, Parkinson firing over from 22 yds after 8 mins, and matching Leicester -- who, without Claridge, were definitely not in a post-Wembley kick-about, and looked one of the physically strongest teams to appear at Goodison this year. Heskey in particular was a handful for Unsworth, who was in no mood to compromise, and clattered the guy throughout the game. Nice one.
After 17 mins, a high ball into the box, Ferguson climbs nods down and Branch snaps it low to Keller's left. Yes! After 18 mins, a long freekick is left by Nev and it hits the bar and rebounds away, nicely judged maybe... After 24 a neat move involving Branch, Barmby and others ends with Branch going over (Penalty!) and Keller saving low from Barmby.
Phelan, player of the match ,crosses for Ferguson from the byline and Keller saves again after 27 mins, and then Short has a great header turned away at the foot of the post from another Phelan cross: good save. Phelan's marker is booked, and Marshall hits one just wide from 25 ydsas the half closes.
Everton are deservedly ahead. What normally happens here is I tell you that we concede three in 15 minutes, and its all over after an hour. But no. The crowd get behind the side, and Leicester's er, "robust" style brings them back in. They are a team who remind one of Wimbledon. Inconquerable spirit, and great fitness. They came right back.
Thomsen is on for Parky, and adds to the backs-to-the-wall effort. After 57 mins, Izzett dives at the far post to head over, 65 mins sees a corner which hits the post, then Neville, Phelan, & the line, not necessarily in that order. 2 mins later Neville's off his line, Gerrard-style and Heskey shoots wide.
Meanwhile, we are trying but not succeeding in playing football, The Foxes are too quick, too agressive to allow any space or time. After 70 mins, Marshall coming on from the right corner of the box, volleys a cross back to Neville's right and its in off the post. 5 mins later, Phelan heads off the line. We hang on and Branch goes down again and Speed overhead kicks over the bar. Fastest 45 minutes I've seen this season, it sped by.
Forget we should have won, we've played worse sides and lost. 1 point was what we desereved and now Watson has to count his fit players, and persuade the crocks to play.
It was noticeable that the crowd were more supportive tonight, and the team responded -- or was it the other way around?
Steve Bickerton: This was a match that Everton just had to win. With only 36 points and games running out, we had to start taking advantage of playing at home. That, however, has been something we seemed to have been singularly incabable of doing since the 7-1 demolition of Southampton.
Player/manager Dave Watson had called for a better scoring record from our forward players following a dismal return of 9 from Duncan Ferguson and one from Michael Branch. Paul Rideout's recall from China was supposed to relieve some of the pressures facing Watson in naming a "strong" side for the game but his return, apparently with a groin strain, means that there were other changes. Stuart played at right wing back with Michael Branch getting on from the start.
The first half began with Everton pushing forward in uncompromising mood. Everybody seemed to be up for this with the sparkling Speed being eclipsed by the pacey and skillful Phelan. Down the left they terrorised a Leicester defence that seemed not to know where to turn or how to deal with a rampant Everton. This is what we'd come for and the 30,368 present roared them on.
On 17 minutes Goodison erupted as somehow Michael Branch turned and sweetly hit the back of the Leicester net. What a reception Twiggy received, and deservedly so. Almost immediately we were silence by a Parker free kick from outside the box that dipped and swerved viciously leaving Southall and stranded and groans of despair waiting to erupt from our throats. And yet, the Gods appeared to be on our side as the ball slammed against the bar and was cleared.
Was this the signal of a turn in fortune? So it seemed as Phelan taunted and tantalised the Foxes defence and Pieman strode purposefully in front of the defence picking up the loose balls. Speed, ever inventive, ever busy, teased Barmby into the game now and again but the England man was far from good as he drifted in and out yet again.
But the second, much needed goal failed to materialise and the referee ducked the difficult (?) decisions.
Now call me fussy but the sight of Matthew Elliot chasing from well inside his own half towards the advancing Phelan (who didn't yet have the ball) and nearly taking his head off with an elbow as the ball arrived at Terry's feet was the easiest sending-off decision I've seen this season. But Mr Dunne refused to panic and brandish the yellow, much to the derision of the home fans. Time again he allowed the Leicester players to stay on the field to receive treatment when the directive is to get them off. In this way the Blues dominance was threatened and their fluent play disrupted. Half time came with the score still 1 - 0 and the faithful wondering if we'd had our good half.
The second half opened to groans from all parts of the ground as nine players entered the fray for Everton. On the touch-line stood Claus Thomsen and his No 15 board was brandished along with the 18 of Parkinson. Joe could only have been injured to have been replaced this way as he had been so dominant first half.
Suddenly, there was a change in the pattern of Everton's play. The urgings and cajoling of Parkinson, the sweep in front of the back three, were gone; the long-striding Dane took centre stage and Everton decided to hide. There is no comparison between the two and Pieman's disappearance immediately made the midfield look pitifully weak. No longer the bite and the pressure of the first half, now it was sit back and try to play out the pretty way.
