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Everton Youth Cup, 1998-99

Everton's Youth Team won the ultimate prize last season.
This time around, they almost did it again! 


Introduction  Everton's Youth Cup Campaign; 1998-99
Results & Fixtures  A full record of Everton's FA Youth Cup campaign for the season
Match Details  Team sheets and brief reports for all of Everton's FA Youth Cup games
Appearances  Appearance records and goals scored for our young stars

Everton's current Youth squad is probably one of the best the club has had. Last season, with the help of First Team youngsters and England U-18 star, Danny Cadamarteri and Irish International, Richard Dunne, the youngsters lifted the gloom of Goodison for an evening by holding off the strong challenge of Blackburn Rovers in the Final to lift the coveted trophy. 

This season, they started off the hard way but made a good fist of things until the semi-final, where youth star Franny Jeffers was sorely missed as they gave way to eventual winners, West Ham who trounced Coventry by a record 9-0 in the final. ToffeeWeb congratulates Colin Harvey and his young players on their valiant efforts to retain this prestigious trophy.

Day   Date   Rnd  Opponents                KO/Res  Scorers                    
Sat  Dec 19   3   (a) Manchester United    D 2-2   Jeffers, Hibbert
Wed  Jan  6   3R  (h) Manchester United    W 4-0   McAlpine, Jeffers 2, Osman
Tue  Jan 26   4   (h) Swindon Town         D 1-1   Howarth
Tue  Feb  2   4R  (a) Swindon Town         W 5-1   Jeffers 3, Howarth, McAlpine
Tue  Feb 16   5   (a) Sheffield Wednesday  D 1-1   Chadwick
Mon  Mar  1   5R  (h) Sheffield Wednesday  W 3-1   Southern, McLeod, Osman
Tue Mar 23 6 (h) Aston Villa W 1-0 Jeffers Tue Apr 20 SF1 (a) West Ham United L 0-3Tue Apr 27 SF2 (h) West Ham United W 1-0 O'Hanlon

Everton lose the Semi-Final 1-3 on aggregate

FA Youth Cup 3rd Round, Gigg Lane, Bury
Saturday 19 December 1998
Everton: Delaney; Wright, Knowles, Clarke, Pilkington; Southern, Hibbert, Osman (67' McKay), McLeod (85' McAlpine); Jeffers, Howarth (74' Dempsey).
Subs not used: N/A. Scorers: Jeffers, Hibbert.

Delaney's best may not be enough

David Powell, The Times. TWO minutes to go and Everton's grip on The Times FA Youth Cup, won emphatically last May, is working loose. Wayne Evans, of Manchester United, rises to a cross and heads towards goal for what seems a certain winner. This is Gigg Lane, Bury, though, and the spirit of Neville Southall lives on.

Gigg Lane was where Southall went, nearly 20 years ago, from Winsford United, for his first taste of League football, making 39 appearances before moving on to Everton. Now Dean Delaney, who aspires to follow Southall to greatness with Everton, produces a critical save, typical of the defiant old master.

The ball seems destined to squeeze inside Delaney's left post but the goalkeeper gets down, pushes it on to the frame and safeguards a third-round replay at Goodison Park on January 6.

When the United goals went in, the young Irishman had no chance. His handling was immaculate, his reaction saves and command of the area good enough to repel the raids where he did have a chance.

Of the Youth Cup final team, for which Delaney played last season, six players have made it into the Everton first-team squad this term. Delaney has not. His window of opportunity, as a goalkeeper, is a porthole by comparison to the skylight for his colleagues.

Colin Harvey, the youth-team manager, agreed that it was harder for a goalkeeper to break through. "It is a job that is about experience," he said. So, when Everton bought Steve Simonsen, probably the best teenage goalkeeper in English football, from Tranmere Rovers this season, it was hardly the news Delaney wanted.

"When players like that come in, you are going to be disappointed, but you have got to get on with it," he said. Delaney is the No 4 goalkeeper at Everton. An overseas goalkeeper stands at the top, Thomas Myhre, of Norway.

