Derby County Logo

Derby County 1 - 0 Everton

Half-time: 0 - 0


Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 1999-2000 – Game 6
3pm Saturday 28 August 1999
Pride Park, Derby
Att: 26,550
Wimbledon (h) Ref: Andy D'Urso Sheffield Wednesday (a) 
[1999-2000 Fixtures & Results] League Position: 13th [Premiership Results & Table]
 MATCH SUMMARY
John Collins John Collins returned to the fray, but Everton started poorly with Derby controlling the game, and Fuertes giving Dunne the runaround down Everton's right side. A yellow card after 22 mins for a rash challenge was followed by red 4 minutes later and Dunne was off.

The ref continued to exert an unnecessary influence on the game, booking two Derby players and Paul Gerrard (for time-wasting). But Everton survived till half-time, only to go behind immediately after the restart with a simple header from Fuertes.

Everton battled and struggled for the remainder of the match, playing very well and dominating the game with only 10 men, but it just wasn't happening for the Toffees, and those who arrogantly assumed this was another 3 points in the bag have been taught another painful footballing lesson.

Postscript: In November 1999, Estaban Fuertes was found to have a forged passport when he attempted to reenter the country from Portugal, and was subsequently deported.  His only goal in the Premiership was against Everton, enabling the Rams to win this testy match. 

Many Evertonians view this episode as another in the long-running anti-Everton conspiracy that pervades football.  Some even campaigned to have the result overturned and the game replayed on the grounds that Derby fielded an illegal player!!!  That has to be considered a bit far-fetched for normally intelligent Everton fans whose passion had for once got the better of them.

 

 MATCH FACTS
   GOALSCORERS  Debuts
Derby County: Fuertes (47')
EVERTON:
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used
Derby County: Hoult, Prior, Carbonari, Laursen, Borbokis, Johnson (46' Eranio), Bohinen (46' Baiano), Powell, Schnoor, Delap, Fuertes (71' Sturridge). Poom,Beck.
EVERTON: Gerrard; Weir, Gough, Dunne (26' Sent off!), Unsworth; Hutchison {c}, Collins, Barmby (80' Gemmill), Pembridge (66' Ball); Campbell, Jeffers (66' Cadamarteri).
Unavailable:
Myhre, Williamson, Parkinson (injured); Bilic, Branch, Grant, Farrelly, O'Kane (transfer-listed).
Simonsen, Ward.
   Playing Strips  Formations
Derby County: White shirts; black shorts; white socks. 4-4-2
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2; 4-4-1 
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Derby County: Johnson (8'), Fuertes (38'), Carbonari, Eranio.
EVERTON: Barmby (21'), [Dunne (22', 26')], Gerrard (43'), Hutchison (78'). Dunne (26')

 MATCH REPORTS
 REPORTS BY EVERTON FANS
Jenny Roberts When loving Everton really hurts
Kevin O'Keefe This was a winnable game
 NEWSPAPER REPORTS
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Fuertes exposes Everton frailty
by Derek Potter
THE SUNDAY TIMES Depleted Everton hit by new boy Fuertes
by Ron Clarke
THE INDEPENDENT
ON SUNDAY
Fuertes arrives with perfect timing
by Phil Andrews
THE INDEPENDENT Everton fall foul of the exotic
by an Independent Journalist
THE TIMES Welcome outbreak of flair eases the tedium
by David McVay
 OTHER INTERNET REPORTS
EFC NEWS SITE Link to the Echo/Daily Post Match Report

THE OBSERVER Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited Match Report
SPORTLIVE Link to SportLive Match Report
CARLINGNET Link to CarlingNet Match Report

 
 When loving Everton really hurts
Jenny Roberts
 
My first, and my last, impressions of Pride Park were not exactly pleasant. It squatted, isolated in barren wasteland. An out-of-town nightmare. I recalled my own Goodison, nestled serenely amongst the terraces and church, fondly. The chants of "Shit ground, no fans," summed it all up better than any other description ever could.

I found my fourth-row seat, directly behind the left goalpost, and thought "Leeds." Our seats at Elland Road were in a similar position, and I realised that the two stadia were not completely different. These memories of last season should have relaxed my optimism; instead, I discarded them, and waited impatiently for kick-off.

The unknown referee marched the players out onto the pitch, and within a few minutes, it began. This was the game I had been planning for weeks – and I almost see our first away victory. Almost...

