Everton Logo Everton 2 - 1 Coventry City
Half-time: 1 - 0
Coventry City Logo
FA Cup 1998-99 – 5th Round
Saturday 13 February 1999
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 33,907
« Derby County (a) Ref: Uriah Rennie Middlesbrough (h) »
1998-99 Fixtures & Results « 4th Rnd | 6th Rnd » 5th Round Results
EVERTON: Jeffers (18'), Oster (82')
Coventry City: McAllister (84')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Myhre; Ward (30' O'Kane), Watson (c), Dunne, Ball; Grant, Dacourt, Barmby, Oster (90' Bakayoko); Hutchison, Jeffers (89' Cadamarteri).
Unavailable: Materazzi (suspended); Bilic, Collins, Cleland, Branch, Short, Farrelly, Ward, Williamson, Phelan, Parkinson (injured); Gerrard (on loan).
Simonsen, Jevons.
Coventry City: Hedman, Nilsson, Burrows, Shaw, Breen, Boateng (69' Telfer), Clement (71 Soltvedt), McAllister (c), Froggatt (77 Aloisi), Huckerby, Whelan. Ogrizovic, Konjic.
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Hutchison (32'), Dacourt (49').
Coventry City: Breen (59'), Telfer (86').

Steve Bickerton This is Everton: Anything is possible
Jenny Roberts A nice blue bruiser
Richard Marland A nice diversion from reality
THE SUNDAY TIMES Jeffers first as Everton see double
by Ian Hawkey
Jeffers springs eternal for Blues
by Neil Bramwell
THE INDEPENDENT Goodison goals almost too good to be true
by Guy Hodgson
THE TIMES Jeffers holds a controlling interest
by Stephen Wood
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Jeffers' novel approach lifts Goodison gloom
by Derick Allsop
THE EVERTONIAN Link to Echo/Post Match Report

THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

 This is Everton: Anything is possible
Steve Bickerton
I faced up to today's match philosophically. Having looked at the current form table and seen us bottom and having seen Coventry off on a good run, things looked bad. As well as contending with those facts there were the others which screamed defeat from the rooftops:-
  • We can't score,
  • We were torn to pieces by Coventry at Highfield Road earlier in the season,
  • We've an injury list as long as the M62,
  • We suffer an allergy to bookings-free matches,
  • We haven't beaten Coventry for 11 games.

How could we win?

Notwithstanding all of this, the feeling I was enjoying was, strangely, more positive. No room for doom and gloom at this house, not a bit of it – after all:-

  • last time we beat Bristol City in the cup,we won it;
  • last time we beat Ipswich in the cup, we won it; and
  • last time we beat Coventry in the cup, we won it.

Then there was 1933, 1966 and now 1999.

How could we lose?

Quite simply we are Everton, and anything is possible.

A late arrival at the ground meant that it was straight to my seat to see who was on the pitch. Defence was the first thing to look at. Only five defenders warming up meant that either Walter was going for four midfield/attacking substitutes or he was considering only four at the back!

Fingers crossed I looked around the rest of the players – Cadamarteri, obviously recovered from his midweek illness, which caused him to withdraw from the England U-21s, was throwing himself about with reckless (and nearly neckless) abandon as he tried to head the ball on the ground. O'Kane was on show, as was Jevons, but centre-stage belonged to Francis Jeffers. There is a calm about this young man which belies his age. Would he be given his second start?

The players returned to the dressing room and the crowd began to grow. The Coventry fans, in full voice, filled two thirds of the Bullens Street stand. Before you howl at me for my obvious error, let me make it clear that I call it this, only in deference to Rodney March, sorry Marsh, who, on Sky before the game had referred to the fact that we hadn't scored at the Gwladys Road end of the ground all season.

The announcements of the line-up just before kick-off confirmed not only that we were to play with only four defenders, at last, but that Jeffers was, indeed, to have his chance. And then the unthinkable happened, we changed ends. Gone was the first half attacking the Park End, we were to attack Gwladys Street in the first half. Half-groaning at the possibility of another goalless half, half expecting a change in fortune with the change of direction, I settled down.

They lined up: Myhre; Ball, Dunne, Watson, Ward; Barmby, Dacourt, Grant, Oster; Hutchison, Jeffers. I must admit to thinking we were about to play 5 in the middle with Jeffers running alone up front, but Walter surely wouldn't put that sort of pressure on young shoulders, would he? The answer was quick to arrive – it was No! 4-4-2 returned to Goodison. The bench was Simonsen, O'Kane, Bakayoko, Cadamarteri and Jevons.

I must admit to having only scant memories of the game's sequence, really, it was all lost in the sort of adrenaline rush I hadn't felt for a while (maybe last year's Coventry game, but that was for entirely different reasons). We moved the ball wide and down the middle, there was crisp passing, good running, in short, there was a team out there today. And it was our team, it was Everton.

Ball, released from the wing-back role, that so patently disabuses his abilities, was coolness personified. His links with Barmby on the outside and Dacourt on the inside of midfield were evidence that he is, after all, the quality player we believed he could be and not the impostor he has been of late. Dacourt was the controller of the midfield, harrying and hassling, carrying and fetching and playing some delightfully weighted balls.

