Wimbledon Logo Wimbledon 0 - 0 Everton
Half-time: 0 - 0
Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 97/98 - Game 34
Monday 13 April 1998
Selhurst Park, Croydon
Att: 15,131
« Leeds United (h) Ref: Keith Burge Leicester City (h) »
1997-98 Fixtures & Results League Position: 16th Premiership Results & Table
  LINEUPS Subs Not Used
Wimbledon: Sullivan, Kimble, Blackwell, Thatcher, C. Hughes (81 Euell), Roberts, Gayle, Perry, M. Hughes, Ardley, Leaburn (70 Clarke). Heald, McAllister, Francis.
EVERTON: Myhre, O'Kane, Tiler, Short, Ball, McCann, Hutchison, Beagrie (66 Farrelly), Madar (66 Spencer), Barmby (86 Oster), Ferguson,
Unavailable: Parkinson, Branch, Grant, Phelan, Thomas, Watson, Ward, Williamson (injured); Jeffers (recovering).
Gerrard, Bilic.
  Yellow Cards Red Cards

Guy McEvoy Instantly forgettable
Lyndon Lloyd We could have had 3 pts here
THE GUARDIAN More fun at the garden centre
by Martin Thorpe
THE TIMES Everton edge closer to the comfort zone
by Matt Dickinson

ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Safety first as Everton paper over the cracks
by Gerry Cox
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

Instantly forgettable
Guy McEvoy
Earlier this season Everton and Wimbledon fought out a passionless, heartless, nil-nil draw which at no point did either team look like they wanted to win. Four months on and it was more of the mundane same. Selhurst Park is not the best of grounds to start with, but with the low attendances that Wimbledon attract serves to take away even more from the soulless atmosphere.

Don't get me wrong, the Evertonians tried to get things going, but the chants just drifted across at the vast areas of empty seating. A first division ground, second division attendance, third division atmosphere and I wont insult the Vauxhall conference by putting the quality of play on a par with them – I'm sure non-league stuff is usually much more entertaining.

The Everton team was the same starting line-up that beat ten man Leeds on Saturday save for the swapping of Spencer for Madar. There was no evidence though that the win had fired our confidence and made u hungry for more.

The most excitement we got in the first half probably came in the first thirty seconds when Tommy had to make a diving save to his right. In the fumble it could have gone anywhere but the defense did manage to bustle it away for a corner. Another incident where Madar managed a speculative back-heel volley (just wide) is worthy of mention.

Apart from that, both teams were poor. Only Ferguson looked interested, the rest seemed to think it was a practice game. I yawned my way to half-time.

Hoping that Howard would inspire the boys with a few choice words during the break turned out to be naive. The same team trotted out to the same rubbish. Eventually, Kendall did try an alternative, swapping Spencer back with Madar. But it was all to no real effect.

Both teams hoofed long diagonal balls upfield, which defenders had little problem picking up. Even Ferguson couldn't seem to get himself into it in the second half.

Time ticked on and in honesty the only goal that looked likely was Wimbledon hitting us on the break. Our possesional dominance hardly ever looked to cause any attacking threat. Still, the few opportunities that they got showed that their shooting was so bad the possibility of them scoring was probably greater more in my cynical expectation than a real-life danger.

Towards the end of the game, the player that caught the eye and really looked like he wanted to win and tried to make things happen was Ball. The more experienced players could learn a thing or two about attitude from this lad.

At least we pull another point away from the abyss. An instantly forgettable game of football.

Individual Performances

  • Myhre 7 - His two good saves saved us from embarrassment The one in the first minute was particularly crucial.
  • O'Kane 6 - Just can't make up my mind about him. In his favour h is certainly not ball shy. However, his numerous errors show he hasn't the talent to back up his enthusiasm.
  • Short & Tiler 6 - Both OK, though short made a blooper when he consistently failed to put the boot in as a Dons player ran at goal even though he was shown all of the ball three times. Tiler made a donkey challenge that was so mistimed it left a Wimbledon player clean through on goal. Both should be grateful for Wimbledon's appalling finishing.
  • Ball 7 - A lesson in character towards the end.
  • Beagrie 6 - All his faults from first time round back on display. Particularly guilty of shying from winnable challenges for the ball.
  • Hutchison 6 - Disappointing. Most likely player to be a playmaker on the field but couldn't get himself into it.
  • McCann 6 - Started off very well, even made himself a good effort at goal. Felt he was hiding from the ball towards the end.
  • Barmby 6 - Despite always looking like he was busy when you sit back and think of it he really had a quiet game. Only really noticed him when he managed a shot after a Duncan pass late in the second half. Seemed to have been given a conventional midfield role. Didn't suit him.
  • Ferguson 7 - Superb first half. All the things we did well had him involved. Didn't quite recreate that in the second half.
  • Madar 6 - Good touches but lazy. What's new?
  • Spencer 6 - Brought nothing new
  • Oster - Only on for the blink of an eyelid.

