Everton Logo Everton 1 - 0 Southampton
Half-time: 1 - 0
Southampton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1998-99 – Game 17
Saturday 12 December 1998
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 32,073
« Chelsea (h) Ref: Alan Wilkie West Ham United (a) »
1998-99 Fixtures & Results League Position: 14th Premiership Results & Table
EVERTON: Bakayoko (31)
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Myhre, Cleland, Dunne, Bilic, Unsworth, Collins (c), Hutchison, Grant (86 Barmby), Ball, Madar (75 Dacourt), Bakayoko.
Unavailable: Cadamarteri (suspended); Materazzi (?), Short, Watson, Williamson, Phelan, Parkinson (injured); O'Kane, Spencer (on loan);
Gerrard, Branch, Ward.
Southampton: Jones, Dodd, Lundekvam, Le Tissier, Oakley, Hughes, Ostenstad, Beattie (Bradley, 87), Hiley, Monk, Kachloul (Ripley, 83). Dryden, Bridge, Stensgaard.
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Ball, Unsworth.
Southampton: Kachloul, Hughes.

Steve Bickerton The Acid Test
Jenny Roberts Signs of success for the future?
Richard Marland A nod and a wink from Lady Luck
THE SUNDAY TIMES Everton claim higher ground
by Dave Hannigan
THE INDEPENDENT Cleland lifts Everton blues
by Dave Hadfield
THE TIMES Bakayoko gives Everton relief in relegation duel
by Bill Edgar
by Bakayoko answers Everton critics
THE EVERTONIAN Link to the latest Match Report

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

 The Acid Test
Steve Bickerton
It was a dreary day, even before the game started, the clouds hanging heavily in the sky, threatening rain. The roads to the ground were a little more subdued than normal and the crowds somewhat thinner. From my own point of view I saw this game as a measure of how far we'd come this year, despite the dramas behind the scenes at the club.

Now you may say that, in order to measure our progress, we should measure ourselves against those at the top, but I think it is also good practice to evaluate progress against those who, these days, are perceived, in some quarters, to be at our level. In that respect we were to be involved in one of those famed "six-pointers", even though its still so early in the season.

The dreary atmosphere did not bode well for the game ahead as the mood inside the ground was no better than that outside. Even the usual welcomes for the players as they came on for their pre-match warm-ups were muted. Did everyone have those pre-Christmas blues? Casting a glance at the players on the field there was a notable absentee – Materazzi. A quick flick through the program showed that he'd been receiving treatment for an injury sustained in the Chelsea game, during the week. Obviously he didn't make it off the treatment table.

Then came rumours of a training ground bust-up on Friday and a resulting disciplinary non-selection. What did go on? Walter says he'll be in contention next week, so maybe it'll all blow over – the last time Walter made a similar statement the player involved was gone by Wednesday!

Having been deprived of what I consider to be the "dream" pairing of Bilic and Materazzi, we had an unusual looking back line, and our fourth captain in five games – last week's incumbent, Craig Short, not having recovered from injury. The armband this week resided with John Collins.

First Half

We kicked off with nobody on the field apparently ready, as the ball was despatched cleanly to the Park End for a goal kick to Southampton. This was the trend that the majority of the first half was to follow. True, there was much endeavour, but most of it took place defending our goal rather than going forward.

Too often we were back-pedaling from inside our own half, being outplayed by a poor Southampton side. Despite early harmless attempts from Madar and Bakayoko, we hardly threatened and by the half-hour mark it was plain to see that we just weren't up for this game, at all.

There was plenty of industrious running from Madar, generally away from the ball, and Bakayoko was trying hard to not lose the ball when he received it, but the emphasis I've placed on those descriptions indicates the negativity of the way we were playing: industry off the ball, but nothing when we had it. Only Cleland was able to make a strike worthy of the name in this period, forcing the Saints keeper, Jones, to make a comfortable diving save to his left.

Baka SmackerAs a result of this early lethargy, we should count ourselves lucky not to have been as many as four goals down when – completely against the run of play – the first goal eventually came. The ball came out of defence and reached Bakayoko in the middle of the Southampton half, in that familiar pose for a Blues striker, back to goal. He controlled it for almost the first time on the day and turned to his right, completely beating his marker. From then on it was head down and on to glory. A sweet right-foot shot and the Park End net bulged – Jones was well beaten.

What a goal! Bakayoko went off to the corner flag at the Goodison Road side and completed his trademark somersault.