The two goals that Delaney conceded exemplified why Luke Chadwick is thought to be heading the way of Beckham, Butt, Scholes and the Nevilles: from United youth team to first at an early age. Chadwick scored two breathtaking goals, the first a shot from 20 yards, the second a run through the Everton defence to equalise.

Francis Jeffers shot in from ten yards for Everton's first, but the goal of the game belonged to the combination of Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert. Osman skipped past three United players before laying the ball off to Hibbert, whose drive from 25 yards found the top corner. Even Southall, or Schmeichel for that matter, would not have stopped that one.

FA Youth Cup 3rd Round Replay, Goodison Park
Wednesday 6 January 1999
Everton: Delaney; Wright, Knowles (59 'McLeod), Clarke, O'Hanlon (74' McKay); Southern, Hibbert, Osman, McAlpine; Jeffers, Howarth (84' O'Brien E).
Subs not used: Dempsey, Logan. Scorers: McAlpine (13'), Jeffers (48', 70'), Osman (52').

Promising Jeffers offers Everton bright future

Stephen Wood, The Times.  WITH a mixture of clinical finishing and earnest scrapping of which the club's first team would be proud, Everton, the holders, marched into the fourth round of The Times FA Youth Cup at Goodison Park last night.

Everton may be struggling in the FA Carling Premiership, but it seems the future of the club is bright. Indeed, the future may be now, for Francis Jeffers, the 17-year-old who scored twice last night, could soon be called on by Walter Smith, the manager, for regular first-team duty. United's youngsters never seriously threatened last night and made their exit from the competition at the first hurdle for the second successive season.

Mirroring the first encounter at Old Trafford, the 2-2 stalemate that precipitated this third-round replay, United began positively, but Wayne Evans and George Clegg wasted promising opportunities in the opening six minutes.

The United midfield quartet of Chadwick, Stewart, Clegg and Evans established a modicum of control, broken only by the sterling work of Tony Hibbert in the Everton midfield.

It was Hibbert, Everton's captain, who engineered the first goal after 14 minutes. Turning sharply on the right-hand side, he looked up and delivered an excellent cross to Joseph McAlpine, who connected with a left-foot volley that found the roof of the net.

Two minutes after half-time Paul Rachubka, United's Californian-born goalkeeper, bungled a clearance and Jeffers finished from a narrow angle. Five minutes later, Leon Osman made it 3-0 when he broke through a flimsy defence to drive home a left-foot shot.

United's miserable night was completed 19 minutes from time when Jeffers rounded Rachubka and rolled the ball into the unguarded goal.

Everton took a 13th minute lead through Joe McAlpine to go in 1-0 at the break, before Francis Jeffers (48) and Leon Osman (52) put the home side 3-0 ahead. Jeffers got his second and Everton's fourth on 70 minutes to complete the rout.

FA Youth Cup 4th Round, Goodison Park
Tuesday 26 January 1999
Everton: Delaney, Wright, Hibbert, Clarke, Pilkington, Southern, McKay, Osman, McLeod (76' McAlpine), Howarth, Jeffers.
Subs not used: O'Brien, Logan, Chadwick, O'Hanlon. Scorers: Howarth.

Everton largely controlled the game but struggled to break down an organised and hard-working Swindon side. We had half-chances but failed to convert them. We finally took the lead on 81 minutes through Carl Howarth. That should have been it but Swindon equalised 4 minutes later to take it to a replay at Swindon next Tuesday.

Match Report from Steve Bickerton

The first half was something of a disappointment. Played at a fairly pedestrian pace, Everton seemed to possess the skill and flair, while Swindon were a team full of energy and commitment. Very few efforts on goal, with Everton dominating possession, often getting centre-forward Carl Howarth into good positions, but finding him succumbing to the Goodison goal-scoring malaise.

Howarth, however, was one of a number of Blues who impressed with their work rate. Frances Jeffers – who was passed fit earlier in the day after an examination of a toe injury revealed no fracture – showed a good eye for the use of space, both in terms of his own efforts to get into it and in delivering the ball to another blue-shirted colleague who occupied it. He did, however, play a little deeper than I would have expected.

