Everton (1) 2 - West
Ham United (0) 1
Scorers: Stuart 14, Speed 78; Dicks (pen 87)
Everton: Southall, Barrett, Short, Unsworth,
Hinchcliffe, Kanchelskis, Ebbrell (46 Hottiger), Parkinson (14 Grant), Speed,
Stuart, Branch. Booked: Ebbrell, Branch, Grant.
Subs Not Used: Gerrard, Limpar, Jackson, . Unavailable: Watson, Ferguson, Rideout
West Ham United: Miklosko, Potts (Raducioiu, 70), Dicks, Bilic, Bowen,
Rowland, Bishop (Dumitrescu, 87), Moncur, Hughes, Porfirio, Dowie.
Subs Not Used: Mautone, Breacker, Lampard. Booked: Bishop, Rowland.
|Ref: Graham Barber||Att: 36,571||League Position: 10th||Results and League Table|
Previous Match: Everton v Sheffield Wednesday - Next Match: Nottingham Forest v Everton
SoccerNet: Everton recorded their second Premiership win on the trot thanks largely to an overdue contribution from £3.5m summer signing Gary Speed. The former Leeds midfielder, who has only flickered occasionally for his new club, helped steer Everton to victory at Goodison with the vital second goal after 78 minutes -- a fine finish.
It was only his third of the season. His last in the league came on the opening day when Newcastle were beaten 2-0. Since then his form has dipped and the goals have dried up with his last one coming in the second leg of the Coca-Cola Cup defeat by York last month. Today, though, he was back in the groove with his first goal in eight league matches. The home side needed it, too.
West Ham never gave up the fight and managed to pull back a consolation goal four minutes from time when Julian Dicks blasted a spot kick beyond Neville Southall after Andy Hinchcliffe had brought down the slippery Hugo Porfirio.
Everton endured an anxious last four minutes but were able to hang on for only their third league victory of the season. Manager Joe Royle again called up 17-year-old striker Michael Branch to partner Graham Stuart in attack in the absence of Paul Rideout and Duncan Ferguson.
Porfirio, on loan from Sporting Lisbon, got away from Craig Short after only 10 minutes. The Everton defender's tackle was clumsy and the Hammers made loud appeals for a penalty. However referee Graham Barber waved away their protests and allowed play to continue, much to Everton's relief.
The home side opened the scoring after 14 minutes when Joe Parkinson saw a shot blocked. Hinchcliffe, on England duty in mid-week, drove the ball back in and Stuart got on the end of it to steer it past keeper Ludek Miklosko. Parkinson was forced to go off shortly afterwards and was followed by hobbling colleague John Ebbrell at halftime.
The Hammers were only inches away from getting the equaliser when Iain Dowie latched on to a huge clearance from keeper Miklosko but Neville Southall got up to turn his stinging shot over the bar.
Branch glanced a header wide from a cross by Andrei Kanchelskis but Everton then suffered another scare. Southall again did superbly well to block a header from Dicks after Michael Hughes had swung in a corner and Hinchcliffe cleared off the line.
Speed seemed to have put the game out of the Hammers' reach with 12 minutes to go when he was released by Earl Barrett and directed a 20-yard shot into the corner. Dicks had the last word by scoring from the spot for his third goal of the season.
Guy McEvoy: I'd almost forgotten about this match before it started. With the two-week break, it had been much easier to focus on the forthcoming derby match. West Ham at home doesn't exactly jump out at you on the fixture list. Still, it's with these bread-and-butter games that places in Europe are won and lost (as we found out to our cost last season).
The three points up for grabs today count just as much in the final reckoning as those up for grabs at Anfield next week, so there should be no room for slackness: the passion demanded is identical. Unfortunately, this required passion was never really there. It wasn't so much a story of Everton out-playing the Hammers -- more trying to bore them into submission. If I hadn't quite forgotten about the game before it started I certainly had by the time it finished.
The tedium of this match makes it very difficult to write about. It was one of those games where you find your mind drifting to such excitement as planning to get round to putting those shelves up when you get home. When my mind did return to the excuse for football being played out in front of me it was to ponder how on earth this could possibly be the same team that had convincingly controlled the game against Wednesday.