Barmby chased every lost cause, again. He is tireless in his endeavour and is threatening to fulfil his much hyped promise. Grant, on the right of the centre of midfield was a little less impressive. He seems to have found an eggshell to live in, almost as if he's afraid of being damaged, easily shrugged aside at times, failing to get in on the tackle, but still a significant cog in the central midfield wheel.

Oster was again able to show the verve and dash which is a characteristic of his game, but he did nearly fall victim to that momentary lack of control he sometimes display, being fortunate to stay out of Uriah Rennie's book as he scythed down a Coventry defender. He was generally appalling in the tackle, and I can't remember a single one that he won.

But he was a man today, not the boy he has been in the past. He played deep, he played forward, he took on defenders and beat them, he made space for himself and he tried some outrageous tricks, not many of them coming off. But he tried for himself and the shirt.

In defence, Watson was a tower and Dunne was a rock. Ward played well enough till he was forced to withdraw early on, probably with a dead leg, following a challenge by Whelan. His replacement, O'Kane, despite one almost catastrophic ball in the second half, which almost let in Huckerby, played as if he had never been out of the side. Myhre was hardly called upon to do a thing in the first half, which he'll remember for an outstanding flying save that preserved our lead.

Ah yes, the lead. Not often a phrase heard around Goodison these days. But it was today. A ball launched inside from around the half way line, Barmby beats his defender with a prodigious leap (at least it seemed like that at the time) to feed Jeffers, just outside the box. Not some callow youth this boy, who panics at the sight of goal. No, this is a clinical finisher, who knows not only where the goal is, but where the Gwladys Street goal is!

Still with a defender to beat, he ran onto the ball, pushed the defender off and coolly slotted the ball past the keeper. A finish of the highest quality. A star is born! Gwladys Street erupts, Goodison erupts, apart from the 6,000 visiting fans, who fall silent. It has to be said that Jeffers had had a sighter early on, running on to another through ball, but he scuffed his shot and it had fallen easily for the keeper. But this had been an excellent first goal at senior level.

After that we exploded, pulling Coventry apart. Hutchison up front was a revelation, being unfortunate not to extend the lead with a diving header which just failed to connect. He'd also hit the side netting with another good effort, but his presence up front seemed to allow Dacourt more freedom in the middle to run forward. Several times today he managed to get himself into shooting positions and although he didn't convert any, he was a new, improved Ollie. The one black mark on an otherwise excellent first half, to which both teams had contributed, was a booking for Hutchison when he left his foot high and caught Whelan (I think) in the midriff.

Half time found us with a 1-0 lead, and playing well.

We started the second half in similar fashion to last week's game at Derby, back-pedalling and seeming to want to let Coventry come at us. We nearly paid for it when Tommy fluffed an easy collection from a poorly hit shot, which nearly resulted in the ball trickling over the line. But Tommy recovered and potential disaster was averted.

That seemed to waken us up and we began to exert just a little more control on the midfield. But Coventry were a bit more combative in the second half and we had to match them with our own efforts. It was this increased combativeness that nearly caused Oster to find his name in the book. Having taken a challenge, which had gone unpunished by the referee, he clattered into the back of a Coventry defender, giving away a free kick, round about the half way line. Mr Rennie had a word with the offender and no more was done. Next challenge in from Dacourt was innocuous by comparison, but was probably the wrong tackle at the wrong time and Ollie found himself in the book.

Well though we competed throughout the half, Coventry always seemed able to pinch the ball back and keep up the pressure. It was during this period that Watson particularly and Dunne shone. They put their heads in the way time after time. Then we broke, and the ball, in a flowing move from back left to forward right, found Oster in space and bearing down on goal. A sweet shot across the keeper unerringly found the net. Two goals in one game against Premiership opponents. Euphoria!

Wembley beckoned and the 33,907 (who does these counts?) inside Goodison bore witness to an atmosphere unlike any there has been this season. It was fabulous.

Coventry then threw on three substitutes in rapid succession, eager to retrieve something from a game, which they probably felt beforehand, that they should have won. McAllister prompted and probed and eventually the defence cracked. One stretch too often for Dave Watson saw him limp away from a challenge that brought down a Coventry player in the 'D'. Up stepped McAllister, cool as you like. He waited for Tommy to ready his wall, waited for the referee to move it back the requisite 10 yards and then whipped in a scintillating shot beyond Tommy in the top right-hand corner of the net, as he looked at it. 2 -1 and all to play for. Coventry threw everything forward then and panic set in amongst the Everton team.

Walter calmed things down with late substitutions, Cadamarteri replacing the tired Jeffers (who left the field to rapturous applause) and Bakayoko coming on for the expended Oster. Two minutes that seemed like two hours were added by the referee, but we held out, deservedly and we're in the hat for Round 6.