We began poorly. I was a little upset that Smith had chosen to tamper with a triumphant side. I would have a preferred a bench-warming Collins as an option rather than a starter. Call me old-fashioned, by all means, but why interfere with a team that is winning, and that looks perfectly capable of continuing to win?

Nevertheless, the manager knows best (apparently). Richard Dunne was once again in the dreaded make-shift right-back role, although most of Derby's early attacks seemed to come down the middle.

D'Urso, a new arrival from the Nationwide (probably the building society, and not the Football League), made his objectives known after a few minutes, when he booked Johnson. His assistants were quite pathetic, flagging for imaginary offsides, and missing several genuine ones in the process. Nor did they counter any of his bizarre judgements. Communication, if any, was minimal.

Within a few minutes of the start, David Weir was caught napping, and slipped in the box, allowing his opponent to cross. The ball was met, but Richard Gough, defiant in blue on the line, was there to save us. He was immediately granted a deserved standing ovation from the travelling support.

We looked average in midfield. Collins disappointed me. He needed much more time on the ball than he actually had. We need grit ahead of flair in central midfield. Perhaps he would have more time on a wing, instead of in the centre. We occasionally managed to find a little space down the left side through Pembridge and Unsworth, and Don Hutchison worked hard in his captain's role.

Jeffers had obviously tired himself out in our two previous games, and should not have stayed on for so long. Without service he became frustrated, and the tunnel vision of our team meant that the beginnings of those little darting runs were never spotted.

Both Nick Barmby and Richard Dunne were booked for challenges within a minute of each other. I thought that here, D'Urso should have calmed things down by warning Barmby, and threatening to book him for his next illegal challenge. Richard Dunne merited the same treatment. The first booking had come too early, and Mr "Card-Happy-Is-My-Middle-Name" D'Urso felt it necessary to continue showing off his new yellow toy.

Bookings in a game should be few and far between. Serious cautions for serious offences. Sendings off even rarer. So why, four minutes later, did D'Urso see fit to dismiss Richard Dunne? What I saw, there and then, did not convince me that we were facing a red card offence. Nor did the video evidence that Match of the Day later provided. I deemed the incident to be without malice or intent.

I am convinced that the only person who should have been booked was Schnoor, for trying to mislead the referee into sending off an opponent. As soon as Pride Park saw that card, he was on his feet again, miraculously recovered. I know that I am horrendously biased, but such an early sending off ends the contest. Remember fairly recent incidences involving Cleland and Collins at Villa Park? 10-man away teams fighting outnumbered for so long do not have a chance. How many points have reckless, sheepish (or should that be ram-ish?) referees cost us away from home?

This ten-man Everton looked extremely vulnerable. I cannot recall how many times I told my sister that we needed a goal to be in with a chance. "We will concede," I assured her. It was that inevitable. That was the extent of the damage. With Dunne on the field, we looked likely to take a point, but without him, we were exposed all too often. At one point, Derby broke away. The player in possession charged towards our goal, with a frantic defender chasing him, and I was quite frightened of how this goal would look on Match of the Day. However, instead of shooting, he passed to a team-mate. I closed my eyes, turned away, expecting the worst. The shot came screaming over the bar into the Evertonians. We were, quite unbelievably, safe.

The most ridiculous of bookings came just before half-time. Gerrard was taking a free-kick, and just as he stepped back to take it, Hutchison strode forward, and began to speak to him. I think that he wanted to take it instead. The referee ran up to Gerrard, and, much to the disbelief of our fans, took out his notebook, scribbled the appropriate name and number down, and booked Gerrard for time-wasting. Surely he did not expect Gerrard to ignore his own captain, and take the kick regardless?

Half-time finally arrived, and although immensely disappointed with the performance in comparison to the previous two, I was relieved that we had kept hold of the clean sheet. Relief soon turned to laughter with the arrival of "Rammie," the hideous giant sheep mascot. He picked an Evertonian and a Derby fan from the crowd, and had a penalty shoot-out with them. We all cheered when the blue scored, but, unfortunately, these were the only Everton-related goals we had to celebrate all afternoon.

The referee was deservedly jeered back onto the pitch. We felt robbed of our chance to take the game to Derby, and our whole stand seemed to sense the inevitable, and already, the finger of blame was being pointed.

The second half passed in a furious blur, with Collins ineffective, Pembridge, the subject of much abuse from Derby fans. He crawled into his shell for the rest of the half. That was the last I saw of him. Just two minutes after the break, Derby took a short corner, and Fuertes rose unmarked to head above the helpless Gerrard. Offside was a possibility, I suppose, but I was at the other end of the stadium.