Leon Osman showed plenty of skill, often stunning the ball past an opponent, stopping it dead, much as a snooker player would with the cue ball, where he could pick it up again as he glided past his marker.

Assuming we reach safety at an early stage in the league, I would expect him to be given a first team run out, towards the end of the campaign, providing it doesn't interfere too much with the club's defence of this trophy. Matt McKay was tireless, linking well with Osman. On the left, Kevin McLeod showed good control and pace, and an eye for the cross.

All-in-all, Swindon were a tidy outfit, well organised in defence, especially. I was impressed by their left wing-back, (I assume, from the team sheet issued at the game, that his name was Ricky Culbertson) who consistently made his way into forward, attacking positions, only to find himself ignored by his team mates, for the most part. When he did get the ball, though, he generally made very good use of it.

At half-time the score was 0-0, with Everton generally on top, but with Swindon's keeper not really troubled. The second half was a different story, with Jeffers playing further forward than in the first half. This left more room in the middle for the Osman-McKay partnership to flourish. And flourish it did, early on, with their service to McLeod allowing him to be more and more of a thorn in Swindon's side.

Jeffers showed why so much is expected of him, with good close control and an eye for the goal, though on Tuesday, Flanagan in the Swindon goal proved to be his match. Four or five times Jeffers jinked his way through the Swindon defence with excellent dribbling skills only to see his shot stopped by the keeper. Howarth, too, was denied a couple of times.

Time and tiredness, however, began to catch up with the Blues and as the Osman-McKay engine room faltered, Swindon came more and more into the match, so much so that Delaney in the Everton goal was called upon a couple of times to keep the visitors out.

Just as 0-0 looked to be the order of the night, the deadlock was broken. McLeod had been replaced by Damien Logan, on the left and Logan had fed the ball through to Joe McAlpine (I typed Joe McBride first time, there's a blast from the past!) who miss-hit his shot, but saw it reach Howarth who turned quickly and thumped it beyond the diving Flanagan. At last a goal at the Gwladys Street end, but only two ball boys in an otherwise empty stand greeted the bulging net.

With only 9 minutes left that had to be it. But it wasn't. Swindon never gave up and launched themselves forward again, the long ball becoming more evident. It was from just such a foray that the goal arrived, about two minutes after Everton had taken the lead.

The ball was thumped forward to be met by Pilkington(?) in the Everton defence. Just outside his own box though, his control was less than perfect, as his touch-bound clearance went behind for a corner. From the corner the ball was cleared by the Everton defence, but only as far as Swindon's Danny Jeffery on the edge of the box. He was delighted as his accurate shot beat the despairing Delaney to level the scores.

In the end, although 1-1 didn't reflect the control or possession which Everton had enjoyed, it wouldn't be seen as an unjust result; not considering how well Swindon had played at the back, especially in the first half. The replay might well be more lucrative for the Blues.

Attendance: 1,582 

FA Youth Cup 4th Round Replay, County Ground, Swindon
Tuesday 2 February 1999
Everton: Delaney; Wright, Pilkington, O'Brien, Clarke; Hibbert (81' McLeod), Southern, Osman (37' McKay), Howarth, Jeffers (83' Chadwick), McAlpine.
Subs not used: Logan, O'Hanlon. Scorers: Jeffers 3 (1 pen), Howarth, McAlpine
Everton's excellent youth team cruised into the 5th round of the FA Youth Cup when they crushed Swindon 5-1 to set up a tie at Sheffield Wednesday.

Everton out-played the home side as they continue to defend the trophy they won last year. Colin Harvey's side really turned on the style and the final scoreline could have been greater. Francis Jeffers was the hero of the night with a well taken hat-trick.

Franny Jeffers scored the first from the penalty spot after Carl Howarth was brought down. He then nearly added a second minutes later when hitting the post. His second came when he collected the ball on the half way line and advanced on goal, his initial shot was blocked and he converted the rebound. His third came when he beat three men in the area before firing left footed into the net. Swindon's consolation goal came somewhere in the middle of Everton's impressive scoring spree.

