Southampton v Everton

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FA Carling Premiership 96/97 - Game 28
Wednesday 5 March 1997
The Dell, Southampton

Result: Southampton (0) 2 - Everton (2) 2
Slater (59), Short (og 61); Ferguson (11), Speed (27)

Southampton: Taylor, Dodd (Charlton, 70), Dryden, Lundekvam, Benali (Slater, 46), Van Gobbel, Magilton, Neilson, Le Tissier, Berkovic (Evans, 46), Ostenstad.
Subs Not Used: Moss, Maddison. Booked: None.

Everton: Southall, Barrett, Phelan, Watson(c), Unsworth, Parkinson, Thomsen (74 Stuart), Short, Barmby (81 Branch), Ferguson, Speed.
Booked: Speed.
Subs Not Used: Rideout, Hottiger, Speare. Unavailable: Hinchcliffe, Gerrard, Grant, O'Connor (all injured).

Ref: Paul Durkin Att: 15,134 League Position: 12th Results and League Table

Previous Match: Everton v Arsenal -- Next Match: Leeds United v Everton

Match Summary

Brian Scovell, SoccerNet: Southampton manager Graeme Souness denied close friend Joe Royle the win he needed to relieve the pressure at Everton with an astonishing tactical switch at half time. Southampton were 2-0 down and being torn apart when Souness brought on substitutes Robbie Slater and Mike Evans and reshuffled half his team to transform the game at the Dell.

Matthew Le Tissier, fresh from his match-winning exploits at St James' Park, smashed a curving 30-yard shot against Neville Southall's left-hand post in the opening minutes as Southall stood motionless. But Everton, who won 7-1 against the Saints at home on November 16, took the lead after 11 minutes when a lean-looking Duncan Ferguson, way out on the edge of the area, headed downwards. The effort did not seem to carry excessive power but somehow the ball bounced up into the back of the net.

The goal sapped the Saints' confidence as the game changed course dramatically. When Southall booted the ball down the left, Ferguson again won the aerial battle with ease and Nick Barmby's resulting shot was saved low down by Southampton goalkeeper Maik Taylor.

Everton had lost six of their last eight matches but they went further ahead in the 27th minute when Gary Speed took on Earl Barrett's crossfield pass and sped on through an under-populated Saints' midfield before sending a low shot past goalkeeper Maik Taylor, who might have done better as the effort passed close to his left hand. The shot was close enough to Taylor for him to have done better. And that, added to the way he kept fumbling kickouts, only added to the Saints' jitters.

Home manager Graeme Souness had scrapped his 3-5-2 formation in favour of a flat back four, with club captain Francis Benali in his familiar left back role. Benali was one of his side's more composed players. Most of the indecision was on the right where the Dutch defender Ulrich van Gobbel once more irritated the capacity Dell crowd with his rashness and poor positional play in Southampton's flat back four.

But Alan Neilsen got the Saints going just before half time with a neat interchange with Egil Ostenstad which ended with the Norwegian striker having a header deflected behind.

Southampton's Israeli international Eyal Berkovic, so influential earlier in the season, found Joe Parkinson a tough opponent while Le Tissier found himself squeezed out of the action. Moments before the break, Saints captain Francis Benali was caught out of position by Barrett's run down the right and Barrett's shot from Barmby's swift return forced Taylor to save with an outstretched foot.

Souness' half time masterstroke, which also saw Le Tissier switch into Eyal Berkovic's position and Ulrich van Gobbel move into a back three, brought their reward in the 59th minute when Slater scored his first goal for the club after Ostenstad cleverly laid a pass from Le Tissier back to him. Remarkably, Southampton were level two minutes later when Craig Short headed into his own net as Jason Dodd overhit a lob towards Ostenstad.

Be assured, we deserved better

James Wrout:  My Saint mate failed to turn up at the station, so I had to curse my luck, hope that it wasn't an omen, and follow a big group of Southampton fans (at a discreet distance) in the hope that they were heading for the ground. I arrived, and eventually accessed the away end -- through the car park of a church, St Mark's, though I would've thought that St Matthew The Saviour's would've been more appropriate.

