Leeds United Logo Leeds United 0 - 0 Everton 
Half-time: 0 - 0
Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 97/98 - Game 17
Saturday 6 December 1997
Elland Road, Leeds
Att: 34,869
Tottenham Hotspur (h) Ref: Paul Durkin Wimbledon (h) 
1997-98 Fixtures & Results League Position: 19th Premiership Results & Table
Leeds United: --
EVERTON: -- (Speed penalty saved by Martyn) Thomas Myhre
  LINEUPS Subs Not Used
Leeds United: Martyn, Halle, Wetherall, Radebe, Robertson, Kelly, Haaland, Bowyer (Hasselbaink, 73), Ribeiro, Wallace, Kewell. Maybury, Molenaar, Lilley, Beeney.
EVERTON: Myhre, Short, Watson, Tiler, Ward, Hinchcliffe, Williamson, Speed, Farrelly, Barmby, Ferguson.
Unavailable: Parkinson, Grant, Branch, Phelan, McCann, Gerrard (injured).
Southall, Ball, Bilic, Cadamarteri, Oster.
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
Leeds United: Radebe. --
EVERTON: Farrelly, Speed, Hinchcliffe. --

Guy McEvoy The Elland Road Enigma
THE SUNDAY TIMES Everton rue Speed's costly penalty miss
by Martin Searby
THE TIMES New goalkeeper helps lift Everton out of the mire
by Simon Wilde
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Everton cheered by share of spoils
by Derick Allsop
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

The Elland Road Enigma
Guy McEvoy
For the visiting Evertonian, Elland Road is an enigma.  On the one hand, you go there depressed as anything knowing we haven't won a league match there since Adam was a lad; on the other, it gives you a tingle when you walk in and remember it as the site of Everton's Big-Game performance of the decade.  Today, I sat in the South Stand, directly opposite where I was on that glorious Sunday in 1995.  My mind couldn't help but reminisce about the belief I had 2 years ago that we'd finally turned the corner.  False dawns seem to be the bread and butter of the Evertonian.

Leeds, since its reverse take-over on the stock exchange by the group Caspian, have obviously brought in marketing men from outside football to jazz the place up.  In the pre-match build up they advertise "get hooked up to the internet with Leeds United".  A football club running an ISP?  Talk about diversity!  Then they brought on some dance vocalist to 'treat' us to a few chart tunes.  She did well enough but it was to the total apathy of the crowd.  "Elland Road – let me hear you say YERRRR!" she screamed.  The half empty ground thundered back it's quiet background murmur.

Most hilarious of all was when the marketing man read out details of their 'executive trip to Liverpool' to see the Leeds match at Anfield on Boxing Day.  The pricey trip included lunch at Goodison Park and, I kid you not, "A chance to look round the Stadium and see the Everton Trophy Room".  The Everton Trophy Room huh?  That'll pack 'em in I bet.

The big team news of the day was Thomas Myhre being given his debut.  The team was the same as that which started against Spurs except Watson returned at the expense of Bilic and Hinchcliffe was there instead of the injured Phelan.

First Half

The first half, as we are becoming accustomed, saw Everton as the better team but unable to capitalise on their marginally better play.  With Blue shirts in control, the home team were having to cope by taking the pressure and then hitting us on the break.  This was something that Leeds did fairly well: they had Rod Wallace up front and he looked set for a lively afternoon – it wasn't long before he was testing Myhre.  Thomas was more than equal to him, and remained so throughout the afternoon.  One save he made in the half – an instinctive dive to push away a shot from the tricky Australian Kewell – would have done a certain Mr Southall proud.

Our first real chance came after a class move by Gary Speed linking up with Andy Hinchcliffe.   The England man was given the time and space to deliver a perfect ball to the advancing Mitch Ward.  The ball came in at knee-height 6 yards out; it had already passed Martyn and so needed no more than a touch in the right direction to put us in front.  Ward totally fluffed his contact and the ball flew over the net.

The repeated chatter amongst the travelling faithful was that this Leeds side simply did not look very good and were there for the taking.   The fans more than played their part.  Despite the often less than mediocre display on the field they remained behind the team and chanting for the full 90 minutes.  The killer instinct on the pitch though, as usual, just wasn't quite there.

We had the absolute golden opportunity when Barmby latched onto a long ball, he weaved in and out past a defender and bamboozled him so much he could do nothing but bring him down.  Durkin, up till then the characteristic referee from hell, pointed to the spot.  The Everton fans with long memories had been giving Martyn stick all game, he sensed revenge, he guessed right and saved well from Speeds kick. So near, so far.