After that strike, the whole match turned. Suddenly there was life in the mausoleum that was Goodison Park. Bakayoko was a thing possessed. Now it was a case of beating his man (or men generally, with as many as four on him at any one time) and looking confident, rather than the cautious and contained individual of just a few minutes earlier.

Pity the goal didn't galvanize Madar, too. I was something of a fan of Madar last season, but I have to say that if this was his shop window, then someone should have told the window dresser that the goods were past their sell by date.

He was moaning and grumbling and not really contributing anything constructive to the team at all. At one point, rolling around in agony after a poor challenge from a Saints defender, he was approached by Le Tissier, who spoke some, no doubt, comforting words in his ear. Madar was up as if he'd sat on hot coals, threatening Le Tissier with typical Gallic fire. Le Tissier grinned and after the referee had separated the two, walked away before the fisticuffs could begin. What a drama queen! If I was a visiting manager then I would not have been impressed by Monsieur Madar.

Two players who had impressed, though, during the period of inadequacy and disinterest were Hutchison (again!) and Cleland. Cleland repeatedly got down the line and was involved in good work with Bakayoko and Grant in particular. A much more comfortable wing-back than Dunne ever was, is, or will be.

After the goal, we pressed forward and Southampton were revealed as being the poor outfit that their league position suggested. They were untidy in front of goal, uncertain in defence, but in one of those strangely contradictory ways were quite good in midfield, full of promise, but never delivering. At half time it was plain that, despite the desperate start that we had made, any goals we were going to ship today would be as a result of our own calamitous efforts rather than any guile from Southampton.

Second Half

The second half kicked off and we were treated to a storming first ten minutes. In that time Cleland (over the bar), Bakayoko (saved) and Madar (poor effort) all missed opportunities. The best was yet to come, though.

Just inside the Southampton half, Cleland dispossessed a Saints player, bore down on the Southampton goal and, after a neat one-two with (I think) Grant, unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot which crashed into the cross bar with Jones nowhere near. As is usual in these situations, the Everton front line failed to pick up the pieces and Southampton cleared.

Time and again throughout the half, we had good chances: Cleland again and Bakayoko (twice) brought excellent saves from the keeper. There was still always the chance that Southampton would nick one, especially if we defended as we did on two occasions in a ten-minute spell of dominance which Southampton enjoyed about half way through the half.

In the first incident, Hutchison gave an uncharacteristic pass straight to a Southampton player having just broken up an attack. Still with players up, Southampton threatened to score, but an excellent recovery by Hutchison after good defensive play by Bilic saw the ball cleared. In the second it was Collins, seemingly comfortable on the ball, who was dispossessed just outside the box allowing a clear chance for Southampton which they were unable to take.

This period of Saints dominance also highlighted the fact that maybe our luck has changed a little. After some unimpressive defensive work, we were penned back inside our own penalty area and the ball crashed against our crossbar. As it bounced down it looked (from my (disad)vantage point at the Gwladys Street end) as though it had crossed the line and gone into the Park End goal. Somehow it was cleared and hustled out for a corner. Despite Southampton's protestations no goal was given. At last, a side with less luck than ourselves, I thought at the time. But now, on reflection, I've revisited that opinion. They say that you make your own luck in this game. Maybe we've started to make ours.

Madar was eventually replaced by Dacourt. As one the crowd rose and as the applause reached a crescendo Madar reacted by applauding the crowd and accepting their adulation. On this occasion I think he mistook the rapturous reception reserved for the appearance of Dacourt, for a heartfelt showing of gratitude for his performance. This was reinforced by the chants of "Olly-y-y, Olly, Olly, Olly --- Olly, Olly" which greeted Dacourt as he raced onto the pitch. In his 15 minutes on the pitch he contributed far more than Madar had in his 75.

Bakayoko was now a lone striker. Suddenly we played the through ball as if it was our stock in trade. Bakayoko was a revelation. He reached balls he had no right to reach, beating three defenders in the process. Ball found him in space on the wing on at least three occasions and twice (I say twice because we were awarded two corners – the second one was awarded by Alan Wilkie because the breeze from Jones' gloves must have caused the ball to deflect from its course) he was denied by spectacular saves from Jones. Grant and Cleland were also denied in this period.

Then with 5 minutes to go Grant was withdrawn and we reverted to two up front as Barmby returned to first team action. He'd already been roundly applauded whilst he was warming up earlier and his reception was no less enthusiastic. Even in that 5 minute activity some better fortune could have seen him on the scoresheet.