He then let others in on the scoring, setting up Carl Howarth for the fourth before Joe McAlpine finished the scoring with the best goal of the game, a shot into the top corner. The only black spot on the evening came when Leon Osman was stretchered off with ankle ligament damage.

FA Youth Cup 5th Round, Hillsborough
Tuesday 16 February 1999
Everton: Delaney; Wright, Pilkington, Clarke, O'Hanlon; Southern, Hibbert (c), McKay (79 Chadwick), McAlpine (64 McLeod); Dempsey, Howarth.
Subs not used: N/A. Scorers: Chadwick

Match Report from David Catton

It was one miserable night – sleeting rain swirling around an almost deserted Hillsborough – probably no more than 1000 spectators, and close to half of them Evertonians.

In such conditions I didn't expect much great football and wasn't greatly let down. There was quite a lot of neat interpassing from both sides without much sparkle. Both defences seemed able to cope with their opposing attackers comfortably enough so chances were few and mostly long-range (inaccurate) shots which did not trouble the keepers. Delaney dropped a couple of the more accurate ones but was able to recover the situation. To be fair, he was probably frozen out there – it was bad enough sitting in the stand with clothes on rather than standing out there in shorts.

There were one or two tackles of the kind that get senior players booked but this referee was able to allow play to continue and still find time to have a quiet but firm word with offenders. Roy Vernon look-alike, Knowles, was one who needed speaking to after twice kicking the ball away and leaving his foot in after tackles. The referee's words took away his aggression and with it his effectiveness. There were no bookings.

Up front, O'Brien was tireless but lacked the height and weight to make any impression against the taller, heavier Wednesday centre-backs – but he never stopped trying. McKay was excellent in midfield and John Wright, one of the stockiest players I have ever seen, did very well at right back.

Valentine on the right had a night he will remember for the wrong reasons – his positioning was suspect, he didn't like being tackled or tackling, he was slow and few of his passes came off. On the other hand, he didn't try to hide and was left on for a lot longer than I thought he would stay. Eventually he was substituted and his reward was a bottle of cold water. Chadwick on the left wing was substituted much earlier and he got Lucozade! Oh yes, according to the names in my programme, Chadwick was replaced by Pilkington and Valentine by Howarth. Mind you, I've never seen any of these lads before, so if the programme was inaccurate...

For Sheffield Wednesday, their centre forward, Coubrough, played well and their left back and captain, Nicholson, showed great composure.

The goals? Well Wednesday's seemed against the run of play. The home defence cleared the ball.  As it came forward, two of their forwards were offside but Keith Southern's head helped it on its way, the ball looped off him to Chris Stringer, who looked clearly offside when the ball was hit. The referee though waved the Wednesday striker on and he lobbed Delaney to put his side 1-0 up.  There was no protest from the Everton team and none from Alan Harper or Colin Harvey so they apparently accepted the play-on.

After 44 minutes and 9 seconds of the second half, Everton scrambled an equaliser. Kevin McLeod crossed from the left and Garry Dempsey's shot bounced up to the head of Chadwick who found the net.

The Wednesday crowd booed! The Evertonians rose to their feet and cheered almost loudly. The referee allowed about two minutes of added time and then it was time to go home for some pancakes, and a replay at Goodison on Monday, March 1. Sir Philip Carter was in attendance, as were Walter, Archie and Dave Watson. As we stood up at half-time, I shouted, "4-4-2 tomorrow, Walter!" He caught my eye but looked away quickly. At the end, I shouted the same to Dave Watson and he responded with a big grin. I was surprised to see Watson there if he's supposed to be playing tonight.

The kids had the senior players' bus and the number plate is N11 EFC – must get one of those models!

FA Youth Cup 5th Round Replay, Goodison Park
Monday 1 March 1999
Everton: Delaney; Wright, Clarke, Knowles, Pilkington; Southern, Hibbert (45' McKay), Osman, McLeod; Dempsey, Howarth.
Subs not used: McAlpine, Chadwick, O'Hanlon, O'Brien.  Scorers: Southern, McLeod, Osman

A Match Report from Mark Garrity

A crowd of about 1,500 turned out on a rainy night in Liverpool, the game going ahead only after a pitch inspection.