During the second half, I began to realise just how annoying the scoreboard really was. Every time a man went down injured, it would read "Injured? Ring these injury specialists," providing a number. Every time a yellow was shown, which was very often, the board would read "He's been booked – but has your taxi? If not ring....."

The one bright moment of the second half for me was the appearance of Michael Ball. He looked alert, his first touch was fantastic, his control superb. Here was the Michael of old. Cadamarteri was far more involved than Jeffers when he appeared. After one Derby player had battered Danny to the ground, the referee waved play on. Unsworth, having seen the offence, and angered by D'Urso's decision, went back and gave the offender a good kicking. This occurred directly in front of the linesman, who did not even bother to flag the incident. He obviously sided with Rhino on this one. Now here we had a sending-off offence.

If only we could have played all game as we did for the last ten minutes. We threw everything at them. Collins awoke, and did some work in and around the box. Hutchison shot, tackled and dribbled. Richard Gough even moved up front. But all to no avail. Gough's header in about the second minute of stoppage time was so, so painfully close. We were almost awarded an own goal. But there seemed to be some invisible barrier preventing us from taking the point which we, after our treatment by the referee, so richly deserved.

I could barely speak for the lump blocking my throat at the final whistle. But Everton do that to you. It's the inexplicable, nagging pain gnawing away at you, which has always been there, which will always be there. Tickets for Everton games should be issued with a health warning. No matter how well we do, there will always be something there to bring us crashing back down to earth again. Loving Everton really hurts.

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum – perhaps somebody should have translated our motto for Mr D'Urso.


 
 This was a winnable game
Kevin O'Keefe
 
Unlike White Hart Lane, our last away day, Pride Park is an absolute dump. No soul, no atmosphere, in the middle of an industrial park... I won't take anyone seriously who says we need a new stadium unless they've been to these 'modern' out-of-town ones. Bolton's new stadium is even worse! Coventry City's will probably be diabolical when they finish it as well. Yesterday, only 26,000 turned up and we must have taken at least 4,000. Didn't the Baseball Ground hold that many? So why move?

As an aside, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Coventry, and Derby have seen attendances drop off since last season. Villa Park was really poorly attended when Everton played there (although it was a midweek game I suppose). Seems that no-one is interested in football in the midlands?

So, on to today's fare: Richard Dunne had another poor display (for 25 mins). He was poor against Wimbledon as well (when the rest of the team looked like world beaters). I know he is being played out of position by Walter Smith, but he makes too many schoolboy mistakes. For the first 20 minutes, Derby pushed all their attacks down our right side and Dunne was hopeless. He's not a right back true, but he was so lacking in any skill he wouldn't be any better in the centre of defence. He needs some time in the reserves. It's an experiment that went wrong, at least Cleland may get a chance now?

As for the sending of, the first was a deserved booking. The second was at the far end of the field so I didn't really see it very well. The ref was really crap again. Why do we always get them? We wouldn't have lost if we had kept 11 men.

The criticism of Jeffers is harsh. He played out on the right wing more than as a striker once Dunne went off. He was back defending much of the time and didn't really have much of an opportunity to get forward. Bringing on Danny was probably a good idea as he plays as a winger better than Jeffers can.

As for Collins. I don't like Mitch Ward but I think he's five times the player Collins is.

This was a winnable game. As usual the new signing scored against us, from a short corner. (This is a particular gripe of mine. When the opposition take a short corner, you need two players to go and cover it. Only Hutch made a move and Eranio (or Baiano, one of those 2nd rate italians) had time to look up and cross to Fuertes for a free header in the six yard box).

Derby are crap. They hardly had a chance once Dunne went off. I firmly believe we are better than them in every department and we will murder them when they come to Goodison. Make no mistake, this was three points dropped.