Needless to say, though, we did leave ourselves open to a last minute fling; not in the usual sitting back and enticing them forward way, but in a new "let's get forward" sort of way. But in the end, we held on for the win. All's well that end well, as some guy from the Black Country once said.

My opening sentiment was one that suggested that a better measure of how far we had come this season would be given by this performance against Southampton, rather than in those performances against the loftier clubs that are, for now, Manchester United and Arsenal.

My assessment is that we have indeed progressed. Despite dropping to their level in the early stages we were clearly the better side in the end, once we decided to play our way. It isn't classic stuff yet, but with the return to fitness of Dacourt, Bilic and Barmby we look as though things are improving. All we need to do now is score – and maybe at some time we could do it at the Gwladys Street end.

Man of the Match: Alex Cleland for an aggressive all action performance of wing-back play that nearly resulted in a couple of fully deserved goals. Commendations: Hutchison, Bakayoko.

Bookings: Ball (foul), Unsworth (the booking came after an innocuous push, but I can't believe that that alone was the cause of the booking, so I'll put it down to persistent offending)

The threatened rain? It duly arrived during the first half, but did nothing to dampen the spirits of those witnessing another home win.

Signs of success for the future?
Jenny Roberts
It was an overcast, yet mild afternoon at Goodison as we gathered, anticipating our first home league victory gained from a goal in open play. And as the Southampton defence had previously conceded 33 goals in just 16 games, nothing but all three points would be good enough.

TV Everton displayed our starting line-up. The return of Bilic and the option of Branch on the bench was consolation for the great loss of Materazzi.

On the subject of absences from Goodison, the pitch remained a one-2-oners-free zone until kick-off. Perhaps they were transferred with Duncan, and are currently taunting the Toon Army with their little Go West Dunc routine?!

Kick-off eventually arrived, bringing with it an even greater threat of rain. We began without promise, and I was convinced that we would, at best, sit through yet another Goodison Special – the 0-0 draw.

Slaven Bilic looked glad to be back in the line-up, and each time that a Southampton player was caught off-side, he desperately wanted to take the free kick. It was the same each time Tommy made a save. Bilic wanted it rolled out to him. I interpreted this as Bilic wanting involvement with the game, although perhaps he just couldn't be bothered running upfield.

We often flattered the mediocre Southampton side, allowing them to get too far forward. Michael Ball in particular frequently appeared disinterested. The wing-back system simply does not work well with him. While Unsworth drifted in and out of the game, Ball was expected to defend, win the ball in midfield and get forward to cross it.

It may not sound like much to do for such an exorbitant amount of money, but I think that such a young player would benefit immensely from a definite role; ie, left back OR left midfield. The wing-backs are just a compromise, and are all too often left to roam freely. We need players involved for the full ninety minutes. Bally would not tackle, and instead would back away from the attacker, even though Collins and Unsworth would be present as cover.

That said, Alex Cleland out-shone many of his team-mates with an absolutely superb match. He was constantly flying towards goal, having a shot or setting team-mates up. Perhaps he has finally found his Premiership feet, and is showing us that he is the highly rated player we expected him to be. If he continues like this for the rest of the season, I will be delighted with him.

Another player who excelled was Bakayoko. The Southampton defenders put Paul Jones under a great deal of pressure, with numerous back passes. To see a striker running at the goalkeeper, really challenging for the ball was very refreshing. Bakayoko has expressed himself much more without Ferguson, and I think that he has benefited most of all from Dunc's departure.

However, despite some good individual touches from various players, it was Southampton who threatened most. We relied on Myhre too much in the first half, unnecessarily giving away a few corners under pressure. It was during this period of pressure that we rued the absence of Materazzi and his footballing brain. The rain began to pour down, and the roof above us, full of holes, began to leak.

However, the ball eventually came to Bakayoko. He passed his marker with relative ease, and was away, unleashed, flying. The crowd roared as he made his way to goal. The sharp, deep collective intake of breath was followed by another roar of sheer ecstasy, as the net billowed beautifully. We didn't see Bakayoko's somersault – we were far too engrossed in our own celebrations. Shreds of coloured paper flew about the stand, and the leaking roof was forgotten as people hugged and sang and danced, celebrating us taking the lead at home in open play for the first time since May.

We had opportunities for a second, but as Southampton had three excellent chances, we were hardly disappointed to be leading by a single goal at half-time. The whistle was met with rapturous applause, and most were content with the scoreline.