There's nothing you can do in that situation except clasp your head in your hands. Looking back, in pure footballing terms, the first half hadn't been up to all that much. The second half was up to even less...

Second Half

Everton never quite looked as sharp as they had in the first half and Leeds seemed to be creeping back into it.  It had all the hall-marks of another Villa/Blackburn/Chelsea or Spurs result. Thank god for Thomas Myhre then.  He didn't put a foot (or hand) wrong, and even managed to build up a good rapport with the fans, always ready with a thumbs up and clenched fist.  Though, he didn't grasp we were talking about him when the 'Tommy' chants started, and didn't seem to be able to make out the 'Norway's number one' cry either – he'll learn!

Our midfield was probably the most frustrating part of our game.  What they did well was hustle for the ball, however, the determination to find the quick pass to a near man, regardless of how much pressure he's under doesn't do us favours.  Being in possession is not the same as being in control.  We seem to have mastered finding a blue shirt, now we need to master the next step, finding a blue shirt in space so that we can do something constructive with it.  Yet again, there were numerous instances of us keeping the ball with ping-pong first touch passes, during which we advance only back to our own keeper.  There is always a man in space but we have no one with the awareness to find him.  Farrelly and Williamson are the biggest culprits.

Up front, there was very good industry from Barmby, less so from Ferguson. Big Dunc does pick up some brownie points for the work he did in defence at corners, though.  Again, whilst both players are playing well individually, there is little to suggest that they have anything in combination which could be described as a partnership.  They were also both hindered all afternoon by the Leeds full-back Radebe.  He caught the eye with his faultless display – one for the Christmas wish list.  Although the strike force didn't look like making breakthrough, Kendall was clearly not up for risking a substitution; the eleven men who started the game stayed on throughout.

Time passed, the clock moved on; Durkin gave nothing for stoppages and blew up.  A point away at Elland Road.  I suppose that is the most we would dare hope for.  We clapped them off with pride.  There weren't even any 'Johnson out' chants.  Still, you can't help but think about the penalty miss, and how enormous the difference between one and three points is when you're in the shtuck we are.

Individual Performances

  • Myhre 8 - Our Man-of-the-Match.  Impressive debut.  Looks a good buy.
  • Ward 6 - Missed a sitter, out of position a few times, compensated slightly with a good work-rate.  Still shows nothing above any of our recent catalogue of right-backs.
  • Tiler 6 - Fine I guess.  Doesn't impose himself or chase the game, but when the ball comes to him, he doesn't make mistakes either.
  • Watson 6 - Some important winning tackles, but also responsible for some defensive lapses too.
  • Short 7 - The good run of form keeps on going.
  • Hinchcliffe 6 - Usual mixture of sporadic good attacking play and defensive howlers.
  • Farrelly 5 - In the main, a waste of space.
  • Williamson 6 - Marginally better than Farrelly
  • Speed 7 - The pick of the midfield.  The Penalty miss detracts from an otherwise good performance.
  • Ferguson 6 - Got back well for corners, off the ball movement back to it's worst.   Not a single goal-scoring opportunity I can recall.
  • Barmby 7 - Good work for the penalty, good work-rate, pity him and Duncan don't seem to click.

Everton rue Speed's costly penalty miss
by Martin Searby, The Sunday Times
EVERTON have not won a match away from home for 12 months so a point from the 21st game of such a depressing sequence will be counted as a bonus and it was good enough to lift them off the bottom of the table, however briefly.  As one wag put it: "This could be the start of something mediocre for them" and, given the desperately poor quality of the fare, it is not over-stating the case.

George Graham, the Leeds manager who last week signed a 1m-a-year extension to his contract, said: "That's the sort of game you can lose 1-0.  It was a poor performance from us, a poor game overall and the sort of thing that just happens and nobody knows why."

Leeds should have profited from the mistakes made by an uncertain Everton defence featuring new recruit Carl Tiler in central defence alongside Dave Watson and Craig Short, and Mitch Ward playing as right wing-back. But Rod Wallace, their leading scorer, shot against the goalkeeper's legs when he should have squared the ball to the waiting Harry Kewell, and the Australian striker ought to have converted from close in as the game ebbed into oblivion.  However, it was Gary Speed's failure to convert a penalty on which the match hinged.

That Everton kept their first clean sheet following five straight defeats said much for Thomas Myhre, the big Norwegian who was making an impressive debut in place of the veteran Neville Southall after only one game in the reserves.  The 24-year-old did exceptionally well to fly to his left and turn aside a Kewell volley in the first half and although Howard Kendall, the beleaguered Everton manager, insisted it would be wrong to "go overboard" about his performance.  Graham more accurately said: "He was arguably their best player and won them the point".