Everton totally dominated the cup tie and looked a far superior side to Sheffield Wednesday. The visitors adopted tactics in the best Howard Wilkinson big-hoof tradition. Every time the blues got the ball on the deck, their superiority was clearly visible and such is the confidence of the kids that they knew just how much better they were.

The first goal came from excellent work on the left by the classy Kevin McLeod. His cross/shot beating the keeper all ends up, to ricochet of the post, for the stooping Southern to nod in from close range.

The second underlined the class of McLeod, he read the situation to perfection. A free kick onto the edge of the Park End area, the Wednesday full-back nodded it down, McLeod watching it all the way, volleyed the nod down from 20 yards, his shot nestling in the keepers top-left corner of the net.

The third followed good work on the right by Matt McKay, with a drilled cross into the area for the arriving Leon Osman to slot home.

McLeod though was the story of the night, a brilliant performance in a strong midfield. He had a succession of chances. He could have had a few more goals with a number of good long-distance efforts. One just tipped away by the keeper and a close range effort blocked on the line by a clueless Sheff Wed defender.

Sheff Wed looked very poor – probably the worst side we have played in the competition so far. As the game went on they lost their discipline. Hibbert was forced off at half-time after needing stitches in an ankle wound. Shamefully the referee allowed Sheff Wed to get away with some scandalous challenges. Yet he chose to book McKay for coming on as substitute without him being informed,, despite the tannoy announcement. Perhaps if the ref hadn't been so late onto the pitch he might have noticed....

A great performance none the less by the Blues. If they had doubled the score, it would have not reflected just how much better they were.

Delaney had little to do. The defence dealt superbly with the Sheff Wed long balls. The forwards always looked lively. But it was the midfield that stood out:

  • The strength of Hibbert who has been compared with Tony Kay.
  • Osman quick thinking, terrier-like in the tackle, a great eye for goal, and he makes great runs.
  • Southern was tireless, he has a great engine.
  • McLeod is a tall left midfielder who just oozes class.

They seem to have a great team spirit and a confidence about them – not arrogant like Man U were, but that same swagger that Jeffers has. 

FA Youth Cup 6th Round, Goodison Park
Tuesday 23 March 1999
Everton: Delaney; Wright, Knowles, Clarke, Pilkington (63' McAlpine); Southern, Hibbert, Osman, McLeod; Jeffers, Howarth (72' Dempsey).
Subs not used: McKay, Chadwick, O'Hanlon.  Scorer: Jeffers

San Presland: Last night's match in many ways was possibly one of the least impressive of the campaign so far, as Villa dominated the match for long periods in midfield without being able to break through a superbly well disciplined back four (if this lot are not coached by Dave Watson then I'd be very surprised).

Everton got off to the best possible start with a goal in the first minute, where a nice touch on from Hibbert found Franny Jeffers making space for himself on the edge of the box before taking it forward and slotting it neatly across the goalie into the far corner. Yoo-hoo!!! This was ideal as Everton have shown in previous rounds that they are a team ideally suited to sitting back deep defending in depth from the back four through midfield and breaking accurately and speedily.

Leon Osman had a superb game in midfield where his partner, buddy and captain Tony Hibbert (a Joe Parki-a-like) had a bit of an off night. His tackling is normally one of the features of his game and he is a neat tidy passer but he just couldn't seem to time it right of those days.

Everton's left winger and the match winner v. Sheffield Wednesday had a disappointing game also. ...though as some fans were raving about him.  He let their No. 2 right wing/full back have way too much space and an awful lot of Villa's attacks came from him – he looked a very useful player (Jonathan Bewers). It was only after he went off after 70-odd minutes that McLeod started to look good – especially when running onto a ball when he could give a couple of yards to his marker and make it up.