There were perhaps five moments of note in the entire game. The first was when Dicks decided to lie down for no apparent reason after chasing Branch. I'm gaining a lot of respect for Dicks, his game looks complete and he appears to have regained control of his temperament. He only left the pitch for a matter of moments with this phantom injury but it was long enough for Everton to take advantage of the disorganisation with Parkinson firing a speculative shot which rebounded kindly for Andy Hinchcliffe. Andy did well to play the ball across the face of the goal were the advancing Stuart was able to tap home.
Straight from the goal Parkinson mysteriously made way for Tony Grant and that is by-and-large the story of the first half. The rest of it was appalling.
Everton teased momentarily from the restart by creating three great chances in the first minute, Branch and Stuart the men with the misses. Regrettably, after this early flurry it reverted to the sloppy pace that blighted the first period.
True enough, Everton were now stuck with an unusual line-up, Ebbrell had joined Parkinson with a mysterious absence (probably connected with a knock he took earlier on that saw a spell of close attention from Les Helm). Hottiger came on at right back meaning that everyone's favourite, Earl Barrett, moved to Parkinson's position in front of the back four.
Surprisingly, he didn't do a half bad job, the change in scenery seemed to improve his passing marginally and by the end of the game you could (apart from the obvious) have confused him for the Pieman. Well, OK, on reflection that might be an exaggeration, but he wasn't as bad as you'd have thought he'd be.
Barrett must also take credit for involvement in the build-up to the second goal, Everton's one moment of class in the ninety minutes with the final touch powerfully executed by the otherwise unnoticeable Speed.
2-0 gave us a cushion we didn't really deserve, Southall had been well tested on three occasion's by West Ham and showed the kind of form that had earned him such praise during his mid-week international duty, the save from Dowie's route one volley being the pick of a competent bunch.
The result was made to look fairer when Hinchcliffe decided to make amends for a first half penalty appeal that had been denied for the Hammers by coming up with a challenge that even a referee carrying a 10-Grand bribe would find difficult to turn down. Dicks fired it in.
This at least led to some sort of excitement for the crowd for the final four minutes, albeit each of them papping themselves thinking we were going to blow it again. Thankfully, four minutes just wasn't quite long enough.
So to sum up this was as bad a performance as we've come up with. But for the result, it was up there with the Wimbledon game. Those of us who pay good money to travel to GP left feeling slightly short-changed. However if there is something good to take from this game, it appears to be that there was something of a role reversal on Merseyside. It was a day when Liverpool played well and lost and Everton played dire and won. Be grateful for these points.
If I've forgotten to mention anything it was probably because I was asleep.
Richard Marland: Having laid to rest the nightmare statistic that we hadn't won a league game in September since 1993, we learn that the same nightmare statistic exists for October. Could we lay this one to rest at the first attempt? Certainly the optimism was there; after the morale-boosting win against Sheffield Wednesday we had the rare luxury of fielding the same side, and we were playing against an inconsistent and hardly terrifying West Ham side.
We started off promisingly enough. It wasn't exactly the avalanche of chances that we saw against Wednesday but it was none the less a bright and positive opening 15 minutes from the Blues. It was no great surprise when we took the lead at the 15 minute mark. Joe Parkinson had a shot charged down and the ball ran to the left edge of the penalty area. Hinchcliffe was the first to react and he got there to deliver a hard low cross across the goalmouth and find the incoming Graham Stuart who claimed his second in two games.
The goal brought about a watershed in the game as it saw the last contribution of Joe Parkinson. He didn't look in any discomfort as he left the pitch but the substitution came so quickly that it must have been an injury. My mate reckoned that he had been clogged by a West Ham player but I must admit that I didn't spot this.
Once again the absence of Joe Parkinson showed us how important he is to us. Despite the fact that we had a central midfielder to come on in Tony Grant and we still had John Ebbrell who can do the Parkinson mopping up job, things just never looked the same as we became increasingly disjointed.
The remainder of the half is best forgotten. Despite our attempts to play football with Nev repeatedly rolling the ball out to Unsworth, our passing game never convinced as we struggled to negotiate the massed ranks of West Ham. West Ham didn't exactly help the spectacle as they seemed reluctant to bring the game to Everton. The result was a very, very poor final 30 minutes.
If the loss of Parkinson was a blow, worse was to follow as we lined up for the second half without Ebbrell. He had been injured in a collision with Ian Bishop on the edge of the West Ham penalty area, It looked to me like it was a fifty-fifty ball but the referee saw it as a foul by Ebbrell (hardly the only time that the crowd and referee disagreed). Ebbrell had to go off for treatment. He did return but clearly the damage had been done.