We could have had 3 pts here
Lyndon Lloyd
An hour and a half of struggling through South London's Bank Holiday traffic and I finally got to the Prince of Wales in Thornton Heath in time for a pre-match pint and a chat with the rest of the Netley-on-Thames gang. The girlfriend was suffering through her annual Evertonian experience but I think she enjoyed meeting up with people she had only heard about before.

At 2.35 it was off to Selhurst Park and the commencement of the search for the away ticket office. There was never going to be a problem getting in with Wimbledon's sparse support. We reached our seats with just enough time to familiarize ourselves with the view and the teams before the game kicked off amid raucous Evertonian support.

It quickly became apparent that Howard Kendall's men could have easily treated this as a home game. The size of the travelling support and the comfortable possession enjoyed for long periods instilled an "it's only a matter of time" attitude in the fans. Duncan Ferguson was once again ignoring his surely worsening knee injury to lead the line with passion and admirable commitment while Mickael Madar had been drafted back in at the expense of John Spencer.

However, Madar's more negative traits, which I had only heard about before today, were exposed in abundance. He was lazy and frustratingly static. Time and time again, Hutchison, Barmby or O'Kane were crying out for the Frenchman to show some movement up front but there was little response.

And yet, his value to the side was amply proven by some genuine moments of class. Midway through the first half he nearly caught Neil Sullivan out with a delightful back-flick from 12 yards out that flew just wide. The crowd demonstrated their approval with rapturous applause. Minutes later he found space on the edge of the area to drill a low shot that was destined for the bottom corner until Sullivan dived to turn his effort around the post.

The Toffees grew in confidence in a dominant first half and Ferguson was by far the greatest threat. He was literally everywhere and there were no signs of his injury when he put his head down and charged like a man possessed through the heart of the Dons' defence. However, as was the case for most of the afternoon the final product never quite delivered, whether it was on the left through the erratic Peter Beagrie or, more commonly, on the right flank where O'Kane lacked Beagrie's armoury of tricks to provide sufficient ammunition for Duncan in the area.

Nevertheless, the big man had an effort cleared off the line and the follow-up effort from what looked in the melee to be Short was scrambled clear by Sullivan. Beagrie had a shot saved and McCann also came close to breaking the deadlock with a stunning drive.

Wimbledon were, quite simply, there for the taking. For 60 minutes they were bloody awful; bereft of any idea or inspiration to a degree I don't think I have even witnessed from Everton. They were overrun in midfield, where Hutchison and Barmby comfortably ran the show, and their sole tactic of lumping the ball up to the front line was easily dealt with by Short and Tiler. I don't recall a significant Wimbledon effort on Myhre's goal in the first half, such was their anonymity.

Typically, though, Everton failed to capitalise and the game stood goalless at half-time.

The second period began more or less as the first had finished, though the visitors looked less "up for it", having perhaps expended too much energy against Leeds on Saturday and during a passionate first 45 minutes. However, it was Wimbledon who nearly went ahead when Ceri Hughes found himself in space but he pulled his shot wide.

At the other end, Everton's big guns nearly forced a couple of corners over Sullivan's goal line but through pure fortune Joe Kinnear's team held out. Everton were dangerous on the break but constantly failed to make it count in the final third.

As the game approached the hour mark, the Dons finally stepped up their attacking efforts, sending high balls into the channels for Gayle and Leaburn to chase. There were a couple of hairy moments when the two strikers successively turned inside and were allowed shots on Tommy's goal. On both occasions, Everton held out.

Familiar Evertonian pessimism began to creep into the mind. "They're going to steal this in a minute." It would have been typical as well: Everton had dominated but their hosts had just enough to force a critical mistake from the tiring back line. They came within inches of doing so late on. Substitute Andy Clark turned 8 yards out after O'Kane had been outwitted on the right flank and only a fabulous diving save by Myhre prevented the seemingly inevitable.

