Everton Logo Everton 2 - 0 Leeds United
Half-time: 2 - 0
Leeds United Logo
FA Carling Premiership 97/98 - Game 33
Saturday 11 April 1998
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 37,099
Tottenham Hotspur (a) Ref:  Uriah Rennie Wimbledon (a)
1997-98 Fixtures & Results League Position: 15th Premiership Results & Table
EVERTON: Hutchison (10), Ferguson (38)
Leeds United:
  LINEUPS Subs Not Used
EVERTON: Myhre, O'Kane, Short, Beagrie, Ball, Ferguson (73 Madar), Hutchison, Barmby (73 Farrelly), Tiler, McCann, Spencer.
Unavailable: Parkinson, Branch, Phelan, Grant, Ward, Williamson (injured); Jeffers (recovering); Bilic (suspended).
Gerrard, Dunne, Oster.
Leeds United: Martyn, Kelly, Radebe, Wetherall, Hasselbaink, Bowyer, Halle, Kewell, Harte, Hiden, Molenaar (Haaland, 45). Robinson, Hopkin, Lilley, Jackson.
  Yellow Cards Red Cards
EVERTON: McCann, Ferguson, O'Kane.
Leeds United: Radebe, Bowyer, Molenaar. Radebe (17)

Guy McEvoy If this is Saturday, it must be Leicester
Richard Marland 3 pts, but team still lacks cohesion
Jenny Roberts Great captain graces hallowed Goodison turf
Martin O'Boyle Howard's Heroes
THE SUNDAY TIMES Captain leads way for Everton
by Louise Taylor
THE TIMES Gods smile on Everton's efforts
by David Maddock
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Everton grateful for Leeds off-day
by Derick Allsop
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

If this is Saturday, it must be Leicester
Guy McEvoy
A couple of weeks ago I had a great laugh at someone else's expense as a mate related the story of her Dad, an Aston Villa fan, who didn't realise that the Premiership was having a rest week the Saturday prior to us playing them at Goodison. He drove all the way to Liverpool a week early. What a prick. I'd never be that daft.

Anyway, I left my flat at One as I do every home game, got in the car and headed for Walton. I'd been away interviewing all week, hadn't spoken to anyone about football, hadn't caught up with my mail, hadn't read a newspaper. When I left my flat I was rock solid certain that I was heading off to see Everton beat Leicester City. I got to the end of the M58 switched to Radio Everton and couldn't for the life of me figure out why they were talking about Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink. At the end of the piece that presenter said "and of course you can hear the whole of Everton versus Leeds live from three" – I nearly crashed the car.

My whole body clock is set around Everton fixtures. Ask me my sister's birthday and if I concentrate, at a push, I'll get the right month maybe. Ask me six months in advance when we have 'x' away and I'll be able to tell you the exact date without blinking. Yet somehow, in my short time away, my brain had got addled and I'd fallen a week out of sync. Talk about freak me out. The one certainty in life is who Everton's next game will be against (at least until the last game of the season). Being wrong about this upset my grasp of certainty in this world about as much as an all-out flying-saucer intense hostile alien invasion would. I suppose I should at least be grateful I was heading for a home game.

So it was Everton against Leeds, on current form an altogether more depressing prospect than my anticipated battle with Leicester. Kendall decided to have another reshuffle. Tiler was back which saw Dunne onto the bench, and he decided to risk a flat back-four again which also meant that Watson had to give way. In the middle the extra slot was taken up by Beagrie. The final surprise, particularly in view of last week's performance, was the dropping of Madar in favour of Spencer.

First Half

Briefly, at the start I thought Kendall's tactics had failed. Kewell and Hasselbaink both had runs at our defence which were dealt with uncomfortably without the extra man. At this point in the game there was a fierce wind with a hint of snow amongst it. This caused both teams headaches when both Martyn and Myhre made elementary fumbles in the space of two minutes. Hasselbaink certainly missed a golden chance from Tommy's fumble.

The frantic pace was matched with passion from the players and there was another early flurry of yellow cards as two-booted mistimed tackles flew in.

Michael Ball gave us another example of just why no one is really weeping at the departure of Andy Hinchcliffe. The 18-year-old made a strong run down the wing. When he looked to have done too much he got a deflection which sent the ball back in his path, he hadn't given up and so was ready to retrieve his gift, skip past another man, and lay a quality ball into the box. The ball was cleared before Ferguson could connect but only as far as Don Hutchison on the edge of the area whose shot found it's way into the bottom corner of the net.

Leeds in their desperation to get back into the game started to tackle even harder. This was to cost them all. Another two-footed tackle, the player in question, Radebe, chose to stay down and feign injury in the hope that the referee would forget his misdemeanour, but he didn't. Another yellow and then the obligatory red were waved at the stretcher as it was carried off. Twenty minutes on the clock and Everton a goal up and playing 10 men. Things were going our way for once.