Ratings

  • Gerrard 6 - Still flaps at crosses, doesn't come out quickly enough and got booked for time wasting (when Unsworth was mainly to blame). No chance with the goal. Bring back Tommy.
  • Unsworth 7 - Playing better lately. Still don't like him but have to admit he's improved since Aston Villa.
  • Weir 6 - Made some mistakes but got away with it. Looks better as a centre back. Prefer Dave Watson.
  • Gough 8 - Class act. MOM. Positioning is always spot on. Commanding in the air. Shrewd purchase by Walt.
  • Dunne 4 - Oh dear...
  • Hutchison 6 - Did OK. Had a good shot but it always looked like it would go over. Got better in the 2nd half.
  • Collins 5 - Useless. I HATE him. Puts the other players in trouble, dawdles on the ball, falls over a lot.
  • Barmby 6 - Not as busy as he was against Wimbledon.
  • Pembridge 6 - Booed with every touch. Did OK really. Put himself about, didn't make many mistakes showed good control. Good squad member.
  • Campbell 7 - Didn't win much in the air at first but got better as we started pushing forward. Didn't have a chance as far as I can remember. (But I was bored). Still our main focal point for all our attacks.
  • Jeffers 7 - Bit generous? Perhaps. But I like Franny. Asked to play an unfamiliar role, and always a danger if he gets a sniff on goal.
  • Cadamarteri 7 - Tries to do too much. Loses the ball a lot and annoys people, I know. But he's another who has won me over. And occasionally he does beat his man and create a chance. Even if one of these comes off he's done his job.
  • Gemmill 6 - Can't really remember. Should have come on for Collins.
  • Ball 6 - Looked good actually. Should be on from the start in my opinion. But a few games out probably hasn't done him any harm.

Team 6 - Could have won. Should have won. Probably would have won if it wasn't for the ref.

Ref 1 - Another jumped up little Hitler who tried to make a name for himself.


 
 Fuertes exposes Everton frailty
Derek Potter, Electronic Telegraph
 
JUST when it seemed that Everton had finally got things going in midfield and in attack, the defence was closely scrutinised at Pride Park and failed to answer some difficult questions. Derby were more inventive from the start, giving Everton, obliged to battle with 10 men for two thirds of the game, little respite and Esterban Fuertes celebrated his home debut with a valuable match-winning goal.

Four goals in successive home games after last season's acute scoring problems at Goodison Park made Everton joint top scorers in the Premiership alongside the leaders Manchester United with 11 goals. It was an unusual pre-match boost for Walter Smith, the Everton manager.

But Derby were close to twice claiming the initiative inside the first five minutes. Fuertes celebrated his home debut with a piercing run down his left flank and in a desperate scramble a header by Rory Delap was cleared off the line by Richard Gough.

Derby's varied lines of attack were a major test for the Everton defence. The task increased in the 24th minute when Richard Dunne was sent off for a second bookable offence. Neither foul had seemed severe and Smith was involved in a heated debate on the touchline with the reserve official.

Everton had a reprieve on the half-hour when Fuertes sent the ball through the legs of David Weir only for Stefan Schnoor to drive the pass wide of an inviting target.

It was hardly a surprise when Derby finally scored the crucial first goal. It came two minutes into the second-half with the Everton defence left stranded when Francesco Baiano crossed the ball invitingly following a short corner.

Fuertes hovered before aiming his header beyond the reach of Paul Gerrard, who had been cautioned for time-wasting. It was the first goal for the Argentinian since his 2.3M on-off transfer was finally completed and is due to be ratified on Sept 19.

Report The Electronic Telegraph

 
 Depleted Everton hit by new boy Fuertes
by Ron Clarke, The Sunday Times
 
MANAGERS rely on results, so this narrow victory will be as welcome as any for Derby County's Jim Smith, no matter that it was achieved amid an afternoon of poor quality. It was the first time Pride Park had hosted a home win this season and ended Everton's recent feast of goals. They also ended the match with 10 men after the first-half sending-off of Richard Dunne.

Indeed, it was the whistle of referee Andy D'Urso that set the tune for the day, his dealing of 11 yellow cards seeming slightly out of touch with the occasion. Walter Smith, the Everton manager, described his performance as "diabolical".

All this on a day when Smith celebrated his 30th anniversary in football management. He kept faith with the players that earned his first victory of the campaign at Sheffield Wednesday. New signing Esteban Fuertes, making his home debut, was partnered up front by Rory Delap, and Everton recalled John Collins in place of Mitch Ward.

In the first two minutes Delap sent in a superb ball for Fuertes. The Argentinian's shot was blocked by Paul Gerrard in the Everton goal and Delap was unlucky to see his follow-up header cleared off the line. Half an hour later Fuertes turned provider with a scintillating 20-yard run setting up Stefan Schnoor, who managed only to send the chance soaring over.

In between, Dunne was sent off for a high tackle on Schnoor in the 25th minute. He had been booked only four minutes earlier for a foul on Seth Johnson. Indeed, Everton, for whom Collins was impressive, showed little as an attacking force, summed up by Gerrard being booked in the 43rd minute for time-wasting. This added to the cards shown to Derby's Johnson and Fuertes and to Everton's Nick Barmby.