The second half brought a far brighter Everton than the first. We played well as a unit, our defence looked quite secure, as did our midfield, and Bakayoko looked dangerous each time we sent him through with the ball.

However, Southampton still managed attacks on goal. Each time, I turned away, too nervous to watch our advantage and two of our points be snatched away. I was told by my sister, who would say when it was "safe" to watch again, that they hit the inside of the bar. Too close for comfort, but still we came out on top.

Mickael Madar's substitution was very welcome. He did not look match fit, and apart from one good headed shot, was quite disappointing because of his lazy tendencies. The crowd welcomed Dacourt back, and did not seem to mind depleting the attack to one lone striker. Tony Grant pushed up at times, and almost looked like he was playing alongside Bakayoko in a forward role.

Barmby's appearance, albeit for a mere handful of minutes, added to the belief that perhaps the way ahead for us is with small strikers.

After half-an-hour or so of nerve-wracking extra time, the whistle was finally blown. The crowd applauded the players rapturously off the field. Bakayoko made his way towards the Street End, carrying his shirt. A sea of outstretched hands greeted him. He cast the shirt into the crowd with evident emotion, prompting chants of his name all around the emptying ground.

Man of The Match: Cleland (just from Bakayoko) for turning his season around in one match. I want to see this kind of performance every Saturday. He had around four shots which were all quite accurate, a nice drive from some distance in the first half, and others which skimmed past the post or the bar.

I remarked at the party afterwards that the reason why this victory was so pleasing is because of what it shows. We had an appalling first half as a team, yet came out on top with a 1-0 lead. That is the measure of a team, the difference between a successful side and an unsuccessful side. Teams such as Murdoch United and Arsenal can play quite badly, yet still gain three points, despite their poor performances. Although Everton redeemed themselves with an improved second half, it is good to see that we are beginning to lean towards the characteristics of a successful team.

Somebody on a phone-in mentioned that without Duncan, out of a potential 12 points, we have achieved 10. That is excellent, and shows how positively the team has reacted.

There's a long way to go, with many, many obstacles to overcome, but the future is really looking bright.

We went on to celebrate our victory with everyone else at the St. Petersburg restaurant. It was really nice to put faces to the names. We did not expect a celebrity guest, but as the door opened, in walked Don Hutchison! However, he eventually introduced himself as Kevinski. Contrary to previous reports, Billy Williams was very well-behaved and friendly! Unfortunately, we had to leave early to catch the train home, but it was great to meet everyone.

The long journey home was another experience. We were entertained by a very merry Bluenose, who had obviously also been celebrating. Everyone in the train carriage was amused at his singing and constant banter about how much he loved Everton and hated the RS. He spotted us in our colours and homed in on us. He spent part of the journey with his arm around my mum, until he alighted, four stations too late!

 A nod and a wink from Lady Luck
Richard Marland
Today’s team selection was a mixture of surprise and confusion. The point of discussion was the absence of Marco Materazzi. The radio prior to the game said he had been dropped, something I frankly didn’t believe, you don’t drop your best defender. After the game the radio was talking about a calf injury, but now that I am home the teletext is talking about a training ground bust-up on Friday. Maybe the picture will become clearer over the weekend.

Marco’s absence meant a first start for Slaven Bilic at the heart of a five-man backline, the recalled Unsworth was to his left, Dunne to his right, Cleland and Ball were the wing-backs. In midfield ,Walter stayed loyal to Hutchison, Collins and Grant, with Bakayoko and Madar up front.

First Half

The majority of the first half was a strangely muted affair. There was a lack of urgency to our play and we were slow to close Southampton down. Initially Southampton were very poor and failed to make much use of their possession, two or three cross-field balls went straight into touch, it wasn’t too hard to see why they are at the bottom. However with time they started to gain in confidence. We were shaky and unsure at the back and managed to present Southampton with two gilt edged chances. Both were spurned when they really should have been converted.

As is often the way, and usually happens to us, Southampton were made to pay for their profligacy. Somebody, I’m not sure who, played a ball through to Bakayoko. Fairly central he took a few paces forward before unleashing a low shot into the net. It was a well taken goal, maybe the goalie should have done better but he was beaten by the pace and by the fact that Bakayoko hit it so early.

Bakayoko almost got a second before the half-time whistle. A delightful turn and cross from Grant was met at the near post by Bakayoko’s glancing header but was well turned over by Paul Jones in the Southampton goal.