Villa's best chance in the first half was a close-range flick-on header from a corner which brought a blinding save from Delaney on the line, for George Pilkington to complete the clearance. Everton could have made it two from the best move of the match just before half-time when a superb race down the left ( by McLeod?) was crossed low into the middle of the box for it to be cushioned backwards (by Jeffers?) into the path of Carl Howarth running on; his shot just faded past the far post.

The second half was much brighter as Villa seemed to lose a bit of their oomph and ran out of ideas although a pile-driving 35-yarder from Leon Hylton brought another excellent save – a lesser keeper than Delaney could have been troubled by some of the crosses that were thrown in as Villa desperately sought the equaliser.

Everton's passing became sharper and their running at the defence on the break created a few more openings which could have brought goals but instead brought either a good stop from their keeper (on two occasions) or 'OOOhs' as they slid just wide of the posts...

This was another superb TEAM performance. Apart from Jeffers and Osman, not a lot to admire creativity wise....but Dean Delaney is looking an excellent composed keeper. It will be sad if either a) he is lost because we have Simmo and b) he can't play in the semis because he is with Eire in Nigeria. The back four (Wright, Knowles, Clarke and Pilkington) all look very promising... I suspect Clarke is the main hope.

Osman and Hibbert tackle like demons, and work like Trojans. Osman in particular is composed and neat on the ball... he should definitely be in with a chance of first-team football.  Jeffers has definitely got the knack and superb running off the ball: there was one lovely feint in the first half where he didn't touch the ball, but beat his marker with a shimmy and turn.

Southern and McLeod? to be honest but can't see them making it. Howarth works ever so hard but doesn't have that spark either. It's worth noting that there's no place in the starting 11 for Matt McKay who Kendall bought from Chester for £250,000.

Jeffers returns to his roots in style

by Stephen Wood, The Times

EVERTON are favourites to win the FA Youth Cup again this season, but then, when you can call on the services of a star of the first XI, that is not much of a statement. Francis Jeffers, the Everton striker, was recalled to junior duty at Goodison Park last night and he proved to be the difference in this sixth-round tie.

The Villa players looked distraught as they left the pitch, yet the successful defence of the trophy that they won last year means no less to the Everton teenagers. Tackles from the home side bristled with menace, while the Everton players, even before battle commenced, were well-prepared.

Colin Harvey, their manager, had travelled to Watford to watch Villa progress in the last round. Perhaps he was troubled by what he saw, for the biggest statement of their intent was in the selection of Jeffers. The 18-year-old had started the season in the youth team, but his development was such that he had been used exclusively at first-team level for the past six weeks. Indeed, given Everton's chronic goalscoring problems in the FA Carling Premiership, there was a risk in exposing Jeffers to the hustle and bustle of this cup-tie.

The risk appeared a well calculated one after 50 seconds. Hibbert, the captain, lofted a pass over the top of the Villa defence and Jeffers raced into the penalty area to strike a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

"The manager asked me if I fancied playing and my answer was 'yes'," Jeffers said. "It was good to be back with my mates. This is where I came from and I have not forgotten that. This team can win the cup again, with or without me."

It was Jeffers's seventh goal in the competition and a classic finish from a clever move; thereafter, Everton's efforts to reach the last four of the competition were expressed in more belligerent terms. Pilkington and Knowles, the defenders, were booked for reckless challenges, while Jeffers, with frustration getting the better of him for once, involved himself in altercations with Melaugh and Samuel.

Villa's feathers were ruffled. Smith, the midfield player, was shown a yellow card before Hylton proceeded to give his side hope of securing a way back into the contest. Moments before the interval, his header from close range was stopped brilliantly by Delaney, the Everton goalkeeper, and five minutes after half-time, Hylton, 16, forced another save from Delaney, this time from 35 yards.

Marfell and Evans, the Villa strikers, wasted a chance apiece as the game opened up, but it was Everton who looked more likely to add to the scoreline. Hibbert shot just wide from outside the area, Jeffers was closer with another long-range effort and Howarth closer still, as his shot from a narrow angle grazed the crossbar.