For the second half, Hottiger came on for Ebbrell. To my surprise, Hottiger lined up at right back with Barrett moving into central midfield. I had the understanding that Hottiger had played in midfield for Switzerland so I thought that he would have gone into central midfield. Having said that, Barrett actually made a reasonable fist of central midfield. I don't think he could actually make a career out of playing there but, as an emergency measure, he did a reasonable job.
If the loss of Parkinson had made us look disjointed, the loss of both of our ball-winning central midfielders saw us seriously struggle. Once again, the issue of on-field leadership came to the fore. With two potential leaders gone, we looked somewhat rudderless. No-one took the team by the scruff of the neck and made them play. Perversely we actually started the second half very positively: within 60 seconds, we had had 2 clear shots on target. This though appeared to have more to do with a half time rollicking than any clear idea of a game plan.
West Ham started to look intermittently dangerous, Nev producing a top class save to deny Dowie. Fortunately, West Ham were somewhat toothless up front and didn't appear to have any real belief that they could get something out of the game. This lack of belief rather flew in the face of the obvious unease amongst the Everton players. It looked to these eyes as though it was one of those games that we were going to allow to slip away.
It came as something of a surprise when we actually scored from an excellent passing movement down the left flank. Gary Speed, Grant, Barrett and Stuart all combined neatly, the end result being to set up Gary Speed just outside the penalty area. His fierce shot was parried by Miklosko put still had enough power to find it's way into the net. Relief all round, surely the victory was secured.
We were then treated to the unedifying sight of an Everton team, 2-0 up at home playing for time during the remaining 10 minutes. In fact, this playing for time had started with a good 20 minutes to go. The thought was bandied around that if West Ham did score then we didn't fancy the chances of Everton holding out.
Well, West Ham did score but to our good fortune it came with only 4 minutes to go, -- too late for West Ham to really make things uncomfortable for us. The goal itself came from a penalty stupidly conceded by Hinchcliffe. Down the right hand side of our box he was beaten by his man and lunged in with a late, unnecessary challenge with brought the man down.
I really don't know what Hinchcliffe was thinking. The guy wasn't an immediate threat on goal and he was moving at such speed that there was no guarantee he would have been able to pull any kind of decent ball back. Dicks took the penalty and converted with ease.
(Why is Nev so poor at penalty stopping? How could a mediocre keeper like Paul Cooper of Ipswich be a near genius at saving penalties, whilst Nev, the best keeper of the last decade, is rubbish?)
This match has to go down as one of the worst games I have seen at Goodison in a long while. The last half hour of the first half was a particularly turgid affair. The loss of our two central midfielders was certainly a contributory factor, but I refuse to accept that the players we had out there couldn't have put up a better performance than this. If we play like this against Liverpool (which I don't think we will) we will get destroyed.
Team - 6 - Ignore the result, this was a very poor performance, even allowing for the loss of our 2 central midfielders. Never convincing at the back; lacked bite and penetration in midfield; looked lightweight up front. The questions about leadership and the lack of someone to drive the team forward still need answering. The saving grace was two well worked and well taken goals and an improvement on our recent goals to chances ratio, and of course 3 very valuable points.
Dave Shepherd: Solar eclipses are rare events in Britain. Sizeable eclipses in progress during football matches are so rare you would be exceptionally lucky to witness 3 in a lifetime.
Astronomical events, before they became predictable by mathematics, used to cause the ancients to read in mystical significance - augers of upheaval or disaster mostly, because it's mostly when things go wrong that the superstitious search for reasons why.
Although astronomy has had its mystery neutered, mathematics has not yet solved the mysteries of football, so any football augury clues are still taken fairly seriously. What better time to try and read the tea-leaves than during an eclipse?
Despite the rare event, no eyes were on the sky before three o'clock, because there was a giant-shingle-like cover of altostratus in the way... so it was a nice irony when the Z-Cars theme coincided with the sun hitting one of the gaps and shining weakly through.
The team was 'no-change', but West Ham were without Cottee. Unfortunately the match lapsed almost immediately into such torpidity that the crowd virtually fell asleep. This was very appropriate, because the eclipse was washing out half the sunlight even before having to filter through the clouds, so although there was a 'sunny day' effect it was more like a dream than reality.