Leicester sensed the sea change and seemed to step up a gear. But this was a false impression as it was more that Everton stepped off the gas. We eased back, gave them room and lost the impetus. Leicester threw men forward, Heskey and Marshall bumbling their way forward with a purpose and desire that seemed lacking in the centre of Everton's midfield. That Gary Speed played so well trying to cover every inch of that central area was just as well as with Barmby less and less conspicuous and Thomsen playing without the extra passion needed now, we were almost a nine-man team.
The ball continued to come forward from Leicester with Phelan twice clearing off the line, once after a dazzling flick of the hand by Southall and the other after appalling marking at a corner. Still it seemed that this time the Gods were with us until the 70th minute when Unsworth conspired to undo some good passing in midfield, giving Speed no chance with a ball that was intercepted by Kaarmark (I think) and launched forward. Marshall (of all people!) caught the ball firmly on his shin as it dropped from a header back to him and the ball sped past Southall and into the net off a post.
Now it was back to the walls time. There was no excuse for dropping heads this time (not that there ever is). A period of tentative play by Everton ended with them suddenly seeming to be uplifted; Barmby was through heading on to a ball delivered by Branch. At the edge of the box (I'm not sure if it was in or out) Barmby went down, his heel clipped by a desperately retreating defender. "Penalty!" we roared. The referee laughed and waved play on.
Again we went forward and Branch took the ball, back to goal from a Ferguson flick. Four men around him he danced gracefully into the box, chipped at and chopped at by defenders on his way, threaded the ball past the referee who doing a fine impression of an extra defender and was poleaxed not five yards from Mr Dunne's nose. "Play on!" shouted the crowd. "Penalty!" said the ref -- surely it was the other way round? Unaccountably, to the dismay of the whole of the home support and contrary to the evidence battering his eyes, Mr Dunne refused to blow and waved the game on.
Barmby was replaced by Hottiger who slipped into the right back position allowing Stuart to move into the middle. We suddenly looked far more comfortable with the extra bite that that injected. But it was too little, too late as the final fifteen minutes passed in a frenzy of activity at both ends. Either side could have pinched the points at the end but a draw it remained. I couldn't help but feel that the disruptive tactic of stopping play for "injuries" to Leicester players every time Everton seemed to find a rythm was what got the result for Leicester, but the lack of depth in the squad was again shown up with the unused subs being Gerrard, Dunne and Ball.
The saving graces from this game though were many, there was Twiggy's first home goal, a big burden lifted from his young shoulders; there was the excellent linking, especially in the first half, between Phelan and Speed; Pieman's fortitude in front of the defence (let's hope he's recovered for the Spurs gane on Saturday); and the return of Big Dunc's appetite and attitude, though he did appear to lose it towards the end (is there a continuing injury problem?). At the back Watson and Short performed well with Unsworth looking untroubled except an early misplaced pass and his glaring error for the Leicester goal.
At the end I felt that Speed shaded the Man of the Match from Phelan with Parkinson close for his inspiring first half.
Ron Gubba, Electronic Telegraph: EVERTON remain perilously close to the relegation zone after being forced to settle for a point by a Leicester side who showed no reaction to having fought a gruelling two-hour cup final three days beforehand. Steve Guppy, Matthew Elliott and Ian Marshall, who were all cup-tied for Sunday's Coca-Cola Cup final, provided fresh legs for the Midlanders.
Both sides showed an appetite for attack and Everton went ahead in the 17th minute when Duncan Ferguson headed on Dave Watson's long ball and Michael Branch spun to whip the chance past Kasey Keller. Leicester went close to an equaliser two minutes later when Garry Parker rattled the Everton crossbar with a free kick.
Everton almost added to their lead when Craig Short met Nick Barmby's free kick with a header that Keller dived to palm to safety via the foot of a post. Leicester, however, have become famous for their battling spirit and they almost drew level in the 65th minute when Elliott headed against the post. Their deserved equaliser duly arrived five minutes later when Marshall drove the ball home through a crowded area.
Leicester then almost snatched the winner when another goal-bound Elliott header was cleared off the line by Terry Phelan.
Report Copyright The Electronic Telegraph
Peter Ball, The Times: LEICESTER City are indomitable. Second-best for 45 minutes at Goodison Park last night, they came back to take over this FA Carling Premiership game, their unquenchable spirit matched by some enterprising attacking as they fully deserved the draw that takes them close to safety.
It might have been expected that, after their draining two hours at Wembley on Sunday, tiredness would take its toll. Quite the contrary. They got stronger as the game went on, showing once again the qualities that have made them one of the revelations of the season. They had three changes from Wembley but, as Martin O'Neill, their manager, remarked: "Whatever side we have, they keep pulling things out."
Few Evertonians could have complained if Leicester had won. As it was, the home side was left with only two Premiership wins in their past 16 games but there was some consolation for Dave Watson, who saw his side gain their first point since he took over as caretaker-manager.
"The second half was a terrible performance, but we've got to take some heart that we've come away with a point and some encouragement from the first half, when we played very well," Watson said.