Kendall, in his third spell at Goodison, remarked: "In our position we have to be satisfied with a point and I don't blame Gary for failing to get us all three with the penalty."

The crucial moment came towards the end of the first half when Nick Barmby ran on to a through-ball, neatly stepped inside David Wetherall and was brought down.  Speed hit his shot well but Nigel Martyn anticipated his old teammate and dived swiftly and low to his left to push the effort aside.  So Everton continued a sequence of 32 visits to Elland Road without a win.

Everton looked fair enough going forward even allowing for Duncan Ferguson's sloth, but the mistakes at the back will not go unpunished as often as Leeds allowed.  Kendall, however, was upbeat afterwards when he said: "The performances have not been bad although the position is worrying and we must do something quickly because we don't want a gap to open between us and the club fourth from the bottom.  I am confident we will get out of it."

Graham was equally optimistic and added: "You look at some of their players and wonder why they're bottom. They've got to dig deep and get the team spirit going and I'm pretty sure they have enough quality to stay up."

With more than half the season left it would be premature to count chickens at either end of the table but, for Everton, only out of the top flight for four of their 109-year existence, there is a long way to go.

Report Times Newspapers Ltd

New goalkeeper helps lift Everton out of the mire
by Simon Wilde, The Times
HAD it not been for the heroics of both goalkeepers, Leeds United would have won this game comfortably.  It was naturally easier to forgive the man charged with patching up Everton's uncertain defence, but Nigel Martyn, the Leeds goalkeeper, ought to have known better than prevent his side going behind.  Up against it, Leeds have been deadly in recent weeks.  He dubiously refused to allow them that luxury.

To Martyn's anti-hero for Leeds, Thomas Myhre, from Norway, played the hero for Everton.  His name will not be well known on Merseyside, but it could become so.  He replaced Neville Southall, the club's veteran of well over 700 games, who was nursing sore ribs but could have played, and leapt around with all the enthusiasm of a man making his first appearance.  He wanted to make his mark – and did.

But for him, Everton would surely have leaked goals again, yet he kept his finger firmly in the dyke.  Teams at the foot of the FA Carling Premiership are supposed to lose to those in fourth place, but, heartened by the unquenchable spirit of their newcomer, Everton brought an end to their long run of defeats and lifted themselves off the bottom rung.

Myhre spoiled the home side's two choicest opportunities.  The best came near the end, when Leeds, as is now customary, were at their most purposeful.  Kewell had a golden opportunity to score from close range, but found his shot blocked on the line. The second-best chance came much earlier, in the eighth minute, when Wallace, with no one else to beat, hit Myhre on the legs.  A few minutes later, Kewell was denied with a reflex save.

Arguably, though, the turning point of the game was not these highly commendable efforts by the Everton newcomer, but the moment shortly before half-time when Martyn brilliantly saved a well-directed penalty from Gary Speed, a former Leeds player.  Wetherall had hooked down Barmby after he had darted inside him.  Had Speed scored then, Leeds might have been roused to assertiveness, as had happened spectacularly in their three previous Premiership games.  As it was, George Graham, their manager, had little to shout about at half-time.

His side spent most of the second half looking more like Everton than Everton and finished grateful to have retained their long unbeaten home league record against Everton – which dates back to 1951.

Howard Kendall, the Everton manager, refused to lavish praise on Myhre, 24, who joined the club from Viking Stavanger late last month.  "It is difficult when Neville is available and you do not play him," he said.  "Thomas had played one reserve game for us.  You could say it was a gamble or that he only lived up to his potential.  I don't want to go overboard about him after one game."

But Kendall's post-match body-language was more eloquent than any words: he found it hard to stop hugging his new acquisition.

Report Times Newspapers Ltd

Everton cheered by share of spoils
Derick Allsop, Electronic Telegraph
DISHONOURS even.  Everton will be the more content with a point gleaned from the tedium, despite having missed a penalty, but in truth it was a match neither side deserved to win.

Leeds United have made a habit of doing things the hard way these past weeks and they contrived to complicate their task against improbably resilient opposition.  Had Rod Wallace dispatched an early chance then the confidence of bottom club Everton might have been undermined, but he was defied by their Norwegian debutant goalkeeper Thomas Myhre and the pattern of the first half was established. Myhre then made a more spectacular save from Harry Kewell.

The reprieves encouraged Everton to build their own game and Nigel Martyn, in the Leeds goal, saved brilliantly to keep out Gary Speed's penalty.  Leeds had won their previous three League games after going behind so they will have considered a goalless first period as something of a bonus.