My seat in the Gwladys 'terrace' is too high to see the sun under the roof. Not feeling exactly 100% anyway, I made a mental note that I would go walkabout as soon as the sun peeked through around about mid-eclipse (due approx 3.15) so that I could simultaneously witness two of my greatest passions, astronomy and Everton. I certainly would not miss much football judging by the action so far if I needed to nip down an exit tunnel!
So it was that at 3.13 I left my seat and loitered at the top of the Street End waiting for sunshine so that I could happen to walk down the aisles and see the 60% occlusion... and there at 3.14 witnessed Pieman's hopeful drive bounce off a defender straight to the Hinchman for a simple low cross and simple Diamond finish. This goal was the nearest scored to mid-eclipse in the professional leagues, and almost as oddly was from the first real goal attempt of the game.
Somehow, this shot managed to injury Parkinson, because he was subbed off for Grant before the restart.
Less than a minute later, the sun did indeed peek through, allowing a fine view of the moon over the upper part of the sun giving it a broad smiley look from my new vantage point next to one of the lower exit tunnels. For the rest of the half, the sun slowly receded, but the onfield action remained as diluted as the sunlight. Everton had no more notable goal attempts, and West Ham's only reply was a close but wide free kick curling beyond Southall's far top angle.
It did occur to me (as the lead failed to stop my mind wandering) that, given the eclipse, I probably would have bet on Earl Barrett to score the first goal had I arrived at the ground early: Unusual for unusual. Crazy thing was, I was dead right about Barrett, but not right about the incarnation of the unusualness! I had been way too conservative on that score...
After vanishing the frenzy of attacking pressure of Everton's last few games, fate was having so much fun that she decided to hit Everton below the belt again. Already without Parki, an injury for John Ebbrell materialised and left us no central midfield. Not wanting to leave Grant there alone, Joe moved Earl Barrett (who was having an awful game) into the middle and subbed on Hottiger as right back. Most of the blue spectators managed to ignore this Graeme Tayloresque solution bysimply pretending that it was a trick of the light or that they were still dreaming.
Luckily from the kick off, Everton put Stuart through with the first touch, and followed up his weak but welcome goal attempt by immediately regaining possession in the last third and having another double dip. Like the sun, Everton were very slowly but very noticeably heading back towards normal service.
Well, normal in terms of effectiveness maybe, but out there, the Twilight Zone scenario was just getting worse and worse, because Earl Barrett was putting himself about as if he actually knew what being a midfield general was all about.. crunching, spoiling, but fair tackles, passes in all directions, wow! Of course when it came to pace, he was nowhere, but freakily this only served to make him even more reminiscent of Peter Reid!
Yes, rather like that emergency assignment Paul Rideout had recently as centre half, EB was taking the job on as if he'd done it all his life. But was that all? No ma'am, it was not. Not content with being a great defensive midfielder, leaving the 'playmaker apparent' Tony Grant relegated to some odd, inconspicuous role so deep and wide that he was effectively cover for Mr Square Ball (Hottiger)'s forays upfield, Barrett started playing balls forward for the attackers!
The first was pushed just too hard for Stuart. The second dropped just nearer the vector of Miklosko than Branch, but the third left Gary Speed in full stride unmarked at the edge of the area, and he hammered a ball for the far corner: Ludo got a decent hand to it causing a sigh from the crowd, but the ball was too determined, and hit the far post and hopped smartly into the corner! 2-0! Assist to Barrett! To make matters worse, the moved had been started by a sideline challenge by Barrett, and an ultra-tight, lightning-fast, Everton hallmark triangle passing move involving Barrett. Pass the medication, nurse.
Despite having witnessed the football equivalent of seeing an elephant fly, reaction was mixed. A few had the wit to figure out what had just happened, and started a small and delightful chorus of 'Walking in a Barrett Wonderland', but this cut no ice with our section's resident dissenter, who continued to favour us all with the benefits of his learned opinion that whenever the ball goes anywhere near EB he should 'f*** off - yer crap'. One suspects that had Jesus done the half time draw and healed our entire squad for an encore (no small task), this punter would have been no more convinced about the credibility of the Bible.
From here on the game was over. The Hammers had not built a single attack to that point -- even a thunderbolt drive from perennial failure Ian Dowie which brought Nev into spectacular flight did not change this impression -- and Hinchy's gift horse of the 'softest penalty of the season' front runner was no more than a consolation for United and Doughboy Dicks, who gracelessly whinged afterwards to the press as if he was still a Red.