A packed house, a bit of drizzle, a playing surface like sh*t off a shovel, and a big fluffy dog mascot who kept kicking the ball at the roz.. er I mean policemen. When the teams were read out, our one change was Short for Stuart, which meant we were playing with three centre-halves and two wing-backs.

First Half

The first action came on about 6 minutes when Le Tissier picked the ball up about 30 yards out. He wasn't challenged, approached the box and let fly. I saw Nev stand still and foolishly hoped that this meant it was going well wide. Boing!! against the right-hand post, rebounded behind Nev and out for a throw.

That was Southampton's only real threat all half.

We were pretty much rampant throughout the first half, with JR's wing-back system working great. This was mainly because Southampton's midfield gave us so much room it was unbelievable. They concentrated their men more around their own box, and consequently we had few chances.

On 11 minutes we had a corner swung in by Barmby, which reached Dunc at the far post and somehow went in back at the near post going past at least four Saints' defenders on the way. Their keeper (neither Woods nor Beasant, but a bloke called Stephens) was stationary.

Another quarter-of-an-hour's dominance and then we were in dreamland. For those of you who haven't seen the second goal, it started on the right-hand corner of our penalty area:

Goal of the Month, easy.

As we played in their half, their only attempts at attack seemed to involve a ball to Le Tiss, who then had to play it back -- that's if Rhino let him get anywhere near it. In this game we seemed to be getting the old Unsie back, and not the Rhino-lite which has played recently.

Rhino gave us (the visiting fans) applause before the match ("Thanks for giving me a boot up the arse" perhaps?), and started the game playing purely on determination and aggression, until the confidence came oozing back. By the second half, the Rhino Runs were in full flow, but more often than not without the ball, as Phelan and Speed worked the left flank at will.

Second Half

Slater was brought on in the Saints' midfield, and he saved the game for them. His added iron meant that the second half was more even, and the rocket given to the home side by Sourness in the dressing room meant that they attacked us for about 15 minutes.

Sadly, the two goals were very avoidable. The first was simply not cleared, and as the ball pinged about around the edge of the box, Slater got put through. Don't ask me who by, I've no clue. He was the only one showing composure as he slotted past Nev.

We were briefly rattled, and the noise from the Saints fans baying for blood was tremendous for such a little ground. During the first half, I'd noticed that, on a couple of occasions our defence had not heard Nev calling instructions, and this time within two minutes of the first goal Short headed a tame diagonal cross into his own net, unchallenged, as Nev came to collect it. We had shot ourselves in the foot again, but as soon as it had arrived, the nerves disappeared -- though not on the terraces.

We were not threatened again, and went forward with ease once more. The midfield battle was hotting up, and Thomsen seemed to be wimping out. His number was held up and I cheered as I thought that I saw Branch standing by. Attack, attack, attack, I thought.

But it was Stuart, whose 20 minutes saw no real input. Branch got 8 minutes (why not 90?) in place of Barmby who had looked useful, but -- unlike the excellent Speed -- had never been on the same wavelength as his teammates, and so had seen little ball.

Dunc headed just wide once, and also straight to the keeper, and Barrett came close twice in the first half as he foraged down the right wing. He even came off the touchline occasionally to fill in behind the attack, with a bit of help from Thomsen/Stuart. He showed more skill than I would've given him credit for, but still wasn't as good as Phelan down the left, who admittedly had support from Speed.


Unlucky Blues. But a poor Saints side. I suffered a lot of "You're not singing any more" on the train back to Brighton, but I sat there smugly as I thought to myself:  "At least WE'RE not going down!!"


Oh yeah, and we had a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals which, given the fussy nature of the ref, we were perhaps unlucky not to get one for holding. But the ref was Durkin from Dorset, which is very near to Southampton...

Everton should have won

Fergus Duncanson:  "Judge me by results, not performances," or words to that effect. It was Mike Walker speaking, not Joe Royle, but Royle had better be glad he didn't say it. Nevertheless, many seem to be doing just that, especially on ToffeeNet (the Everton Internet Mailing List) over the past two months.