While Everton deserve to be favourites to retain the cup, their semi-final could be interesting. There, Arsenal may lie in wait if they overcome West Ham United in their sixth-round match.

Link to Match Report from the Liverpool Daily Post

FA Youth Cup Semi-Final, First Leg, Upton Park
Tuesday 20 April 1999
Everton: Delaney, Wright, Pilkington (69 Eaton), Knowles, Clarke, Hibbert, McKay, Southern, Osman (88 Logan), McLeod, Dempsey (69 O'Brien),
Subs not used: n/a. Scorers: None

Holders facing an uphill struggle

By Nick Szczepanik, The Times

WEST Ham United will take a comfortable lead to Goodison Park for the second leg of The Times FA Youth Cup semi-finals next week. Everton, the holders, had their share of chances as a continuous fine rain made for testing conditions, but goalscorers from Essex and Australia gave the home side what ought to prove a decisive advantage.

In the final, the winners will meet either Newcastle United or Coventry City, who play the first leg of their semi-final at St James' Park this afternoon.

Everton had West Ham watched in the previous round and were keen to avoid the fate that had befallen Arsenal, who were lucky to escape from Upton Park with a 4-0 defeat in the sixth-round replay. Until Adam Newton supplied a moment of inspiration after 28 minutes with a strong run, West Ham could only offer the occasional long-range effort.

When Newton launched another right-wing charge six minutes later, however, it proved decisive, Essex-born Bertie Brayley making up yards of ground to head in his cross.

Everton had a good chance to level when Kevin McLeod's shot was blocked. The Newton-Brayley combination came within inches of repeating its earlier success, but Everton were even closer when David Knowles headed goalwards from McLeod's corner, only for Bywater to produce a flying save.

There had been plenty to entertain the crowd of 4,124 and there was more in the second half. McLeod again looked a certain scorer after another defensive lapse, but Stevland Angus made a brave saving tackle. Everton found themselves two down on the hour when a John Wright foul was punished twice, first with a yellow card, then a goal as Michael Ferrante, a graduate of West Ham's Australian Academy, curled in the free kick. Fifteen minutes from time, Delaney seemed at fault again as Richard Garcia, another Australian, headed in from a corner.

FA Youth Cup Semi-Final, Second Leg, Goodison Park
Tuesday 27 April 1999
Everton: Delaney; Wright, Knowles, O'Hanlon, Pilkington (79' McAlpine); McKay (61' Howarth), Hibbert, Southern, McLeod; Dempsey (69' Eaton), Osman.
Subs not used: N/A. Scorers: O'Hanlon.

A Report from Steve Bickerton:
I had fully expected to see a contest of wills between West Ham's media star Joe Cole and our own little gem Leon Osman. But it wasn't to be, as Colin Harvey played Osman up front in a 4-4-2 against a giant West Ham defence (5-3-2).

Overall the match was a nervy affair with both sides possibly capable of much more. There was plenty of neat tidy football played around the middle of the park by both sides. Trying to control Joe Cole was Tony Hibbert, a player who's strong in the tackle, leads by example and doesn't give in. He tried hard, but Cole found space at will. In the end he could have punished us dearly, but one man (or boy) does not a team make and all passes lead to Cole. So it wasn't surprising that Everton picked up on this early on and tried to ring-fence him. Often, though Cole found his way through and when he did he was a joy to watch.

There were plenty of long range efforts from both sides with both McLeod and Osman bringing fine saves for the West Ham 'keeper, Bywater – another useful looking player. Everton hurried and scurried, ever mindful of the three-goal deficit from the first leg and in truth never really looked like pegging back West Ham. Almost the last kick of the first half saw West Ham come close to taking the lead as that man Cole beat three defenders at the corner of the box and just failed to curl a speculative effort into the top far corner of the net. Class!

The second half was more of the same, with the game opening up a bit more as Everton, pressing forward at every opportunity, left gaps at the back. But John Wright, a pocket battleship at right back, if ever there was one – reminds me for some reason of Terry Darracott – let no man pass. I couldn't place what it was about him, but I liked his all action style, turning up in the right place at the right time, plenty of pace to get back when he'd been turned. I get the feeling that he'll never be a star, but he'll make someone a more than useful full back. Now just watch him scale the heights and be a world beater!