Team Performance:

Overall an excellent display. All 12 players involved in the majority of the game played as a unit. We were sharp and committed to the cause. This was as far removed from the display against Forest as could be imagined, far more positive, far more aggressive, yet we didn't create as many chances. Individually the players were excellent. Nobody could be greatly faulted. This was exemplified by renewed commitment from Dacourt.

At one free kick in the second half, which we were defending, he turned to the crowd and gestured for more noise – the decibel levels must have dropped to bearable. The four in midfield looked far more comfortable without Hutchison, Ball looked far more comfortable at a simple left back position. We were more composed and more balanced. 4-4-2 works for us.

Man of the Match:

My heart says give it to Jeffers for his mature performance up front. My conscience says give it to Watson after a sterling display which threw my disparaging remarks about him in the Derby game back in my face. But my head says it must go elsewhere. Three players made outstanding contributions, which might have earned the award on another day. Ball, Dacourt and Barmby. But for leadership, commitment and a fine example of being a controlled target man, it has to go to Don Hutchison.

 A nice blue bruiser
Jenny Roberts
I woke up with no voice. How could I shout at the match, and cheer on our Blue boys? I refrained from speaking for the entire morning, in order to try and save the pathetic whisper I had for the game. However, upon sight of the stadium, the Goodison air soon began to clear my throat.

Although it was a little chilly around Goodison, the sun shone optimistically. Maybe our dreams about the 33, 66, 99 pattern could be reinforced? I approached Goodison with mixed emotions. The inclusion of Jeffers beckoned a home goalscoring debut, yet with so many defensive players out, how would we avoid concession?

Inside the ground, I was determined to dispel all pessimistic thoughts, and enjoy the game. Indeed, Jeffers retained his place in the starting line-up, partnered by Hutchison, whose goals for West Ham once helped them survive. Waggy's arm proudly displayed the captain's armband, just as it had done four years earlier, in the 5th round clash with Norwich City at Goodison.

First Half

We lost the toss. However, that could not be allowed to dampen spirits. Uriah Rennie, probably the only referee who I ever felt any respect for, blew for kick-off. As early as the second minute, Jeffers was racing towards goal, pursued by helpless Coventry defenders. The shot was saved, but how close we had come to scoring down at the Street End!

This was merely an appetizer. What followed satisfied the immense hunger of all Evertonians, both present and absent. Our 4-4-2 formation suited the team well; Richard Dunne and Dave Watson dealt superbly with the potential danger of Huckerby, completely isolating him from the game. Barmby, Dacourt and Hutchison battled hard, like Royle's Dogs of War, and they fed a flying Francis Jeffers, who was absolutely incomparable.

I watched Barmby and Jeffers with particular interest during the first half. All I could think of was how fitting it would be for Barmby to return Jeffers' Derby County favour. Return it he did. The space that we had down the left wing in the first half was a pleasure to watch. Dunne or Ball would often bring it out of defence, and pass to Barmby or Hutchison. Then Jeffers would begin a run, and a team-mate would pick him out. The crowd would roar as Jeffers was unleashed down the wing, as he cut into the box and took his shot. The whole first half was really enjoyable, as we constantly saw this move repeated, and every time we came closer to scoring.

I found my voice in the 20th minute, along with 25,000 other Evertonians. I think it was Dave Watson who lobbed the ball in Barmby's direction. He beat his marker, and won the header. Jeffers turned to escape his marker, won the ball and raced into the box. He shot from the left-hand side, coolly lifting the ball slightly in such a way that his shot hit the goalkeeper, and flew into the back of the net.

We leapt to our feet, ecstatic. A Street End goal, a real rarity! Jeffers calmly netting it with such precision. I grazed my leg painfully against my seat as we went up for the goal (I now have a nice blue bruise), but the pleasure of a goal was so overwhelming that I hardly noticed.

The fans, who at last had something to cheer about, churned out every single song with triumph. "One Franny Jeffers" continued all afternoon, as did "Wem-ber-ly" and "Tell me ma, me ma". However, the most meaningful chant was "Grand Old Team," for its line "And If You Know Your History." Those present who knew their history realised that the 33, 66, 99 pattern was on course, and it sent shivers down my spine as I visualised what could lie ahead.

Mitch Ward was substituted after around 30 minutes. As he limped back to the tunnel, past the Bullens Road and the Street End, he was the recipient of an excellent reception. His injury was a pity, as Ward had been playing so well. But he made way for a welcome appearance by John O'Kane.

Jeffers continued to terrorize the shaky Coventry defence. When through on goal once again, he tried to curl his shot around the goalkeeper. It did not work, but to see such confidence in an Everton striker was really refreshing.

Half-time came and went, bringing huge queues in the Bullens Road, as the Coventry fans had claimed extra seats. One steward told us of one set of toilets spanning the line of segregation, to which both Coventry fans and Evertonians had access. Apparently, there was a policeman standing in the middle to keep the peace!

Second Half

The second half brought a livelier Coventry, although we never really looked like conceding. Thomas Myhre, who had played an inspirational first half, seemed to lose his concentration slightly during the second. There was one nerve-wracking moment when he saved a stinging shot, only for it to escape his grip. We held our breath as we watched it trickle closer and closer to the line. Myhre swivelled around quickly and leapt on top of the ball. We breathed again.