Second Half

The second half was pretty much a repeat of the first. We continued to struggle to assert our passing game, making a number of seemingly elementary mistakes but still managing to create a number of chances. Most of these came via Bakayoko. He has a truly amazing ability to emerge from a scrum of defenders with the ball at his feet. He probably doesn’t know how he does it, but do it he does, often taking out three or four players at a time.

We also continued to be a bit ropey at the back. We conceded a number of corners, many of them through sloppiness. This was a dangerous practice against a tall side like Southampton. Bilic, Dunne and Unsworth aren’t exactly dominating in the air, and of course we now miss the sterling work that Dunc used to do in these situations. We had a few real scares, including one that hit the underside of the bar.

But we survived to gain a valuable three points. We were fortunate to get the win. Southampton missed three absolutely gilt edged chances and also managed to hit the underside of the bar. We never played particularly well but still managed to create more chances than we have done in a long time. A fortunate win, but we still did enough so that it wasn’t daylight robbery.


  • Myrhe 6 Despite the scares, a relatively quiet day. No real chance with any of the chances that went begging.
  • Cleland 7 Much better than last week. Defended capably, posed an attacking threat and also showed a willingness to try his luck at goal, hitting the crossbar with one attempt.
  • Ball 5 Thought he was poor today. I reckon the break will do him good.
  • Dunne 6 Much better than last week. Looks more comfortable on the right of defence, which after all is his natural side.
  • Bilic 6 Looked OK. Was dropping back to get the ball off Myrhe, especially at goal kicks. He also used the ball well when he did this. To my mind definitely warrants a run in the side. Also managed to avoid getting booked.
  • Unsworth 6 As usual got some stick from the crowd but I thought he did OK.
  • Hutchison 6 One of many who went backwards from last week. Not bad, just not effective as he has been of late.
  • Collins 6 Ditto Hutchison. No doubting his work rate.
  • Grant 6 Another who got a bit of stick from sections of the crowd. I thought he was pretty good. He links the play well in the middle, always offers himself for the pass and doesn’t give the ball away too often. Not at his best yet, but slowly getting there.
  • Bakayoko 7 An infuriating player. Does some stupid things, like trying to lob the ‘keeper straight from the kick-off, but there’s no doubting his effectiveness when he gets going. Scored one good goal and but for several excellent saves from Paul Jones could have had a hat trick.
  • Madar 6 He said in the Echo on Friday that he reckoned he was only fit enough for an hour. It looked to me like after an hour he decided that he’d done enough and he should have been substituted much earlier. Did show us his qualities early on and even did some spirited running and closing down. There is no doubting his intelligence on the pitch, a number of delightful passes being testament to that, but you can see why Walter doesn’t like him. Exactly why isn’t he fit enough to last beyond the hour mark?
  • Dacourt 6 On for Madar and looked OK, even if a little ring rusty.
  • Barmby 6 Only on for about 5 minutes, but still managed to look good in that time.

Team 6 We still await a truly good performance. Hopefully it will come, at least the fundamentals are being put in place – becoming resilient and difficult to beat and, on the whole, defensively sound, and from a league position of relative security we can afford to change things around and blood the youngsters. But in all honesty we aren’t playing particularly well. This was a step back from the Chelsea game, we were defensively frail, better teams would have punished us, we were sloppy and lacking sparkle.

Man of the match – Bakayoko gets it from Cleland.

 Everton claim higher ground
by Dave Hannigan, The Sunday Times
IT WAS somewhat ironic that this encounter between the Premiership's two lowest scoring teams should turn into a metaphor for the restorative powers of a goal. Having dawdled to no great effect for the first half-hour, Ibrahima Bakayoko struck his first for Everton and, thereafter, he was a changed man.

During an action-packed hour of work, he took his shots-at-goal column close to double figures while generally tormenting Southampton. To add another layer of irony, the visitors were left lamenting their own inability to turn three excellent chances into even one goal.

If Everton evinced enough quality and brio in securing three points to suggest that it was unfair of some to describe this end-to-end affair as a relegation six-pointer, Southampton must feel that, for them, the Premiership game might just finally be up. This defeat means Dave Jones's team remains rooted to the bottom of the table, and there was little evidence here to suggest that they have the goalscoring capability to drag themselves out of danger.

Walter Smith may have troubles of his own, but he still had the resources to be able to leave centre-half Marco Materazzi out of his team amid talk of a training-ground bust-up on Friday. Smith claimed later that the Italian's absence was just a selectorial gambit, but his cryptic exchanges with reporters only served to fuel the rumours.