The more we pressed forward, as I said, the more gaps we left at the back but West Ham were reduced to long-range efforts in the main. Nevertheless, Delaney had to make three outstanding saves to keep the ball out of the net. Cole was central to everything. Until, that is, Carl Howarth (a forward) came on for Matt McKay (midfield). Osman dropped back and things began to fizz.

Osman now fed the runners and several times we almost broke through, but it appeared that it wasn't to be. Until seven minutes from time, when Howarth, chasing a lost cause won a free kick just outside the box, near the touchline. McLeod zipped in a cross and Sean O'Hanlon (central defender) bundled the ball across the line. 1-0 and game on. Cue ferocious action around the box, but the West Ham goal remained intact and they held on to go through to the final 3-1 on aggregate.

The result was probably about right, but it was obvious that West Ham had come to hold what they had. They did it well and they should be applauded for it. Everton lacked the pace and guile up front that the absent Frances Jeffers would have given. Cole, notwithstanding the media hype which surrounds him, was outstanding. He oozed class from every pore. His vision, distribution, pace and skill stood out in a sea of relative mediocrity. He's well built, carries the ball well and is arrogant in a way that doesn't grate (a certain Mr Beckham could take some lessons here).

If the Youth Cup proves anything it proves that every club up and down the country has the opportunity to unearth a rare gem on occasion. We've probably had more than most of late in Jeffers, Ball, Dunne and Cadamarteri, with others slightly less dazzling still to come through. On this display, despite their relative mediocrity when measured against Joe Cole, there are still a few more out there waiting to be polished up. In Joe Cole, West Ham already have a find of the highest order.

West Ham end holders' reign

Bill Edgar, The Times 

WHILE children living near Goodison Park continued the supposedly dying tradition of street football and hundreds of youngsters crammed more impromptu games into Stanley Park than seemed humanly possible, the players of Everton and West Ham United did little to dampen optimism over the future of the game in this country.

In a match of great invention and pleasing passing movements, the Londoners survived a late scare last night to reach the final of The Times FA Youth Cup.

Holding a 3-0 lead from the first leg of their semi-final, West Ham conceded their first goal of the tie with only seven minutes remaining, Sean O'Hanlon, the Everton central defender, meeting a curling free kick on the left from McAlpine and sending a half-volley from close range crashing into the net. Another cross from McAlpine shortly afterwards brought a header from Knowles that just went over the crossbar, but Everton were unable to retain their hold on the trophy.

Three of the team that beat Blackburn Rovers in the final last season played last night, one of whom, Leon Osman, was perhaps the most impressive performer on show. Having recently recovered from a knee operation, the forward was at the heart of most of Everton's best moves, forcing a fine save from Bywater, the West Ham goalkeeper, after 20 minutes and then seeing another long-range effort fly too high. Bywater had shown earlier why West Ham signed him from Rochdale last season, in a deal that could go on to reach £2 million, by stopping a shot from Kevin McLeod with his legs when the midfield player had been sent clear.

West Ham had their chances as well; two shots from 25 yards from Ferrante being the closest they came to scoring. The first effort struck the bar and the second was pushed aside by Delaney, the Everton goalkeeper.

Player       Pld (Sub)   Goals         Player       Pld (Sub)   Goals 
Delaney       9   (-)      -           O'Brien       1   (2)      -           
Wright        9   (-)      -           Osman         8   (-)      2   
Knowles       6   (-)      -           McKay         4   (4)      -   
Clarke        8   (-)      -           McLeod        6   (3)      1   
Eaton         -   (2)      -           McAlpine      3   (4)      2   
Pilkington    8   (-)      -           Howarth       7   (1)      2   
Hibbert       8   (-)      1           Jeffers       3   (2)      7
Southern      9   (-)      1           Dempsey       4   (2)      -
O'Hanlon      3   (-)      1           Chadwick      -   (2)      1
Logan         -   (1)      -

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