I have few recollections of the second half, except looking away every time Coventry had a free kick by the penalty area. McAllister, although assuredly past his best in open play, is still lethal at set pieces.

But finally, the cushion which we wanted, the ever evasive second goal arrived. We charged forward, in a move involving five players. It was passed back and forth, Barmby to Jeffers, to Dacourt, to Hutchison, who passed it to Oster. He ran forwards into the box, and shot with accuracy and confidence. 2-0! Goodison went wild. This was an atmosphere akin to THAT other Coventry game, last May.

Coventry's flurry of substitutes had done little to alleviate the Everton pressure, although once again, Coventry struck with a late goal. Fortunately, I had turned away for the McAllister free kick, and did not have to watch. However, we all felt that not even Everton could concede an equaliser with less than seven minutes left.

The minutes ticked away slowly, agonisingly, and Uriah Rennie chose to add on a few more. It seemed like a lifetime. The shrill whistles around the ground hinted at victory, but still Rennie tortured us. Coventry attacked persistently, and I prayed fervently for him to blow the whistle.

The relief swept like a wave around the stadium as Rennie put the whistle to his lips. The roar drowned out the sound of the whistle, but we knew that we were through.

As the other results were read out, Charlton's victory received a resounding roar. A Liverpool defeat provokes a reflex cheering action. But many, realising afterwards the effects of this scoreline were a little subdued. However, league results can rarely diminish the morale raising effects of a good Cup run.

Man of the Match: Although Jeffers really stood out for me during the first half, he seemed less effective during the second. Perhaps he was just slightly overawed by his goalscoring home debut. He must retain his starting place, and Walter must persist with the partnership of Jeffers and Hutchison. I was also impressed by the central defence partnership of Dunne and Watson. If Dunne were a few years older, and Watson younger, it would be a struggle to find two better centre backs playing in the same team anywhere else. Ball also prospered in his natural left back position. However, it goes to Barmby for his hard work all afternoon, his impressive work with Jeffers, and his general all round improvement.

If we could just treat every League match as a Cup game, then we CANNOT be relegated.

 A nice diversion from reality
Richard Marland
Well what a day! Two (yes, two!) goals – one of them even into the Gwladys St End – and a passage to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup. What a blessed relief from the trials and tribulations of a relegation battle and the off-field shenanigans bedevilling our club at the moment.

All week the anticipation had been that Jeffers would get the nod again up front and that the under performing Bakayoko would be benched. This proved to be the case even if Jeffers's partner was a surprise. It was widely assumed that it would be the returning Cadamarteri, however it turned out to be Don Hutchison, a brave positive move from Walter.

Elsewhere Walter's hand had been forced by the unavailability of a number of centre-halfs. He could still have gone five at the back – O'Kane has been playing there for the reserves – however, he left O'Kane on the bench and went 4-4-2. The line-up was Myrhe in goal; a flat back four of Ward, Watson, Dunne and Ball; Grant and Dacourt in centre midfield with Oster on the right and Barmby on the left; and Jeffers and Hutchison up front.

First Half

We attacked the St End in the first half today, I think that that is the first time this season. I was quietly hoping to see my first close-up goal (I was in the Park End for the Sunderland game so I didn't even get to see that goal from close quarters). The match started at a furious pace. Coventry and their fans clearly fancied their chances and the team started with some purpose. They had the best of the opening exchanges without unduly threatening us.

We looked fairly solid and comfortable; Watson and Dunne were secure at the back, never allowing Huckerby or Whelan to use their pace. The midfield was doing OK and up front Jeffers and Hutchison were looking a useful partnership. It was nice to see the front pair actually holding the ball up and laying it off to each other or to a team-mate. All simple stuff but all too rarely seen this season. Franny Jeffers was living up to expectations. He has a good touch on the ball and invariably found his man, he also showed lots of intelligent running.

Then with the game twenty minutes old the moment we had been waiting for since August arrived – a goal into the St. End. Barmby was involved, as he was in most attacks, putting Jeffers through with a header from a lofted ball from deep. Jeffers evaded his marker and steadied himself one-on-one against the 'keeper, before putting the ball past him. It was a good finish and not a bad way to open your account. The goal actually shows up many of Jeffers' talents, there was the awareness to read the situation and get to Barmby's ball, there was the good touch to nick it past the defender, and then there was the confident finish.

Suddenly we were buoyant and playing with confidence. The front four – Hutchison, Jeffers, Barmby and Oster – were all buzzing. They all linked well and it was delightful to see some of the movement and interchanging that went on. It wasn't exactly top drawer stuff but it's the best I've seen from an Everton team in some time. We should really have put the game beyond Coventry at this stage, Jeffers had a couple of opportunities which he spurned, and Hutchison nearly put the finishing touch to the move of the season when he just failed to get his head to a Barmby cross.

Half time arrived at 1-0. We hadn't by any means dominated but we hadn't really given them much of a chance apart from one marvellous Myrhe save, and we had constantly worried their defence with our pace and movement up front.

