Chester City Logo Chester City 1 - 1 Everton
Half-time: 0 - 0
Everton Logo
1998 Pre-Season Friendly #1
Saturday 25 July 1998
Deva Stadium, Chester
Att: 5,324

« Last Season Ref: Michael Jones Port Vale (a) »
1998-99 Fixtures & Results
Chester City: Beckett (67)
EVERTON: Spencer (53)
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used
Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Crosby, Cross, Wright, Flitcroft, Woods, Priest (Shelton 67), Bennett (Shelton 79), Wright, Murphy, Beckett (Jones 70). Cutter.
EVERTON: Myrhe, Thomas (80 O'Kane), Cleland, Tiler, Short, Farrelly, Oster (75 Branch), Barmby (82 Milligan), Ferguson, Spencer (75 Jevons), Hutchison (75 McCann).
Unavailable: Parkinson, Phelan, Williamson, Ward, Gerrard, Grant, Madar? (injured); Cadamarteri, Dunne, Ball (International Duty); Bilic (resting after World Cup); Materazzi (not match-fit).
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Chester City:

Guy McEvoy The game is on!
Richard Marland Day out at the Deva
THE EVERTONIAN Link to the Echo/Daily Post Match Report

 The game is on!
Guy McEvoy
The players strike never happened....

The Deva Stadium: A small shed of a ground in the middle of an industrial estate. It's made out of breeze-blocks and has two ends of terraces (we were stood in the South Terrace). Capacity cannot be anymore than about Five to Six thousand and the day's attendance was somewhere in that region.

The Kit: Every other Evertonian seemed to be wearing the new white away strip. It was a bit of a surprise then (though a good marketing ploy) when the team ran out in the new yellow version. I have to say I prefer the yellow. Much less Tottenham.

The Team: Everton started with a 4-4-2 line-up. Tommy started in goal. At the back (from left to right) was Cleland, Tiler, Short, Thomas. Oster took the right wing and Farrelly the left with Barmby and Hutchinson between them. Spencer and Ferguson led the line.

The Game: Yawn. Everton went through the motions. No-one looked to exert themselves. We tried to play a simple passing game but found it frustrating as the players often lacked understanding. Oster was both the best and worst player on the team. Every pass he did led to one of two things; either he messed up and gave it away dumping us in trouble, else it would be an inch-perfect defence splitting pass that led to an attack on goal. No in between with the lad.

For what he showed us Cleland looked competent. Thomas showed us to be in good form but looked to lack physical fitness by the end. The lion's share of chances in the first half came our way. Ferguson characteristically bottled a one-on-one with the keeper when he'd done the hard bit, then hit a tame header from a Oster cross. Spencer also missed from an Oster pass. Barmby stuck a long range effort just wide.

Chester had one chance all half, the ball fell to a forward unmarked two yards out who somehow managed to stick it over, as it happens the linesman had wrongly given offside anyway. Everton had also had a Spencer goal disallowed by a dubious linesman decision.

Walter changed nothing at half-time. The team soon made the breakthrough. A cracking pass from Oster to Farrelly (who was having a great game), Gareth played the easy ball through to Spencer who tucked it in. We then turned it on a bit but chances started to get squandered, Spencer and Barmby the worst offenders. Duncan was very quiet in the second half.

Chester's equaliser was a scrambled effort, I didn't get a good view so couldn't comment on who should take blame. Tommy, it has to be said, had been looking dodgy with his kicked clearances early on.

McCann, Branch, and Jevons came on for Oster, Spencer and Short but to little effect. Chester then banged the cross bar following a free kick. Finally someone, who I guess is Matt McKay, was introduced for Barmby. Whoever the lad was he was eager to impress and showed some nice touches.

Before the end of the game Chester made a substitution which meant they had a father and son playing in the team. Certainly the first time I've come across anything like that.

The Chants: The monotony was lifted by some funny chants from the bored away crowd. My favourite: "Where's your wages gone" to the tune of Chirpy-chirpy-cheep-cheep. And 'Have a whip-round for the lads". Also quite amusing was when our mystery number 19 dribbled past the entire Chester defense and shot just wide, Evertonians gave a burst of "Who the fuckin' hell are you" to their own player.