Kendall then chose to replace the increasingly ineffective Madar with Spencer and Beagrie (who had provided a valuable source of unpredictability) with Farrelly. Although Spencer produced plenty of running, the supply to the front-men had dwindled considerably as Wimbledon found a modicum of confidence. Short was visibly tired from constantly challenging Gayle and Leaburn (later Clark and Euell) for long balls and there were a couple of occasions when the Everton No 12 was nearly skinned by direct runs through the defence. Clumsy control allowed Everton to clear their lines, though.

Oster came on with a couple of minutes to go in place of Barmby but it was too late to force a deserved win and the referee called a halt to proceedings soon afterwards.

Before the game, every Evertonian would have settled for draw and I was not disappointed with the result. However, given the dominance we asserted and the chances we had, this really was two points dropped. Wimbledon were pitiful and with a touch more luck, Everton would have walked away with three points. As it was, defeats for Barnsley and Bolton and a solitary point for Tottenham provided the greatest cheer of the afternoon.

  • Myhre 6 - Made one superb save but his kicking was bloody awful at times and produced a couple of heart-stopping moments. Thankfully, his handling was first rate.
  • O'Kane 6 - Lots of industry and he saw plenty of the ball in the first half but was let down by a lack of movement up front on many occasions. His distribution was not as good as we have come to expect either.
  • Tiler 8 - Dealt with the aerial threat admirably and made some vital interceptions.
  • Short 7 - Was a little shaky on the deck in the last 15 minutes but was his usual self for the remainder of the game. Solid and impressive against Wimbledon's aerial bombardment.
  • Ball 10 - An absolute class act throughout. Out-fought his opponents on the Everton left and showed some wonderful moments of skill when his back was against the wall. Epitomizes Everton's spirit and determination and I can't speak highly enough of his display today.
  • Barmby 8 - The man who made things happen, as always.
  • Hutchison 9 - Battled hard and provided a constant attacking threat that Wimbledon couldn't really match.
  • McCann 7 - Not quite as effective as Hutchison either offensively or defensively but showed plenty of enterprise and industry as well as some exciting touches in the centre of the park.
  • Beagrie 6 - He hasn't changed much in 4 years. Still prone to turning the defender once to many times but he was a valuable outlet on the left with some good crosses for the front duo.
  • Madar 6 - Looked disinterested at times but, as already mentioned, he could turn on the style when it mattered. Although his relationship with Ferguson up front has been well-documented, he often looked like a player who had never played with his team-mates before.
  • Ferguson 9 - Another magnificent performance by Duncan. Some fantastic turns delighted the crowd and he showed a pleasing willingness to just surge straight at the defence but was often closed down before he could shoot. In the latter stages he looked to be tiring visibly but the effort he has put in over the past few games has been simply magnificent.
  • Farrelly 6 - He was there but didn't do much.
  • Spencer 6 - Lots of running but Everton's attack was waning by the time he entered the fray.
  • Oster - came on too late to contribute.

More fun at the garden centre
by Martin Thorpe, The Guardian
As a source of Easter Monday entertainment a trip down the local garden centre would have been more exciting than this. On a sunny afternoon in South London, two sides supposedly fighting against relegation showed all the urgency of a retired couple choosing their bedding plants.

Thanks to helpful results elsewhere, the effect of this bag of prime compost was to increase Wimbledon's cushion above the bottom three to seven points and expand Everton's to four, even though they dropped one place in the table to 16th.

The importance of this fixture was diminished slightly by the victories both sides picked up on Saturday, but even so neither team could afford a defeat and in the end they both seemed more than happy to take away a point. Maybe that was the subliminal intention all along.

Not that both teams failed to create chances. But Wimbledon's third successive 0-0 home draw tells the story of their impotence up front while Duncan Ferguson continues to lead Everton's attack despite a knee in need of an operation.

Wimbledon now face four away games in their final five but given that they have won only five at home in the league all season, this should be counted as a blessing rather than a problem. Everton, in closer proximity to the drop, have three games left at home – Leicester, Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry – plus a visit to Arsenal.

So, baring a freak on a par with the Easter weather, this weekend's results would have secured both sides' Premiership membership and each can now start tentatively preparing for a continuation of their respective ongoing debates about money for new players and new grounds.

Not that, as one would expect, the Everton manager Howard Kendall is taking anything for granted. "Everyone is looking forward to enjoying this summer," he said. "But we can't say that yet, until it is mathematically possible."