Second Half

As often seems the way with Everton, the second half saw us cede the initiative to the opposition. We started to defend a little too deep, Hutchison became a midfield player rather than a striker, and we never really got Jeffers, Barmby or Oster into the game. Many will be quick to blame this on "tactics" but I'm not so sure. Yes, the players will have been reminded to play with a modicum of caution, that they shouldn't commit too many into attack. But I think just as important is the lack of confidence in the team and the edginess that comes into play when they have a lead and are scared stiff of losing it.

Whatever the reason, Coventry – without making a goal look inevitable – started to bring the game to us more and more. We continued to defend very well, Dunne and Watson in particular were very impressive, but we were all getting a little concerned. I was beginning to wonder whether we could hold out till full time when John Oster popped up with the goal which should have put us in the comfort zone. He picked up the ball on the right, advanced into the box and hit a cracking shot into the far corner of the net. The 'keeper barely moved and it certainly caught me by surprise.

That should have been it, but of course this is Everton. Coventry threw everything into attack and were rewarded with a free kick right on the edge of the box. Dave Watson gave it away when his desperate defending became a little too desperate. Gary McAllister lined it up and curled it into the top corner. It was a good free kick but where was Tommy? The wall had been lined up to invite McAllister to aim for that corner, it was Tommy's side of the goal but he was too far over. Certainly Michael Ball was seen pointing that out to Tommy in no uncertain terms.

It left us with a nervy, edgy six minutes to negotiate. We managed it with something to spare. The whistle blew and for once the players could take the plaudits of the crowd; they deservedly milked it, they had played well.

The day was of course a nice diversion from reality. Before we could leave the stadium reality returned with the news that Charlton had beaten Liverpool (why did people cheer this result?). We are now one point off the relegation zone. Today wasn't our big game – Middlesbrough on Wednesday is the big one.

Individual Players

  • Myrhe 6 One cracking save in the first half. Blotted his copy book with an innocuous shot that squirmed under him and nearly crossed the line, and for the free kick which he should have been covering.
  • Ward 6 Went off midway through the first half. Had done OK up till then.
  • Ball 6 Better than of late. Generally did OK and was more disciplined in his positioning.
  • Watson 7 As dependable as ever. Loads of really basic defending but often that is what is needed.
  • Dunne 7 I really think that he is starting to come of age. Has his occasional lapses but he is a really good defender and he played well today.
  • Oster 7 Bright, lively and inventive all day. Excellent goal and good all round game.
  • Grant 6 Fairly disappointing today. Usually when he has good, aware footballers around him he comes into his own. Today was the kind of day he usually thrives on. Didn't happen for him though.
  • Dacourt 7 Thought he was excellent today. Worked very hard, loads of good tackles and some good work going forward.
  • Barmby 7 Despite being stuck in an unfamiliar left-sided role, Nick did very well particularly in the first half. He was involved in all our best attacking moments.
  • Hutchison 7 Made a very good fist of the target man position. Won a decent number in the air, held the ball up well and brought other people into play.
  • Jeffers 7 Undoubtedly a star in the making. He has good touch, good awareness, decent pace and is a good finisher. I always get the feeling with Cadamarteri and Branch that they are primarily athletes in a football shirt. Franny on the other hand is a "footballer".
  • O'Kane 6 Still don't understand why he is so much out of favour. Had a couple of dodgy moments that could be put down to him being ring rusty. But alongside that there was some decent defensive work and good tackles being made.
  • Cadamarteri - Came on very late for Jeffers and barely got a look in.
  • Bakayoko - Came on even later for Oster, again barely touched the ball.

Team 6 Pretty good first half but in the second showed too much caution and invited problems upon ourselves.

Man of the match - A number of contenders, which is always encouraging, but the man who caught my eye the most was Olivier Dacourt.

 Jeffers first as Everton see double
by Ian Hawkey, The Sunday Times
CLOSE the record books, unfurl the blue bunting, Everton have welcomed a Premiership team to Goodison and scored not once, but twice. This being the FA Cup, they ought not boast that their curse is broken just yet, but Walter Smith, their manager, can draw hope for the days ahead. His goalscorers were young men who have just turned 18 and 20 years old respectively.

Francis Jeffers established their lead, and John Oster doubled it in the 12 minutes from the end of an afternoon which sends a deserving Everton into the sixth round. Coventry pulled a goal back via Gary McAllister's free kick, but by then Gordon Strachan's team had too much lost ground to recover. Everton's luck held. If it holds even further, they'll be drawn away from home in the quarter-finals.

Though Everton and Coventry sit in neighbouring positions in the Premiership table, their experiences in the Cup could hardly be more different. Coventry had scored 10 times in their two previous knockout matches, Everton . . . well, everybody knows about Everton's goalscoring record. "We contrived to miss one or two," Smith noted.

Not least Jeffers, but his youth excuses his profligacy. When he put Everton in front after 20 minutes, the crowd hailed the goal with particular exuberance. Jeffers's first for the club in only his second start makes him the most efficient marksman at the club. "We're pleased if any player scores," said Smith, "but he's got a bright future."