I haven't read my ToffeeNet mail today, but I suspect I know what I'll see when I do. The doom-and-gloom-merchants will be out in force, demanding to know how Royle can stay after this game, a game the vast majority didn't see. They didn't see how Everton should have won.

First Half

The game was reminiscent of the corresponding fixture a year ago, not only in the scoreline but (somehow 2-2 looked likely after this) Le Tissier hit the frame of the goal inside five minutes, in rather more spectacular fashion this time: a free-kick, 30 yards out, which Nielsen rolled to him and he walloped onto the post.

Southall just stood and watched. The ball rebounded across the face of Neville's goal, and out for a throw-in, such was the venom of the shot. Le Tissier, who never looks happy at the best of times, trudged (his "trudge" is almost the dictionary definition of the word) dejectedly into the area.

This apart, Everton controlled the first half, defending on the halfway line and containing Saints effectively. Before long, they were in front. Barmby's right-wing corner was deep to the back post, where Duncan met it with a header onto the ground and up, over any number of players (of both sides), taking an eternity to drop into the net.

On 27 minutes, Gary Speed scored his umpteenth goal against Saints this season. The instigator was Earl Barrett (yes, Earl Barrett), who looks much better without Kanchelskis in front of him. Earl did pretty well going forward from his wing-back role, even managing to get a shot in late in the first half.

For the goal, Barrett was on the counterattack, with Terry Phelan haring up in support. Barrett's ball across the area looked destined for Phelan, but Speed intercepted with a superb first touch which took him clear on goal past a defender. His second touch was equally good, a crisp right-foot finish from 12 yards.

Another defender who played surprisingly well (after his Arsenal nightmare) was Unsworth, performing his convincing impression of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde. He was often marking Le Tissier, who played in a midfield/attack role behind Ostenstad, although it's true to say he made most of his challenges on the Mercurial Channel-IslanderTM in the air, where he was always going to have the beating of him. This didn't stop him rhino-ing forward once or twice and combining well with Terry Phelan to put Nick Barmby through on the left, but NB couldn't quite wrap his Predators around it enough to trouble Taylor.

Second Half

After half-time, both sides were exactly what they hadn't been previously: Everton unsure at the back, Saints threatening up-front. The goal had been coming. Everton were now defending on the edge of the area, and on 59 minutes they allowed Robbie Slater (half-time sub for Benali) to find space in a scramble to finish decisively.

And then, apparently milliseconds later- oh, dear- the own goal. I'd been thinking: "If they got one they'd get two..." Apparently, so had Craig Short. As Jason Dodd headed tamely across goal, it was difficult to make out Short's intention, with nobody within five yards of him -- head it back to Neville, or over the bar? Maybe he tried both, but did neither. As soon as it made contact with his head, had I been closer I could have picked the square in the net where it would hit.

The own-goal ruined an otherwise sound game for the world's least-accurately-named centre-half; indeed there were times when the side seemed to be composed entirely of Craig Short, as he was our most potent attacking force at least twice. Having said that, he made a crucial saving header late on, which partially redeemed him.

Hopefully this game will be a microcosm of the season as a whole....starts promisingly, goes awfully wrong after halfway and finishes reasonably well. We had the better of the last 20 minutes, Duncan going very close with a header that had the whole away section celebrating too soon.

However, Southampton still might have won it. Neville made his first save with seven minutes left, Le Tissier (should have done better!) getting free on the right but not managing to beat him.


TEAM 7- Unfortunate. But for the og, we'd probably have won. I want the season to end right now, and the players look like they do too (once they lose the lead). Two steps forward, one step back -- sums up JR's first three seasons.

Comment on Short's Own Goal

Louise Williams: Has Short ever scored such a stunning goal as Southampton's second last night? He powered that one home. The BBC commentator on Sportsnight said,

"Well, I don't think that Neville Southall will be sitting next to Craig Short on the coach home."

Neville Southall was purple with rage!! Short just held his head in his hands for what seemed like an eternity! The first own goal of his career, apparently. Did he have to make it look so awful and avoidable?!