The Verdict: With none of the coming season's likely engine room on the park, (no Bilic, Collins, Dacourt, Ball, Madar, Mazzerati etc) little could be learned. Our finishing was less than clinical and was the main reason for the draw; we certainly dominated play. Oster proved that you still need a thick skin to watch him, he can delight and then frustrate in the same couple of seconds. Farrelly looked comfortable on the wing. Cleland looks solid enough. The only thing I was left pondering was exactly who is our number 19?

Pre-season freindlies are a lottery, don't read anything much into this result either way.

 Day out at the Deva
Richard Marland
We commenced our final preparations for the rapidly approaching new season with a modest draw at the Deva Stadium. Although the only new face on the pitch was Cleland, Materazzi took his place in the row before Smith's.

Smith's side evidently resembled some form of a test, with the majority of Howard's bargain buys making unlikely appearances. Tony Thomas was given a rare outing, and in attack, Madar had vanished, and Spencer was preferred.

Our new manager has deservedly acquired the greatest respect with his fiercely secretive manner of dealing in the transfer market, and he capitalized upon the opportunity to assess whether or not buying further talent "for the future" will be necessary, by allowing a mere handful of the squad's abundant range of young talent to impress. Although Ball, Cadamarteri, Dunne and Delaney were absent, due to their international commitments, which have allowed the former two to return, but which have kept their team-mates away, there were chances for McCann, Milligan, Jevons, Branch and Oster.

Those amongst the 5,324 crowd were fortunate to be watching. Between two or three thousand fans were stranded outside the stadium, and kick-off was briefly delayed. Before that there had spread talk of a strike by the Chester players in protest at their absent wages. At one point, the Evertonians sang "Let's have a whip-round for the lads," and the home fans showed their disgust at their player's appalling treatment by holding several red cards aloft.

Everton dominated during the first half, with the majority of chances going painfully wide, or forcing magnificent saves. Don Hutchison seemingly chose to ignore the word "friendly" by committing the first foul while the match was still in its infancy.

A Barmby chipped shot was close, as were a few Ferguson headers, but at half-time, the score remained an uninspiring, uneventful 0-0. Humour came in the form of a Ferguson shot – his boot flew off and followed his unfortunately inaccurate shot over the bar.

The second half began with some promising opportunities for Chester, which was tolerable, as according to Ratcliffe's comments in the Echo a few days ago, the side is absolutely overflowing with passionate blues. However, an RS side full of the same Blue players would be a completely different matter!

Eight minutes had not passed before Farrelly worked wonders down the wing, and fed the waiting Spencer. One-nil, and deservedly so.

Farrelly continued to work diligently throughout the rest of the game and, if only Spencer had not been the culprit of some pathetic shooting, I may have been complimenting the midfielder who set up all five, six or seven of Everton's goals.

Spencer helped his own bid to remain a permanent fixture in the side by claiming the goal, but squandered a hideously high amount of perfect chances, which could only have made Smith despair. He seemed quite effective, although his finishing lacked finesse. Unfortunately, I still believe him incapable of coping with the extreme physical demands of the Premiership.

A mistake by Craig Short, which enabled Murphy to nod down to Beckett, who proceeded to turn and stab an equaliser past Myhre proved somewhat costly, and a little embarrassing, although perhaps Smith never intended to push his men to victory at all. If we had put several goals past this side, we would only have aroused fury in the wage-less team and the fans, who are already fiercely angry at their club's owner. Our own players would have been tired by such a display, and with a friendly against Port Vale, and a tour ahead, we cannot afford fatigue.

The goal was followed by a drastic triple substitution, which gave Everton a slightly more attack-minded formation. Branch was denied a penalty appeal, which did not appear to be especially genuine. John O'Kane made a brief appearance towards the end, and had one looping shot which was particularly noticeable. This was because it rapidly dispersed a group of unsuspecting stewards!

It ended 1-1, and in the post-match interviews on the radio, Ratcliffe appeared delighted with the result, whereas Smith confessed his disappointment with the score-line. Ratcliffe spoke of his disappointment at losing McKay, and said that he will be a quality player.

Smith promised that we will see Materazzi in the Port Vale game, which should prove interesting. On the Dacourt and Collins front, he also said "We have been talking to both players and their representatives, and we have still got a little bit to do there, but we hope to have some news on that sooner rather than later."

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© Michael Kenrick 1998
Last updated: 30 July 1998