Indeed, Jeffers had already caught the eye before he raced past Richard Shaw and finished coolly. The teenager's pace troubled Coventry as early as the second minute, when, played in by Don Hutchison, he fired wastefully wide. When the two combined cleverly again, Hutchison sliced his effort off target.

Everton started bright and busy. Where Jeffers offered pace, Nick Barmby covered good ground, and Oliver Dacourt had by the interval edged ahead in his battle with the sturdy Phillippe Clement at the heart of midfield.

Jeffers darted behind the defence, pushing his attempt wide and Hutchison had a fierce strike deflected just the wrong side of Hedman's near post. By then, Everton had enjoyed a period of sustained enough pressure to send Coventry to the dressing room somewhat short of breath.

Where there's Huckerby, however, there's always a trick or two. Approaching half-time Thomas Myrhe, in the Everton goal, had made a sharp save to push his volley over the crossbar. The winger's reputation alone worried a rather makeshift Everton defence.

Marco Materazzi was missing, suspended, David Unsworth injured and once Mitch Ward limped off, Dave Watson's steady authority was in demand. "Watson was outstanding," reckoned Strachan. With his own team he felt less impressed. "We weren't competing," he said, curtly.

Though Noel Whelan slid a 70th-minute chance off target after Huckerby's running and close control had opened Everton up, the best possession belonged to the home team.

Dacourt's influence grew, Hutchison harried and huffed, which, in tandem with Jeffers's pace, kept Coventry deep and restricted their opportunities to build. Having collected his statutory booking – his 11th of the season – Dacourt set up Jeffers with a precise lob over the Coventry back line, to which Hedman responded with a smart stop, anticipating the teenager's low finish.

Ever alive to the half-chance, Hutchison tried an audacious angled volley from all of 30 yards, which required more vigilance from the Coventry goalkeeper. "He's been playing well for us," observed Smith, who has moved Hutchison up front in search of a smoother finish.

In the event, he got that from Oster, after Dacourt fed Hutchison who in turn released the 20-year-old, overlapping to his right. Oster then struck with an assurance previously unseen by new season-ticket holders at Goodison: a hard, low shot arrowed into the bottom corner.

That should have been game, set and match, but for the last six minutes, Everton found themselves in a real Cup tie, McAllister's free kick having crept over their defensive wall and beneath Myrhe's bar. "I was wary of losing another one in the latter stages," confessed Smith.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 Jeffers springs eternal for Blues
by Neil Bramwell, The Independent on Sunday
There were no thrown floodlight switches and no offers of a replay from Everton. The club's cool snipers would, however, suggest that two goals at Goodison Park were the greatest shock of the day but Walter Smith's side have demonstrated admirable resilience in the face of such adversity and continued to show a preference for Cup football against an uninspired Coventry side.

Smith badly needed answers to his side's inability to find the net with regularity and especially at home, with the total number of goals for the season now reaching nine in all competitions. Francis Jeffers' performance showed enough signs to suggest that the solution to the puzzle is within the manager's grasp. There have, however, been previous false dawns in this long-running saga. Ibrahima Bakayoko has flattered to deceive and Danny Cadamarteri has yet to cure a tendency to self-indulge. The great white hope of previous seasons, Michael Branch, has also faded from the scene.

Jeffers, in his first Goodison Park start, was full of promise. Not only did he score the opener, he linked well with his makeshift partner Don Hutchison, Smith's latest attempt to fill the void left by the sale of Duncan Ferguson. That option had been in Smith's mind for a number of weeks, injuries in midfield delaying the actual selection.

"I had no fears over putting Don there. He had played more up front than he has in midfield. He has been telling me he has, anyway," smiled the Everton manager who was equally impressed with his young charge. "Francis has a bright future. He's always looking to get through and we are pleased anybody scores, but especially a young player. He might have had more than one and he finished the hardest one."

Jeffers, who made his debut as a 16-year-old, had already served notice of his pace and trickery before the strike which illuminated a scrappy first half that Everton had dominated. Both times Jeffers made ground into the left-hand side of the Coventry area. In the first instance his snatched shot was scuffed into the arms of Magnus Hedman. On the second occasion, Jeffers' way was blocked by Richard Shaw but a clever first touch and turn created enough space for a strike which squeezed under the oncoming goalkeeper.

An element of vulnerability was showed when a better chance fell in a similar area. Without pressure from a consistently hesitant defence, his considered side-footed effort was wide enough to sum up Everton's striking woes for the season. Another clear one-on-one chance in the second half, set up by an Olivier Dacourt lob, again demonstrated the youngster's composure, but Hedman saved well low to his left. All the time Hutchison harried and chased while the sprightly Nicky Barmby prompted from wide on the left. Both went close from long-range efforts as Coventry failed to stamp their authority on the game.

The visiting manager, Gordon Strachan, was lost for explanations, but gracious in defeat. "Everton started the game like a Cup tie and we started it like a game we were out to enjoy. I thought they were better equipped to handle a Cup tie and worthy winners on the day. If you're not competing that takes the enjoyment away and for a long time in that game we did not compete.