You knew we were going to get a second. We developed a sense of purpose you don't see very often. No one was having a bad game. Barmby, Ferguson and Spencer could all have got themselves on the score sheet. Ferguson, in particular was clean through on goal when from my vantage point it seemed his legs were hacked from beneath him in the box. Mystifyingly the referee choose to caution Ferguson, apparently for diving. The TV replays later suggest that I was a bit harsh with my vitriolic barrage of the match official.

Ferguson though did get himself on the team sheet in the proper manner. At floated free-kick, I think it was O'Kane who played the ball, Ferguson rises, and glances it in. Simple really. 2-0 the Blues.

Half-time intervened and we were treated to a curious display from the away supporters. As is apparently their tradition they got a big chant going throughout half-time during which a good proportion of them took off their shirts. It was chilly out too. Can't help but think they'd be better saving this effort for when their team is on the pitch.

Second Half

The second half flowed in Everton's favour, then in Leeds, then back to Everton. We started like men possessed but eventually you sensed that tiredness on our part was the main factor that allowed the impressive Kewell with his flashy ball skills to start to put Leeds back into it and give us a few scares. Kendall was wise to our problem and decided to bring on fresh legs and rest some big guns for Monday. The double substitution of Barmby and Ferguson for Madar and Farrelly instantly allowed Everton to reassert their dominance on the game. Madar had a half decent effort within thirty seconds of coming on.

The other interesting thing about the last 10 minutes was that we were very much seeing a 'Kendall team' by my reckoning Craig Short and Ball where the only men on the pitch not brought to the club by Howard (though Ball being made a first team regular is a Howard move so I guess that just left Short).

By the end of the game we were even able to show off a bit by playing keep-ball. Can't remember the last time we were treated to that.

The only blight on the afternoon (apart from my sense of certainty being made uncertain!) was when the tannoy announcer read the other results and it was clear that the other troubled clubs picking up points still doesn't give us a clear gap. Still, the three points are just as valuable in the final reckoning, and for once we deserved them.

Individual Performances

  • Myhre 6 - Know he can do better. Whilst showing some impressive catches from blocks he also made a couple a daft clearances out into touch, and very nearly gifted them the game in the first few minutes.
  • Ball 8 - Class. Class. Class.
  • Tiler and Short 7 - Shaky start and I'm not sure the story would have been the same had Leeds had a full complement for longer. Against 10 men though they did their jobs well.
  • O'Kane 7 - Growing in confidence, and another fine display. Still have reservations about him though, he sometimes looks to want much more time on the ball than you get in the top flight.
  • McCann 7 - Steady. Not imposing himself as I think he can, nevertheless quietly got on with an important job.
  • Hutchison 8 - Another good performance. He's been a godsend for us in the run in.
  • Barmby 7 - Seemed to have a free role when perhaps he could have added more by sticking out wide. Having said that, another busy game for him. Helps make things happen.
  • Beagrie 8 - My word. Raised my eyebrows a few times in the afternoon. Great ball skills, and didn't loose it too often. Had one fabulous dipping shot from distance after beating several men.
  • Spencer 6 - Felt sorry for John. Gave his all, but nothing went his way all game and in truth he added little. If he peeled off to the right you could guarantee the pass would go to the left. One of those days for him.
  • Ferguson 8 - Led by example. His reaction to the goal was something else too.
  • Madar and Farrelly 7 - Came on and did their jobs well. I reckon Madar will be back for Spencer on Monday.

3 pts, but team still lacks cohesion
Richard Marland
Prior to the Villa game, we had had a major shock with the news that Dunc wasn't playing. Today, Kendall's team news shocked us yet again. Out went Oster (no surprise there) but out also went Watson, Dunne and Madar. This meant a return to a flat back-four and a new striking partnership up front. Myhre was in goal, with O'Kane and Ball at full back, Short and Tiler in the middle, a midfield of Beagrie, Hutchison, McCann (making his home debut) and Barmby, with Spencer and Dunc up front.

At the start, we were clearly struggling to come to terms with the changes in formation and personnel. Twice in the early stages Leeds could, and perhaps should have scored. But after 10 minutes Everton took the lead slightly against the run of play. Following good work from Spencer and Ball, the ball fell on the edge of the area to Don Hutchison. From behind the goal it was one of those ones where you could see it opening up for him... Don didn't let us down, despite needing a deflection to find the bottom corner.

After our early shakiness a goal was a godsend. Within another ten minutes we got another bonus when Leeds were reduced to ten men. As you would expect from a Leeds side managed by George Graham, they are well versed in the black arts of football. Usually though they are too canny to commit two bad fouls within the space of three minutes. Radebe first of all scythed down Barmby with a high late challenge, he was then late with a sliding challenge on Hutchison. They were both clear bookable offences, he had to go.