No trip would inspire Everton with confidence these days.  They have failed to win in 20 away matches, a fruitless journey stretching back a year.  They last won a League match here in 1951 and have scored only three goals in the last 11 visits.  Add to that desperate tally a current run of five consecutive defeats and you have the scale of Howard Kendall's plight. He responded by recalling Andy Hinchcliffe and Dave Watson, and giving a first match to Myhre in place of Neville Southall.

Leeds, by contrast, had won four from four and reached the giddy heights of fourth place in the Premiership.  Manager of the month George Graham had the Australian international, Kewell, back in attack for Jimmy Hasselbaink.

Graham decided also that Speed represented a serious threat to his side and deployed Alf Inge Haaland as his marker.  Everton's marking was less assured in the fourth minute, Wallace sprinting clear to collect Kewell's through ball.  The little forward gave Myhre first test and the goalkeeper passed with distinction, coming out to block the shot.

Everton, too, created and wasted a chance two minutes later.  Hinchcliffe picked out Mitch Ward at the far post but the volley slewed off target. Speed shook off Haaland in the heart of the area only to mis-cue.  Wallace resumed his assault but Watson stretched every ageing sinew to affect a crucial challenge.  Following the corner, Myhre lunged acrobatically to his left to turn away Kewell's volley.

Wallace assumed the role of provider after 21 minutes, playing the ball ahead of the surging David Robertson, whose finish, alas, was that of a defender rather than a forward.

Everton ought to have gone ahead two minutes before half-time after Nick Barmby was brought down in the area by David Wetherall.  Speed placed his kick low to Martyn's left, but the England man swooped to save.

A goal beckoned again, for Everton after 56 minutes, as Hinchcliffe's free kick arched across the face of goal. Craig Short appeared to be arriving at precisely the right moment, yet failed to connect.  Leeds, so assertive of late, toiled to find a semblance of cohesion and were reduced to speculative efforts, Bruno Ribeiro's effort scarcely troubling Myhre.

Report The Electronic Telegraph

RESULTS  (Game 17)
Monday 8 December 1997
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY     2-1    BARNSLEY                  29,086
Stefanovic(19) Di Canio(88)    Redfearn(29)

Sunday 7 December 1997

WIMBLEDON               1-0    SOUTHAMPTON               12,009

Saturday 6 December 1997
ASTON VILLA             3-0    COVENTRY CITY             33,250
Collymore(21) Hendrie(71) Joachim(85)
BLACKBURN ROVERS        3-1    BOLTON WANDERERS          26,503
Gallacher(4) Sutton(21)        Frandsen(84)
DERBY COUNTY            2-0    WEST HAM UNITED           29,300
LEEDS UNITED            0-0    EVERTON                   34,869

LEICESTER CITY          1-1    CRYSTAL PALACE            19,191
Izzet(90)                      Padovano(43)
LIVERPOOL               1-3    MANCHESTER UNITED         41,027
Fowler(pen:60)                 Cole(51,74) Beckham(70)
NEWCASTLE UNITED        0-1    ARSENAL                   36,751
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR       1-6    CHELSEA                   28,476
Vega(43)                       Flo(40,63,85) Di Matteo(48)
                               Petrescu(59) Nicholls(78)

Wednesday 3 December 1997

WEST HAM UNITED         4-1    CRYSTAL PALACE            23,335
Hartson(31) Berkovic(45)       Shipperley(42)
Unsworth(48) Lomas(71)

LEAGUE TABLE (after 8 December 1997 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            17   11    4    2   43   13   30   37
Chelsea                      17   11    1    5   41   18   23   34
Blackburn Rovers             17    9    6    2   30   18   12   33
Arsenal                      17    8    6    3   31   18   13   30
Leeds United                 17    9    3    5   26   19    7   30
Leicester City               17    7    6    4   22   15    7   27
Derby County                 16    8    2    6   30   24    6   26
Liverpool                    16    7    4    5   27   17   10   25
Newcastle United             15    7    3    5   18   19   -1   24
Wimbledon                    17    6    4    7   19   21   -2   22
West Ham United              17    7    1    9   24   28   -4   22
Aston Villa                  17    6    3    8   19   23   -4   21
Sheffield Wednesday          17    6    3    8   30   38   -8   21
Crystal Palace               17    5    5    7   17   22   -5   20
Bolton Wanderers             17    4    7    6   13   24  -11   19
Coventry City                17    3    8    6   13   24  -11   17
Southampton                  17    5    1   11   20   27   -7   16
Tottenham Hotspur            17    4    4    9   14   28  -14   16
Everton                      17    3    4   10   16   27  -11   13
Barnsley                     17    4    1   12   15   45  -30   13

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Michael Kenrick 1997
Last updated: 8 Dec 97