The visitors had been unfortunate that their first real opportunity, in the 18th minute, fell to a midfielder, Hassan Kachloul. Jason Dodd's raking cross reached the Moroccan at the far post, but his diving header was always going over.

In similar circumstances five minutes later, Mark Hughes, cast in the unfamiliar role of midfield anchor, ballooned over an inviting knock-down from James Beattie. Those chances were a legitimate return for a bright opening from Southampton, but they would come back to haunt them in the 31st minute.

Capitalising on some indecision in midfield, Bakayoko picked up a loose ball and cruised for maybe 15 yards before giving Paul Jones no chance from 25 yards. A wonderful goal, and some surprise at the identity of its executor, given that until then Bakayoko had been dreadful.

In the absence of the suspended Danny Cadamarteri, the Ivory Coast striker was paired for the first time with Mickael Madar, and the fledgling partnership had teething problems. Indeed, in the last 15 minutes, when Madar had been replaced by Olivier Dacourt, Bakayoko was most effective as a lone front man.

The concession of a goal drained the early confidence out of Southampton, and it took a while for them to recover. Four minutes before half-time, they did threaten again. Beattie flashed a header wide and, soon after, Matthew Le Tissier unleashed a 30-yarder that Thomas Myhre did well to tip over.

Just when it seemed an equaliser might be imminent, Everton went back on the offensive and, in quick succession, Jones denied Bakayoko, Madar and Don Hutchison as the first half drew to a close.

They started the second half in similar mode. A low Alex Cleland drive across the box that needed only the slightest nudge to take it over the line made its way past Madar and Bakayoko unharmed. Then, Bakayoko shot wide from a good position inside the box, and for a while it seemed as if Southampton had given up. All they could offer by way of riposte was a Le Tissier free kick that clattered off the wall and a penalty appeal by Kachloul.

The Everton midfield triumvirate of John Collins, Tony Grant and, particularly, Hutchison were dictating proceedings. Hutchison's crisp first-time passing was impressive throughout, and in the 57th minute he teed up Bakayoko for what should have been the points-clinching second. Thundering into a tackle with Hughes, a player whose vulnerability in possession was an alarming feature of the game, Hutchison emerged with the ball at his feet and headed infield. A slide-rule pass put Bakayoko through but he could not find the target.

Although Dave Jones bizarrely maintained afterwards that his side had played more like the home side, they were on the rack for the first 20 minutes of the second half, a period of domination that culminated in Cleland hitting the crossbar after playing a defence-splitting one-two with Madar. Even in the follow-up to that incident, a Bakayoko shot drifted across goal without getting the vital touch needed to usher it home.

Perhaps buoyed by still being in the game, Southampton did retaliate from there on. In the 68th minute, Egil Ostenstad, quite the most ineffective of the visitors, got on the end of a Hughes cross and turned it on to the underside of the crossbar, from where it rebounded to safety.

That was the closest they came to an equaliser and Paul Jones continued to be the busiest of the keepers. Indeed, his jousts with Bakayoko turned into quite the personal duel in the closing stages.

With four minutes remaining, he took advantage of some dithering by Gary Monk to steal in on goal for a one-on-one. At full stretch, Jones edged his curling shot round the post at the expense of a corner. Striker and goalkeeper repeated the now familiar double act in the 90th minute as Jones made one more impressive save from one more Bakayoko shot.

Jones's superlative display will have been some consolation to Southampton, and they may need more of the same heroics from their goalkeeper as the relegation battle intensifies over the coming months.

Dave Jones has set his team a target of 10 victories from their remaining 21 fixtures if they are to have any chance of surviving. Right now, that looks like a very tall order.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

Cleland lifts Everton blues
by Dave Hadfield, The Independent
THESE are not exactly exciting times at Everton, but just possibly they are times for a certain grim satisfaction.

There was a moment towards the end of this generally turgid affair when the complete lack of atmosphere at Goodison gave way to the quiet knowledge that, whatever their many failings, the Blues were drawing level on points with the team across Stanley Park and that, just for the present, they are not the Merseyside club in the more obvious crisis.

It might say more about the general standard of the Premiership than it does about Everton that they have now taken 10 points from the last 12 on offer, but those are the bald figures.

No one, least of all Everton's largely inaudible manager Walter Smith, is yet whispering – let alone shouting – anything from the rooftops. Nor should they; Everton won this match by virtue of two missed open goals by the Premiership's most toothless attack coupled with an uncharacteristically clinical piece of finishing from Ibrahima Bakayoko – scoring his first Premiership goal in his ninth League game.