Before too much longer our afternoon got even better. Dunc went on a rampaging run through the midfield area. He had the beating of Molenaar who cynically brought him down. Yet another obvious yellow card offence. The resulting free kick was touched to O'Kane whose excellent cross was met by none other than Dunc and his header had the beating of Martyn. Dunc's celebrations showed how much the goal meant to him. At the time I couldn't help feeling that he considered it a pay-back for his sending off against Derby.

For the remainder of the half we continued to trouble the Leeds' defence and they continued to trouble ours. One horrible moment saw Michael Ball go AWOL leaving two men free down our left flank. A mixture of good blocks and profligate Leeds finishing saw us unpunished. Our best moments inevitably involved Ferguson – in particular, a rampaging run from within our half. He decided to take on Molenaar for pace and had the beating of him; his run ended when he crashed to earth just inside their box under challenge from Molenaar. The referee blew and we anticipated a penalty and the dismissal of the already cautioned Molenaar. Instead the referee booked Dunc for diving.

The second half saw Leeds take off Molenaar, a wise decision as he lost his head at the end of the second half and seemed destined for a sending off. Leeds also backed off from their overly physical approach of the first half. The second half was a fairly even affair with the edge and bite of the first half removed.

We seemed to be settling for what we had and started doing our usual trick of defending too deep. Leeds through the impressive Kewell always looked capable of causing us problems, and throughout the second half gave us a few anxious moments. Our attacking threat rather fizzled out: Dunc was by now knackered, Barmby had drifted out of the game, and Spencer and Beagrie had their moments without being too dangerous.

At no stage of the second half did it look like 10 men against 11, Leeds were undoubtedly the equal of us, the only problem was that they were two goals down and we appeared happy to let the second half drift to a close. We had the rare luxury of playing keep-ball in the final few minutes before the referee blew for full-time and 3 precious points were in the bag.

  • Myhre 6 Not at his best today. Can't recall him having a meaningful save to make in 90 minutes, but he looked a bit nervy and his handling was a bit awry in the first half. Improved in the second when he made a couple of good catches.
  • O'Kane 7 Another quietly efficient performance. Tackles well, rarely gives the ball away and provided a cross for a goal.
  • Ball 7 Excellent yet again. I can't believe the media haven't picked up more on him yet. He certainly deserves some recognition for a string of impressively mature performances.
  • Tiler 7 Another solid showing.
  • Short 7 No questions anymore about whether he is a premiership defender. Now firmly established.
  • Hutchison 7 A good, disciplined performance from Don. Very rarely gives the ball away, tackles well, reads the game well and contributed a goal as well. Taking his premiership opportunity with open arms.
  • McCann 6 Another youngster of undoubted potential. Good tackler, two good feet, a neat and tidy midfield player.
  • Barmby 7 In the first half showed some marvellous examples of vision and awareness. Worked very hard but faded in the second half.
  • Beagrie 6 Did OK, had a few good runs but still an infuriating inability to deliver the killer ball. He's basically precisely the same player who left, just shorn of half a yard of pace.
  • Ferguson 7 Even at half pace he's a formidable player. Had to severely ration his efforts, the rest of the time he ambled round midfield, picking the ball up and showing his awareness and passing ability. An intelligent performance.
  • Spencer 7 Warranted his call up with an energetic hard working display. His first touch occasionally lets him down, but overall had a good game.
  • Madar 6 came on in the second half for a knackered Dunc. Showed some good touches and nearly scored on a couple of occasions.
  • Farrelly 6 Came on for Barmby. Didn't do too much of note.

Team 6 Despite the number of individual '7' scores, as a team we lacked cohesion. Without being as bad as we had been against Villa we were often at sixes and sevens at the back. Defended too deep, yet again, in the second half.

Man of the match - Ball and Ferguson were undoubted contenders but ultimately it had to be the excellent Don Hutchison.

Great captain graces hallowed Goodison turf
Jenny Roberts
The wind was bitterly cold as I walked slowly, almost reluctantly towards Goodison, not knowing whether at 4.45 we would be considerably safer, or remain an endangered club. At first, I had predicted 3-2 to Leeds – Kewell and Hasselbaink would certainly be a huge threat to our defence with their pace.

I watched the team gradually appear onto the pitch to warm up. When Paul Gerrard began to practice shots with Mervyn Day, I became terrified. I'd never seen Gerrard warm up before. Perhaps an injury had prevented Tommy from starting, and we would be left with the unpredictable Gerrard in goal? Fortunately, Myhre eventually appeared, but I watched him for several minutes, just to confirm his fitness.