Watson had been bemoaning his side's lack of goals before the game, but he has already rekindled their spirit and that of the home supporters. He and his team got a thunderous reception when they came out and the crowd was soon rewarded. Ferguson flicked on Unsworth's free kick and Branch swivelled to beat Keller from close range.
Keller then denied Barmby and a post denied Short, and Everton had to be content with a one-goal lead at the interval. There was to be a key change at half-time. Joe Parkinson, whose contribution in midfield alongside Speed had been important, stayed in the dressing-room with a recurrence of a knee injury.
"That shouldn't have made any difference, it was a straight swap of a player of similar type," Watson said, but it appeared to make a big difference.
For the second half, Leicester were irresistible. Guppy, Heskey, Izzet and Elliott all went close before the equaliser arrived, Marshall meeting Guppy's cross with a volley that flew beyond Southall. "Marshall's been telling us for some time that he's the best volleyer in the club and I suppose that proved it," O'Neill said.
Report Copyright The Times
Dave Hadfield, The Independent: Be it the second half of extra time or of normal time, Leicester are specialists in the long game -- stayers who pride themselves on the spirit and stamina to last the course. They did it again last night at Goodison, seizing the initiative that Everton surrendered to come away with a richly deserved draw that could have been a victory.
City did not leave it as late as they had at Wembley on Sunday, but they had already gone close through Steve Guppy, Muzzy Izzet and Matthew Elliott before they grabbed their equaliser in the 69th minute. It was two players who were signed too late to play in the Coca-Cola Cup final who did the damage, Guppy sending in the cross and the ex-Evertonian Ian Marshall meeting it with a volley that went low through a crowded penalty area.
Everton, playing for the first time [Eh? What About Aston Villa last Saturday??? - Ed] under the caretaker management of Dave Watson, badly needed all three points from this game and for most of the first half they looked likely to get them.
While never producing anything desperately special, they showed enough skill and spirit to make fears that they are slipping deeper into the relegation mire look groundless. With Nick Barmby more involved than for most of his Everton career and the 18-year old Michael Branch linking well with him, they looked capable of carving out openings.
Their goal, in 16 minutes, owed most to the aerial power of Duncan Ferguson, whose knock-down from David Unsworth's long free kick fell for Branch who tucked it neatly into the corner for his first Goodison goal.
Craig Short later had a header pushed on to the post by Kasey Keller, but Everton lost much of their drive and direction when Joe Parkinson, the fetch and carry man who makes their midfield tick, failed to reappear for the second half because of a recurrence of his knee injury.
Leicester, who had hit the bar through Gary Parker soon after Branch's goal, showed all their well-known resilience after the break. They should have won the game when Elliot - a threat every time he went forward as well as a commanding presence in defence - had his header cleared off the line by Terry Phelan.
Everton did rouse themselves a little after that, but as Watson admitted: 'The second half was a terrible performance. In the end we did well to get one point, because they made more chances than us.'
The Guardian: Everton continue to hover dangerously close to the relegation scrap after being held to a 1-1 draw by Leicester City at Goodison Park last night. A poor display after half-time denied Dave Watson a first win since he became player-manager, and he said: 'The second half was a terrible performance and we could have lost.'
Branch had stabbed Everton ahead in the 17th minute but they lost the initiative when Parkinson went off injured at half-time. Leicester had several chances before Marshall hooked home.
Wednesday, 9 April 1997
COVENTRY CITY 3-1 CHELSEA 19,917 Dublin(49) Williams(51) P Hughes(43) Whelan(58) DERBY COUNTY 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON 17,839 Ward (66) Powell (og 90) EVERTON 1-1 LEICESTER CITY 30,368 Branch(17) Marshall(70) SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 2-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 22,667 Atherton(18) Booth(70) Nielsen(43) WEST HAM UNITED 0-0 MIDDLESBROUGH 23,988 WIMBLEDON 0-2 ASTON VILLA 9,015 Milosevic(26) Wright(78)
Table after 9 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 Aston Villa 33 16 8 9 42 28 14 56 Newcastle United 31 15 8 8 60 37 23 53 Sheffield Wednesday 32 13 13 6 43 38 5 52 Chelsea 33 13 10 10 52 50 2 49 Wimbledon 32 12 10 10 42 40 2 46 Tottenham Hotspur 33 12 6 15 40 45 -5 42 Leeds United 33 11 9 13 26 34 -8 42 Leicester City 32 10 10 12 38 45 -7 40 Derby County 33 9 12 12 39 50 -11 39 Blackburn Rovers 32 8 13 11 33 32 1 37 Everton 33 9 10 14 39 49 -10 37 Coventry City 34 8 12 14 32 48 -16 36 West Ham United 32 8 10 14 31 41 -10 34 Sunderland 33 8 10 15 30 49 -19 34 Middlesbrough 32 9 9 14 44 52 -8 33* Southampton 33 7 10 16 43 53 -10 31 Nottingham Forest 34 6 13 15 29 52 -23 31 * Includes 3 pts deducted from Middlesbrough for illegal match postponement
This League Table Update provided by Lawrence "Leagueman" Breakey