Bakayoko showed a new confidence once he had scored, but a contribution of potentially equal significance came from Alex Cleland.

Smith's recruit from his old squad at Rangers has had a limited impact at Everton and has been largely confined to duties as a substitute for much of the last two months. But against Southampton he was one of their notable successes in the right wing-back role and his constructive forays were responsible for much of the opportunity Bakayoko found to run at the defence.

He hit the bar with an effort of his own, and his neat and tidy work in what in truth was a technically woeful match, was enough to ensure that he stood out.

It could not be argued seriously that other departments of the side are in as good order. Smith left out Marco Materazzi for reasons about which he was enigmatic, but which revolve around a training ground argument, and gave Slaven Bilic his first appearance of the season in the back three.

But that defence presented open invitations to score to Hassan Kachloul and Mark Hughes before either side had found even a faltering rhythm.

The Moroccan midfielder had an unhappy afternoon. Apart from squandering his sitter, it was his mistake that let in Bakayoko, and he was also booked for an extravagant dive in the penalty area.

According to his manager, David Jones, he cannot put a foot wrong in training, or in the reserves. It is upon these consolations that doomed campaigns are built.

Report © The Independent

 Bakayoko gives Everton relief in relegation duel
by Bill Edgar, The Times
IT WAS the type of acclaim that Walter Smith would receive from Rangers supporters only after victories over Celtic or the clinching of yet another championship. His Everton team's achievement had been merely a 1-0 home win over the FA Carling Premiership's bottom club. Yet the final whistle prompted a thunderous ovation around Goodison Park.

Smith may still represent the blue half of a city after his move from Glasgow in the summer, but his present and previous posts are oceans of blue apart.

Accustomed to years of almost continual success after inheriting the best team in Scotland from Graeme Souness, Smith has taken on a club whose own supremacy in the mid-Eighties has been overshadowed in the realistic minds of its supporters by recent battles against relegation. That they had just witnessed only Everton's second win and third goal in nine league games at home this season, explained such an outpouring of joy on Saturday.

The upheaval at Everton over the past few years is illustrated by the fact that none of the 13 men they used in the corresponding fixture last season played this time. Many new players have failed to settle, and the evidence of his initial few games suggested that Ibrahima Bakayoko, one of Smith's signings, could be another. However, a first goal in his ninth league match was just reward for a fine display of control, acceleration and shooting.

Bakayoko scored on the half-hour from 20 yards and almost added two more goals from long-range efforts. The Ivory Coast striker has flourished since the departure of Duncan Ferguson, suddenly finding that his powerful runs are attracting passes to his feet when, previously, they had been often treated as decoys, while long balls flew towards the head of the tall Scotsman.

Elsewhere in the team, however, it is easy to see why Everton are the only side in either Premiership or Nationwide leagues to have scored fewer goals than Southampton. Tackling has become a more important word than creating in Collins's dictionary – the Scotland midfield playmaker is among the Premiership's leading tacklers, statisticians reveal – while Ball and Cleland, the wing backs, did not look as happy going forward as, for example, their counterparts at Aston Villa and Leicester City, two clubs that use the same formation. A team comprising Everton's attack and Liverpool's defence might struggle to beat Tranmere Rovers reserves at the moment.

Everton's resilience cannot be questioned, though, with Hutchison's out-battling of Hughes in midfield perhaps provoking the Welshman into fouling his opponents and bringing him his 11th booking of the season. Southampton showed their inventive side by producing two glorious chances in the opening quarter, but their weakness in front of goal was underlined by the failure of Kachloul and Hughes even to hit the target.

Their waywardness gave Everton a third victory in four games without Ferguson present, the ten-point haul in that period constituting their best run in nearly a year. Such a return was routine for Smith at Rangers, but, on his Mersey beat, it is music to his ears.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

 Derek Potter
Bakayoko answers Everton critics, Electronic Telegraph
A WELL-TAKEN goal from Ibrahma Bakayoko lifted the pressure on himself and Everton but intensified the relegation anxieties of luckless Southampton.

Everton's inability to find the target has worried the Goodison faithful for quite some time. Just by being in the team for the first time this season, French striker Mickael Madar perked up the many Evertonians who had expected a more healthy revival in the club's fortunes than Walter Smith has so far been able to achieve. A warm cheer greeted the announcement that Madar would line up in a team aiming to add to the two wins and a draw since the controversial sale of Duncan Ferguson.