I hoped that maybe we could get a lucky break, and win the game 1-0, especially as we would have Ferguson, Madar, Spencer and Barmby back, in front of their adoring home crowd. My fears about Myhre had vanished, but then I realized that another was absent from the pitch. Madar. Having scored against Blackburn, Villa and Spurs, he was in superb form. Could we still survive without his aerial presence – and with a half-fit Duncan?

Doom seemed to envelop Goodison in a black cloud. No Madar, no Bilic, practically no Ferguson, and none of the long-term casualties such as Grant and Parkinson. Leeds would rip our midfield into shreds, and make a mockery of our defence.

Uriah Rennie would referee the game, and as the shrill sound of the whistle pierced the air, flakes of snow began to fall. It seemed like such a contrast to the Villa game just a fortnight before – we walked to the ground in magnificent sunlight. Everton had to change ends so that Leeds could shoot towards the Park End during the first half. Shivering from the cold and straining to see in Gwladys Street, we shook our heads in anguish as Leeds scored. Typical - just like the Villa game. How many more would we concede? The Leeds supporters roared – but the Evertonians began to laugh. Then we realized – the ball had gone behind! It had hit the side netting. It was still 0-0!

Everton answered back with John O'Kane. Manchester United will be ashamed that they ever sold him next time they come to visit (and it will be next season, fingers and toes crossed!) – his crosses are superb. He sent the ball into the centre of the penalty area, which his team-mates were not really prepared for. It seemed like an easy catch for Nigel Martyn, but he spilled it, and had an Everton player been near, we would have been 1-0 up. I suddenly felt relieved that he had rejected the move to Everton – Myhre is far more preferable.

Before five minutes was up, Leeds had yet another chance to take the lead. Kewell shot straight at Myhre, who quickly saved, but spilled the shot. It came to Hasselbaink, who, trying to wrestle past the Everton defender, which would leave him with only Myhre left to beat, took a shot. By some miracle, it was wide.

However, Everton, determined not to let Leeds have any more possession, began to attack. Michael Ball began a superb run down the left wing. He spotted Spencer by the goal-line, and crossed the ball to him. Spencer, surrounded by defenders, had no other option but to give it back to Ball. The 18-year-old surprised everyone by opting to run at the Leeds defenders. He passed three with no apparent effort, turned to keep the ball in magnificently, and passed to Duncan. Surrounded by defenders, it was difficult for his team-mate to get a touch. I don't know whether he deliberately tapped it to Hutchison, or whether the Leeds player made a pathetic attempt at a clearance (I blame the man with the biggest head in the world, who sat in front of me!), but nevertheless, Hutchison found himself in possession. He drove it straight at the bottom right-hand corner. I instantaneously glanced to the right for the reaction of the fans directly behind the goal. They were ecstatic. Hutchison's first goal (of many)! It had taken a slight deflection, but we were leading, and that was what mattered. So many times we had seen Farrelly in the same position wasting those chances. Hutchison's first opportunity in that position – and he had capitalized upon it! John O'Kane walked up to congratulate him – and then the two were mobbed by an ecstatic Duncan, who leapt upon them in the fashion that a pitch-invading life-long Evertonian might.

Everton found themselves to be abundant in confidence after the goal. Nick Barmby, who was beginning an assault on goal was caught on the thigh by a ruthless Radebe. He could have gone for that foul alone – his foot was amazingly high – but Rennie kept control of the game superbly, and decided that as Leeds obviously intended to make some fierce challenges, he should just caution him.

Two minutes later, Don Hutchison, inspired after his goal, intercepted a poor clearance by a Leeds player. He began to run towards goal, and was in an excellent position to provide a cross. Suddenly, Radebe flew in with a brutal, reckless challenge. Hutchison simply flew over him. Rennie had to send him off. However, Radebe, in a desperate attempt to remain on the pitch, seemed to feign injury. He was stretchered off, but if he was injured, which I doubt, he was deservedly so.

John O'Kane provided one of his defence-destroying crosses, which came to Ferguson. He nodded it down, and Ball picked it up. Without hesitation, he struck it powerfully at goal on his first touch. Martyn seemed to fly back when he caught it, amazed at the sheer force.

George Graham could not tolerate Everton's change of fortune, and was out on the line every few minutes or so, complaining about various decisions. However, nothing it seemed could fire his Leeds team up again. Later he commented that after the first goal, he thought that "The referee lost the plot." I believe Rennie to be the most impressive referee I have seen all season at Goodison. I strongly believe that sometimes we have lost to the officials, and not to the opposing team, but I felt that Rennie was completely neutral in all of his decisions, leaving only one for me to question.

