Stoke City Logo Stoke City 0 - 2 Everton
Half-time: 0-0
Everton Logo
Ian Cranson Testimonial (Pre-Season)
Tuesday 22 July 1997
Victoria Ground, Stoke-on-Trent
Att: 9,210
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Stoke City: --
EVERTON: Stuart (53) Barmby (70)
LINEUPS Subs Not Used
Stoke City: N/A.
EVERTON: Southall, Phelan, Barrett (56 O'Connor), Short (45 Unsworth), Bilic (45 Watson), McCann (78 Allen), Oster, Barmby, Speed (80 Hills), Stuart, Ferguson (72 Jevons).
Unavailable: Hinchcliffe, Parkinson, Grant, Thomsen, Farrelly (injured). Dunne (International Duty)

Peter Griffiths Pottery Trotters
by David Prentice
Pottery Trotters
Peter Griffiths
Definitely the smallest Everton crowd I have ever been in saw us eventually beat Stoke City 2-0.  I suspect there were less than a thousand of us there and we got about 6,000 up to Aberdeen last year.  Perhaps Stoke is slightly less picturesque and it was midweek.

This was Ian Cranson, the Stoke centre-half's testimonial game and attracted 9,200 to the Victoria ground, most of them into the Boothen End which is their 'Street' End.  Their new ground although nearing completion is not ready yet. Our team was captained by Bilic in the first half which may be a sign of things to come and he played alongside Short in the centre of defence.  Waggy came on in his place for the second half and Unsie for Short. Phelan played on the left and Earl The Pearl on the right of defence.  Duncan and Stuart played up front with a mid-field of Oster, Barmby, McCann and Speed.

Although we had most of the play in the first half, they had three good shots and Neville had to be at his best to keep them out -- and he was!  This was the Everton of the worst of last season, few ideas in attack and with Duncan looking as if he had just jogged out of the sea and was trying to decide what ice cream to buy. Ian Cranson took him down in one tackle in the first half and on a different day, the testimonial boy would probably have regreted his action.

The second half started as the first had finished. Then, a longish ball forward, Duncan goes up near the half way line and you see him note where Graham Stuart was, he headed the ball cleanly (a rarety on the night) and dropped it forward in front of Diamond. Stuart took it forward at pace and shot past the keeper. The trick looked so simple, so beautiful. So why can we not see it work more often? Well perhaps it will, we can hope.

The second goal came form an Oster break on the right.  He passed/crossed it back from the bye line to Barmby who was to the right of the goal and I should think near the edge of the box. He hit a sizzling swerving shot that the keeper touched but could not stop.  Defintely would have got in 'goal of the month' if he had been playing for a more fashionable team.  We were right behind him and had a lovely view of it curling into the top of the net.

There were then a bewildering number of substitutions and considering we cannot buy anyone, I am ashamed to admit I recognised only a couple. The Stoke tannoy man -- who sounded as if his equipment had been borrowed from the local station -- not only did not know any of our substitutes but struggled with their's to the amusement of the crowd.

Jon O'Connor came on and played very well. In fact the more kids we had out, the better was the football we played but it was clear that the Stoke had lost heart after the second goal.  That went for the crowd as well. After the first goal, the jolly Potters sang to us that in their humble opinion we would not win anything and that we were the faeces of Merseyside.  After the second goal they could not even raise a chorus of Delihla, the Tom Jones ditty, that seems to be their party piece and must be a candidate for 'most unsuitable' football song ever.

Bilic commanded the defence when on and looked excellent. Oster, although he stopped running at them after the first 5 minutes, can pass the ball a long way as well as look comfortable in the intricate passages.  I hope that the attentions of Keane or Dicks do not do for him.

Speedy carried on with last season's workrate and will score again from midfield.

Stuart and Barmby looked keen and busy without being totally convincing most of the time.

Short seems to have had bad reports so far but I thought he looked quite good today.

Earl and Phelan were just OK, nothing special.

Duncan looks as if he is waiting for the season proper. Gary McCann tried hard but was not very positive. Neville looks set for another season for me.

Without Grant we have few ideas in mid-field. (I know when he is not on his game, we have few ideas with him.) We lack punch up front although both Nicky Barmby and Graham Stuart looked about to start putting things together all night.  I know, they did at times last season.  Still, the happy Boothen End will see Ravanelli with 'Boro as he is now commited to them for the season ;-)

(I haven't scored the players as I'm a teacher and don't understand how to do it!)

by David Prentice, The Liverpool Echo
Stuart, Barmby score -- but Southall is top class: Dave Prentice reports from Victoria Ground

Howard Kendall has likened his liaisons with Everton to a marriage.   And, in traditional fashion, the third time down the aisle he's taken something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

He learned a little more about the new during last night's friendly at Stoke City. Teenager John Oster was impressive once again in flashes.  The borrowed he's already dispensed with -- triallists Thomas Rytter and Szab Saffar -- and, as for the true blue, Dave Watson, proved as reliable as ever.

But it was the old that the Everton manager saw a little more of than he would have liked last night.  Neville Southall turned back the clock with the kind of performance Kendall would have remembered with some relief from years gone by, and the veteran goalkeeper's display laid the foundations for Everton's eventual 2-0 victory.

During a first half in which Everton started brightly, but then became more and more ragged, Southall prevented a second successive embarassment to First Division opposition.  True, pre-season friendlies are insignificant fitness builders.  But they are far from meaningless.  Not to a club that has taken as many knocks as Everton over the past three months.

Morale among the supporters is a fragile thing and at least a 2-0 victory prevented frustration slipping into despondency. That was down to three excellent Southall stops.

In the 17th minute he sprinted swiftly off his line to block Paul Stewart's volley. Three minutes before the interval he made a difficult stop from Sturridge's shot look easy, then two minutes later sprang to his right to spectacularly tip Ray Wallace's piledriver over the bar.

That gave Everton the platform to build on in the second half, which they did within ten minutes of the restart.  Duncan Ferguson headed Barrett's long clearance neatly into Graham Stuart's path and he sprinted clear. The finish was immaculately applied.

Nick Barmby spurned a sitter three minutes later, but atoned in full in the 69th minute. Jon O'Connor, in an impressive last half hour's cameo, neatly guided a pass down the right flank for Oster. He cut back a beautiful pass and Barmby's crashing volley into the net was even more impressive.

That was the signal for wholesale changes.  Everton ended the match fielding half-a-dozen teenagers, including four of the youngsters who played last Friday's reserve match at Burscough.  That was a pointer to six seniors sitting out the match with strains, but it also indicated the lack of depth to Everton's squad.

Kendall needs quantity as well as quality.

Gavin McCann enjoyed some impressive moments in midfield, but, like Barmby alongside him and Grant on the sidelines, he's a ball player rather than a ball winner.  The once famed dogs of war have now definitely become show dogs and chief rotweiler Joe Parkinson is out of action for a little while yet.

There'll be at least one more new face in the Everton squad before the big kick-off, even if the familiar faces are far from finished.

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