The Merseysiders' offensive anonymity, curious in light of eight goals in their previous two matches, continued in the second half, hampered as much by Derby's resolute defence as by their numeric inferiority.

Even an early wake-up call did not arouse them from their slumber. After 47 minutes Francesco Baiano, one of Derby's two half-time substitutes, collected a short corner and chipped in for Fuertes to rise impressively and head home. The goalscorer was replaced after 70 minutes and received a deserved standing ovation.

Kevin Campbell was up-ended by Horacio Carbonari, another booking, on his way to goal, and late on Collins sent in a fiercely dipping long-range effort just over. For Derby, Darryl Powell sent a long-range shot just wide and Delap lobbed both the goal-keeper and the bar.

The match was confused by constant substitutions. Stefano Eranio was another Derby half-time replacement and the visitors, in the second half, brought on Danny Cadamarteri, Michael Ball and Scot Gemmill to replace Francis Jeffers, Mark Pembridge and Barmby.

Smith said the referee had caused problems by booking five players within the first 20 minutes. Reflecting on changes since he first started at Boston in 1969, Smith said only: "There is so much hype nowadays it is ridiculous."

Report Times Newspapers Ltd

 
 Fuertes arrives with perfect timing
by Phil Andrews, The Independent on Sunday
 
It took Derby County three months to complete the 2.3m signing of the Argentinian Esteban Fuertes, and the patience of their manager, Jim Smith, was rewarded when the striker scored the winner on his home debut. But the Rams made their supporters sweat over their first home victory of the season against opponents who played for more than an hour with 10 men following the dismissal of the defender Richard Dunne.

Paradoxically, Derby were more impressive while the numbers remained even, but although the sending-off did not change the course of the game it incensed the Everton manager, Walter Smith, who said: "The referee had a major bearing on the game. His first-half performance was nothing short of diabolical." Smith added that Dunne did not make contact with Stefan Schnoor before the booking – one of nine in an even-tempered match – which prompted his dismissal in the 25th minute.

Derby were already well on top and should have taken the lead after only two minutes when Rory Delap found Fuertes with a beautifully weighted ball down the left and sprinted 40 yards to get his head to the resulting cross. The Everton goalkeeper, Paul Gerrard, was stranded, but Richard Gough had positioned himself perfectly to head the ball off the line.

Everton had little opportunity to add to the eight goals they had scored in the previous seven days. The Derby defender Spencer Prior saw his header from Lars Bohinen's free-kick flash over the bar, and Seth Johnson's dribbling down the left earned a series of free-kicks on the edge of the box which might have paid greater dividends had not Horacio Carbonari tried to demolish rather than evade the Everton wall.

Derby squandered another chance to take the lead shortly after Dunne's dismissal when Fuertes broke down the middle and unselfishly chose to lay the ball off to the better-placed Schnoor, who hoisted it over the crossbar from 10 yards with only Gerrard to beat.

The break saw the introduction of the Italian duo Francesco Baiano and Stefano Eranio for Derby, but it was less the combination of fresh legs and the extra man than Everton's loss of concentration which produced the goal two minutes later. From a short corner Baiano floated a cross to the far post, where Fuertes was able to head home unchallenged.

It forced Everton, who had pulled everyone but Kevin Campbell back behind the ball since Dunne's departure, to show more adventure, and as so often happens, the 10 men discovered that attack is the best form of defence. Carbonari had to halt Campbell with a flying lunge that earned him a booking, and when Derby did make their numerical superiority tell they tended towards over-elaborate approach work and speculative efforts from long range or tight angles. Darryl Powell, Derby's most impressive player, sent a 25-yard drive narrowly over the bar and Delap chipped the ball on to the roof of the net when a cross to a colleague would have been wiser.

Such was the threat posed by Everton's late surge that Delap, who started the match as a striker, was withdrawn to his more familiar position of wingback as Derby clung on. But even then Everton were unlucky not to equalise when Don Hutchison's dipping effort finished on the roof of the net.

Report The Independent
 

 
 Everton fall foul of the exotic
by an Independent Journalist
 
DERBY'S FIRST home win of the season arrived thanks to a pair of newcomers with exotic names. While one of them, the Rams' new Argentinian striker, Esteban Fuertes, looks likely to have a promising Premiership career ahead of him, the same cannot yet be said of the other, referee Andy D'Urso, of Essex.