As for yesterday's game, the least said the better. The first 50 minutes belonged almost entirely to Everton. A diving header from Wimbledon's Dean Blackwell forced Thomas Myhre in the visiting goal to produce a handy reaction save after just two minutes, but thereafter the home side's attacks too often broke down through lack of support from midfield.

Everton, looking more confident on the ball than Wimbledon, produced a flurry of chances. The best of them saw Gavin McCann's shot saved with his feet by Neil Sullivan, who then produced a double save to deny Mickael Madar then Craig Short.

But as the second half unfolded, so did Wimbledon. Ceri Hughes should have scored when he broke clear in the area but shot wide, and the substitute Andy Clarke further enlivened matters with a couple of blasts, one wide and another saved smartly down by his post by Myhre.

And so everyone departed, with still an hour left to get down the garden centre.

Report © The Guardian Co Ltd

Everton edge closer to the comfort zone
by Matt Dickinson, The Times
EVERTON, who appeared to be on their knees not so long ago, maintained their slow crawl towards safety in the FA Carling Premiership yesterday as they ground out a drab draw at Selhurst Park. The finish may still be a few weeks away, but four points over the Easter weekend has given Howard Kendall's side renewed momentum and should be enough to carry them through.

They huffed and puffed yesterday to no great effect, but Kendall, the manager, was breathing considerably easier once he had taken in the other results among the bottom teams. Apart from a trip to Arsenal, Everton's run-in includes home games against Coventry City, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday and they showed enough spirit and organisation to suggest that they are capable of the two wins that should ensure their continued presence among the elite.

They benefited from some unusually genial hosts at Selhurst Park. From the match programme, which gushingly described Kendall as "suave and highly intelligent", to the leisurely way in which they went about this game, Wimbledon were politeness itself, allowing Everton to dominate long passages of play. It all added up to a match of stupefying boredom, but that did not stop Kendall arriving for his post-match analysis with a satisfied grin.

"Sorry to keep you waiting," he said. "I was discussing the highlights of the game with Joe [Kinnear]. Seriously, with the bottom three teams losing, it is a good result. I was a bit disappointed with our attacking play, but we defended well.

"Results are the important factor now, though. We do want to play well, but we have players who are injured and suspension problems and I just feel that everyone is looking forward to the summer. We cannot enjoy it just yet."

Wimbledon's best chance had disappeared as early as the second minute, when Thomas Myhre pulled off a magnificent save. Neal Ardley's corner landed on Dean Blackwell's head, but his goalbound effort was parried at point-blank range by the imposing Norwegian goalkeeper.

It was the visitors, whose need was greater, who created the better opportunities, but there was a lack of conviction about their attacks. Most were undermined, at least until his inevitable substitution, by Mickael Madar, a Frenchman seemingly with a total lack of style or flair.

To the very obvious frustration of his team-mates, he continually gave the ball away and took out his frustrations with petulant kicks at Alan Kimble, which earned him a booking, and an advertising hoarding, which earned him the jeers of the home crowd. Replaced after 67 minutes, he slunk off to the dressing room rather than watch the rest of the game.

He missed little. Duncan Ferguson hit a shot over the crossbar late on, after a frenetic goalmouth scramble, while, at the other end, Andy Clarke's hustle and bustle created a chance from which he shot wide.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

Safety first as Everton paper over the cracks
Gerry Cox, Electronic Telegraph
AS RELEGATION dogfights go, this game made a compelling case for spending Bank Holiday Monday visiting the local DIY superstore. Selecting which colour paint to watch dry would have been more entertaining than a visit to Selhurst Park, which Wimbledon are rapidly turning into a goal-free zone.

This was their third successive goalless draw at their adopted home, and although the point they ground out should be enough to ensure another season of Premiership football, the manner in which it was won was hardly satisfying.

Defeats for the bottom three clubs mean that Wimbledon's total of 41 points should put them far enough away from danger. Everton are still not safe, but this was another valuable point for them and should ease their nerves as they approach the final weeks with a little more confidence.

But it could have been so different if Everton's goalkeeper Thomas Myhre had not made an excellent save from Dean Blackwell's flying header in the second minute. The Swede [sic!] threw himself across goal to deny the Wimbledon defender, but if the optimists among the crowd thought it was a portent of excitement to come, they were soon proved wrong.

More symptomatic of the game was a chance wasted by Mickael Madar seven minutes later. The French striker was given a clear run on goal by Duncan Ferguson's quick thinking, but he hesitated and was grateful to win a corner.