Ferguson inspired himself and others. Protecting his injured knee seemed unimportant to him – he was determined to play for Everton – and to play his best. He was rewarded when John O'Kane took a free kick, and sent his cross deep into the penalty area. It connected perfectly with his head. Of course it was goal-bound. Duncan was happier than the fans – he ran to the fans celebrating by the goal, and was hugged by several, before running back to the centre of the pitch, leaping sky-high and punching the air furiously. The frustration of being prevented from scoring since the Derby by injury and suspension was no longer present. The heads of the Leeds players sank amid the joyous scenes.

Goodison roared with "Duncan, Duncan Ferguson" ringing out triumphantly. It had been too long since that chant was last heard, too long since our great captain had last graced the hallowed Goodison turf.

Duncan wanted a second. His dangerous run into the penalty area demanded a tackle. The Leeds player looked to have caught him on the foot as Ferguson tripped. Appeals for a penalty seemed to be answered when the referee blew the whistle. However, he did not point to the spot as we had hoped he would, but he booked Ferguson. This was the decision I was displeased with. Having seen the incident again, I actually have to admit it – Duncan dived. The referee must have been aware of the fact that he was not fully fit.

Apparently, Ferguson has stopped training because Kendall just wants him to concentrate on his fitness. If this is the case, Duncan should be nowhere near the pitch. Tiring, with an aching knee, of course he'd go for the easier option – the dive. Ginola was booked for diving at Spurs last week, so it was only fair that Duncan should be. Despite injuries, there is no excuse for employing the dive.

The second half was a shadow of the first. It seemed all about hanging on. The defence played admirably and fiercely protected Myhre's goal.

Ferguson and Barmby were brought off towards the end, in order to preserve them for the vital clash with Wimbledon, allowing Madar, who had been suffering from back trouble all week, and Farrelly to make an appearance. The very mention of Farrelly's name suggested that Kendall intended to leave the scoreline at 2-0.

Beagrie actually seemed to be on the pitch. He is actually looking quite good. He set up Mickael Madar superbly to provide the Frenchman with what was probably the best opportunity of the second half. Unfortunately, Madar's shot was straight at the goalkeeper. We have clawed our way up to 15th, which relieves the pressure a little. However, with matches against Wimbledon and Sheffield Wednesday approaching, we have the potential to finish in a respectable mid-table position.

However, the clash with Wimbledon prevents me from adding up our points. Despite their attendances which border on the pathetic, Wimbledon are capable of battling hard for the full three points. We will do well to return home with one. I desperately hope that this visit to Selhurst Park will prove as fortunate as the last.

Howard's Heroes
Martin O'Boyle
A surprise team selection by Howard Kendall paid dividends this afternoon as Everton beat Leeds United 2-0. Press and supporters alike thought that the only change Kendall would make from the 1-1 draw at Spurs would be to introduce Carl Tiler after completing a suspension at the expense of Richard Dunne. However, Watson was rested and Peter Beagrie was brought in to make his second full Everton debut. Also, Mickael Madar, who had scored three goals in three games beforehand was replaced for John Spencer. Kendall's selection certainly raised a few eyebrows among Evertonians.

It was Leeds who did most of the pressing in the early stages, in fact Everton could count themselves lucky that they weren't 2-0 down within the first ten minutes. With one minute gone, the young Australian Harry Kewell found space on the right hand side and crossed to the unmarked Gunnar Halle at the far post. The Norwegian headed down, and luckily for Everton, into the side netting.

Five minutes later, it was Harry Kewell again who drove a low shot at goal which Myhre could only parry. The ball rebounded to the unmarked Hasselbaink who squandered a great opportunity to put his side into the lead by firing into the side netting.

After ten minutes Michael Ball whipped in a low cross aimed for Ferguson. Ferguson didn't really connect with the ball and his weak shot was cleared by Hiden, only to the waiting Hutchison who blasted the ball past Martyn into the goal. Whether it took a deflection or Martyn got a hand to it, I don't know. It doesn't matter. It was 1-0.

From then on the game turned a little nasty; Lucas Radebe was booked for a terrible tackle on Nick Barmby and then just three minutes later he was guilty of an awful tackle on Don Hutchison. With Radebe writhing on the floor in agony, injuring himself by his own tackle, referee Uriah Rennie had no alternative but to show him a second yellow card as he was being carried off.

Tackles were flying in everywhere: Beagrie on Wetherall, Bowyer on Tiler, Molenaar on Ferguson. The last one resulted in a yellow card for the Dutchman, and a free kick for Everton. John O'Kane took the free kick, where Ferguson rose above the crossbar to head the ball past Nigel Martyn. It truly was an awesome sight.

Everton could easily have had a third a minute later when Barmby had just Nigel Martyn to beat. He chose the unselfish option, which was to pass to the waiting Ferguson. With too much power in the pass, the chance had gone.