Madar, of course, had been a hero towards the end of last season when he scored six crucial goals in the battle against relegation. Yet he was playing in this game only because Danny Cadamarteri is suspended.

How Southampton need a hero. Last week against Leicester City, Matt Le Tissier missed a chance it looked easier to roll into the net. After 17 tedious minutes here, Hassan Kachloul wasted a chance of heading the visitors into the lead. Kachloul was unmarked when a cross by Jason Dodd reached him on the edge of the six-yard zone but his header flew high over the bar. He further blotted his copybook five minutes later when he was cautioned for a blatant dive in the penalty area.

After roaming aimlessly, Bakayoko suddenly produced a strong run that swept the Ivory Coast international past two defenders before he drilled a low shot from almost 25 yards past Paul Jones. It was the first Premiership goal for the £4.5 million signing from Montpellier and it silenced, temporarily at least, his growing band of detractors.

It was only Everton's third League goal at Goodison this season. It was, equally significantly, the 34th conceded by Southampton, whose manager, David Jones, has set a survival target of 10 wins.

Bakayoko and Madar both failed to reach a low cross by John Collins and missed the chance to give Everton the much-needed security of a second goal against a team who tried hard, often aided by some inept passing by Everton in the second half.

Bakayoko re-applied some pressure with a run and shot that was well saved by Jones and a shot by Alex Cleland clipped the crossbar, while Southampton were also unlucky not to get back on terms.

They almost fashioned an equaliser when Mark Hughes surged from defence, battled through two tackles and then sent Egil Ostenstad away on the left. But Everton's talented young defender, Richard Dunne, superbly blocked off the Norwegian and forced the striker into running the ball out.

Saints' luck was still out after 67 minutes when Hughes fired in a low cross and Ostenstad crashed it against the bar, and watched in anguish as it bounced down onto the line and out.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

 RESULTS  (Game 17)
Wednesday 9 December 1998
Chelsea  2                      Aston Villa 1           34,765
Zola 29, Flo 90                 Hendrie 31
Saturday 12 December 1998
Blackburn Rovers  0             Newcastle United  0     27,569

Derby County  2                 Chelsea  2              29,056
Carbonari 26, Sturridge 87      Flo 55, Poyet 59
Everton  1                      Southampton 0           32,073
Bakayoko 31
Leicester City  3               Nottingham Forest  1    20,891
Heskey 43, Elliott 55:pen,      Van Hooijdonk 14
Guppy 75
Middlesbrough  1                West Ham United  0      34,623
Deane 40
Sheffield Wednesday  3          Charlton Athletic  0    26,010
Booth 13, Carbone 64, Rudi 77
Tottenham Hotspur  2            Manchester United  2    36,079
Campbell 70,90                  Solskjaer 11,18
Sunday 13 December 1998
Aston Villa  3                  Arsenal  2              39,217 
Joachim 62, Dublin 65,83        Bergkamp 14,44
Wimbledon  1                    Liverpool  0            26,080
Earle 48
Monday 14 December 1998
Leeds United  2                 Coventry City  0        31,802
Hopkin 40, Boyer 90

Wednesday 16 December 1998
Manchester United  1            Chelsea 1               55,159
Cole 45                         Zola 83

 LEAGUE TABLE (after 16 December 1998 )
Club                          P    W    D    L   GF   GA   GD   Pts
Aston Villa                  17    9    6    2   27   17   20   33
Manchester United            17    8    7    2   34   20   14   31
Chelsea                      17    7    9    1   27   17   10   30
Leeds United                 17    7    8    2   28   14   14   29
Middlesbrough                17    6    9    2   27   19    8   27
Arsenal                      17    6    8    3   17   10    7   26
West Ham United              17    7    5    5   20   21   -1   26
Wimbledon                    17    7    5    5   22   26   -4   26
Leicester City               17    6    6    5   21   19    2   24
Derby County                 17    5    8    4   17   16    1   23
Tottenham Hotspur            17    6    5    6   23   26   -3   23
Liverpool                    17    6    4    7   27   22    5   22
Sheffield Wednesday          17    6    4    7   20   17    3   22
Everton                      17    5    7    5   11   15   -4   22
Newcastle United             17    5    6    6   21   21    0   21
Charlton                     17    3    7    7   22   27   -6   16
Coventry City                17    4    3   10   14   25   -9   15
Blackburn Rovers             17    3    4   10   15   24   -9   13
Nottingham Forest            17    2    5   10   15   30  -15   11
Southampton                  17    2    4   11   12   34  -22   10
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Last updated: 16 December 1998