Young midfielder Gavin McCann made another promising run for Everton, skipping past left-back Ben Thatcher to give himself time and space to measure his shot. Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan was equal to his angled drive, and then made an excellent double-save four minutes later to stop Madar's header and Craig Short's follow-up shot.

Wimbledon's early promise fizzled out, although Carl Leaburn was almost presented with a repeat of the goal which beat Southampton on Saturday. Then, a mis-kick from Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones allowed Leaburn to score Wimbledon's first goal in more than 4.5 hours of football. This time, Myhre's mis-kick flew wide but defender Carl Tiler beat Leaburn to the ball and the threat was averted.

The second half offered little more entertainment, although Ceri Hughes wasted a good chance at the end of Wimbledon's best move, on the hour. Sullivan's long kick was headed on by Leaburn to Marcus Gayle, whose flick gave Hughes a clear sight of goal. But the Welsh midfielder, back after 10 weeks out with injury, dragged his shot wide.

Gayle tried a shot on the turn through crowd of players but Myhre saved, and when a rare slip in the Wimbledon defence gave Ferguson a sight of goal, he shot tamely at Sullivan. Madar was booked for a late tackle on left-back Alan Kimble midway through the second half and was substituted soon afterwards, walking disconsolately down the touchline to the dressing room rather than staying in the dug-out to watch the rest of the game.

While no-one could blame him, he missed the spark that substitute John Spencer added to the Everton attack. Nick Barmby was foiled by a late interception from the excellent Chris Perry, who wore the captain's armband in place of the injured Robbie Earle.

Wimbledon substitute Andy Clarke gave his side a similar lift, but he shot wide after cutting in from the right wing and then had another shot blocked when he could have passed to better-positioned team-mates.

Don Hutchison set up a half-chance for Ferguson but the Scottish striker mis-hit his volley straight at Sullivan. And when the Wimbledon goalkeeper made a rare mistake by spilling a long shot from McCann towards the end of the game, neither Barmby nor Ferguson could take advantage.

Everton manager Howard Kendall admitted: "We do want to play well but at this stage of the season the result is the most important thing. We can't look forward to the summer break until it is mathematically impossible for the team that is third from bottom to catch us."

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

RESULTS  (Game 34)
Tuesday 14 April 1998
Leicester City
Lennon (18) Elliot (52) Parker (pen:90)
3 - 3 Southampton
Ostenstad (17,27) Hirst (49)
Monday 13 April 1998
Blackburn Rovers
Gallacher (51)
1 - 4 Arsenal
Bergkamp (2) Parlour (7, 14) Anelka (42)
Derby County
Wanchope (27) Burton (37, 40) Baiano (45)
4 - 0 Bolton Wanderers
Leonhardsen (29) Thompson (85)
2 - 1 Crystal Palace
Bent (72)
Newcastle United
Andersson (40) Shearer (86)
2 - 1 Barnsley
Fjortoft (50)
Sheffield Wednesday
Magilton (59)
1 - 1 West Ham United
Berkovic (7)
Tottenham Hotspur
Berti (68)
1 - 0 Coventry City
0 - 0 Everton

LEAGUE TABLE (after 14 April 1998 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Manchester United            34   20    7    7   64   25   39   67
Arsenal                      32   19    9    4   56   28   28   66
Liverpool                    33   16   10    7   57   36   21   58
Chelsea                      33   17    3   13   63   38   25   54
Leeds United                 34   16    6   12   50   37   13   54
Blackburn Rovers             33   14    9   10   54   48    6   51
Derby County                 33   14    7   12   48   41    7   49
West Ham United              33   14    7   12   45   41    4   49
Aston Villa                  34   14    6   14   42   43   -1   48 <Safe
Leicester City               33   11   12   10   42   36    6   45
Coventry City                33   11   12   10   39   39    0   45
Southampton                  34   13    5   16   44   48   -4   44
Wimbledon                    33   10   11   12   31   34   -3   41
Sheffield Wednesday          34   11    8   15   48   61  -13   41
Newcastle United             33   10    9   14   31   39   -8   39
Everton                      34    9   11   14   38   47   -9   38
Tottenham Hotspur            34    9    9   16   34   52  -18   36
Bolton Wanderers             34    7   13   14   31   53  -22   34
Barnsley                     34   10    4   20   36   76  -40   34
Crystal Palace               33    6    8   19   28   59  -31   26

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Last updated: 15 April 1998