"Marcello Lippi, the best coach in the world at Juventus, has just chucked it in because he could not understand his players any more, so what chance have I got after being in this job for such a short while?"

For a period in the second half, when Everton attempted to sit on their lead, Coventry threatened to impose themselves. Chances were rare, though, and the home side had the ability to create a comfort zone on the break. When Hutchison found John Oster on the right flank, Coventry appeared to have the attack covered but, after forcing David Burrows to back pedal, Oster unleashed a surprise skidding shot which evaded Hedman and found the far corner.

A clumsy challenge from the otherwise inspirational Dave Watson, virtually his only mistake of the game, on substitute Trond Soltvedt set up a Gary McAllister free-kick on the edge of the Everton area. His superbly executed set- piece produced jangling home nerves but Coventry had not demonstrated enough throughout the game to snatch a place in the quarter-final draw.

Report © The Independent

 Goodison goals almost too good to be true
by Guy Hodgson, The Independent
Think of the two words you are least likely to see bracketed together and "Everton" and "exhilarating" would be right up there. But the BBC's idiosyncratic national treasure Stuart Hall managed it on Saturday night and witnesses swear he was not dragged giggling from Goodison in a straitjacket.

Then again quite a few were questioning the evidence of their eyes while mumbling strange couplets in dark corners, Goodison and goals giving doctors most cause for concern.

It helped, of course, that Coventry played like they thought the floodlights were going to go out after 70 minutes but as Gordon Strachan complained recently it is unfair to downgrade victories by implying the opponents had an off-day. Everton played well and, yes, were exciting. There, I've said it.

As with many of the great scientific breakthroughs of the millennium, it was probably an accident. For the Scrooge-like Walter Smith the nadir was playing four centre-backs and two wing backs, but stripped of personnel because of injury he stumbled, mad professor-like on the formula. A back four, two wide players more interested in going forward than back and strikers willing to pass to each other transformed Everton from the football equivalent of watching paint drying into something resembling entertainment.

Spectators hugged themselves like the FA Cup had been won when Francis Jeffers scored at the Gwladys Street, an end of the ground that has been a barren landscape in the Premiership this season, and were pinching themselves in disbelief when John Oster got a second to match the previous high tide of two home goals at Goodison against Huddersfield in the Worthington Cup in September.

Then, just to ensure the fifth round tie remained edge-of-the-seat stuff for 90 minutes, they defended too deep and almost let Coventry steal a replay.

Jeffers, 18 and a prolific scorer in the youth team, made a difference but so did the decision to convert Don Hutchison into a striker. The Scot, in the twilight zone between midfield and attack, shed light with the intelligence of his passing.

"He must tell me lies because he told me he spent most of his early career up front," Smith said. "I know Jeffers played well today but I'm sure he'd be the first to acknowledge Hutchison's contribution."

Strachan certainly did although he was more preoccupied with the failings of his own team. Coventry seemed to assume a right to reach last eight and only stirred themselves when it was far too late.

Why? "You can't explain everything in football," said Strachan, who did not enjoy his team's lack of competitiveness. "I didn't think we could play as badly as we had in the first half but we managed to do it for another 30 minutes so at least we were consistent."

Goodison was rediscovering enjoyment to the point where the Liverpool defeat announced on the PA system was greeted with a loud cheer. "So Charlton are just a point behind us. With a prolific team like ours who cares?"

Report © The Independent

 Jeffers holds a controlling interest
by Stephen Wood, The Times
BILL KENWRIGHT, the theatre impresario and deputy chairman of Everton, beamed a huge smile before shouting to an acquaintance a few feet away: "It's the romance!" In keeping with the embarrassing nature of Everton's season so far, said acquaintance failed to hear first time, so Kenwright had to repeat it.

The message was eventually received and, hallelujah, Kenwright was proved to be correct. It was half-time and his delirium owed everything to the fact that his team had scored a rare goal and were in front.

Everton have been miserable so-and-sos for the past few months, but, having fallen for the magic of the FA Cup, they became sentimental old fools to reach the quarter-finals.

The sense of relief around Goodison Park was overpowering. Players hugged each other, the supporters gave them a standing ovation and Thomas Myhre, the goalkeeper, threw his gloves into the seats. It was genuinely touching, providing, as it did, a welcome respite from the bilge that has preceded it.

Kenwright and Francis Jeffers, an 18-year-old striker, have leading roles to play in assuring a brighter future. Kenwright has launched an official attempt to buy the 68 per cent controlling interest still held by Peter Johnson, the former chairman. Jeffers, though, is the only ray of light on the field. Senior strikers, such as Ibrahima Bakayoko, 22, and Danny Cadamarteri, 19, have dribbled the fortunes of the team into dead ends.

The form of Jeffers for the youth and reserve teams has been too good to ignore, confirming his comeback from a heart condition that interrupted his career last season.He scored his well-taken goal after 20 minutes, while John Oster doubled the lead 13 minutes from time. In between, Dave Watson, the 37-year-old defender, was outstanding.