I call the next incident on how I saw it in the Upper Gwladys. Ferguson, powering through on goal had his legs taken by Molenaar, already on a yellow card. Rennie blew his whistle. It had to be a penalty. It had to be a sending off offence. But no. Rennie booked Ferguson for diving... which left him infuriated and venting his anger kneeling on the turf, turning away from the referee. He was fired up.

At the half time interval, we were 2-0 up, and one man up. As Everton walked off the pitch, they were given a standing ovation. Would they make stretch the difference in the second half?

Leeds, like in the first half started the brighter of the two teams, but although they had the possession, they didn't really have any clear-cut chances. In the 50th minute Spencer produced a shot on the turn which took a wicked deflection. Nigel Martyn did well to tip the ball over.

Howard Kendall had his fair share of critics when he brought in Peter Beagrie for a loan spell from Bradford, but those critics were silenced when he had two good opportunities in the space of two minutes. The first was a shot from 20 yards which went wide, the second came from a lovely piece of dribbling and feinting, culminating in a dipping shot which went narrowly over.

Leeds were not lying down. They sought a goal which would bring them back into the match. They nearly got their wish when, after 65 minutes, Kewell was allowed to roam in the penalty area and shot across the face of the goal. Luckily for Everton, Hasselbaink, rushing in, failed to connect.

Everton's apparent inability to tackle was starting to worry the supporters who were in for a tense finish. Ferguson and Barmby were brought off, presumably to rest them for the Easter Monday clash at Selhurst Park. Madar and Farrelly brought on.

Despite all the nerves of the Everton players, management and the 37,099 supporters Thomas Myhre had only had one shot on target to contend with in the second half and in the end it was quite a comfortable victory for the Blues, even though it could have been a different story.

Man of the Match: It was very difficult to find a man of the match amongst 'Howard's Heroes.' So many of them deserved it for different reasons. Consequently, I have decided to give a special 'Team Performance' to the Blues, because all of them were heroes in their own right today.

The Officials: Despite Ferguson's booking, I think Uriah Rennie handled the game very well indeed. He is perhaps the best official that I have seen at Goodison Park this season. His assistants, however, need to mature and make their own decisions. They also need to take lessons to find out when a ball has (or hasn't) crossed the line.

Captain leads way for Everton
by Louise Taylor, The Sunday Times
FEARS that a new home defeat might turn Goodison Park against Howard Kendall quickly proved groundless. Instead, Everton's manager contentedly watched the early dismissal of Lucas Radebe and a consummate performance from Duncan Ferguson combine to help allay Merseyside relegation worries.

Punctuated by some malevolent tackles and snide sub-plots, this was also a match which the referee, Uriah Rennie, sometimes struggled to control but on which he ultimately stamped his absolute authority.

Everton took a 10th-minute lead when the overlapping Michael Ball crossed low from the left, Duncan Ferguson mis-kicked and Robert Molenaar apparently cleared. Instead the ball fell kindly for Don Hutchison, who beat Nigel Martyn with a right-foot shot.

Three minutes later Radebe, interpreting his brief as the visiting midfield "enforcer" over-zealously, was booked for a challenge on Nick Barmby. But the South African failed to take Rennie's hint and shortly afterwards lunged at Hutchison and was sent off for a second bookable offence.

In making that rash tackle Radebe had, ironically, injured himself and he left the field on a stretcher. Afterwards his manager, George Graham, argued that the initial yellow card had been overly harsh. Regardless of the merits of Radebe's removal, the mantle of destroyer-in-chief was handed to Robert Molenaar and "The Terminator" obliged by extending a leg and sending Ferguson sprawling just outside the area. Next Molenaar saw yellow, John O'Kane took the ensuing free kick and Ferguson rose imperiously to head Kendall's team further in front.

Captaincy seems to be generally bringing the best out in Ferguson, but he did himself little credit with an apparently cynical attempt to get Molenaar sent off, diving theatrically in the area with the defender in close attendance. By staying on his feet Molenaar had, however, sensibly fractionally avoided damaging physical contact with Ferguson and Rennie rightly waved a yellow card above the prone striker, who responded by petulantly banging his fists on the turf.

Rennie has deservedly earned a reputation as one of the Premiership's fittest, sharpest-eyed and most sensible referees, but this abrasive, acrimonious meeting of two of England's principle card collectors fully stretched his capacity to maintain order.

Radebe's transgressions apart, the first half featured four bookings, and a less diplomatic referee might have made twice that number. At half-time he left the field flanked by security men aware of the wrath of the home fans, who remained firmly convinced that "Dunc" had not dived and that a penalty should have been theirs.

With Molenaar attracting similar ire – and already booked – it was no surprise that Graham sent Alfie Haaland on to replace him after half-time. Acutely conscious that Rennie would not be averse to flourishing further red cards, the contest lost much of its previous bristle. True, Leeds remained committed, kept assiduously closing down blue shirts and piling bodies into Everton's box, but they suddenly seemed unusually coy about 50/50 tackles.