The official, who joined the Premier League's officials' register this season, gave out eight yellow cards in a contest that could never be described as tough. He also sent off Everton's Richard Dunne for two bookable offences, which seemed harsh given the innocuous nature of the defender's challenges and the fact that only 25 minutes had been played before the red was shown.

"The sending-off had a major bearing on the game," Walter Smith, the Everton manager, said. "His first-half performance, in particular, was nothing short of diabolical. Displays like that take away from the spectacle of a match and change the course of the game."

Smith added that it was the second time in recent weeks that he felt his side had been punished unfairly by a referee, following John Collins' dismissal at Aston Villa two and a half weeks ago. "That's two players we've had sent off in two away matches for making two fouls each," he said.

Everton had scored four goals in each of their two previous games, but have not yet picked up a point away from Goodison. On Saturday at least, Smith had some justification for being upset at coming away with nothing.

His Derby counterpart lamented the fact that referees seem to feature so prominently these days. Asked if he agreed with the Everton manager's assessment that D'Urso was "diabolical", Jim Smith said: "I didn't think he was as good as that. He booked people early and gave himself a problem. We always seem to be talking about referees and it didn't used to be like that."

D'Urso's interventions undeniably affected the flow of a match that showed early signs of being competitive. Derby's Seth Johnson made several creative forays down the left and Fuertes, although not fully fit, jostled well to bypass the Everton defence and put himself into threatening positions. The only downside to the Argentinian's performance was an unwillingness, on occasion, to shoot. Whether through selflessness or fear, he passed up a couple of chances. Just after Dunne's dismissal, for example, he went past a confused three-man defence, but then opted to pass to Stefan Schnoor rather than attempt a shot. Schnoor missed a sitter.

Fuertes' goal came early in the second half, his assured header finally giving a taste of what might be to come. With the inspirational Igor Stimac gone to West Ham, the Rams will welcome some new blood to stimulate their drive for mid-table.

"We have a lot of character in the side but we need to start scoring," Smith said.

Report The Independent

 
 Welcome outbreak of flair eases the tedium
by David McVay, The Times
 
WHEN one pair of referee's hands is more gainfully employed than those of both goalkeepers, there must be cause for concern and the cautionary tale of events at Pride Park on Saturday is an increasingly prevalent one in the FA Carling Premiership. Nine bookings and a high-profile performance by an official that only served to disguise the modest fare offered up by the players.

Indeed, in an industrious opening half hour, it appeared that Andy D'Urso, the referee, was Bruce Lee incarnate as his arms whirled in the style of the deceased karate exponent. By the end of those 30 minutes, five players had received yellow cards and Richard Dunne, the Everton defender, had been dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Poor Dunne. His large, muscular frame and lack of mobility make him a far from ideal candidate for the right back position, which requires fleetness of foot and a turning circle somewhat smaller than that of an ocean-going liner.

Derby County were quick to identify the weakness and set about exploiting it. Dunne, forced to use expedient measures, fell easy victim to the ploy, although his first rash tackle, on Seth Johnson, merited only verbal castigation.

Walter Smith, the Everton manager, was more than a little grouchy. "The referee's performance was nothing short of diabolical," he said. "There had been no show of aggression in a game that was never boiling over. Yet we had numerous bookings, which takes away from the spectacle, never mind anything else." The equation of ten against 11 is certainly a frustrating one. More so when each side performs as if victory is merely a peripheral issue.

Caution was wrapped up warm and snug in blanket defences that required an invention beyond the mediocre to expose. That invention arrived with an injection of cosmopolitan flair two minutes after half-time. Vass Borbokis, the Greek, passed to Francesco Baiano, the Italian substitute, who crossed for Esteban Fuertes, the Argentine striker, to head firmly into the back of the net on his home debut.

Vindication indeed for Jim Smith, the Derby manager, who finally concluded the almost interminable business of signing Fuertes last week. However, all things are relative. The three months of waiting may have seemed but a brief lull for Smith, who began his managerial career at Boston United 30 years ago.

"It seems we end up talking about referees today whereas before we didn't even know their names," he said. Two successes in two games have delivered a timely lift to his season which began in so sterile a fashion.

As for Everton, they have achieved perfect symmetry with three home wins and three losses away from Goodison Park [Eh? Times in a tissy??? – Ed.]. There was no tangible evidence as to how they had managed eight goals in their previous two matches. The impact of Kevin Campbell, the goalscoring saviour last season, was negligible and the club is now below Liverpool in the table. Which gives rise to the question: has normal service been resumed on Merseyside?

Report Times Newspapers Ltd

 
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