Southampton in luck at last

Steve Tongue, Electronic Telegraph: A STIRRING recovery from a 2-0 half-time deficit brought Southampton another point for the relegation fight last night thanks to an own goal by Craig Short. It was deserved reward for some true grit as Everton lost their earlier composure and the home team's luck changed.

All that was lacking was a winning goal from Matthew Le Tissier -- Neville Southall prevented that with a save at his near post seven minutes from the end.

The first half-hour had featured one stroke of strugglers' misfortune and two Everton goals, with the frustration belonging to Le Tissier. Given far too much space in the sixth minute following a free-kick 40 yards out, he took two strides forward and struck a delicious shot that bounced off the inside of the far post.

Five minutes later, Everton scored in their first serious attack, Duncan Ferguson rising to head Nick Barmby's corner down into the ground, from where it bounced over two defenders on the line. The lead was doubled in the 27th minute, as both Everton wing-backs broke out at pace. Earl Barrett's pass appeared to be aimed at Terry Phelan, before Gary Speed intercepted it to beat Maik Taylor.

A double substitution at half-time had the desired result when one of the players brought on, Robbie Slater, drove in his first goal for the club within a quarter of an hour. Soon afterwards Short headed Jason Dodd's innocuous cross neatly into his own net.

Report Copyright The Electronic Telegraph

Slater sparks Saints' transformation

Mark Redding, The Guardian: Southampton kept up the pressure on the beleaguered Joe Royle with an amazing second-half comeback at the Dell last night. It left the Everton manager in danger of being sucked into a relegation battle that could bring the club's 42-year tenure in the top flight to an end.

Everton have endured a disastrous new year so far. They have lost six of their last nine league games and won only one, and their interest in the FA Cup was ended at home by First Division's Bradford City.

'We've just had a mad spell,' said Royle, shrugging off this draw as a point earned. 'In December we were sixth in the league and then we were hit by injuries. We think we're too good to be where we are, and it's in our hands now.'

At least Everton have abandoned their long-ball game, which was threatening to bring the School of Science into disrepute, and in the first half they promised a repeat of their 7-1 victory over the Saints at Goodison in November.

After an early scare when a Le Tissier special cannoned off the post, the visitors took command in the 11th minute. Barmby swung in a corner and Ferguson came rampaging in from the back of the box to head the ball down into the rain-soaked turf, and it bounced into the net for the Scot's eighth league goal of the season.

In the 27th minute Everton wet two up. Barmby's overhead kick fell for Barrett, who turned the ball inside; Speed charged through at an acute angle an rifled a low shot past Taylor.

At half-time Slater and the £500,000 signing from Plymouth, Mike Evans, came on and Southampton were transformed.

In the 58th minute they pulled a goal back when Slater played wall-passes off Le Tissier and Ostenstad before firing in his first goal for the club. In the 61st minute they were level; Short, under no pressure whatsoever, rose to meet an aimless cross from Dodd and headed the ball into his own goal.

Southampton's Graeme Souness sounded the more shell-shocked afterwards. 'We will have to win our home games if we want to stay up,' he said.

Short own goal seals Southampton recovery

Richard Brereton, The Independent: Southampton refused to give in to a seemingly lost cause at The Dell last night and battled to take a share of the points.

Duncan Ferguson punished the Saints for some slack marking when he scored with a free header after just 11 minutes. Nick Barmby swung over a deep corner from the right and Ferguson was left unchallenged as he rose to power in a downward header for his ninth goal of the season.

It was just the start Southampton, deep in relegation trouble, did not want, and things went from bad to worse when Gary Speed increased Everton's lead after 27 minutes.

Earl Barrett made a surging run down the right flank and played a low ball into the centre. Speed picked it up on the edge of the penalty area and gave himself space to slot it past Maik Taylor in the Southampton goal.

Graham Souness made two changes at half-time in an attempt to make a comeback. Robbie Slater replaced Francis Benali and Eyal Berkovitch made way for the striker Mike Evans, who came on for his debut after his £500,000 move from Plymouth Argyle.

The double substitution had the desired effect as Saints hauled themselves level with two goals in as many minutes. The first came after 59 minutes, Slater scoring his first goal on his 19th appearance for Southampton.