It was a win at a cruise, but the most satisfying portents on this wacky old day were that it was 3 points for a less than brilliant performance, 3 points despite huge injury handicaps, 3 points in one of those also-ran fixtures that EFC so often fail to cash in on, 3 points on a day when LFC got none, but most of all 2 goals from only 3-4 attempts instead of only 2 from 18!
What does it all mean? Sorry, don't know. Guess I'll have to come back next week and continue the research..!
Finally, honourable mentions to West Ham's best player on the day by a Cockney mile (Steve Potts), and to probably best away strip in the division (rich cream with a hint of claret shirts with classic WHU claret shorts) for not giving us nausea or headaches.
TEAM PERFORMANCE: - 6 - Everton managed to hang together as a team throughout this match despite the absentees and the enforced changes, but the quality was midtable mundane.
Ref: G. Barber (Warwick) A bit fussy; card threshold a too low, but otherwise ok.
Peter Griffiths:I did get a bit shy about commenting on matches earlier on in September. It seemed you either were disloyal for being critical or you were not pragmatic if you could not see that Joe should be sacked.
I have been a dedicated Joe fan since he pulled on the blue shirt, I have never booed the team and have no one who is in the present squad that I have the knife in. However, if we had not had the Wednesday match and if we had not scored two today, I think there would have been even more calls for drastic action. (I know, if pigs had wings they'd fly.) I think today was our worst home display. (I did not see the Womble's game.)
We started very quietly but did improve. West Hame crowded the midfield and for much of the time only had Dowie upfronts. We were lucky that a penalty was not given against Short after he tackled from behind and appeared to bring the guy down. The Ref was close by and did not look interested at all.
The first goal came fairly soon after this. The ball broke to the left and it was crossed from the by-line -- I'm sure Radio Everton said by Branch -- and Stuart had got into the box to put it home.
Parky had to go off virtually straight after this and was replaced by Tony Grant. Joe said later on Radio Everton that Parky has a pulled hamstring and will be very doubtful for the Derby. John Ebbrill was injured in a tackle and although he finished the first half, was subbed by Hottiger at half time. He has ankle ligament damage and again is a doubt for next week.
The rest of the first half was a midfield stalemate with the crowd showing more patience than usual.
We started the second half more brightly with two or three attacks ending in shots. There was one cross to Branch on the edge of the 6 yard box but he missed the ball completely. When Hottiger came on, Earl Barrett was pushed into the midfield which meant that the clown behind me who spends the whole match waiting for a chance to shout at him had more opportunity. Actually he played quite well and was part of an intricate build up on the left before putting Speed through to beat the goally with a hard shot.
A few comments on players :-
Andrei was below par but Joe said he had a stomach pull that he played through but should be OK for next week.
Grant seems to have lost his confidence and was looking for "safe" sideways or back passes all the time.
Nev had a couple of world class saves and only looked in trouble when he did another of those naff punches to a high ball.
Joe on Radio Everton said that he knew Earl was not a favourite of the fans but says that Ryan Giggs has said he is the most difficult player that he has to play against. He gets quite a lot of mentions from opposing players and managers as a really good contributor. Most of the side would rate his contribution highly.
He though it was a funny game. We played better against Villa and M'boro with no points and yet won today and so he would not apologise. It is difficult when a side has 3 good centre halves and crams the midfield. They made few clear-cut chances.
Joe said Dave Watson should be fit for next week and we have missed his leadership as Unsie and Short are both "quiet" ie. non-shouting players. Too much was made of his trip to Europe. Nowadays, you have to keep tabs on players abroad in case there are developments.
We now have a Czech 24-year-old midfielder on trial who did not make it at West Ham. (Tomatz or something.)
Jim Munro, Sunday Times: EVERTON's second successive home win in the Premier League lacked real style, and Joe Royle, their manager, was grateful for two well-taken goals by Graham Stuart and Gary Speed to overcome opponents who thrive on the intricate, but are failing with the basic task of scoring.
"We have played a lot better and lost," was Royle's summary of the game, and it said just as much about his own team as that of Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager. "If we keep playing like that it will turn for us," Redknapp said. "We are close to being a decent side." Close maybe, but not close enough.