Cushioned by a two-goal advantage and such debilitated opposition, Kendall's charges started showing off some pleasing one- and two-touch stuff, with Ferguson displaying commendable close control for such a big man. He is nursing a fairly serious knee injury but, watching the Scot link cleverly with the diminutive likes of Barmby, John Spencer and Peter Beagrie, you would not necessarily have guessed it.

On this evidence Kendall's controversial decision to drop the idiosyncratic Mickael Madar – who has claimed five goals in 11 appearances but remains unpopular with fellow players and supporters – appeared vindicated.

Madar's critics perceive him as unacceptably selfish, on this evidence the antithesis of Ferguson. Whether tracking back defensively, foraging deep for possession, holding the ball up for colleagues or supplying them with clever lay-offs, he was increasingly outstanding.

Ferguson rightly strode off to a standing ovation when he was replaced by Madar in the 74th minute. If Everton stay up their Number 9 should take much of the credit.

At the other end, the wonderfully improvisational Harry Kewell and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink did sufficient to suggest that they are capable of gracing Europe in next season's Uefa Cup. Even so, Graham could do with acquiring a creator in the Paul Davis mould to offer them optimum service. Yesterday, the Leeds midfield repeatedly failed to capitalise on a surprisingly high percentage of possession.

At least Graham already boasts an international goalkeeper and Martyn emphasised his stature by producing a sequence of high-calibre reflex saves, notably from Madar.

If Radebe had managed the self-control to stick around and help protect his goalkeeper for 90 minutes, the outcome might have been very different. Graham arguably had a case for contesting his dismissal, but this should not disguise the fact that Leeds' penchant for attracting yellow cards does them few favours.

Report Times Newspapers Ltd

Gods smile on Everton's efforts
by David Maddock, The Times
DO YOU believe in fate? It is a difficult question for a Bank Holiday, but pertinent after Everton's victory on Saturday. If there is such a thing, then the home side surely benefited from it in defeating Leeds United.

Everything that could possibly have gone their way did, against a side that had won five of their past six matches. It was as if the gods had taken a personal interest in the affairs of the Merseyside club.

Had Leeds converted two open goals within the first seven minutes; had the referee noticed one of Ferguson or Beagrie's vicious fouls in the opening stages; had Radebe not been the victim of a subsequent refereeing crack-down, then surely Everton would not have won, and would have been staring at the very real prospect of relegation.

None of these things happened because Everton enjoyed outrageous luck on throughout a bizarre afternoon. So Bill Shankly got it wrong then, God is an Everton supporter after all. Or maybe he just has a sense of humour.

George Graham required one on a frustrating afternoon for the Leeds manager, which began with Gunnar Halle heading wide of an open goal from six yards, after a fine cross by Harry Kewell, and went downhill from there.

That miss came barely a minute into the match. Leeds continued to tear the Everton defence apart, notably when Kewell's shot was parried to Hasselbaink, again standing in front of an unguarded net. Again the effort flashed wide.

With such one-way traffic, the inevitable happened. Everton scored from their first serious attack. On ten minutes, Spencer chased a lost cause and somehow dragged the a pass into Ball's path. His cross was edged away from Ferguson by Molenaar, but rolled invitingly to Hutchison lurking on the edge of the penalty area. Even then, Everton required some luck, the shot taking a wicked deflection to beat the dive of Martyn. It was only then, that fate began to show its fickle nature. Uriah Rennie is probably the best referee in the Premiership, but he had a bad afternoon at Goodison Park.

Rennie showed surprising leniency when Ferguson flicked out an elbow at Hiden, and then failed to spot a horrible late challenge from the same player on Wetherall. When the referee also missed a tackle on the Leeds defender by the insidious Beagrie, which warranted a red card, Leeds lost their cool.

As tempers frayed, Radebe was the victim of the referee's attempt to remain in control of the match. He was booked for a high, wild and not very handsome challenge on Barmby, and earned another booking for a sprawling, mistimed tackle on Hutchison. Leeds were left to chase the match with ten men for 72 minutes.

According to Graham, referee Rennie over-reacted because he was expecting a physical contest. "I think he went over the top to try to stamp his authority on the game early on, when he didn't need to," Graham said.

"It created a situation where the players were too scared to tackle, and the second half was awful. It was like a practice match, and if we go down that road, then forget it."

Everton were not about to complain. They were given the chance to win a match that had appeared beyond them in the opening stages, and responded with a typical Ferguson header from O'Kane's right-wing cross seven minutes before the interval.

Report Times Newspapers Ltd

Everton grateful for Leeds off-day
Derick Allsop, Electronic Telegraph
GASPS of relief swept around Goodison Park as Everton and their long-suffering fans digested the significance of this victory over the 10 men of Leeds United.