"There was a fear that Francis would not be big enough at this level," Watson said, "but they said that about Ian Rush and he did OK." Coventry threatened to ruin Everton's big day when Gary McAllister scored direct from a free kick with six minutes remaining.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 Jeffers' novel approach lifts Goodison gloom
Derick Allsop, Electronic Telegraph
EVERTON found a new darling to charm some of football's most deprived paying customers and carve a path to the sixth round of the FA Cup. They have waited all season for a goal at the Gwladys Street End of the stadium and it arrived in the 20th minute, courtesy of 18-year-old Francis Jeffers, who was making his home debut.

The youngster's enthusiasm breathed fresh life and optimism into the Everton ranks. Nick Barmby and John Oster responded with desperately needed verve, while Don Hutchison applied mature guidance.

Coventry's defence was palpably unsettled by Everton's movement and might have trailed by more than one goal at half-time. They looked to Darren Huckerby to replicate the danger but Everton survived the striker's two threats before the break.

If nothing else, this tie was guaranteed to provide Everton some relief from their Premiership plight. Seven goals in all competitions at Goodison Park this season indicated the source and scale of their problems. But then this is the Cup and other omens came into play, like the fact they had played Coventry on three previous occasions in the competition and won every tie. The last time Everton appeared in the fifth round, in 1995, they went on to win the trophy.

Manager Walter Smith heaped the goal-scoring responsibility on Jeffers, leaving Danny Cadamarteri and Ibrahima Bakayoko on the bench. His central defensive resources depleted by injuries and suspension, the Everton manager was thankful to rely on the old warrior, Dave Watson, alongside Richard Dunne.

Coventry head Everton purely on goal difference in the league standings but their star has been rising and their confidence evident in the quality and potency of their recent football. They scored 10 goals in their two earlier FA Cup ties and Huckerby's form has been inspired. Gordon Strachan recalled David Burrows and George Boateng, both having completed suspension, and among his substitutes was Mo Konjic, signed from Monaco.

Jeffers, fed by Hutchison, sprinted behind Coventry's defence in the second minute and although the end product was all too familiar the vision and enterprise lifted the spirits of the long-suffering gallery at that end. Roles were reversed when Jeffers held up the ball and invited Hutchison to strike. The shot was sliced and veered off in the direction of the corner flag.

Huckerby gave Everton their first moment of concern, running at the defence with characteristic pace. He tumbled beneath a twin challenge and referee Uriah Rennie ruled no foul play. It was the live wire at the other end who forced a way through. Jeffers nicked the ball away from the dormant Richard Shaw, then beat Magnus Hedman, in Coventry's goal, as Roland Nilsson hurried across in vain.

Jeffers ought to have profited still further from Coventry's complacency. This time, Gary Breen was culpable and he was relieved when Jeffers pushed his subsequent shot off target. Hutchison, ever alert to the shooting opportunity, snatched at an effort which ended up the wrong side side of an upright.

Huckerby seized on a rare chance in the 40th minute and Thomas Myhre reacted to the rising shot with an athletic leap and fingertip save. Myhre was not so impressive early in the second half, fumbling what should have been a routine save from Noel Whelan and then having to scramble back towards his goal to grab the ball on the line.

Jeffers ran clear of a hesitant Coventry defence again in the 57th minute and Hedman lunged to his left to defy the youngster.

Whelan steered the ball wide from Huckerby's service and Everton compounded Coventry's anguish with a second goal in the 79th minute. Oster, taking the ball in the inside right channel, drilled a shot into the far bottom corner. Gary McAllister pulled one back for Coventry five minutes from the end.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph


 RESULTS  (5th Round)
Saturday 13 February 1999
Arsenal                2 - 1  Sheffield United    38,020
Vieira 28, Overmars 76        Marcello 48 
{To be replayed following Arsenal's controversial goal }
Barnsley 4 - 1 Bristol Rovers 17,508 Hignett 38,44,75, Dyer 63 Roberts 84 Everton 2 - 1 Coventry City 33,907 Jeffers 20, Oster 77 McAllister 84 Leeds United 1 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur 39,696 Harte 73 Sherwood 53 Sheffield Wednesday 0 - 1 Chelsea 29,410 Di Matteo 85 Huddersfield Town 2 - 2 Derby County 22,129 Beech 42, Stewart 74 Burton 55, Dorigo pen:59
Sunday 14 February 1999
Manchester United      1 - 0  Fulham              54,798
Cole 26
Newcastle United       0 - 0  Blackburn Rovers    36,295

 REPLAYS  (5th Round)
Tuesday 23 February 1999
Arsenal                2 - 1  Sheffield United    37,161  
Overmars 15, Bergkamp 37      Morris 86

Wednesday 24 February 1999
Blackburn Rovers       0 - 1  Newcastle United    27,483
                              Saha 37
Derby County           3 - 1  Huddersfield Town   28,704
Dorigo 34, Baiano 73,82 Beech 15 Tottenham Hotspur 2 - 1 Leeds United 32,307 Anderton 60, Ginola 68

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Last updated: 24 February 1999