Early indications were that West Ham's luck in the goalscoring department was not about to change. On 10 minutes, Hugo Porfirio, the Portuguese forward on loan from Sporting Lisbon, was stopped in mid-dance by Craig Short, and he tumbled inside the penalty area. The referee's morris dancing indicated play on with a strong hint of leniency.
Porfirio is as elusive as he is diminutive and uninformed defenders can find themselves kicking at air as he dashes past. But on this day it was industry, not creativity, that was the key.
Much as West Ham struggled to play stylish passes, Everton were, more often than not, first to the ball. Their forays revolved around young Michael Branch, partnering Graham Stuart up front, and his enthusiasm lifted his team.
The goal that Goodison Park craved came when Stuart concluded a period of Everton pressure involving a rasping shot from Joe Parkinson and a driven cross from Andy Hinchcliffe. It was his second goal in successive games, but the cost to Everton was an injury to Parkinson, who departed.
A combination of the old brigade sniffed out West Ham's best chance in the first half, Steve Pottspicking out Ian Bishop on a patch of uninhabited greenery, but Bishop curved his shot wide of Neville Southall's goal.
A more direct approach in the second half, a punt from Miklosko to Iain Dowie, had Southall leaping out of his socks to claw Dowie's hammered drive from under his crossbar. But for all of West Ham's pressing it was Miklosko who was the goalkeeper in most danger, and after a through ball from Earl Barrett, Gary Speed unleashed a fierce 20-yard shot to give Everton a two-goal advantage.
Michael Hughes ran tirelessly for the Hammers and Julian Dicks saw a goalbound header scrambled clear before stepping in with a penalty. But while their forwards retain a blank look, West Ham continue to imitate a good side.
Report Copyright The Sunday Times
Pat Gibson, The Times: IT WAS one of those rare days when Everton won and Liverpool lost but there was still no great feeling of euphoria at Goodison Park. The Merseyside derby looms at Anfield next Sunday and not even the most blue-eyed Evertonian would have given Julian Dicks much of an argument when he said: "If they play like that, Liverpool will destroy them."
Dicks, the West Ham United captain, is biased, of course, since he enjoyed his brief time on the other side of Stanley Park and would love to see Liverpool win. He was also speaking with a mouthful of sour grapes in his disappointment that West Ham had not turned all their possession into more than one goal -- a penalty, blasted home by Dicks four minutes from the end.
He did have a point, however. Everton, already without Ferguson, Rideout and Watson, suffered further injuries to Parkinson (hamstring) and Ebbrell (ankle ligaments) and their manager, Joe Royle, admitted: "We were a bit disjointed at times."
Royle was consoled by the three points that lifted Everton into the top ten of the FA Carling Premiership but, having spent much of the past fortnight scouring the Continent for new talent, he was casting covetous eyes at Hugo Porfirio, the latest addition to the foreign legion that Harry Redknapp, his West Ham counterpart, has assembled at Upton Park. "That Portuguese lad looks a bit useful," he sighed. "I think he might have one of the finds there."
Redknapp is sure he has. Porfirio, who is on loan from Sporting Lisbon with a view to a £2.2 million transfer, was a revelation in his first full game. "He's something else, isn't he," Redknapp enthused. "A special talent."
The first time he ran at the Everton defence in the eighth minute, Short scythed him down but the referee, Graham Barber, ignored West Ham's frenzied appeals for a penalty that could have changed the course of the game. The last time he did it, Hinchcliffe took his legs again and not even Barber could deny him his just reward.
In between times, however, Everton had won the game. They went ahead in the fourteenth minute when Parkinson's shot was deflected to the left of the West Ham goal, where Hinchcliffe whipped in a low cross that Stuart rammed past Miklosko.
Then, after the enduring Southall had thwarted West Ham's best efforts with magnificent saves from Dowie, Dicks and Hughes, Everton's crispest passing move of the match, constructed down the left, led to Barrett slipping the ball to Speed, who scored with a left-foot shot that Miklosko should have saved. It was the story of West Ham's afternoon.
Bill Borrows, Electronc Telegraph: GARY SPEED ended his barren scoring spell by helping steer Everton to a hard-earned victory at Goodison Park.
The only other Premiership goal for the Welsh international, signed in the summer from Leeds United for £3.5 million, had come in the 2-0 victory over Newcastle on the opening-day, although he was on target in the second leg of the Coca-Cola Cup defeat by Second Division York last month.