Everton's familiar quest for Premiership survival generated vital momentum in a torrid first half against George Graham's revitalised, yet temperamentally fragile, side. Don Hutchison's first goal for Everton after nine minutes and Lucas Radebe's dismissal after 17 eased the pressure on Howard Kendall and his charges. Duncan Ferguson confirmed their advantage with a characteristic header in the 37th minute.

Harry Kewell's instant impact on the match sent ominous tremors through the Everton ranks but Hutchison's strike tilted the balance.

These clubs are pace-setters in the offenders' league and, true to form, the non-footballing skirmishes contributed to an eventful encounter. Radebe can have no complaints about his dismissal and a number of his colleagues and opponents tested the compassion of the referee, Uriah Rennie, who is an enthusiastic kick-boxer in his spare time.

Everton's starting line-up showed some bold and surprising changes. French striker Mickael Madar, who last week scored in the hard-earned 1-1 draw at Tottenham, was dropped while Carl Tiler returned to defence following suspension, compensating for the absence of the banned Slaven Bilic.

Kendall was also doubtless drawing some encouragement from history. Leeds had won only one of their previous eight visits to Goodison Park.

Leeds, whose impressive recent form had raised hopes of qualifying for European competition next season, almost went about redressing the balance in the opening minute. Kewell's centre from the left swirled and hovered in the wind and Gunnar Halle's eventual header bulged the side net, but from the outside.

Kewell's splendid work should have yielded a goal after five minutes. The Everton goalkeeper, Myhre, fumbled the Australian international's shot and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, following up, pushed his shot wide of a gaping goal.

Against the flow of Leeds' early play, Everton stole the lead. Michael Ball provided the support and ammunition from the left and though Ferguson's path to goal was blocked, the ball broke for Hutchison, who scored from the edge of the area.

Leeds' problems were compounded when Radebe committed the second of his bookable offences. The defender was still prostrate, awaiting attention, when the referee brandished a yellow card and then a red one. Radebe was duly carried off on a stretcher for treatment at his leisure.

Leeds, reduced to 10 men, resisted Everton until late in the half, when John O'Kane delivered the perfect cross and Ferguson met it with a copybook header.

Kewell began the second half as he had the first, out-witting the right side of Everton's defence and crossing dangerously, but Hasselbaink was unable to direct his header on target.

John Spencer's deflected shot at the other end stretched Nigel Martyn to a fingertip save before Kewell again tormented Everton's defence with his excellent control.

Report The Electronic Telegraph

RESULTS  (Game 33)
Saturday 11 April 1998
Anelka (41, 64) Vieira (72)
3 - 1 Newcastle United
Barton (79)
Ward (65) Fjortoft (72)
2 - 1 Sheffield Wednesday
Stefanovic (86)
Bolton Wanderers
Holdsworth (20) Taylor (67)
2 - 1 Blackburn Rovers
Duff (51)
Flo (75) Vialli (88)
2 - 0 Tottenham Hotspur
Coventry City
Whelan (59)
1 - 2 Aston Villa
Yorke (5, 48)
Crystal Palace
0 - 3 Leicester City
Heskey (45, 60) Elliott (74)
Hutchison (10) Ferguson (38)
2 - 0 Leeds United
0 - 1 Wimbledon
Leaburn (38)
West Ham United
0 - 0 Derby County
Friday 10 April 1998
Manchester United
Johnsen (12)
1 - 1 Liverpool
Owen (36)

LEAGUE TABLE (after 11 April 1998 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            34   20    7    7   64   25   39   67
Arsenal                      31   18    9    4   52   27   25   63
Liverpool                    32   15   10    7   55   35   20   55
Chelsea                      33   17    3   13   63   38   25   54
Leeds United                 34   16    6   12   50   37   13   54
Blackburn Rovers             32   14    9    9   53   44    9   51 <Safe
West Ham United              32   14    6   12   44   40    4   48
Aston Villa                  34   14    6   14   42   43   -1   48
Derby County                 32   13    7   12   44   41    3   46
Leicester City               32   11   11   10   39   33    6   44
Coventry City                32   11   11   10   38   38    0   44
Southampton                  33   13    4   16   41   45   -4   43
Wimbledon                    32   10   10   12   31   34   -3   40
Sheffield Wednesday          33   11    7   15   47   60  -13   40
Everton                      33    9   10   14   38   47   -9   37
Newcastle United             32    9    9   14   29   38   -9   36
Tottenham Hotspur            33    9    8   16   33   51  -18   35
Bolton Wanderers             33    7   13   13   31   49  -18   34
Barnsley                     33   10    4   19   35   74  -39   34
Crystal Palace               32    6    8   18   27   57  -30   26

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Michael Kenrick 1998
Last updated: 13 April 1998