The Australian international exchanged passes with Egil Ostenstad in a neat build-up on the edge of the penalty area before blasting the ball past Southall. Then, after 61 minutes, Jason Dodd crossed from the right and the Everton defender Craig Short headed past the advancing Southall and into his own net.

Taylor kept Saints on terms after 65 minutes with an important save from a header by Barmby as Everton sprang back into life. Joe Royle, the Everton manager, then brought Graham Stuart on for Claus Thomsen, but he failed to end a dreadful run in which his team have now taken just 10 points from their last 42.

Souness cheered by second-half revival

Russell Kempton, The Times: SOUTHAMPTON conjured a stirring second-half performance from the ashes of an awful first-half display to move up a position in the FA Carling Premiership at The Dell last night. That they recovered so well to edge above West Ham United into eighteenth place will have given them a temporary lift; that they still have much to do to reach safety will temper their excitement.

Everton should ponder a while, too. Though they are now 12th, 8 points clear of the relegation scramble, it will not take much for them to be dragged into it.

Still, the managers remained optimistic. "I think we are a lot better than our position suggests, but we need to get the points to prove it," Joe Royle, of Everton, said. Graeme Souness, of Southampton, offered similar sentiments. "If we play to our true capabilities, I'm sure we can stay up," he said.

Had Le Tissier's early 30-yard swirler gone in, instead of crashing against a post, Southampton might have carried on where they left off away to Newcastle United on Saturday. Everton capitalised swiftly on this escape, Ferguson's header from Barmby's corner bouncing over the heads of a helpless gaggle of defenders on the line. Speed soon added a second, from Barrett's pass.

For the second half, Souness brought on Slater for Benali, giving more bite to the midfield, and Evans replaced Berkovic, giving Ostenstad more support up front. Result? Two goals in three minutes.

Slater reduced the deficit with his first goal for the club after Ostenstad had laid the ball back to him. Then, a hopeful lob forward from Dodd was nodded over Southall and into his own net by Short. Honours even, but a long way to go yet. Perhaps for both clubs.

Results and League Table

Wednesday, 5 March 1997

CHELSEA                 1-1    BLACKBURN ROVERS          25,784
Minto (63)                     Pedersen (62)
LEICESTER CITY          1-0    ASTON VILLA               20,626
Claridge (66)
MIDDLESBROUGH           6-1    DERBY COUNTY              29,739
Kinder(24) Ravanelli(54,82,85) Simpson (90)
Hignett(70) Beck(81)
                               Carbone(52,87) Blinker(58)
SOUTHAMPTON             2-2    EVERTON                   15,134
Slater(59) Short(og:61)        Ferguson(11) Speed(27)

Tuesday, 4 March 1997

SUNDERLAND              0-4    TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR         20,785
                               Iversen(2,9,62) Nielsen(26)

Table after 5 March 1997

Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD  Pts
Manchester United            28   16    9    3   56   31   25   57
Liverpool                    28   15    8    5   46   21   25   53
Arsenal                      29   14    9    6   47   26   21   51
Newcastle United             27   14    6    7   51   31   20   48
Aston Villa                  29   13    7    9   35   27    8   46
Sheffield Wednesday          28   11   12    5   37   32    5   45
Wimbledon                    27   12    8    7   39   32    7   44
Chelsea                      27   11   10    6   42   38    4   43
Leicester City               27   10    6   11   33   38   -5   36
Leeds United                 28   10    6   12   23   31   -8   36
Tottenham Hotspur            28   10    5   13   34   38   -4   35
Everton                      28    8    9   11   36   42   -6   33
Blackburn Rovers             27    7   11    9   28   26    2   32
Derby County                 29    7   11   11   31   44  -13   32
Coventry City                29    6   11   12   26   39  -13   29
Sunderland                   28    7    8   13   23   38  -15   29
Nottingham Forest            28    6    9   13   24   43  -19   27
Southampton                  27    6    7   14   37   46   -9   25
West Ham United              27    6    7   14   24   37  -13   25
Middlesbrough                27    6    7   14   37   49  -12   22*

* 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. 6 Mar 1997.