However, his superb strike after 78 minutes against West Ham proved immensely valuable. For although Everton had already taken a 14th minute lead through Graham Stuart, they were never able to subdue the visitors, who pulled a goal back via a Julian Dicks penalty four minutes from time.
Indeed, West Ham, with a little more luck, might well have opened the scoring, in the 10th minute. Hugo Porfirio, on loan from Sporting Lisbon, attempted to get away from Craig Short; the Everton defender's tackle was clumsy and there were loud appeals from the London side for a penalty. However, referee Graham Barber waved away their protests and allowed play to continue much to the home side's relief.
Everton, with 17-year-old Michael Branch partnering Graham Stuart again in attack in the absence of Paul Rideout and Duncan Ferguson, were quick to profit.
Joe Parkinson's initial shot on goal was blocked but Andy Hinchcliffe, on England duty in midweek, drove the ball back and Stuart applied the final touch past goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko. Parkinson was forced to go off shortly afterwards and was followed by colleague John Ebbrell at half-time.
West Ham were only inches away from equalising when Iain Dowie latched on to a huge clearance from keeper Miklosko but Neville Southall leaped acrobatically to turn his shot over the crossbar.
Branch glanced a header wide from a cross by Andrei Kanchelskis but Everton then suffered another scare.
Southall again did superbly well to block a header from Dicks after Michael Hughes had swung in a corner and Hinchcliffe cleared off the line.
Everton had more of the possession than the visitors but struggled to add to their lead. Kanchelskis laid the ball back into the path of substitute Grant. However, he got no weight behind the ball and it sailed into Miklosko's arms and the West Ham goalkeeper did well to hold on to a shot from Stuart.
Speed seemed to have put the game out of the West Ham's reach when he was released by Earl Barrett and directed a 20-yard shot into the corner.
Dicks, however, gave the home supporters an uncomfortable few minutes before the final whistle when he scored from the spot for his third goal of the season, after Hinchcliffe had brought down Porfirio.
Report Copyright The Electronic Telegraph
Monday, 14 October 1996
SUNDERLAND 2-2 MIDDLESBROUGH 20,936 Rae(pen 21) Russell(61) Emerson(18) Ravanelli(53)
Sunday, 13 October 1996
COVENTRY CITY 1-1 SOUTHAMPTON 15,485 Dublin(90) Le Tissier(17)
Saturday, 12 October 1996
BLACKBURN ROVERS 0-2 ARSENAL 24,303 Wright(3,51) DERBY COUNTY 0-1 NEWCASTLE UNITED 18,092 Shearer(76) EVERTON 2-1 WEST HAM UNITED 36,571 Stuart(14) Speed(78) Dicks(pen 86) LEEDS UNITED 2-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 29,225 Wallace(46,90) LEICESTER CITY 1-3 CHELSEA 20,766 Watts(44) Vialli(48) Di Matteo(64) Hughes(80) MANCHESTER UNITED 1-0 LIVERPOOL 55,128 Beckham (23) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1-0 ASTON VILLA 32,847 Nielsen(61) WIMBLEDON 4-2 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 10,502 Ekoku(2) Earle(31) Booth(3) Hyde(72) Leonhardsen(67) Jones(86)
Table after 14 October 1996
Club P W D L GF GA Pts Newcastle United 9 7 0 2 15 10 21 Arsenal 9 6 2 1 19 8 20 Liverpool 9 6 2 1 18 7 20 Manchester United 9 5 4 0 19 6 19 Wimbledon 9 6 0 3 16 9 18 Chelsea 9 4 4 1 14 11 16 Sheffield Wednesday 9 4 1 4 11 15 13 Middlesbrough 9 3 3 3 16 15 12 Aston Villa 9 3 3 3 11 10 12 Everton 9 3 3 3 10 11 12 Tottenham Hotspur 9 3 2 4 7 8 11 Leicester City 9 3 2 4 7 12 11 Sunderland 9 2 4 3 8 8 10 Derby County 9 2 4 3 8 11 10 Leeds United 9 3 1 5 8 13 10 West Ham United 9 2 2 5 8 14 8 Nottingham Forest 9 1 4 4 9 16 7 Southampton 9 1 3 5 11 13 6 Coventry City 9 1 3 5 4 14 6 Blackburn Rovers 9 0 3 6 5 13 3
This League Table Update not provided by Lawrence "Leagueman" Breakey!